BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Zach Daum drove to his first victory of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Nathan Benson raced to a runaway triumph in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series to open the Ford EcoBoost Challenge Weekend on Friday at Bloomington Speedway.
Daum’s win was the second of his career in POWRi National Midgets. The 22-year-old led the second half of the 30-lap feature in his Toyota-powered Eagle to finish five car lengths ahead of runner-up Alex Bright. Casey Shuman finished third.
“It’s good to get the monkey off my back,” Daum said. “We had some luck on our side.”
Daum started on pole and chased outside front row starter Davey Ray during the opening laps. But Austin Brown went up top and took over the lead on the sixth lap and pulled away. Brown was maneuvering through lapped traffic when he tried to split two slower cars in turn three. They touched wheels, spun and Brown had to go to the back. He finished 12th.
“Austin got ahead a little bit and it’s hard to tell if I’d had anything for him,” Daum said. “I was starting to run him down, but I would have had to run hard to get past.”
Daum moved into the lead on the 15th lap and had to hold off Bright and Shuman in a fast-paced green-flag run over the last 16 laps. Bright passed Shuman for second in turn two on the final lap. It was his best finish in 12 POWRi Midget events, six this year after being hired by RW Motorsports to drive its Fontana-powered Beast for the remainder of the season.
“Eighteenth (starting position) to second is nothing to complain about,” Bright said. “The car handled anywhere I put it on the track.”
Shuman lost his brakes 10 laps into the feature.
“The car was pretty good,” Shuman said. “Once we got strung out, I was able to run down Daum, but it’s pretty tough to race a guy with no brakes. It felt great to be back together racing for A.J. Felker.’
Former NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series driver Erin Crocker, the first woman to win a feature in the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars, had been expected to make her debut in POWRi Midgets at Bloomington, but decided to withdraw from the eight-event program — seven in POWRi plus the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl — earlier this week.
Benson started on pole and led all 15 laps, cut short from the normal 20 because of a two-hour rain delay prior to the features. It was the second victory of the year for the 29-year-old from Concordia, Mo., and third of his POWRi career.
“I want to thank the track crew for getting the track ready,” Benson said. “It’s a seven and a half hour drive here for us and it was definitely worth it.”
Cale Thomas finished second and Chris Openhaw was third.
Zach Daum, Alex Bright, Casey Shuman, Andrew Felker, Davey Ray, Colten Cottle, Tyler Thomas, Garrett Aitken, Jake Blackhurst, Seth Motsinger, Parker Price-Miller, Austin Brown, David Budres, Michael Koontz, Kevin Studley, Brady Short, Justin Peck, Justin Dickerson, Jake Neuman, Terry Babb, Bryan Clauson, Ross Rankin.