Belleville, IL - Lebanon, Indiana's Spencer Bayston took the checkers with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League for the 26th Annual Knepper Memorial at Belle-Clair Speedway, fending off teammate Tanner Thorson to claim the win. Bayston adds his name to the short list of repeat Knepper Memorial winners with his first Knepper victory coming in 2015 and now, tonight's victory.
Leading the field to green, Aidan RoosEvans shared the front row with Colby Copeland for a career-first highpoint honor with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League. At the drop of the green flag, Jason McDougal ended up spun on the back straight at the exit of turn two causing a complete restart. With the field lined back up, RoosEvans led the way for the next seven laps until relinquishing the lead to Bayston off turn four following a restart.
Taking over the top position on lap eight, Bayston had to fend off several challenges from teammate Tanner Thorson for the remaining 22 laps. Working the top side, Bayston saw Thorson roll the bottom for nearly the rest of the race patiently waiting for Bayston to make a mistake. But, the mistake never came, allowing Bayston to capture his eighth career POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League victory, his third of 2017. Tanner Thorson took second with Nick Knepper rounding out the top three. Tucker Klaasmeyer finished fourth with Daniel Adler taking fifth.
"What they did to rework it, at first I thought, man, this is going to take a while to widen out, but it ran pretty well those first few laps and then it spread out and we were able to really get to racing," said Spencer Bayston. "Once I got to the lead on that restart, I saw Tanner on the bottom and he was laying that pressure down. I was just trying to have tunnel vision and be focused, but every time we'd come off the corner, he'd be drag racing me. He's a really good driver and I'm just happy to be on the podium right now. Hat's off to Belle-Clair for working hard on getting a good racetrack. It's an honor to win this race and win it for this race team."
"We were a little bit better there on the bottom than we were on the top," commented Tanner Thorson. "Halfway through the race I got into the wall and it made it a little bit hard to drive, but hat's off to Spencer, he did an awesome job out there. These guys work their butts off in the shop every day and it takes a lot to house these cars. I love coming to this place."
"Tonight was quite the night for us," stated Nick Knepper. "We broke the brake line twice, in the heat race and in hot laps. We didn't know what was causing it. Luckily we got through the heat and started up front in the feature and we were able to keep pace with these guys. It really gives me confidence going into tomorrow night that we can come out and do this and maybe improve by a couple of positions."
Speedway Motors Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 3N - JAKE NEUMAN, Heat 2: 6A - AIDAN ROOSEVANS, Heat 3: 27 - TUCKER KLAASMEYER, Heat 4: 4A - LOGAN SEAVEY, Heat 5: 5RJ - COLBY COPELAND, Heat 6: 67 - TANNER THORSON
Toyota Semi Feature Winner: 00 - GRADY CHANDLER, 7U - JOE B MILLER
Mesilla Valley Transportation Feature Winner: 97 - SPENCER BAYSTON
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 97 - SPENCER BAYSTON 2. 67 - TANNER THORSON 3. 55 - NICK KNEPPER 4. 27 - TUCKER KLAASMEYER 5. 50 - DANIEL ADLER 6. 7U - JOE B MILLER 7. 7 - AUSTIN BROWN 8. 00 - GRADY CHANDLER 9. 71 - RYAN ROBINSON 10. O5 - BRAD LOYET 11. 5RJ - COLBY COPELAND 12. 91 - TYLER NELSON 13. 37W - WESLEY SMITH 14. 6A - AIDAN ROOSEVANS 15. 37X - JASON MCDOUGAL 16. 71K - TANNER CARRICK 17. 39 - ZEB WISE 18. 9K - KYLE SCHUETT 19. 3B - SHELBY BOSIE 20. 3N - JAKE NEUMAN 21. 7B - BRIAN PETERSON 22. 37 - ANDREW FELKER 23. 4A - LOGAN SEAVEY 24. 28 - ACE MCCARTHY
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