Sunday, February 18, 2018

Pickens Powers To 4th POWRi Win

New Zealand’s Michael Pickens drove to his fourth feature victory in four events
over the past two seasons in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series, leading all
30 laps Saturday at Springfield Raceway.

“We backed up what we did last year,” Pickens said.

The four-time New Zealand champion’s four wins have been accomplished at four
different tracks. He won Friday at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Mo., and last
year at Peoria (Ill.) Speedway and Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill. The
29-year-old also has Midget victories in Badger, USAC and Australia.

Pickens started from pole and used a combination of speed and savvy to keep his
Esslinger-powered Breka underneath him in a race when his biggest threats fell by
the wayside with tire and mechanical failures on the fast quarter-mile track.

“The race was about tire management and not burning them up,” Pickens said. “You’ve
got to be thinking all the time.”

Brett Anderson of Belleville, Ill., climbed from 19th starting position to second by
the 17th lap and was less than a car length behind in a rousing seven-lap challenge
that included making side-by-side contact in turn four. But at the start of the 24th
lap, Anderson’s right rear tire deflated and sent his XXX-Fontana sliding off the
track in turn two.

“I popped a tire,” Anderson said. “I went from 19th to passing for the lead. It’s a
shame. It sucks.”

Garrett Aitken of Paris, Ill., climbed from 10th on the grid to move to second and
within a couple of car lengths of Pickens by the fifth lap. The 16-year-old POWRi
rookie maintained second until Anderson passed him and was second for the restart on
lap 24. But Aitken’s left-rear tire went flat and he fell out.

Jonathan Beason of Broken Arrow, Okla., made a brilliant restart from third on the
24th lap and passed Pickens for the lead on the back straight, but the caution came
out and the running order reverted to the previous lap.

“I started 14th and was biding my time,” Beason said. “I had some running room on
the restart and got into the lead, but a rock knocked an injector off the engine and
I was just limping around to the end from there.”

Rico Abreu finished second, his best finish in POWRi and in a Midget, in a
Toyota-powered Bullet. The 20-year-old from Rutherford, Calif., passed Beason for
second on a restart and briefly had the lead before a caution came out with two laps
to go.

“I passed Pickens, then the caution came out and I had to restart second,” Abreu
said. “I drove from the back (starting 13th) and had to get to the front before the
track took rubber. We were good all around the race track. I was trying to save the
tires, but at the same time, you’ve got to use up the tires to get up front. I
started getting nervous when all those tires starting blowing up.”

Abreu wasn’t able to mount a serious challenge in the two laps after the final
restart, finishing three car lengths behind Pickens.

“It’s good to be up there in the hunt and finish in the top three,” Abreu said.

Blake Hahn, a 17-year-old from Sapulpa, Okla., started on the outside of the front
row and drove steadily to finish a POWRi-best third.

“It felt great to run third to those two (Pickens, Abreu) guys,” Hahn said.

Springfield was a combined POWRi Lucas Oil National/West Series event. Chett Gehrke
of Broken Arrow, Okla., who is running for both championships, was the top West
finisher in fifth.

In support action on the Green Lawn Funeral Homes Sponsored event Webb City USRA
Modified Driver Mitch Keeter made a move on the low side of the Speedway around
leader Jerry Lankton on lap 6 to take his second win of the season on the racy ”
Quick – Quarter ” in the Budweiser USRA Modified feature.

The feature saw 4 different leaders with the top 8 shuffling back and forth. Rob
Muilenburg took the opening lead for two laps and then John Yeoman took charge.
Lankton swung to the outside on the high groove and grabbed the lead on lap 4
until giving – up the top spot to Keeter. Lankton rallied back in the latter
stages of the race to apply pressure to Keeter and gave several looks to the
leader. Behind the top two were Yeoman, A fast moving Brian Green, and early
leader Muilenburg.

Reliable Chevrolet USRA B Modified action had current National point leader Scott
Drake take advantage of a lap 13 caution and overtook leader Don Luna to capture
their feature event.

Luna had built a large lead over the field until the caution waved for a spinning
car in turn 3. As Drake made the winning pass over Luna in turn 4, Ryan Hendrix
followed Drake to take over second place and gave chase for the top spot with Luna
still in the hunt. Following the top 3 to the stripe were Michael Maggard and
current track point leader Mike Hailmann.

Wheeler Metals Legends cars again gave the capacity crowd an outstanding feature
event with 4 different leaders and as many as 8 drivers running at the front of
the pack. Jay Reynolds took the opening lead as Park Jones quickly went to the
front pack. Wayne Johnston threw his name in the front pack as point leader Mike
Hailmann and Justin Comer were on the move forward.

Johnston then took command and Jones on the following lap. When Jones took over,
Hailmann went to the extreme outside groove while Comer waited patiently of the
bottom groove. Hailmann would grab the lead on lap 16 with Jones right beside him.
On the final lap, Comer made the bottom lane stick and went right around the top 2
to secure his first win of the season. Jones crossed the line in a very close
second followed by Hailmann, Billy Cottrill, and Caleb McDugle.

Casey’s General Stores Midwest Modified action saw Craig Keeter take advantage of
a couple of restarts and hold off the late race surge from current point leader
Trevor Drake to capture his first win of the season. Drake made several attempts
to take the top spot with Keeter holding a fast and smooth line tonight. As Drake
gave chase, Gary Krebs along with Todd McGregor started to run down the top
runners while racing for position before finishing in this order as Taylor Moore
completed the top 5.

Pepsi Pure Stock action also saw several different leaders and 3 wide action and
some wild racing coming for the checkered flag. Bret Testerman and leader Jack
Hamer made contact in turn 4 as both drivers went spinning around. Testerman was
able to keep going forward to secure his second win of the season as Hamer slid
back to a 6th place finish. Tanner Sitton would lead the opening 6 laps before
Testerman grabbed the top spot. Sitton rallied back as Hamer patiently in the 3
wide battle for the lead. Hamer took the lead on lap 9 as Testerman and Sitton
closed back in on the leader. With the wild finish behind the winner was Tyler
Thulin, Darrell Storment, Sitton and lady driver Elizabeth Jolley.

Veteran Bob Maggard Sr. took the early lead and held on to capture his first win of
the season in the Street Stock division. Following Maggard was point leader Jim
Reid, Wayne Bysor, early contender Wayne Morris and Jason Bresee as over 110 race
teams checked in the pits.

Action continues next Saturday night with racing at 7PM sharp featuring USRA
Modifieds, USRA B Modifieds, Legends, Pure Stocks, Midwest Moods, Young Lions
Legends and Street Stocks.

Results-Green Lawn Funeral Homes Night

POWRi Lucas Oil National/West Midget Series results (30 laps): 1. Michael Pickens,
2. Rico Abreu, 3. Blake Hahn, 4. Brad Kuhn, 5. Chett Gehrke, 6. Dillon Welch, 7.
Nathan Smee, 8. Andrew Felker, 9. Cameron Hagin, 10. Andy Malpocker, 11. Tyler
Robbins, 12. Ryan Criswell, 13. Pat Schudy, 14. Riley Emmel, 15. Tyler Thomas, 16.
Jonathan Beason, 17. Jake Blackhurst, 18. Garrett Aitken, 19. Brett Anderson, 20.
Austin Brown, 21. Taylor Ferns, 22. Chris Bell

USRA Modified A Ft-1)Mitch Keeter-Webb City 2)Jerry Lankton-Lampe 3)John Yeoman
III-Joplin 4)Brian Green Pierce City 5)Rob Muilenburg-Sparta 6)Jackie
Dalton-Carthage 7)Erik Maggard-Brighton 8)Billy Dalton-Exeter 9)Dave
Elson-Springfield 10)Corey Weir-Nixa 11)Fred Slagle-Pierce City 12)Bobby
Pearish-Oronogo 13)Jason Summers-Carthage 14)Scott Symmonds-Bolivar

USRA B Modified A Ft-1)Scott Drake-Webb City 2)Ryan Hendrix-Joplin 3)Don Luna-St
James 4)Michael Maggard-Springfield 5)Mike Hailmann-Reed Springs 6)Kaleb Copher-Webb
City 7)Wayne Graybeal-Springfield 8)Mike Mansker-Springfield 9)Jeremy Thulin-Miami,
Okla. 10)Jared Thulin-Miami, Okla. 11)John Hurn-Joplin 12)Blake Ellis-Sarcoxie
13)Shane Bias-Everton 14)Jeff Scroggins-Brookline 15)Ken Scott-Willard 16)Jon Yeoman
Jr.-Granby 17)Gary Rodocker-Willard 18)Aaron Speck-Republic

Legends A Ft-1)Justin Comer-Joplin 2)Park Jones-Joplin 3)Mike Hailmann-Reed Springs
4)Billy Cottrill-Joplin 5)Caleb McDugle-Quapaw, Okla. 6)James McDugle-Quapaw, Okla.
7)Matt Gruenberg-Joplin 8)Tyler Horton-Joplin 9)Bill Cottrill-Joplin 10)Paul
Horton-Joplin 11)Darrell McWhirter-Bentonville, Ark. 12)Rodney Baird-Oldfield
13)Wesley Smith-Nixa 14)Kylan Garner-Sarcoxie 15)Wayne Johnston-Rolla 16)Jay
Reynolds-Springfield 17)Larry Smoot-Joplin 18)Ty McWhirter-Bentonville, Ark.
DNS-Calvin Garner-Sarcoxie

Midwest Modz A Ft-1)Craig Keeter-Webb City 2)Trevor Drake-Webb City 3)Gary
Krebs-Clever 4)Todd McGregor-Clever 5)Taylor Moore-Bois D’ Arc 6)Dakota
Maggard-Republic 7)Rusty Forrest-Ozark 8)Bobby Gough-Joplin 9)Shawn Eggeman-Willard
10)Steve Moore-Springfield 11)Michael Page-Webb City 12)Ken Walker-Springfield
13)Rusty Adams-Miami, Okla. 14)Austin Johnson-Joplin 15)Nathan Gold-Willard 16)Mike
Cooper-Joplin 17)Matthew Thulin-Miami, Okla.

Pure Stock A Ft-1)Bret Testerman-Miami, Okla. 2)Tyler Thulin-Miami, Okla. 3)Darrell
Storment-Bolivar 4)Tanner Sitton-Bolivar 5)Elizabeth Jolley-Billings 6)Jack
Hamer-Ava 7)Josh Bell-Willard 8)Lenny Bell-Willard 9)Philip Schloesser-Everton
DNS-David Moellering-Billings, Cody Dudley-Joplin

Street Stock A Ft-1) Bob Maggard Sr.-Brighton 2) Jim Reid-Springfield 3)Wayne
Bysor-Bolivar 4)Wayne Morris-Miami, Okla. 5)Jason Bresee-Joplin DNS-John
Gamble-Marshfield, Daniel Deason-Bolivar

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