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Auto Racing: Brett Sontag captures late-model win at Grundy County Speedway

Larry Schuler (30) Billy Knippenberg battle it out late-model herace actiGrundy County Speedway. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media

Larry Schuler (30) and Billy Knippenberg battle it out in late-model heat race action at Grundy County Speedway. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 12, 2014 6:48AM



Late-model veterans Brett Sontag and Boris Jurkovic were talking trailing arm angles while Sontag was testing Thursday afternoon at Grundy County Speedway.

Jurkovic made a suggestion that Sontag was a little slow in applying Friday. After the heat race Jurkovic gave him a scolding.

“He said, ‘I told you to do that (Thursday). You still didn’t do it?’ I was just too lazy,” Sontag said. “So I finally did it right before the feature.”

Sontag was far from lazy when it really counted.

The 43-year-old Joliet native took the lead from Billy Knippenberg on lap eight. Over the final 22 laps he kept his No. 3 tantalizingly in front of Jurkovic, who never was able to lay a bumper on him.

Sontag went on to beat Jurkovic by a scant 0.588 seconds in the car owned by fellow competitor Jim Weber.

Jurkovic wasn’t Sontag’s only benefactor.

“Pathfinder helped me out with a bunch of setup stuff,” Sontag said. “Those guys are good people, good help.

“Basically, every time I get in this car it’s like the first night because I change everything.”

Sontag, who is in the process of building two new late-models, didn’t have much breathing room with a gaggle of competitive cars behind him.

Jurkovic on several occasions drew almost to within touching distance, only to lose Sontag in the turns.

“We were a little tight in the middle there and he was pretty good through the center,” Jurkovic said. “Our motor is a little bit bigger, so we’re a little bit heavier.

“That’s it. That’s all it takes. It doesn’t take much. We were pretty evenly matched, but he was a little better than us.”

A torried battle for third place went to defending track champion Ricky Baker over Eddie Hoffman. Scott Koerner was fifth, while Larry Schuler held off Brandon Clubb for sixth.

Defending champion Tommy Knippenberg put on a power show in the 25-lap Mid-American main, grabbing the top spot on lap 12 and beating Kevin Murphy to the finish line by 3.245 seconds. It was Knippenberg’s second win in three nights of racing.

“I guess last year we were having a dream season to start out, but this is even better,” Knippenberg said. “I have never actually won two weeks in a row. That’s incredible. I’m so excited right now.”

Luke Baldwin checked in third, followed by John McMahon, Matt Clemens and Joe Vinachi.

Eddie Ligue chased down Pete Odell and made the winning pass on lap 18 of the 25-lap street stock feature. Once in front, he was able to extend his edge over Odell to 0.781 seconds. Bill Serviss was third, followed by Christy Penrod, Cheryl Hryn and Jake Bradley.

Tim Kaminski scored the first feature win of his career in the first of two 4-cylinder mains, doggedly holding on with Ryan Lagestee on his bumper. Rich Dearborn finished third.

The second 4-cylinder main went to Spencer Leake over Mike Yuris and Austin Blackwell.



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