Local Auto Racing: Last call for points at area tracks
Tony Baranek firstname.lastname@example.org | (708) 633-5947 August 29, 2012 10:08PM
Eddie Hoffman (8) takes the high side past Boris Jurkovic during Saturday night's late-model feature at Illiana Speedway. Hoffman will try to clinch his first career title Saturday at Illiana. | Chris Goodaker~For Sun-Times Media
Grundy County Speedway
1. Pat Kelly 1,401
2. D.J. Weltmeyer 1,298
3. Eddie Hoffman 1,288
1. Kevin Gentile 1,205
2. Ron Willems 1,097
3. Ron Vandermeir 1,048
1. Nathan Kelly 1,424
2. Logan Love 1,239
3. Randy Weese 1,275
1. Eddie Hoffman 1,868
2. D.J. Weltmeyer 1,816
3. Paul Shafer Jr. 1,781
1. Bill Serviss 1,980
2. Jacob McKown 1,972
3. Bobbie Jean Wall 1,870
1. Matt O’Leary 1,914
2. Alex Arelano 1,913
3. Paul Shafer Sr. 1,814
Updated: October 1, 2012 4:30PM
It’s championship weekend and point battles abound at both Grundy County and Illiana speedways.
At Grundy, they’ll wrap things up with a regular program of racing Friday and a “Night of Features” on the final night of the season Sunday. Illiana still has racing through Sept. 15, but the titlists will be determined Saturday night.
Let’s take a look at who’s still in the chase, division by division.
It’s not guaranteed, but it’s looking very much as if Eddie Hoffman is going to win his first Illiana title. Hoffman leads D.J. Weltmeyer by an 1,868-1,816 margin.
“It’d be nice, but I don’t think we’re that far ahead,” a smiling Hoffman said after edging Boris Jurkovic to capture his 10th feature of the season Saturday night. “If we have catastrophe, I think we could be in trouble, so we don’t say anything yet.
“You know, this isn’t the Cubs. We don’t have a goat. We should be OK. But we still have to finish it out and do it.”
Hoffman’s dad, Ed, won seven track titles at Illiana.
At Grundy, Pat Kelly has an even bigger lead over Weltmeyer in the late-model class, but with two nights worth of points remaining, anything can happen. It did happen in 2008, when Tom Smith, with a 44-point lead over Brett Sontag going into the final race, blew up while running in second place with just 20 laps remaining. Sontag won the title by 38 points.
The Mid-American battle at Grundy basically has come down to Kevin Gentile (1,205) and Ron Willems (1,097), and it would pretty much take early misfortune Friday for Gentile to make things interesting Sunday.
A bit closer is the street stock battle at Grundy between Nathan Kelly and Logan Love. Love, the defending champ, won Friday night’s main to get to within 1,424-1,356 of the leader. The pure stocks title at Grundy will be decided among Rich Dearborn (1,176) and Dan Schmeissing (1,161).
Bill Serviss, aiming for his fifth career turbo stox track title at Illiana, got his nose a little out of joint Saturday night when he spun to the infield between Turns 3 and 4 during the feature event while trying to chase down leader Jacob McKown. Serviss was irate, not so much that he had to go to the back for the restart, but that McKown didn’t go to the back with him. He claimed McKown, running second in points, ran him down into the infield and should have been considered part of the incident. Track officials begged to differ. McKown went on to win, while Serviss rallied for a fourth.
Serviss will take a 1,980-1,972 advantage over McKown into Saturday’s finale. Bobbie Jean Wall, meanwhile, will finish third in points, surpassing Cher Bryant (4th in 2004) as the most successful woman racer in Illiana’s turbo stox class.
Matt O’Leary’s clean sweep Saturday night in the Legends Division at Illiana allowed him to jump ahead of defending titlist Alex Arelano by a single point. This one has some last-lap fireworks written all over it.
We lost a few local racing notables this season. In early June, Ron Varner, who was a top competitor in the hobby stock division at Raceway Park in the 1970s and ’80s, passed away at age 64. A few weeks ago Karen Magnabosco, who along with her late husband Tom owned several top area cars and were great benefactors to the local racing scene, died of complications following a surgery. Most recent, Burt Weitemeyer, who was a racing champion at Raceway Park, Grundy and Henry’s Speedway in a career that spanned from 1968 to 2000, died at age 70 after a lengthy battle with health issues.
The stretch run
After this weekend’s action, Grundy is done for the 2012 season. On Sept. 8, Illiana will host the 12th annual RaceFest featuring all five divisions plus the Hoss Outlaw Winged Sprints. The 51st annual Tony Bettenhausen Classic is slated for Sept. 15, and the final Crash Fest of the season is to be held Sept. 29.
NHRA returning to Route 66
Route 66 Raceway announced Wednesday that, for the 16th consecutive year, the National Hot Rod Association will run at the drag strip. The NHRA Mello Yellow Drag Racing Series will return with the June 27 to 30 O’Reilley Auto Parts Route 66 NHRA Nationals.