MARION, Ill. — Chris Andrews, of Tulsa, Okla., won Keizer Wheels 66 Mike Phillips Memorial feature Saturday, earning a $10,000 paycheck in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series grand finale of the three-day event before a standing-room-only crowd at Southern Illinois Raceway.
“It’s the biggest race of my life,” Andrews said. “This was racing against the best of the best, the best Micro drivers in the country. It’s an awesome feeling, unbelievable.”
Andrews, 27, won Thursday’s feature to advance to the 40-lap final race and won the eight-car, eight-lap dash Saturday to start on pole. He led 38 laps on the one-eighth mile track, emerging in front of Justin Peck after a spirited battle for the lead in the opening half of the race and holding off Scott Sawyer and Trent Beckinger in the second half.
Sawyer finished second, four car lengths behind. Beckinger was third. Sawyer earned $5,000 and Beckinger $3,250 from the $35,000 purse.
Andrews, driving the Bob Hurley Ford Sawyer-Yamaha for owner Justin Blevins, jumped into the lead at the start and Peck, the 13-year-old who won Friday’s feature, held second.
“I played follow the leader and Sawyer and Beckinger were in the mix,” Peck said.
When they began putting cars a lap down, Peck attacked and took the lead on laps 14 and 15. But Andrews countered and regained the lead.
“Peck made a slide job on me in lapped traffic and I said, ‘I’ve got to go underneath him and get the lead back,’ and I did.”
At the start of the 17th lap, Peck entered turn one in the middle of the track and ran into Cale Thomas, whose car had flipped avoiding the suddenly slowing car of Blake Hahn. Hahn’s car had broken its drive-chain.
The crash took Peck out of the race.
“Hahn lost his chain, Cale flipped and I hit him,” Peck said. “I’m disappointed.”
After an extended red flag period to carefully remove Thomas from his car, the race resumed with Beckinger in second and Sawyer third.
Beckinger missed a shift on a lap 28 restart and Sawyer shot past into second. But
Beckinger regained second three laps later and began gaining on Andrews.
The final restart was on lap 31.
“Our car was bad fast at the start and I made some adjustments and it took off,” Beckinger said. “The last caution hurt us. The tires didn’t fire. They cooled off and settled. I was reeling him (Andrews) in and was right behind him when the caution came. I was going to win the race, but I can’t be too frustrated with third.”
Sawyer passed Beckinger for second with five laps to go.
“I needed lapped traffic and the problem was I didn’t’ get a lot of it,’ Sawyer said. “But I’m happy with second, it was a good run.”
It was a very good night for Sawyer’s company, which built the chassis of the top five finishers.
“All my Sawyer customers were in the top five, that’s not a bad weekend,” he said.
Dereck King and Andrew Felker completed the top five.
The second annual 66 Mike Phillips Memorial had 101 entries on Saturday, 106 on Friday and 99 on Thursday and drivers from 15 states racing for one of the biggest purses of the year. It was a prestigious and profitable win for Andrews, who won all five of his races.
“We were unbeatable this weekend,” Andrew said. “We were fast, but we were pretty fortunate, too. You always need luck. We caught the cautions at the right time and luck plays out in traffic. I had plenty this weekend.
“Words can’t describe what this feels like to win.”
SPEED SPORT Magazine “digital edition” now available for iPad and iPhone!
Get one year for just $12.99. Single issues (including back issues) are available for $2.99.
Click here to visit the iTunes App Store for details!