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Rockford Speedway: Papini takes third-straight Late Model feature win
By Eric Huenefeld
LOVES PARK, Ill. — The calendar may say it’s the year 2013, but at Rockford Speedway, this season has clearly been “The Summer of 39.”
Machesney Park’s Alex Papini has owned the competition in the Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model division, leading the divisional point standings since the first race of the year, winning more features than any other driver and extending his points lead in the rugged summer months.
Papini added another trophy to his shelf Saturday night, Aug. 10, winning his eighth Saturday night feature of the year on Cintas Kids’ Night. The victory was Papini’s third consecutive, and his fourth in the last five weeks.
It was not an easy road to victory for Papini, as he started the 30 laps in seventh position. Dave Edwards and Mike Beyer led the field to green, with Beyer jumping to the lead on the opening lap from his outside front row starting position. Beyer paced the field early, but was soon joined at the front of the field by three-time track champion Jerry Gille. Jerry Gille, the evening’s fast qualifier, appeared to be the car with the best chance to wrestle the lead from Beyer. With Papini still navigating traffic, Jerry Gille and Beyer began their battle for the lead on lap five. Jerry Gille challenged Beyer from below, as Beyer defended his lead from the high side. In turn one on lap seven, both cars would touch entering turn one. Jerry Gille’s racer delivered the bevy of the blow to Beyer, sending the leader into the wall and airborne. The wreck ended Beyer’s night and ended Jerry Gille’s chance for a third victory of the season.
The incident handed the lead to the car that had recently inherited third place, and that was Papini. On the restart, it was Papini leading contenders Jake Gille, Jon Reynolds Jr. and Mitch Garfield back to the green. Jake Gille sprinted to second, with Reynolds and Garfield waging war for third. Just past halfway, Garfield muscled his way past Reynolds and into the top three. Upfront, Jake Gille was able to close on Papini numerous times in the race’s final laps, yet was never able to give the leader a serious challenge. Papini hit the line first once again, with Jake Gille behind him in the runner-up spot. Garfield continued his great second half of the season with a top-three finish. Reynolds took fourth, with Edwards fifth.
Justin Sellers has had a season to forget in the Bargain Hunter Sportsman division. Sellers, a two-time winner in the division last year, has fought an ill-handling car and some tough luck throughout this 2013 racing season. However, this past Saturday night, all would be forgotten as Sellers turned in his best run of the year, dominating the 25-lap Sportsman feature and collecting his first win of the season.
Sellers had the “best seat in the house,” starting the Sportsman main from the pole position. Sellers was able to convey that pole start into a big lead and ran away from the field in the caution-free feature race. Behind Sellers, the action was non-stop, with battles all throughout the top 10. The tussle for second place was contested among three cars, with Howie Ware holding off the advances of fast qualifier Daryl Gerke in the race’s final five laps. Johnny Robinson II settled for fourth, after earlier challenging Ware for second, then losing third to Gerke. Bobby Frisch finished fifth, holding off the advances of drivers like Darrell Garman, Brett McCoy and Doug Bennett.
Arlyn Roush returned to victory lane Saturday night in the Rockstar Energy Drink Road Runner division, collecting his season-high fifth feature win of the year. Roush stole the lead late from Jeff “Ace” Allendorf on his way to the win. Allendorf fell to third in the final standings as he was overtaken with two laps to go by 73-year-old Gene Marocco. Austin Fowler had a solid finish, ending the 20 laps in fourth spot. “Wild Wednesday” Road Runner champion Kyle McQuality rounded out the top five. Later in the evening, Shawn Rickelman topped 11 other competitors in the Road Runner Non-Feature Winners Race. Rickelman outran James Gregory for the win in the 15-lapper.
Richie Schinderling was the victor in the final race of the evening, the 15-lap Crap Scrapper Hornet feature race. Schinderling inherited the lead following a mechanical failure on leader Bernie Robinson’s automobile with three laps remaining. The win was Schinderling’s first-ever feature win at Rockford Speedway. Ryan Eddy finished the Hornet race in second spot, with Kodee Busekros fighting to a third-place finish.
Upcoming at the track
End your week with some high-speed thrills and excitement at Rockford Speedway, 9572 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park, Ill.
Saturday night, Aug. 17, at 7:07 p.m., it’s Tebala Shrine Night at Rockford Speedway. The on-track action on Shrine Night includes the NASCAR Late Models, American Short Trackers, Road Runners, American Super Cups and Legends. And you won’t want to miss the Road Runner Challenge “Criss-Cross Race” and the Charity Corn Boil. Adult admission Saturday night is $12, students 12-17 are $8, children 6-11 are $5, with ages 5 and younger admitted free.
Visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or contact the Speedway Box Office at (815) 633-1500.
From the Aug. 14-20, 2013, issue