By Tim Tuttle
MILLSTADT, Ill. (Nov. 1, 2012)—Dillon Welch of Carmel, Ind., won Rookie of the Year in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series in 2012 with a superb season saw him finish ninth in the championship.
The 18-year-old Welch had two top-fives and 10 top-10s in his first full season on dirt. He had raced on dirt only four times entering the season. Welch entered 19 POWRi Midget events and, impressively, qualified for 17 features. His best finish was fourth at Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill., on June 1. Welch was fifth at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway on June 22 and he had four sixth places.
“It’s awesome to be POWRi Rookie of the Year,” Welch said. “Going into this year, it was definitely one of our goals to do that. We had a really good year and I’m really happy with how everything went. I’m very proud of what we accomplished.
“We missed quite a few events (10) and still finished in the top 10. I would have liked to have gotten a win and was in position to win several times. Every time we ran, we were competitive and that’s all you can ask for. Eventually, if you run in the top-five every night, you’re going to win.”
On pavement, Welch was the 2009 USAC Kenyon Midget champion, has three wins in the USAC D1 Midwest Series and finished eighth in the famed USAC Turkey Night Grand Prix Midget event at Irwindale, Calif., in 2011.
Welch drove an Esslinger-powered Spike for Bryan Clauson Racing this season.
“I learned a ton this season,” Welch said. “I had no dirt experience and the first few races I felt like a fish out of water. Working with Tim (Clauson) and Bryan (Clauson) helped ease my learning curve. I was good enough to run up front, but I was inexperienced running up front and that cost me. It was all part of the learning curve. It was night and day compared to where I was at the beginning of the year.”
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 final points standings (29 events); 1. Andrew Felker, 3,080, 2. Brett Anderson 2,980, 3.Austin Brown 2,490, 4. Jake Blackhurst 2,385, 5. Tyler Thomas 2,310, 6. Daniel Robinson 2,205, 7. Brad Kuhn 2,190, 8. Chett Gehrke 2,000, 9. Dillon Welch 1,880, 10. Garrett Aitken 1,795.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series 2012 race winners: Kennedale, Texas—Brady Bacon; Kennedale, Texas—Dave Darland; Jacksonville, Ill.—Mario Clouser; Grain Valley, Mo.—Brett Anderson; Wheatland, Mo.—Jake Blackhurst; Macon, Ill.—Zach Daum; Belleville, Ill.—Danny Stratton; Peoria, Ill.—Andrew Felker; Brownstown, Ill.–Brett Anderson; Haubstadt, Ind.—Brady Bacon; Grain Valley, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Springfield, Mo.—Michael Pickens; Lincoln, Ill.—Danny Stratton; Macon, Ill.—Bubba Altig; Wilmot, Wis.—Andrew Felker; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Rico Abreu; Beloit, Kan.—Scott Hatton; McCool Junction, Neb.—Rico Abreu; Cameron, Mo.—Kyle Larson; Belleville, Ill.—Rico Abreu; Lincoln, Ill.—Bryan Clauson; Macon, Ill.—Bryan Clauson; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Brad Kuhn; Du Quoin, Ill.—Tyler Thomas; Du Quoin, Ill.—Bryan Clauson; Jacksonville, Ill.—Danny Stratton; Canton, Ill.—Brad Kuhn; Macon, Ill.—Tyler Thomas; Belleville, Ill.—Austin Brown.
For more information, go to www.POWRi.com.