From Rich Murray
Morris, IL – (December 1, 2014) – At the racetrack, it’s all business. Mechanics are continuously brainstorming ways that they can make their race car better for the night’s next event. Drivers are focused on their plan of action and what they can do to get the most out of their car in order to end up in victory lane at night’s end. On Saturday night, November 22nd, it was time for the racers to put away their fire suits and for the mechanics to exchange their oil and grease-stained work clothes for their best business casual attire as they attended the 2014 STARS Banquet at Chapin’s North in Morris, Illinois.
After a long, hard-fought season in which the race teams battled tooth and nail against each other throughout the summer, the time had finally arrived for the competitors of the D’Arcy GMC STARS National Midgets, Classic Modifieds, INEX Legends, and CSR Super Cups to relax in a laid back atmosphere where they could enjoy a hot meal, a drink or two, swap a few stories that may or may not be true, and collect the hardware that they earned after a successful racing season.
In the D’Arcy GMC STARS National Midgets, 19-year-old Avon, Indiana resident Austin Prock collected the trophy as the season champion. Prock led the point standings from start to finish and, along with his four feature victories in the twelve race 2014 season, he led all STARS drivers in a myriad of statistical categories including feature laps led (130); most races led (5); top-five finishes (10); top-ten finishes (12); heat race wins (4); and feature starts (12).
Though Prock finished the season as the driver with the most points, it was the Guess Racing team that wound up as the car owner champion for the fourth consecutive year. With Beech Grove, Indiana’s Kyle O’Gara, Auburn, Illinois’ Mario Clouser, and three-time STARS champion Jim Anderson of Joliet, Illinois sharing driving duties in the Guess #99, the team never finished outside of the top-five until the final race of the season.
Rookie of the Year honors went to Danville, Indiana’s Nick Hamilton. In just six feature starts, Nick collected three top-fives, five top-tens, and led the first five laps of the season (the first of his STARS career) in the season opening race on May 31st.
Most Improved Driver went to Plainfield, Illinois’ Tyler Baran, who earned his first career STARS National Midget victory on September 20th. The Sportsman of the Year award went to Kevin Probst, owner of son, Ryan’s, number 99p midget. The dreaded Hard Luck Award went to Al Greenup, owner of son, Brad’s, #4 midget. The #41 Prock team was honored with having the best appearing car and team throughout the season.
The prestigious Bob Tattersall Hard Charger Award went to Danville, Indiana’s Kyle Hamilton. Kyle was consistently one of the fastest cars each and every week as shown by his eight fast qualifying times in all eight of his STARS appearances in the 2014 season. Furthermore, Kyle picked up five feature victories, led 119 laps, finished in the top-10 seven times and the top-five six times. Despite missing four races, Kyle’s hard-charging style netted him a sixth place finish in the season’s final point standings.
In the STARS Classic Modifieds, two-time series feature winner Greg Wills finished with the same amount of points as Darren Ihrke at the end of the season. However, it was a tiebreaker in laps led that put Wills in the number one spot and with the championship trophy in his hands. The Sportsman of The Year went to Logan Weigle, a racer who is humble and who cares about his fellow competitors as much as he does himself whether it is in the pits or on the racetrack.
Cullen Camasta picked up one feature victory in 2014 and his consistent finishes this season were enough to earn the INEX Legends championship. Austin Kunert’s feature win and an average feature finish of 3.2 during the season earned him the honor of being named 2014 Most Improved Driver.
Young Dallas Frueh was able to parlay his hot start to the season into his first career CSR Super Cup title. Dallas earned six consecutive victories at Grundy County Speedway to start the season and only finished outside of the top-three once down the stretch and was able to close out the season atop the point standings. His six wins and ability to hustle his car to the front of the pack from the back presented him with the Hard Charger Award and a six pack of soda. The Most Improved Driver honor went to Sydney Wonderling, a young lady who showed steady improvement from week-to-week and finished a season best sixth on August 30th.
The Shining STAR Award went to Justin Tea, a member of the STARS family who went above and beyond the call of duty by shooting all the action with his video camera each and every Saturday night at Grundy County Speedway this year. His filming, editing, and uploading of the races to You Tube promoted the racing of STARS and helped raise the awareness of the series to a new level.
The 2014 STARS victory banquet marked the first time since 2011 that four new champions were crowned. The season was full of excitement from the first event on May 31st until the final checkered flag fell to close out the fourth season of the Short Track Auto Racing Series on September 27th. It was truly a season to remember, particularly for the four champions: Austin Prock (STARS Midgets), Greg Wills (Classic Modifieds), Cullen Camasta (INEX Legends), and Dallas Frueh (CSR Super Cups). Now that the 2014 chapter of STARS has been written in the books, they, too, now have a story to tell.