By Jordan Kuehne
LOVES PARK, Ill. (Saturday, July 30th, 2011) -- The kid doesn't even have a driver's license; that wasn't enough to stop 15-year-old Erik Jones tonight though as the young gun survived a late restart with six circuits remaining to capture the 20th running of the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour 'All-Star 100' presented by Stanley Steemer and wear the legendary wreath at the Rockford Speedway. With the win, Jones' first in the series, the teenager joins the growing ranks of past legends that have claimed the checkers in the 'All-Star 100' including hallowed names that seared themselves into memory like Allison, Shear, Trickle, and Martin.
Two other prior victors in this event, Rich Bickle and 'Fast' Eddie Hoffman, challenged Jones at various points throughout the race as yellow flags slowed the pace down and offered a variety of drivers a chance to contend for the crown. Ultimately, no one had more in the tank than Erik Jones as the Michigan hotshoe parlayed his fast qualifying effort and an eighth-place starting spot into history. Joining Jones on the podium was another 15-year-old, Cody Coughlin, who kept his nose clean and survived the battle of attrition to notch a career best runner-up result. Bickle and JEGS/CRA points leader Hoffman came home in third and fourth respectively.
The opening act of the late model doubleheader, the 30-lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models headliner, went Jerry Gille's way as the two-time division champ continued his summer surge as he eyes another late season rally in the standings. Alex Papini extended his points lead in the Mtn Dew RoadRunners with a convincing victory, his fourth of the 2011 campaign.
The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour ‘All Star 100’ presented by Stanley Steemer received a major shakeup before the green flag even waved as defending champion Ryan Carlson and Midwestern hotshoe Jesse Saunders were relegated to the back of the 23-car pack after failing post-qualification tech due to faulty ignition boxes. For Carlson --pulling double duty on the evening with his weekly late model and his JEGS/CRA machine – the penalty proved especially costly as the Loves Park, Ill., native relinquished what would have been fast time as 15-year-old rising star Erik Jones jumped to the top of the speed charts for the third time in 2011.
When the green flag waved on the 20th rendition of the event steeped in history, another 15-year-old – Cody Coughlin – rolled to the early edge as ‘Fast’ Eddie Hoffman surged into the runner-up spot with a pair of laps in the books.
A red flag stopped the proceedings just three laps into the main event for a huge incident that started on the backstretch and carried into turn three as Danny Jackson careened into the tire that buffers the point and made hard contact, collecting Jesse Saunders, Jimmy Novak III, and an unfortunate Carlson who couldn’t avoid the mayhem.
Jackson and Novak III were able to walk away from the pileup while ‘RC’ and Saunders exited to the pits with heavy damage and saw his chances to wear the wreath for a second straight year come perilously close to being snuffed – a brief break in the action allowed the Rockford Speedway safety crew to clean up the carnage before cars began rolling again under yellow.
On the restart, Coughlin came under fire from Hoffman for the lead as the three-time National Short Track Champion peeked to the bottom and targeted the top spot. 2009 NSTC victor Josh Nelms made it a three car fray up front with ten laps in the books. A couple of laps later, Hoffman suddenly blew past a slowing Coughlin on the exit of turn two and emerged with a three car length edge. That margin was erased within a quarter-mile however as Jordan Miller brought out a second yellow for a solo spin in the third turn.
Teenager Erik Jones burst into a podium spot on the ensuing restart as he utilized the high line to blow past a sliding Nelms for the bridesmaid’s position. The young hotshoe set his sights on his veteran adversary out front, closing up to Hoffman’s back bumper before pulling back into the upper groove on the asphalt oval as another yellow slowed the race with 20 laps completed.
Hoffman hustled past Jones for the lead when the green waved and Nelms nabbed second as Jones got trapped on the low line and dropped to third. Behind the top three, longtime contender Trent Snyder challenged Tracy Schuler for fourth – an overaggressive Snyder got loose in turn four and slammed into Schuler’s door panel, cutting the right front tire on the Chicagoland driver’s machine and forcing another yellow with 70 laps to go.
Snyder recovered from his mishap and soared to second on the restart, quickly inserting himself to the inside of Hoffman as they battled for the lead – the race received a major shakeup at the 1/3rd mark as Snyder and Hoffman made contact in turn two and spun in front of the field, bringing out another yellow and relegating both contenders to the back of the pack. The lucky benefactors were Josh Nelms and Erik Jones as they inherited the front row on the restart.
Rich Bickle, the 1989 ‘All-Star 100’ victor, pushed past Nelms when racing resumed and snagged second as Jones jumped away from the field and took a big lead. As the young gun rolled to a sizable edge out front, Bickle and Chad Finley dueled for the second spot as Brandon Watson sat back and watched in fourth.
With the caution-plagued event moving past the halfway point, Jones continued to lengthen his margin to a comfortable straightaway edge only to see another yellow fly and his cushion evaporate with 47 laps remaining after Matt Puskarich slid sideways into the turn one wall and made hard contact, forcing Brent Downey and Trent Snyder to slam on the brakes and come to a screeching halt.
Under caution, Nelms and Finley sacrificed top five runs to take their machines to the pits for repairs as the battle of attrition continued to wage war on the field. Jones fended off Bickle’s advances on the restart as Rockford regular Ryan Carlson’s remarkable rally reached the top five – ‘RC’ rocketed into the runner-up spot with a nifty crossover move on Bickle as Cody Coughlin followed them in fourth.
Wes Griffith Jr’s rear end snapped around in the middle of turn two shooting the Crown Point, Ind., driver hard into the outside wall and bringing out a yellow with 43 circuits remaining. Cody Coughlin collected third from Bickle when they returned to top speed as Jones once again slipped away to a solid margin.
Another caution enabled JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour top gun Eddie Hoffman to maneuver into the top five with just 35 circuits remaining. An action-packed restart allowed Jones to escape as Carlson and Bickle roughed each other up as they jousted for the bridesmaid’s position. Bickle emerged with the spot as Josh Nelms relinquished fourth thanks to a black flag due to pieces of sheet metal that were dangerously loose on his machine.
As Jones got into a rhythm and picked off lapped traffic up front, Chad Finley worked around Carlson for third – just five laps later, Finley’s motor went south and he fell off the pace as Carlson regained the position and pressured Bickle for second. Carlson’s attempted pass for the spot went sour with 17 circuits left as the Rockford regular nearly spun out trying to save his loose race car and suffered a flat right front tire, ending his chances to repeat once and for all.
Cody Coughlin stole second on the restart as Eddie Hoffman hurried past Bickle for third and turned up the urgency with under 15 laps remaining. With a pair of 15-year-olds riding around in the first and second positions, a broken axle ended Michigan native Claude Plante Jr’s top five effort setting up a certifiable six-lap dash to the checkers.
The late race restart went Jones’ way as the teenager held off his fellow young gun and raced to a five car length edge, hitting his marks over the final few laps and etching his name alongside legends en route to the win in the 20th running of the ‘All-Star 100’ presented by Stanley Steemer.
"I gotta thank my dad for helping me out," Jones admitted afterwards. "I love this track -- there's so much history here, it's just an awesome place to race on and it's just an all-around awesome place."
His 15-year-old running mate, Cody Coughlin, ran around for most of the race in the top ten before coming on late for a career-best runner-up finish.
"100 laps here felt like 500 laps at Bristol with all of the cautions," the young Coughlin quipped. "We had a pretty good test session the other day and I thought we had a top five run coming but second's not bad. I'll take it."
1989 'All-Star 100' victor Rich Bickle returned to the Rockford Speedway in style, piecing together a strong top five car and fending off fellow contender 'Fast' Eddie Hoffman's advances to place himself on the podium with a strong third place result. That wasn't good enough for the former NASCAR wheelman though who admitted afterwards that he was frustrated with the numerous double-file restarts throughout the race.
"Cautions breed cautions out here," an upset Bickle offered. "I felt like I had a winning car tonight so third feels kind of indifferent to me. At the end of the night, I guess I'm just happy we don't have a torn up race car and everything's intact."
Hoffman's rally came up short as the venerable veteran managed another top five in a big race at the high banked oval, finishing fourth on a sultry summer evening. Local driver Mike Beyer rounded out the top five with a solid fifth place effort.
2009 NSTC victor Josh Nelms managed to return and salvaged a top ten, coming home ninth, while defending champion and Rockford points leader Ryan Carlson limped home to a 12th place finish.
Mark Hartline hustled to the early advantage in the 30-lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Models main event while Vern Fagerberg hung out on the high side in second.
Fagerberg wasted no time challenging for the lead and nabbed the top spot with four laps in the books as Tom Gille threw his hat in the ring and blew past the young gun. Brother Jerry Gille and fast qualifier Jon Reynolds Jr. burst into podium spots in second and third respectively as the race remained in the early stages.
Jerry Gille showed no love for his brother as the two-time champ shoved his own blood aside in turn two and squeezed him up the track on the seventh circuit for the lead as Reynolds Jr, who took the Gerber Collision & Glass Challenge during prerace ceremonies and started in the back of the pack for the chance to earn an extra $400 in cash, negotiated Tom Gille for the bridesmaid’s position.
As the top two ran away from the field, hard racing in the back of the pack enabled points leader Ryan Carlson to slip into third as ‘Insane’ Wayne Freimund emerged in a top five position after working past a fading Fagerberg with under ten circuits to go.
Gille glided through lapped traffic with five laps remaining as ‘Driver X’ gave chase in second, picking off slower cars with a trophy and cash on the line. The leader was held up by Fagerberg’s slowing car and Reynolds Jr. exploded to within striking distance, closing up to Gille’s back bumper and peeking to the low line as he eyed the win.
With the white flag in the air, Reynolds Jr. made a last gasp dive to the bottom of the high-banked oval in the final turn but failed to make the move stick as Jerry Gille garnered his division-leading fourth feature triumph of the season as he continues to mount another late-season charge for the championship.
“Yeah, starting up front can help you, sometimes it can hurt you,” the veteran admitted. “We’re making progress. It’s been an off and on year where we’ve either broke or won it seems.”
Reynolds Jr. settled for second as ‘RC’, pulling double duty on the evening, collected a podium finish in third. Tom Gille made it a family affair up front with a fourth place effort while Wayne Freimund rounded out the top five in fifth.
Mtn Dew RoadRunners points leader Alex Papini wasted no time moving from his sixth place starting spot into the lead in the 20-lap headliner, pushing past Brian Mayer on the backstretch with just three laps in the books and assuming command of the race. Papini’s close friend, Dana ‘Zippity’ Czach negotiated around Mayer for second as he looked to chase down his rival for the top spot.
Anthony Lloyd landed in a podium spot in third as Czach began to eye a line around Papini as the race breezed past the halfway mark. With the race winding down, Czach set up an inside maneuver around Papini for the top spot but he was rebuffed by a debris caution with four circuits remaining.
On the restart, Papini pulled away from his buddy as Lloyd landed in second when Dana Czach’s machine broke down in the middle of turn three. Terry Ciano Jr. challenged Lloyd’s grip on the runner-up position but came up short; no one had anything for Alex Papini though as the championship hopeful collected his fourth feature win of the season and extended his points lead in the process.
“We’ve been looking for a win these last couple of weeks,” Papini acknowledged. “This feels good to get another victory after about a month and a half or so without one.”
Lloyd settled for a runner-up finish while Terry Ciano Jr. came home third. Howie Ware worked his way up to fourth and Larry Dickinson scored a fifth place result in his return to the vaunted speedplant to complete the top five.
The Sam’s Drive-In RoadRunner Challenge debuted the inaugural Pretzel Race tonight and it was Arlyn Roush that burst into the early lead before missing a sharp hairpin turn in the event that turned the quarter-mile asphalt oval into a twisting pretzel.
Roush went from fourth to first when Adam Cartwright went the wrong way. The mayhem continued as Sam Dover used his knowledge of the pretzel’s shape to snag the lead with one lap remaining. After Dover spun himself out on the last circuit, Cartwright assumed command again and hit his marks on the way to the trophy.
Racing returns to the Rockford Speedway on Wednesday night as Wild Wednesday's penultimate program features a smorgasbord of fun racing options for fans to enjoy. The Mtn Dew RoadRunners headline action with their Super Summer Series while the Bandits, INEX Legends, Bandoleros, Misfits, Winged Women on Wheels, Figure 8, and Law Office of Kim MacCloskey Spectacular Drags are all on tap as well as the Bandit Challenge.
Adult admission is just $8 while teenagers ages 12-17 get in for $6 and kids ages 6-11 get in for only $4. Children ages 5 and under are FREE with gates opening at 5:30pm and the green flag waving on all the exciting racing action at 7:07pm sharp!
For more information on the Rockford Speedway, including the remaining 2011 schedule, visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or contact the Speedway Box Office at (815)633-1500.
Rockford Speedway Results
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Week 13
NASCAR Late Models
A-Main 01 -- 1. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 2. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Rockford; 3. Ryan Carlson, Loves Park; 4. Tom Gille,
Winnebago; 5. Wayne Freimund, Elkhorn, Wis; 6. Vern Fagerberg, Bloomingdale; 7. Kyle Shear, Roscoe; 8. Steve
McBride (r), South Beloit; 9. Mark Hartline, Gilberts; 10. Mitchell Garfield (r), Gilberts.
Heat 01 -- 1. Mark Hartline, Gilberts; 2. Wayne Freimund, Elkhorn, Wis; 3. Mitchell Garfield (r), Gilberts; 4. Vern Fagerberg, Bloomingdale; 5. Steve McBride (r), South Beloit.
Heat 02 -- 1. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 2. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Rockford; 3. Tom Gille, Winnebago; 4. Ryan Carlson, Loves
Park; 5. Kyle Shear, Roscoe.
Time Trial -- 1. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Rockford; 2. Jerry Gille, Roscoe; 3. Ryan Carlson, Loves Park; 4. Tom Gille,
Winnebago; 5. Kyle Shear, Roscoe; 6. Wayne Freimund, Elkhorn, Wis; 7. Mitchell Garfield (r), Gilberts; 8. Vern
Fagerberg, Bloomingdale; 9. Mark Hartline, Gilberts; 10. Steve McBride (r), South Beloit.
Trophy Dash 01 -- 1. Kyle Shear, Roscoe; 2. Tom Gille, Winnebago; 3. Ryan Carlson, Loves Park; 4. Jerry Gille,
Roscoe; 5. Jon Reynolds, Jr., Rockford; 6. Wayne Freimund, Elkhorn, Wis.
NASCAR Road Runners
A-Main 01 -- 1. Alex Papini, Machesney Park; 2. Anthony Lloyd, Loves Park; 3. Terry Ciano, Jr., Janesville, Wis; 4. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 5. Larry Dickinson II, Cedarville; 6. Brian Mayer, Machesney Park; 7. Jeff Allendorf, Belvidere; 8. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 9. Patrick Featherston II, Byron; 10. Adam Cartwright, Marengo; 11. Josh DiGiovanni, Machesney Park; 12. James Gregory, Winnebago; 13. Steven Dover, Machesney Park; 14. Kyle McQuality, Stillman Valley; 15. Dana Czach, Wauconda; 16. Roger Champlin, Beloit, Wis.
Heat 01 -- 1. Josh DiGiovanni, Machesney Park; 2. Brian Mayer, Machesney Park; 3. James Gregory, Winnebago; 4.
Adam Cartwright, Marengo; 5. Patrick Featherston II, Byron; 6. Steven Dover, Machesney Park; 7. Kyle McQuality, Stillman Valley; 8. Eric Schoffen, Crystal Lake; 9. Roger Champlin, Beloit, Wis.
Heat 02 -- 1. Alex Papini, Machesney Park; 2. Anthony Lloyd, Loves Park; 3. Terry Ciano, Jr., Janesville, Wis; 4. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 5. Dana Czach, Wauconda; 6. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 7. Larry Dickinson II, Cedarville; 8. Jeff Allendorf, Belvidere.
Challenge 01 -- 1. Adam Cartwright, Marengo; 2. Steven Dover, Machesney Park; 3. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 4. Josh
DiGiovanni, Machesney Park; 5. Eric Schoffen, Crystal Lake.
Trophy Dash 01 -- 1. Dana Czach, Wauconda; 2. Terry Ciano, Jr., Janesville, Wis; 3. Anthony Lloyd, Loves Park; 4. Howie Ware, South Beloit; 5. Arlyn Roush, Woodstock; 6. Alex Papini, Machesney Park.
JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour
'All-Star 100' -- 1. Erik Jones, Byron, Mich.; 2. Cody Coughlin, Delaware, Ohio.; 3. Rich Bickle, Janesville, Wis.; 4. Eddie Hoffman, Wheaton, Ill.; 5. Mike Beyer, Machesney Park, Ill.; 6. Austin Woodham, LaPorte, Ind.; 7. Claude Plante, Jr., Chesterfield Township, Mich.; 8. Tom Woodin, Battle Creek, Mich.; 9. Josh Nelms, Lockport, Ill.; 10. Jordan Miller, Breezewood, Pa.;
Fast Qualifier -- Erik Jones, Byron, Mich.; (13.382 seconds/23 cars qualified)
This article was posted to the website on July 31st, 2011
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