SWEET SPRINGS, Mo. – No matter how long he continues to race professionally, Zeb Wise may never be able to top the rebound that he put together during Sunday’s USAC Mid-America Midget Week finale at Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex.
After being collected in a multi-car, opening-lap crash that resulted in his No. 39bc Driven2SaveLives Spike/Stanton SR-11x midget tumbling end over end, Wise restarted from the tail of the field at the sixth-mile dirt oval and ran his way back through traffic to finish on the podium in second place.
The finish tied his best result of the season and was one of the most memorable, as well as eventful, moments of the year so far. Wise came in only behind first-time winner Tanner Carrick at the checkered.
Wise rolled off for the 40-lap feature from the fifth row of the grid and appeared to have the momentum to strike early, before disaster struck ahead of him and left him with nowhere to hide.
“I started that race ninth, and on lap one, I was going down the backstretch and saw the leaders get together … and when I saw a couple cars start going up the track, I just ducked to the berm because I knew that was probably going to be my only way through it,” Wise recalled. “Then I saw Tanner Thorson start flipping down the track and my teammate, Chris Windom, went right up against the berm to barely squeak through before that hole closed up.
“From there, I was just a victim of the wreck. Thorson landed about right on top of me, and then I started flipping, and when I finally came to rest it was a wonder to me that the car was in one piece.”
Indeed, after his car was righted on all four wheels, Wise realized after a conversation with USAC series director Levi Jones that all was, remarkably, right in his world. It was still a shock to him, however.
“I talked to Levi when the track workers were flipping me back over, and had him look over the car, and when he said everything was good I just smiled,” Wise said. “I said, ‘Are you sure nothing’s bent? Because usually when you flip over a car you have to go to the work area and it’s all a mess.’ But literally, the only things that were out of shape were the two nerf bars … so we moved on.”
Wise resumed his pursuit of the competition from the tail of the 22-car field after he was pushed back off, but found a lane quickly and was up seven spots by the end of the second green-flag lap in the main.
Twelve laps in, he was halfway through the order, and after cracking the top 10 on the 18th lap he never left that group again for the remainder of the distance.
“I don’t even know how many cars were still out there when we restarted, but we were last on the field … and coming back through there was just insane,” noted Wise. “I did have some help, with a few cars falling out and all, but I made most of my passes and got all the way back through to second somehow.”
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