JACKSONVILLE, Ill. — Danny Stratton drove to his third feature victory of the season in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Trent Beckinger won his third of 2012 in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series in Herb Barlow Memorial races Friday at quarter-mile Jacksonville Speedway.
Stratton led all 30 laps and finished six car lengths in front of second-place Austin Brown. It was Stratton’s seventh career victory in POWRi Midgets, moving him into a tie with Mike Hess for sixth on the all-time list. The 32-year old has made eight starts in the Hans Lien-owned Spike-Esslinger in POWRi this season and also has two runner-up finishes.
“I’m a part-time racer and to be able to compete with these POWRi drivers proves we’ve done our homework,” Stratton said. “I can’t say enough about the car they put underneath me. And I’ll be shipping Dan Esslinger a victory cake to (South El Monte) California to thank them (Esslinger Engineering) for building such a strong motor.”
Stratton started on the outside of the front row next to Colten Cottle and jumped into the lead at the start. Brett Anderson, who started on the outside of the second row, jumped into second following a restart on the second lap and chased Stratton for the next 23 laps.
“Anderson stuck his nose in early and I moved down a lane,” Stratton said. “My line may not have been the fastest. It seemed to work. I only saw his nose once.”
After the longest green-flag stint, 13 laps, of the race, the caution came out. On the lap 18 restart, Anderson was able to slide past Stratton briefly in turns one and two. Stratton held on to the lead by going underneath Anderson exiting turn two.
On the next restart on lap 24, Stratton changed his tactics and wasn’t challenged for the lead by Anderson.
“I started the race differently and Anderson didn’t slide me,” Stratton said.
Anderson slid high at the entrance of turn four on the 25th lap and fell to sixth, where he finished.
Brown had his best finish of the season. It was his third top-five and 12th top-10 in 26 features.
Brown started from eighth position and climbed to third by the 11th lap.
“Obviously, we had a good car and if we’d have started a little closer to the front, I might have had something for him (Stratton),” Brown said. “But it was a good run and I’m happy with it.”
Cottle had mixed feelings about finishing third.
“We had a bad start and fell back to fourth,” Cottle said. “I’d like to win it, but third isn’t too bad. This was our third time here and it’s the first time we’ve made the show (feature).”
Beckinger’s victory was his seventh in the past two seasons and eighth of his career. The 22-year-old from Evansville, Ind., was the POWRi Micro champion in 2011, but has entered only seven races because of work commitments. He’s also had two second places and two thirds.
“It’s pretty awesome when your worst finish is third,” Beckinger said.
Beckinger passed Aaron Andruskevitch of Riverton, Ill., on the outside exiting turn turn four with two laps remaining.
“I was running the bottom and following Aaron and with about six laps to go, jumped to the high side,” Beckinger said. “I hit a big berm up there and when I got on it, it jut shot me off the corner.”
Andruskevitch finished second and Jacob Patton was third.
“Me and Joe B. (Miller) were racing for the lead early and Joe B. had trouble with a lapper and had a flat tire,” Andruskevitch said. “I checked out, but we had a caution. I could hear Trent coming and he snuck around me. Seocnd in POWRi, I’ll take that.”