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Auto Racing: This season may be a (Scott) Koerner-turner

Scott Koerner (right) is off one best starts his late-model career Grundy County Speedway. | Kim Kemperman/For Sun-Times Media

Scott Koerner (right) is off to one of the best starts of his late-model career at Grundy County Speedway. | Kim Kemperman/For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: June 24, 2014 8:03AM



Scott Koerner is hoping to have a tough decision to make July 4.

It will be the only night he’ll have to choose between driving his late-model at Grundy County Speedway or his midget car in the traveling Illini Racing Series at M-40 Speedway in Michigan.

The deciding factor? It’ll likely be whichever series he’s running higher in the points.

Right now he’s looking pretty staunch on both ends.

After a second-place feature finish May 17 in his midget at Rockford, Koerner is third in the Illini standings.

At Grundy, the 41-year-old Joliet native is running second in the points in his late-model behind Eddie Hoffman.

Koerner had the crowd on its feet on opening night, leading laps 11 through 40 in the 44-lap feature, only to have Hoffman squeeze past him and capture the win.

“My concentration kind of slipped,” Koerner said. “I got down in some water at the bottom of the track and I (tripped) myself up. It was more mental than physical. It kind of broke my concentration and it was downhill from there.”

Still, it was a solid second-place finish, which since has backed up with a third May 2 and a fifth May 9.

A feature win can’t be far away.

“I’ve never won one (a late-model feature), but I keep plugging away,” Koerner said, smiling. “It would be nice just to say I finally did it.”

Koerner is starting his third decade of racing. He won the Mid-American championship at Grundy in 1997 and won a sprint car title at the same track in 2006. His highest points finish in a late-model was third.

Versatility is Koerner’s strong point. He can drive just about anything.

A big budget isn’t.

“I focus my time and efforts on what I can afford to do,” he said. “There are times with the late-model when I don’t have the money to put (new) tires on the car, so I don’t put tires on the car. Then a couple of weeks later, when I’ve got the money, I do it.

“My biggest issue (running for points) is the time spent. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff with work and haven’t dedicated as much time as I could have (to the car).”

He’s all in in 2014, though.

“I started making some changes at the end of last year, and I’m just building on those improvements,” Koerner said. “I’ve got a good feel for the car.”

Border Wars are coming

The traveling ARCA Midwest Tour and CRA Super Series are combining for what should be one really good show Monday at Illiana Speedway.

“Twice a year we bring the two series together, once at Toledo and at Illiana,” said Steve Einhaus, the vice president of the ARCA Midwest Tour. “They’re a four-barrel series. We’re a two-barrel series. Identical cars, but a difference in carburetor.

“When we bring them together we equal them with weight.”

There are 31 official entries, but expect probably 10 more competitors to show up as walk-ins for the 150-lap main event. The locals already signed up include John Nutley, Paul Shafer Jr., Eddie Hoffman, Boris Jurkovic, Keith Sterkowitz and Anthony Danta.

Aside from the Border Wars race, Grundy and Illiana street stocks will be running the first leg of their annual three-race challenge on the quarter-mile, as will the pure stocks in what will be a two-race challenge between competitors from both tracks.

An open practice is scheduled from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday. Monday, the gates open at 9 a.m. with qualifying at noon, an autograph session at 1:30 p.m. and the first race at 2:30 p.m.



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