CANTON, Ill. —Brad Kuhn found a fast outside line and drove to victory, the 21st of his career in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series, in the Tom Knowles Memorial on Saturday night at Spoon River Speedway.
Kuhn started fourth in the 30-lap feature on the three-eighths mile high-banked track and led the final 17 for his second POWRi win of the season. He finished three car lengths in front of Zach Daum.
Davey Ray led the opening 10 laps and Dillon Welch passed him with a slider in turns one and two on the 11th. Kuhn had been closing on both on the far perimeter and passed Ray for second on the 12th lap and Welch for the lead on the 14th.
“It looked like it might have been taking rubber up in turn four, but it may just have been tacky,” Kuhn said. “There was just enough grip to shoot us forward, just enough to make a difference.”
“The 57 (Kuhn) came out of nowhere,” Ray, who finished third, said.
Kuhn’s last win at Spoon River was in 2001 in the Midwest Auto Racing Ass’n, a series replaced by POWRi in 2005.
“The first race I came to here in 2001, I won,” Kuhn said. “I was second the next two years and I’ve had horrible, bad luck here every year until tonight. The race track hasn’t always been good, but it was really nice tonight. There were two grooves.”
Kuhn, who drove a Fontana-powered Spike for owners Bill Ecker and Amy Reisdorf, ranks second on the all-time POWRi win list to Brad Loyet’s 33. The two-time (2006, ’09) POWRi Midget champion also ranks second among the all-time starters with 139, seven less than Tim Siner. Kuhn is the sole driver to have won a POWRi Midget feature in all of its eight seasons.
Dahm started 19th in his Fontana-powered Eagle and, using the inside line, climbed to second by the 17th lap. He briefly passed Kuhn at start/finish on the 22nd lap, but the caution came out and the restart reverted to the previous lap.
“I had him beat off turn four and was in front in (turns) one and two and the caution came out,” Daum said. “That’s not to say he couldn’t have got me back.
“We were good on the bottom for the B (main, a qualifying race that put Daum into the feature) and we set the car up to try to run the bottom until it went away in the feature. I kept cranking the shocks on all four tires to tighten the car up. I passed a lot of cars. But after that red (lap 24), the right rear tire went away and I couldn’t go like I had.”
Second wasn’t what Daum wanted.
“It’s like kissing your sister, it sucks,” Daum said. “It’s never fun, but sometimes that’s what you’ve got.”
Ray’s third in a Toyota-powered Spike was his best POWRi finish in six events this season. He’s shifted his focus to developing 16-year-old Canadian Riley Emmel, who was 12th in the feature Saturday and has driven a Ray-owned car regularly in POWRi.
“I’m happy with the finish,” Ray said. “We weren’t quite there, but we were pretty good.”
Championship leader Andrew Felker finished seventh and increased his points lead to 220 over second-place Brett Anderson with two races remaining.
Brad Kuhn, Zach Daum, Davey Ray, Tyler Robbins, Jake Blackhurst, Jeff Flescher, Andrew Felker, Colten Cottle, Garrett Aitken, Tim Siner, Korey Wyant, Riley Emmel, Austin Brown, Andy Malpocker, Daniel Robinson, Dillon Welch, Andy Huston, John Campbell, Tyler Thomas, Brett Anderson, Danny Stratton, Bubba Altig, Robbie Ray.