MONTPELIER, Ind. – The 15th renewal of USAC’s annual Indiana Midget Week mini-series kicked off Tuesday night at Montpelier Motor Speedway to a rousing crowd and several diverse storylines.
Chief among the highlights during the 30-lap feature were runs through the field by USAC Triple Crown champion Jerry Coons Jr. and recent Shamrock Classic winner Cannon McIntosh.
Coons rose from 20th to 11th in the Petry Motorsports-owned No. 5 Toyota, garnering the KSE/Prosource Hard Charger Award for his efforts, but lamented he couldn’t have started further ahead after a lackluster time-trial run buried him for the main event.
“The Hard Charger Award, to me, is really the ‘you need to qualify better’ award, but we’ll take a decent night out of here,” said Coons. “Our engines were just off a little bit, tuning-wise, early on and it set us back. We were actually off on our fuel system; we leaned it down and ended up with gearing that wasn’t quite right for the heat race. It was a night and day difference.
“Unfortunately we had to start way back, and I got a few cars on the bottom early, but once it laid rubber up top you had to move up there and just get cars however you could,” he added. “It wasn’t a good start, but we recovered a bit and did the best we could with the cards we had.”
– It was a similar story for McIntosh, who had the move of the night by going from seventh to first in one lap on the bottom to win his heat race, but was buried in 21st on the grid after a poor qualifying lap.
The 16-year-old charged forward to come home 12th, one spot behind Coons, and missed out on hard-charger honors via the tiebreaker for overall feature finish.
“Qualifying is just the part right now where, as a young driver, I lack,” McIntosh explained. “It’s really a bummer that we had to start so far back, because we had a fast car. We’ve been good in heat races to bounce back, but being buried in the field on a track that rubbered up tonight just killed us.
“The heat race was fun, though,” he added. “Everyone was trying to race as hard as they could and go for broke, and I just rolled around the bottom and tried to make the veteran decision,” he added. “It worked out, we moved forward and made a pretty cool highlight for the night, I feel like.”
– The Golobic family and the Matt Wood Racing team had one of the longest hauls – if not the longest – to get to Indiana Midget Week, with Shane Golobic and his brother Dustin trading off over a 35-hour drive from California to Indiana for the six-night sojourn.
In fact, Shane Golobic debuted a new paint scheme on his No. 17w midget for the week, with the blue-and-orange colors of NOS Energy Drink supplemented with white sections to differentiate Golobic’s machine from the similarly colored cars of both Clauson-Marshall Racing and RAMS Racing.
“We’ve gotten people talking about the car, that’s for sure,” said Golobic, the 2017 Indiana Midget Week points champion. “Some people like it and some people aren’t sold on it yet, but we wanted to stand out from the crowd. It was a long haul to get here and we’re just happy to be back in Indiana.”
Golobic finished sixth in Tuesday night’s feature, his first USAC national midget start of the season.
– One notable competitor in the open sprint car feature at Montpelier was Clarklake, Michigan’s Brian Ruhlman, who is perhaps best known for his exploits in dirt late model and modified racing.
Ruhlman is a five-time Eldora Speedway track champion and four-time titlist with the Sunoco American Late Model Series, but has recently acquired a non-winged sprint car and hopes to learn more about the unique style of racing that the class is renowned for.
Though he finished 14th in the 18-car field on Tuesday, Ruhlman carried a smile throughout the night.
“We’re just seeing what we can learn with this thing, because the driver definitely has a lot to figure out in order to get up to speed against the guys who have been doing this for a while,” Ruhlman said. “Our goal here was to turn laps and not tear anything up, and overall we were able to do that.
“There’s a definite learning curve, but that just comes with more seat time as you go along.”
– Indiana Midget Week continues Wednesday night at Gas City I-69 Speedway. Though the forecast was iffy for much of Tuesday, a storm front moved through overnight and has led to dropping chances of precipitation and improved optimism that the program will occur in its entirety at the quarter-mile oval.