Drought at Illiana Speedway comes to an end for Mike White
By Tony Baranek email@example.com August 9, 2014 9:44PM
Track personnel work to remove Ryan Hill's late-model after Hill slammed the wall hard during practice sessions Saturday night at Illiana Speedway. Hill already had exited the car under his own power. | Goodaker Photography/Sun-Times Media
Fast time: Anthony Danta (19.420). 1st heat: 1. Bobby Gash, 2. Michael Martin Jr., 3. Jeff Cannon. 2nd heat: 1. Dean Patterson, 2. John Nutley, 3. Paul Zolodz. 30-lap feature: 1. Mike White, 2. D.J. Weltmeyer, 3. Danta, 4. Cannon, 5. Paul Shafer Jr., 6. Eddie Hoffman, 7. Chris King, 8. Gash, 9. Patterson, 10. John Nutley.
1st heat: 1. Michael Gerike, 2. Mike Kushnerik, 3. Jake Straka. 2nd heat: 1. Alex Treptow, 2. Ryan Gilliam, 3. Melissa Kuehs. 15-lap feature: 1. Gerike, 2. Gilliam, 3. Ryan Lagestee, 4. Kushnerik, 5. Craig Urban, 6. Jeff Law.
Fast time: Chris Woodall (17.836). Heat: 1. Billy Jarrells, 2. Mark Ross Jr., 3. Woodall. 15-lap feature: 1. Woodall, 2. Ross, 3. Bobby Gash III, 4. Michael Gerike, 5. Jarrells, 6. Tim Stewart.
Fast time: Paul Shafer Sr. (17.407). Heat: 1. Matt O’Leary, 2. Stan Zolodz IV, 3. Shafer. 15-lap feature: 1. O’Leary, 2. Shafer, 3. Zolodz, 4. Jason Ellis, 5. Ben Fidone, 6. Jaret James.
Updated: September 11, 2014 6:57AM
SCHERERVILLE, Ind. — If it wasn’t one thing it was another all season at Illiana Speedway for five-time late-model champion Mike White, who led his share of laps but couldn’t put it together for 30.
Saturday, his radio wasn’t working and he had to pull off before the end of the fast heat because his No. 00 wasn’t driving right.
“At that point it was just trial and error,” said White, whose crew made some more changes before the feature.
The trial might be over.
White was dominant for most of the 30 laps, beating Bobby Gash on the first lap and roaring to a big advantage. Later in the race, D.J. Weltmeyer made up some ground but couldn’t deny White his first victory of 2014.
“I kind of figured he was coming,” White said. “I was keeping an eye on the lap board and just kind of waited to feel somebody or hear somebody, and I didn’t.
“At the end ... it’s been awhile since we’ve won one, so I was kind of puckered up there a little bit trying not to make a mistake. I was glad when it was over.”
For much of the race, the real battles were behind White. Weltmeyer made a daring backstretch move in traffic to seize second place on lap 17 and steadily began to reel White in.
“We had a decent car tonight,” Weltmeyer said. “We finally caught a little break in traffic there. The only thing more we needed was maybe a caution to reel him in a little quicker. But I can’t complain for tonight.”
Quick qualifier Anthony Danta won out in a scramble for third place. Jeff Cannon was fourth, followed by Paul Shafer Jr., Eddie Hoffman, Chris King, Gash, Dean Patterson and John Nutley.
Matt O’Leary used a dramatic pass just before the white flag to capture his first Legends feature of the season.
O’Leary spent much of the race lurking behind rookie Jason Ellis, who held a firm line after taking the lead from Jaret James on lap 4. Ellis finally gave O’Leary the opening he needed on lap 14 of the 15-lap event.
“I think he was kind of doing it the last few laps,’ O’Leary said. “I wanted to go, but he was going real wide entry and then coming down in the center. I didn’t want to dive in there and him not see me. I just wanted to make sure I got one good run on him coming off of 2 to get all the way alongside of him in 3 and 4.
“I wasn’t sure if we were running 15 or 20 laps. I didn’t even know we were coming around for the white flag. That was just the best opportunity I had and I took it.”
Ellis and O’Leary are racing teammates.
“We started working with him a couple of months ago,” O’Leary said. “We put our setup in his car and he’s been improving like crazy every week. This week just proved it. I was running, giving it everything I had and it took a last-lap pass.”
Chris Woodall dominated in the turbo stox feature, taking the lead from Bobby Gash III on lap 6 and cruising by 1.741 seconds over Mark Ross Jr. Third went to Gash, ahead of Michael Gerike, Billy Jarrells and Timmy Stewart.
Michael Gerike put on a power show in a special “chicane” pure stocks feature, dominating over Ryan Gilliam, Ryan Lagestee and Mike Kushnerik.