From Tim Tuttle
Grain Valley, MO — (July 27, 2013) — Zach Daum finished six car lengths in front of championship rival Andrew Felker to take his second feature victory of the season Saturday in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series at Valley Speedway.
Daum led the final 20 laps in his Toyota-powered Eagle on the fast one-third mile track. The 22-year-old from Pocahontas, Ill., dueled with Felker’s Spike-Fontana early in the 30-lap race. Felker passed Daum for the lead on lap 10 and Daum regained it on the next lap and steadily stretched his advantage. It was Daum’s third career victory in POWRi Midgets.
Garrett Aitken of Paris, Ill., finished a career-best third and rookie Parker Price-Miller of Kokomo, Ind., was a season-best fourth. Tyler Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., was caught up in a five-car accident on the start that brought out a red flag and climbed from the back to finish fifth.
“I feel like we had a shot to win all three races this weekend,” Daum said. “I know we had fast cars in all three. It was a matter of putting a whole race together.”
Daum led six laps early Thursday at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., before the left-front shock had a spacer fall off and his handling deteriorated. He finished second to Terry Babb. Friday at US 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo., Daum led laps 16 to 22, but encountered a mechanical problem with the fueling system and was forced to drop out. He finished ninth.
“We led laps in all three races,” Daum said. “I’m glad we were able to finish tonight.”
Daum started on the inside of the second row. Price-Miller was pole and Felker on the outside of the front row.
Price-Miller held the lead for the opening three laps before Daum passed him. Felker moved into second on the sixth lap and they began to race hard, going side-by-side into some turns.
“I wanted to be consistent and didn’t want to miss the bottom,” Daum said. “But when you’re not behind someone, you can’t go searching around for better grip.”
Daum was hugging the inside. Felker had a strong run a couple of lanes up the track and passed him for the lead exiting turn four.
“Andrew showed me it was tacky above me,” Daum said. “I moved up a lane and the grip was there to get the lead back. (Turns) one and two were a crapshoot, very slick, but three and four were pretty tacky the whole race.”
Felker’s second place brought brightness into what had been a gloomy weekend. The 20-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., wasn’t able to start the features at Tri-City and US 36 because of rear end problems that surfaced as he was pushed to the grid.
“After the way this weekend went, I’m happy to finish second,” Felker said. “I was happy to start the A main. We’d finished 22 of 24 features this year in the top 10 with no DNFs before the weekend. You know it isn’t going to go on forever like that in racing.”
Aitken was running second for a green-white-checkered finish at US 36 when his Fontana engine began sputtering from a lack of fuel flow and he finished seventh. The 17-year-old started 10th at Valley and, running the far outside, was up to third by the 22nd lap.
“I needed one more restart,” Aitken said.
Aitken didn’t get it. The final 11 laps were run under green.
“Third is awesome,” Aitken said. “We had some bad luck in the first two races this weekend, but third tonight made all the late nights working to finish our new Spike (which made its debut in the three races) worth it.”
Daum trailed Felker by 340 points entering the three-race weekend and cut the deficit to 80 with 16 of 30 races remaining on the schedule.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Zach Daum, 2. Andrew Felker, 3. Garrett Aitken, 4. Parker Price-Miller, 5. Tyler Thomas, 6. Jake Blackhurst, 7. Austin Brown, 8. Daniel Adler, 9. Alex Sewell, 10. Seth Motsinger, 11. Chad Frewaldt, 12. Pat Schudy, 13. Chett Gehrke, 14. Todd McVay, 15. Colten Cottle, 16. Cody Ledger, 18. Brian Reick.
Lap leaders: Price-Miller 1-3, Daum 4-9, Felker 10, Daum 11-30.
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