Once again a great weekend of racing at The STA-BIL Great Lakes Summer Nationals Race for Huntington’s Disease Research had dramatic effects on the STA-BIL Lawn and Garden Mower Racing Series points standings. Top positions changed in all classes as the season narrows.
Although there are six races left with Bowles Farms (Aug. 5-6) and the STA-BIL North East Summer Nationals in Greensburg, PA and the STA-BIL Volunteer State Summer Nationals in Etowah, TN being run on the same weekend (August 20th) that means drivers actually only have four chances left to get those points they need to stay or put them atop the competition. It also means twice as many drivers will be eligible for top 5 points on the same weekend! That makes August 20th one of if not the most important single points day of the year. To add to the excitement, both August 20 races are double header race days. Should one of the top points holders have a major breakdown or incident in the first race they will not have the over night wrenching opportunity to make the 2nd race.
So let’s look at how things shook down in Sparta, Michigan after the July 16-17 races!
Junior Prepared (JP) driver Hayden Martin had a disappointing DQ Saturday leaving him still 50 points behind 4-race winner John Michael Bell. 3rd Generation racer Wyatt Sullivan put Rocket Man Racing up to 3rd in points with his first USLMRA win jumping over Lauren Filos and Mariah Peeler. Wyatt’s awesome weekend continued posting a 2nd on Sunday. Johnny Inkamp had a great run end in a DQ on Saturday as well but a win on Sunday puts him in 9th place behind Jonathan Barber who proved that just showing up and being legal is worthy of 8th place. Jacob Herrin sits 6th and Jordan Brown 7th. Jacob Kruzan’s win in Zion leaves him rounding out the top 10. Good starts and legal mowchines combined with solid driving will decide how the trophies fall for the Juniors this season.
In IMOW Chris Van Maastricht’s DQ Saturday followed by a DNF on Sunday allowed The Rocket Man Pat Sullivan to pull a pair of wins and complete his quad. Sullivan and Van Maastricht are now both topped out in points sliding Wally Bender with his pair of wins down to third. Dawn Filos made ground on the leaders with a pair of 3rds in Sparta and sat herself solidly in 4th place. With a 5th and 2nd for the weekend Jim Keech managed to hold his position rounding out the top 5. A 2nd and 4th place finish in his home state made Art Neavill the big class mover Jumping form 21st to 6th. Fellow Michigander Jay Keur pulled a 5th on Sunday breaking into the top 10.
In AP Iowa’s Matt Tucker finally came off the bench this year and posted a pair of wins for his first National event of the season flipping his status from M.I.A. To 7th place on the leader board. Wally Bender’s quad keeps him all alone at the top and with only 4 scores left up for grabs this year Tucker and Tommy Hawley have the best chance at challenging being the only other drivers with multiple wins thus far. Hawley’s bad luck continued in Sparta as he was once again plagued by engine problems and slid from 4th to 5th. K&N driver Ken Jones lost a transmission on the last lap Saturday and posted another DNF Sunday dropping him out of the top 5 to 6th place and allowed Tony Thompson to land a pair of 5th place finishes moving him into 4th behind the father and son duo of Pat and Pete Sullivan who share 2nd place points.
SP now has a pair of quads as Richard Webb joined Jason Brown posting his 4th win on Sunday after breaking his steering Saturday and allowing Ohio’s Matt Strine to take a win and move into the top 5. Wally Bender has a pair of wins this season which leaves him still in contention in 3rd place but Mike Paccione had better get a move on if he wants a chance at the Gold. With no wins thus far Mike finds himself in 4th place and 250 points away from the leaders. Honorable Mention has to go to Jackie Andrews. Jackie sits in 6th place and is the only driver to have made every race East of the Rockies this season.
In what has become by far the most popular of the Prepared classes in the USLMRA with 45 entrants in the CP class this season it is no wonder there has yet to be a quad posted. As a matter of fact, after Sparta it is now the only class where the leader has not maxed out in points! Though Mike Paccione held his lead 2nd and 5th place finishes did nothing more than allow Pete Sullivan and Tom Hawley to close within 50 points of him. Tom pulled off his first National Victory Saturday and the two-time class champ Pete saw his first checkered flag of the season Sunday. Jon Lewman followed his 2nd place Zion finish with a third Saturday putting him solidly in the top 5 and Wild Bill Campbell managed to hang onto 4th despite a DNF on Sunday. Bill is the only other driver in the top 10 with multiple wins, posting a pair early in the season at Berrien Springs. Though Lee Grover sits way down in 12th place, he is definitely one to watch as every race he has run he has won. Should the New Jersey driver simply show up to Bowles Farms he will make the top 10, and a good finish will put him in the mix. Ohio will indeed be a happening place for the CP class in September!
In BP the name to remember is Sammy Mikula! Five-time class champion Jayson Mikula made his daughters birthday wish come true Sunday by posting his 5th win of the season and putting him 50 points above class newcomer Ronald Rollman out of Tennessee. Jim Mikula sits 3rd 150 points behind Ronnie and 100 points ahead of Racin Jason Brown . Kansas driver Larry “Teddy Bear” Benning posted only show points and barely stayed put in the top 5 with David Martin and The Boogie Woogie Man Chuck Miller 50 points off of his tail. The BP class could be a David and Goliath story this year!
Greg Honchell has said “No More” to the Penne and Miller show in FX. Posting back-to-back wins in both Michigan points races this year finds Greg sitting on top of the points with Manny Torres 2 wins back in second. Also owning a pair of wins and the only other likely challenger for the championship in the east vs. north vs. south battle of the USLMRA’s smallest class is 5th place Chris Cox out of Georgia. Thought Penne sits 3rd and Tony Hinson fills in the top 5 in fourth place, it is almost mathematically impossible for either of them to have a shot. Should Torres, Cox or Honchell post another victory in Maryland there simply won’t be enough points left on the schedule. Bowles farm will not be a race to miss for these drivers!
Labor Day Weekend 2011 will prove to be an exciting day in USLMRA history books. None of the class leaders are going to Ohio in a “comfortable” position and the layout of races for the rest of the season are sure to tighten things up farther. Many of those knocking on the door of championships will find themselves challenged in their own back yards as those in the leads will be trailering many miles to defend their leads in an attempt to lock up the points. Double headers and dual race weekends all simply leave one truth, ALL ROADS LEAD TO MOWHIO!