By Zach Tasker
The midgets of the Illini Racing Series visited the Rockford Speedway for the first time in 2013 on Saturday night. It was Instant Jungle kids night as a special 50 lap feature was on tap for the evening. Sean Murphy, who was the nights fastest qualifier would line up on pole position for the feature alongside Aaron Willis Jr. The #10 machine of Willis would get the early jump on Murphy and look like a strong contender for the victory on the high-banks. However bad luck would strike the Mike Wallace Racing driver as on lap 15 he pulled his car pitside with battery issues. Murphy would control the pace the next few laps until lap 19 when the #54 car of Dave Budres had an engine expire and make contact with the turn 3 wall. The Smurfinator would look flawless on the restart and in the following laps built up a lead worth a couple seconds. As always, the action was tight and fast in the middle of the pack behind him. It looked like it was Murphys race to lose as he was making it look easy until about 10 laps to go when the #77 car of Lamont Critchett slowly started to creep closer and closer to the lead. The current points leader had everyone in the crowd watching to see if he could make a move for the win but he ran out of laps as Murphy would take the checkered flag a few car lengths in front of him. Scott Koerner finished 3rd after a race long battle with Mike Anderson who finished 4th and Jason Allen who dropped out of the race. Kourtnay Borman secured her career best IRS finish in 5th place.
This was the "Smurfinators" second IRS victory this season. He also becomes the first repeat winner of 2013 "I tend to like longer races for some reason, it just gives me a little more time to work. As long as I can figure out how to manage these brakes and clear traffic I actually enjoy them." The driver of the #5 Potential Ag/Set Racing Engines Twister/Ecotec knew Critchett was closing on him late but was still comfortable "I heard something, I thought it was my tire kind of squealing then I figured it was probably another car so I was trying to pick it up those last three laps because I figured someone was right on my bumper." Murphys fast qualifying time of the night was two tenths faster than any other car.
Lamont Critchett has stretched his points lead even more with a runner up finish. The Demotte, Indiana native is looking for his 2nd career IRS championship. "I had a car that was very comfortable to drive, I could have drove it 100 laps. Unfortunately the last 5 laps the motor started getting real hot and started laying down on me right when I got to Seans rear bumper. I was in my head figuring out how to set him up and the motor said nope you're done so it was a matter of I know I'm leading points just finish it, keep it in one piece and don't blow it apart." The driver of the #77 SSR/Hanley Farms/Knights Body Shop/Boomba Specialties Buzzard/Volkswagen is now in championship protection mode even though he would like to collect race victories . "This is my 11th season doing this. Ive won a championship before, now I know that when you take the points lead, you look at it as its yours to lose. I said last week a second place is last place. Yes I'm still that way but now you have to look at it as now its time to keep your nose clean and finish laps and finish races. Keep yourself up there and just get yourself in the top 5 and the championship is yours to lose for the most part and that's how I ran tonight."
The #9k Task Management Beast/Ecotec driven by Scott Koerner rounded out the podium. The Joliet native was happy to load the car on the trailer in one piece after a tight battle. "Even though these don't have fenders its still a tight little racetrack for these cars. I was trying to make sure I had enough brakes left at the end so I was kind of riding and just doing what I could. Once they put all that oil dry down I was able to basically go where he (Anderson) wasn't and pull up on him then I was running a bit hot so I was trying to take it easy and make sure I could finish the 50 laps myself. " Koerner would start the night off in a fantastic heat race battle with Jason Allen. Allen would win heat number one in his debut in the #24 Laverne Spencer owned midget. Koerner stalked Allen the whole race then dove to the inside of the turns 3 and 4 on the final lap. The margin of victory was one half car length. Heat race #2 went to Doug Orseske after he and 2nd place runner Bob Adams made contact going into turn 3 on the final lap.
The second of three scheduled double header weekends this season for the IRS is coming up this Saturday July 13 at Sycamore Speedway then Sunday July 14 at Angell Park Speedway.
FEATURE (50 L): 1)#5 Sean Murphy 2)#77 Lamont Critchett 3)#9k Scott Koerner 4)#7 Mike Anderson 5)#31 Kourtnay Borman 6)#0 Doug Orseske 7)#83 Patrick Bruns 8)#2r Cainon Reed 9)#24 Jason Allen 10)#54 David Budres 11) #10 Aaron Willis Jr. 12)#2h Andrew Hennig 13)#52 Mike Gass 14)#17 Brian Dobis 15)#9a Bob Adams (DNS)
HEAT RACE #1 (8 L): 1)#24 Jason Allen 2)#9k Scott Koerner 3)#52 Mike Gass 4)#77 Lamont Critchett 5)#10 Aaron Willis Jr. 6)#5 Sean Murphy 7)#7 Mike Anderson 8)#4 Eric Greenup (DNS)
HEAT RACE #2 (8 L): 1)#0 Doug Orseske 2)#54 David Budres 3)#31 Kourtnay Borman 4)#83 Patrick Bruns 5)#2h Andrew Hennig 6)#9a Bob Adams 7)#2r Cainon Reed 8)#17 Brian Dobis (DNS)
QUALIFYING: 1)#5 Sean Murphy (13.868) 2)#10 Aaron Willis Jr. (14.022) 3)#52 Mike Gass (14.049) 4)#77 Lamont Critchett (14.076) 5)#24 Jason Allen (14.113) 6)#9k Scott Koerner (14.194) 7)#7 Mike Anderson (14.300) 8)#54 David Budres (14.348) 9)#0 Doug Orseske (14.385) 10)#31 Kourtnay Borman (14.604) 11)#9a Bob Adams (14.648) 12)#83 Patrick Bruns (14.905) 13)#2r Cainon Reed (17,698) 14)#2a Andrew Hennig (no time) 15)#4 Eric Greenup (no time) 16)#17 Brian Dobis (no time)
This article was posted to the website on July 8th, 2013
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