KALWASINSKI: Recapping The Year In Chicagoland

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Anthony Danta and his No. 51 late model were champions at the Grundy County Speedway. (Stan Kalwasinski Photo)
Stan Kalwasinski
Stan Kalwasinski

CHICAGO — With a new year almost upon us, let’s take a look at Chicago area racing track and association champions for the 2016 season.

Anthony Danta captured the late model stock car championship at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., winning four feature races and besting four-time track champion Eddie Hoffman and veteran Larry Schuler in the final points standings.

One of Danta’s victories was the season-ending Lee Schuler Memorial 61 lapper. It was Danta’s first track title at the third-of-a-mile paved Grundy oval. Danta had won the late model crown last year at the now-shuttered and dismantled Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind.

Ron Vandermeir Jr. nailed down his first career stock car championship, winning the Mid American Sportsman title at Grundy, capturing seven feature races along the way. A former two-time champion at the speedway, John Senerchia was the street stock division titlist at Grundy in 2016, adding this championship to his previous street stock (in 2013) and Mid American (in 2006) crowns. Winner of six main events during the season, Michael Tobuch claimed top honors in the track’s four-cylinder division.

Michael Bilderback was the NASCAR late model champion at the quarter-mile paved Rockford Speedway. Bilderback posted four feature wins during the campaign and finished ahead of former track champions Jon Reynolds Jr. and Jake Gille in the final points tally.

Brett McCoy claimed his third consecutive track title in Rockford’s All American Sportsmen division, which marked the sixth time McCoy has won the class championship. 2013 division champ, Nick Cina Jr. was the American Short Tracker titlist, while Chris McQuality won his first Roadrunner crown and Tyler Deschainen the (Hornets) four-cylinder championship.

Kankakee County Speedway saw Chad Osterhoff win the UMP Pro Late Models championship for the second year in a row, besting Tom Knippenberg in the final points rundown. Mike McKinney won an impressive nine feature races during the season, giving McKinney his second UMP Modified title at the quarter-mile dirt track.

McKinney finished ahead of Adam Pockrus and Kevin Hastings in the points. Other Kankakee champions include Joe Hillman (UMP Stock Cars), Jon Robbins (UMP Pro Modifieds) and Kory Kohler (UMP Sport Compacts).

Jay Brendle, a 12-year racing veteran, was the super late model titlist on the dirt at the Sycamore Speedway. Brendle won his third straight title over Dale Markham and Dan White. Derek Walker claimed Sycamore’s late model crown, while Mike Nelms was the pure stock champion.

Other Sycamore champions include Mallory Jackson (spectator), Starr Roach (powder puff), Johnny Lovett (compact), Mike Cunz (sport compact) and Matt Schuch (socker stocker).

Nearby speedways in Indiana, Shadyhill Speedway in Medaryville, Plymouth Speedway and Daugherty Speedway in Chase all raced on Saturday nights and all featured UMP modifieds as their headlining division.

Nick Allen was again the modified division champion at Shadyhill, winning seven feature races and becoming an eight-time track champion as he defeated last year’s champion Brad DeYoung and Jesse Bitterling in the final standings. It was Allen’s sixth championship at Shadyhill over the last eight seasons.

Jon Robbins was the I-Mod division champion. Other Shadyhill champions include Gregg Tarr (pure street), Jesse Gaylord (sport compact) and Hannah Jones (Teen 4s).

Derek Losh claimed his first UMP modified crown at the Plymouth speed plant. Losh bested former track champions Frank Marshall and Jamie Lomax in the final points standings. Roger Duszynski was the track’s super streets division titlist.

Other Plymouth champions include Shane Sanders (thunder stocks), Kevin Atkins (pro sprints) and Chad Hartzell (600 sprints).