(MORRIS, IL – JULY 30, 2014) The D’Arcy GMC STARS National Midgets return to Grundy County Speedway on Saturday night, August 2nd for the Village of Channahon Night brought to you by Private Bank which features the Illinois State Championship presented by Chicagoland Speedway. The event is the opening round of the Safety-Kleen Triple Crown and is a make-up of the rained out race from July 12th. The list of previous winners of the race include some of most successful north central Illinois midget drivers of all-time as well as former champions from ARCA, NAMAR, NAMARS, STARS, UMARA, USAC, WWAR, and the World of Outlaws Midgets. Not only is a race victory on the line this Saturday night, but so are the bragging rights of being crowned Illinois State Champion for 2014.
Drivers from the state of Illinois have earned the bulk of the victories in the history of the Illinois State Championship race, and also boast defending race winner, Brad Greenup from Channahon, Illinois. Greenup earned a very popular victory in front of the hometown crowd during last year’s edition of the “Illinois State Championship.” It was the 23-year-old Minooka Community High School graduate’s only win in 2013 after a two-year winless drought. The win was special to him not only because of what his team had overcome to get to victory lane, but also the historical significance of his win.
“Last year’s ‘Illinois State Championship’ victory was pretty special to me,” Greenup said. Last year, we had a year similar to what we’re suffering through this year. We had multiple mechanical issues in the beginning of the year and the ‘Illinois State Championship’ was actually the first race of the year that we finished and we won it. We had a lot of speed early last year; I really had something to prove and everything fell into place for us.”
Greenup, who sits third in the STARS National Midget point standings, is part of a contingent of drivers from Illinois who currently reside in the top ten of the STARS point standings. Other Illinoisans in the top ten of the points include Streator’s Tyler Trainor (2nd), New Lenox’s Ryan Probst (4th), Channahon’s Billy Hulbert (5th), Plainfield’s Nick Baran (7th), Coal City’s Kyle Kettmann (8th), Auburn’s Mario Clouser (9th), and Rockford’s Tyler Baran (10th).
Indiana drivers have earned a few victories in the race over the years with Kyle O’Gara being the last Hoosier native to take the checkered flag in 2012. The 19-year-old Beech Grove, Indiana racer has shared driving duties with Clouser in the Guess Racing #99 this season. The car itself has not finished outside of the top-five in STARS competition this year and O’Gara has made the most of his two starts: a second place in the season opener on May 31st and a 2nd place in last week’s “Tattersall Challenge.” O’Gara and the Guess team appear to be on the brink of a victory and O’Gara has the mindset that the “Illinois State Championship” can be their breakthrough race.
“To get another (Illinois State Championship) win this weekend would be a huge success,” O’Gara said. “It has been a pleasure to work with the Guess family this year and we are on the verge of a win. The cars have been very fast, but the stars haven’t aligned just yet. (Car owner) Bill Guess and I are heading into this race with the attitude that we will win. That’s how you have to be.”
Another top contender who also hails from Indiana and has the potential to take home this year’s Illinois State Championship is Avon, Indiana’s Austin Prock. Prock is the current STARS National Midgets point leader and has been victorious in three of the series’ five races this year. In last Saturday’s “Bob Tattersall Challenge,” Prock took the lead from Ryan Probst on a lap 14 restart and never looked back during the remaining 16 laps of the 30-lap feature, beating Nick Hamilton, Kyle O’Gara, Tyler Baran, and Tyler Trainor to the finish line. Prock took his seventh career STARS victory and extended his point lead to 112 over Trainor.
Despite the point lead, Prock is adamant that he still plans to come to the track with the intentions to win the race, not to race for points. One of the victories Prock has yet to earn in his young career is an Illinois State Championship trophy; an honor he would truly covet for a myriad of reasons that include not only continuing his momentum of success in 2014, but also as playing the role of an outsider and becoming only the fourth Indiana driver to win the race since 1996.
“It would be awesome to pick the win up at the Illinois State Championship,” Prock said. “I’d like to see the #41 in victory lane two weeks in a row and I want this win just as bad as any other race. It’s always fun to beat up on the Illinois guys in their own territory, so it would be cool to take this one from them.”
The Illinoisans undoubtedly want to keep the Illinois State Championship trophy within the confines of the Land of Lincoln and Greenup contends that he is not going to let the trophy travel outside of Illinois without putting up a fight.
“(Indiana) is the heart and soul of midget racing. They have so many big historical races held there,” Greenup said. “This is one of the few races of some significance that Illinois has. Of course, we want to keep the trophy in Illinois for as long as we can.”
Not only are state bragging rights on the line in this Saturday’s race, the “Illinois State Championship” is also a part of the Safety-Kleen “Triple Crown.” The three-race series consists of a trio of STARS National Midget races at Grundy County Speedway: Saturday’s “Illinois State Championship,” August 23rd’s “D’Arcy GMC Pavement Nationals presented by Bell Helmets,” and September 27th’s “Alex Pruett Memorial.” If a driver is able to win all three legs of the “Triple Crown,” that driver will pocket a $2000 bonus. If nobody is able to win all three of the races, a $750 prize will go to the driver who earned the most points in each of the “Triple Crown” races.
Along with the STARS National Midgets, the Illinois State Championship presented by Chicagoland Speedway features the Illini Racing Series Midgets, CSR Super Cups, INEX Legends, and Classic Modifieds. Adult tickets are just $12. Kids age 5-12 get in for $2. Children age 4 and under are free! Grandstands open up at 5 p.m. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m. Grundy County Speedway is located one mile north of I-80 on Route 47 in Morris, Illinois.
PREVIOUS ILLINOIS STATE CHAMPIONSHIP WINNERS
|1992||Don Carter, Jr.|
|1994||Don Carter, Jr.|
|1995||Don Carter, Jr.|
|2000||Gene Lee Gibson|