The Luck Of The Children

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LATE-MODEL THUNDER: Eventual winner Brett Sontag (5) battles Jeff Cannon during the Tony Bettenhausen Memorial late-model race at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ill. (Gary Gasper Photo)

LATE-MODEL THUNDER: Eventual winner Brett Sontag (5) battles Jeff Cannon during the Tony Bettenhausen Memorial late-model race at Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ill. (Gary Gasper Photo)

SCHERERVILLE, Ind. — Brett Sontag’s children, Kendall and Donovan, signed their dad’s late model for luck.

Their best wishes paid off as Sontag went on to win his second-consecutive Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100 at Illiana Motor Speedway Saturday night.

With his kids’ signatures scrolled on the left-front fender of his winning Ford Fusion, Sontag scored an impressive victory at the half-mile paved oval after setting fast time among 38 entries during the day’s qualification runs.

Taking the lead from Jeff Cannon on lap 26, Sontag raced to the checkered flag, scoring the win over Boris Jurkovic, who seemed to be the only driver in the 26-car field able to keep Sontag in his sights.

“I was worried about big Boris,” Sontag said. “He ran me pretty hard. I’d get out (ahead) on him and start saving my tires. He’d start catching me and I’d take off again. The car got a little tight at the end there. I’m glad we didn’t have a yellow (caution period at the end).

“It would have been exciting between me and Boris,” Sontag added.

Finishing behind Sontag and Jurkovic were Cannon, this year’s Illiana track champion, Dave Gentile, Jr. and Wisconsin visitor Matt Kocourek.

The finish:
Brett Sontag, Boris Jurkovic, Jeff Cannon, Dave Gentile, Jr., Matt Kocourek, John Nutley, Anthony Danta, Ricky Baker, Joe O’Connor, Andy Marchiniak, Larry Schuler, Chris Cooling, Dean Patterson, Josh Nelms, Jerry Sharp, Len Nowosel, Bobby Gash, Jack Kalwasinski, Steven Brooks, Mike Monroe, Marc Hankosky, Blake Brown, Shawn Wiltjer, Mike White, Brad Plunket, Kevin Offdenkamp.

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Stan Kalwasinski
Stan Kalwasinski has been involved in auto racing for nearly 50 years as both a writer and photographer. He has a particular interest in Chicagoland auto racing — primarily stock car racing. Look for him at tracks in the Chicagoland region of Illinois.