Denney Stars in D2 Midgets at Gas City

Jacob Denney Randy Crist Photo

By Linda Mansfield
The USAC Midwest Thunder SpeeD2 midget portion of the program attracted 26 entries, and defending series champion Jacob Denney, 16, of Galloway, Ohio came away as the winner of that 25-lap feature after he regained the lead from Chett Gehrke of Bardtown, Ky. on the last lap.

Polesitter Ryan Thomas of Indianapolis led the first lap of the midget feature before Denney charged under him in Turn 3 to take command. Thomas retired on lap 11 while in second place, and Aaron Leffel of Springfield, Ohio jumped from fourth to second on the next lap.

Gehrke, who started ninth, made his first appearance in the top five on lap eight, right before the first yellow flew for Josh Yenser of Hilliard, Ohio and Cory Guingrich of Celina, Ohio after contact in Turn 4. Gehrke moved into third on lap 10, and was trailing only Denney and Leffel when the second caution flew with 15 laps down after the seventh- and eighth-place drivers, Zack Gingerich of Celina, Ohio and Abby Hohlbein of Cloverdale, Ohio, spun in Turn 4.

Denney had good restarts all night and the one with 15 laps down was no exception. Gehrke had a good one too, and passed Leffel for second at that point. Gehrke was then able to pass Denney to lead lap 19, but Denney got the lead back by charging under Gehrke on the backstretch on the next lap.

Another spin by Hohlbein in Turn 4 on lap 23 set up a two-lap dash to the checkered. Gehrke gave it all he had but Denney had a 0.123-second margin of victory over Gehrke at the line in Chuck Taylor’s No. 11T Triple X Ecotech, which is sponsored by Erwin Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep and Ram of Troy, Ohio; Fuelab, and Rod End Supply.

Leffel finished third. Yenser came from the 17th starting position after winning the B-main to place fourth, and Stratton Briggs of Anna, Ohio finished fifth.