MORRIS, Ill. – On the day that Luke Baran was born, his father, Nick, made a promise to his son that he was going to bring home a trophy to put in his nursery.
The victory did not happen and, in fact, the team’s future was initially thought to be in peril after Nick lost his second engine of the season. Just one week later, as Nick took over the reins of his brother Tyler’s,yellow No. 11, lady luck finally shined on the BBOYZ Racing Team as Nick Baran was able to earn his first career D’Arcy GMC STARS National Midget victory in a thrilling, 50-lap Illinois State Championship feature at Grundy County Speedway Saturday.
“Last night, Tyler called me and said, if I was interested, I could drive his car,” Nick said. “It blew me away. I was really overwhelmed by that.”
The three-car inversion for the feature put Baran on the pole alongside Ryan Probst on the front row. From the opening lap, Baran was able to jump out to a comfortable advantage over Probst with nothing but clean air and an empty track in front of him. He capitalized on it.
Prock’s car got sideways on the final lap betweens turns one and two and was unable to recover in enough time to make another challenge for the lead. In the end, Baran took the checkered flag over Prock by two car lengths in a caution-free race. The rest of the top 10 included Probst, Kyle O’Gara, Trainor, Billy Hulbert, Nick Wagner, Brandon Wagner, Bruns, and Kyle Kettmann.
The win was the first career STARS National Midget victory for the 27-year-old Plainfield, Ill. native who was the 2013 STARS National Midget division rookie of the year. He becomes the ninth different Illinois driver to earn an Illinois State Championship.
“Really, it just feels like a load off of our shoulders. We’ve been down so much this year,” Baran said.
The 50-lap race went the entire distance without a single stoppage, timing in at 12 minutes, 27 seconds. With Prock all over his bumper for the majority of the race, Baran felt unsure that he would have been able to hold on to the lead if a yellow flag was thrown.
“I don’t know if we could’ve pulled this out if there was a caution,” Baran said. “I knew Austin (Prock) was on my bumper. I kind of got that vibe when (track photographer) Phil Rider started snapping a lot of pictures. You know somebody is close to you because he wants to get that action shot. He (Phil Rider) was my cue that Austin was close.”
In other action, Mike Anderson was able to hold off a hard-charging Jimmy Clark to earn his second Illini Racing Series Midget win at Grundy County in 2014. Ed Ensor won the Classic Modified feature. Cullen Camasta was victorious for the first time this season in the INEX Legends feature. In the CSR Super Cup feature, Dallas Frueh took the win.