LOVES PARK, Ill. – The 47th Annual National Short Track Championships got underway on Friday night at Rockford Speedway with six feature events in the record books.
The winners included: Mitch Garfield (Weekly Warrior 47), Johnny Robinson II (All-American Sportsman), George Sparkman (American Short Trackers), Bobby Frisch (RoadRunners), Kyle Stark (Hornet vs. Bandits) and Josh Thiering (Figure 8’s).
Garfield surprised many in the stands as he won the Stanley Steemer Weekly Warrior 47-lap feature event. Garfield got a great run on the final restart to shoot by Jerry Gille with 12 laps to go and hold off the three-time champion to win the event.
“I took the bottom on the last restart and took my chances,” a smiling Garfield said in victory lane. “Gille was tough to hold off but we did it.”
Jake Gille was the early leader and appeared to runaway from the event that was entertaining from the drop of the green flag. Garfield took advantage of the pick-a-lane restart to work his way up to the front.
A multi-car wreck off of turn four with 12 laps to go would set up for a wild finish. During the caution, Gille would go to the pits after his right rear tire went flat.
Then something appeared to break in Ricky Bilderback’s car, which sent him to the turn four wall on the restart. Jerry Gille inherited the lead with Garfield, who started tenth, behind him.
Garfield timed the restart perfectly and got a run on the inside of a surprised Gille. Garfield would take over the lead and hold off the numerous attempts from Gille.
As the white flag flew, Matt Berger got on the outside of Gille and would take over second. At the line Garfield took the win with Berger in second and Gille in third. Bobby Wilberg was fourth with Jon Reynolds Jr. rounding out the top five.
Robinson started on the outside of the front row and got the lead from Scott Lawver as the field came out of turn two in the Metro Medical 40. Robinson put his #99 car on cruise control while there was a great battle behind him.
Matt Lundberg started eighth and moved his way up to second by lap 18. Lundberg tried to chase down Robinson but would not gain any ground. Darrell Garman, Doug Bennett and Jason Thoma put on a great show for third all the way to the checkered flag. Robinson would take the win with Lundberg in second. Garman would take third while Bennett would edge out Thoma for fifth.
Bennett won the Gilley’s Cool Five Championship for the All-American Sportsman division.
Sparkman became a five-time champion in the American Short Trackers. It was also a third in a row for the veteran driver. Sparkman got the lead on after a restart from Scott Hoeft on lap seven.
Nick Cina then challenged Sparkman for the remainder of the Hoosier Racing Tires 40. Cina made multiple attempts to get around Sparkman, but his car was on a rail on the topside and would get a good run off of the corners. Cina had his best shot with eight laps to go, but got loose coming out of turn four giving Sparkman the room to drive to victory.
Rodney Gilley finished third with Kyle Stark in fourth. Joe LaMarca rounded out the top-five.
Cina’s second place finished secured the Gilley’s Cool Five Championship for the American Short Trackers.
Frisch took home the Sam’s Drive-In 40 Road Runner feature event. Frisch would get the lead from Derek Nichol with 16 laps to go and cruise to the win. Frisch would catch the leaders at the halfway mark. On lap 22, he would work the inside line and get by Greg Pruitt for second.
Two laps later, he used the same line to get past Nichol for the win. Adam Cartwright was third with Howie Ware in fourth. Arlyn Roush rounded out the top five.
Stark was the big winner in the Hornets vs. Bandits Crap Scrappers 25-lap feature event. Stark was in a great battle for the lead with Bryce Bailey in the closing stages of the event.
With two laps to go, Bailey appeared to go into turn one and got loose, hitting the outside wall. Stark would lead at the re-start and cruise to victory. Tim Dickson was second with Stephen Hillary in third. Trevor Robinson was fourth and Steve McBride rounded out the top five.
Thiering won the wild Figure 8 WXRX 15 lap feature event to close out the first night of racing. Derek Dobbs finished second, which was enough to secure the 2012, Figure 8 Championship. Jim Daugherty finished third.