Auto Racing: Ricky Baker scores late-model feature win at Grundy County Speedway
By Tony Baranek email@example.com August 9, 2013 11:26PM
Mike Tobuch (17) made his first appearance at Grundy County Speedway since 1984 during heat race action in the Mid-American division Friday night. | Brian Nolte~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 12, 2013 6:40AM
Ricky Baker spent the first three months of the 2013 racing season chasing a late-model feature win at Grundy County Speedway.
Now he’s on a roll.
The division leader, who hails from Plainfield, made it two in a row Friday night in rather spectacular fashion, blowing past Tracy Schuler via the outside with 14 laps remaining and going on to beat Eddie Hoffman by 0.184 seconds.
“The car … it’s pretty good,” Baker said. “We found some stuff out a few weeks ago and it seemed to really help. I can’t complain.”
Schuler did, though.
The veteran driver led the race from laps five through 16. On several of the laps he had his brother, Larry, glued to his bumper.
That’s how they stood when the field was lined up for what would be the final restart of the race. Baker, meanwhile, chose the high side in the double-file order.
Just before the drop of the green, contact between Baker and Tracy Schuler caused Schuler to bobble. By the time they reached Turn 3, Baker was past him.
“He ran into me,” Schuler said later. “It was the usual. If I had a car that fast I wouldn’t have to touch anybody.
“He was faster, but I’ve been faster than a lot of people my whole life and I don’t run into them. You just have respect for people out here who work hard on their cars.”
Baker’s take? He questioned what Schuler was doing in the high groove when he chose the bottom for the restart.
“You’re supposed to stay in the line you pick,” Baker said. “He came up in front of me and when I started going I got into him a little bit.
“He got up in my lane, and it is how it is. Everybody has been complaining about how the leaders have been starting the races. They choose the bottom and then they end up starting on the top.
“If he’d have stayed on the bottom I’d have never hit him, right? I had Larry underneath me so I couldn’t go down there. If he (Tracy Schuler) would have stayed there … it’s his fault.”
Hoffman came from as far back as ninth place at the one-third mark of the race to pass Tracy Schuler for second on lap 18. He spent several laps chasing down Baker and eventually closed to within striking distance.
He never did, however, get in a position to make a move on the bottom or top. Tracy Schuler held off a late challenge from Mark Sontag Jr. to claim third. Larry Schuler was fifth, ahead of Chris Cooling and Brandon Clubb.
In the Mid-American class, Matt Clemens inherited the lead after a lap 13 crash took out leaders John Ventrello and Tommy Knippenberg and went on to score the feature win over Chuck Yuris, Vince Wilkerson and Joe Vinachi.
Knippenberg and Ventrello were able to restart and finished the race sixth and 10th, respectively.