BELLEVILLE, Ill. — Brett Anderson has missed five straight events in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series, but the veteran driver from Belleville, Ill., returns Sunday to his hometown track at Belle-Clair Speedway for the 21st annual Arnie Knepper Memorial still in title contention.
Anderson has slipped to third with 1,650 points, trailing leader Andrew Felker’s 2,040 and second-place Chett Gehrke’s 1,990.
Anderson was tied with Felker for the championship lead before illness prevented him from entering two races in Wisconsin and POWRi’s three-race western swing to Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri.
“I’m feeling fine and ready to get back at it,” Anderson said. “We’re planning on trying to win the championship. If I can stay healthy and not have flat tires, we have a chance. We’ve run good this year.”
The winner of the Knepper Memorial in his POWRi National Midget championship season of 2008, Anderson has two victories included in six top-fives, nine top-10s and has made the feature in all 12 events he’s entered this season.
Anderson’s three finishes outside the top 10, 11th at Macon (Ill.) Speedway, 19th at Springfield (Mo.) Raceway and 20th at Lincoln (Ill.) Speedway, have been from flat tires.
Gehrke of Broken Arrow, Okla., gained 470 points on Felker on the western swing. He finished second at Junction Motor Speedway in McCool Junction, Neb., and fifth at Solomon Valley Speedway in Beloit, Wis., and US 36 Raceway in Cameron, Mo.
Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., dropped out of the three features with mechanical problems and finished 22nd, 20th and 19th.
“I didn’t think we had a chance at the national deal,” Gehrke said. “We were shooting to try to win the West. We’re leading the West and maybe we have a chance at the National (championship).”
Gehrke leads the inaugural POWRi Lucas Oil West Series over Felker, 1,490-1,090. The trio of western swing races were part of its 14-race championship. The Knepper Memorial is not part of the West schedule.
Felker has two wins included in five top-fives and 11 top-10s in the National series. Gehrke has three second-place finishes included in seven top-fives and two more top-10s in the National series.
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