Ricky Baker didn’t appear to have the fastest car on the track during the early stages of Friday night’s late-model feature at Grundy County Speedway.
He definitely didn’t appear to be faster than John Nutley and Scott Koerner, who were battling for second place ahead of him.
But, Baker said later, it didn’t have much to do with speed.
“Them two were racing pretty hard,” Baker said. “I had a feeling something was going to happen. I was trying to bide my time.”
On lap 12, something happened. Nutley tried to pass Koerner and took him around in Turn 2. Both had to go to the back.
Baker finally unleashed his true power on leader Billy Knippenberg. It was only two laps after the restart when the Plainfield native made a move underneath Knippenberg’s car and went on to score his fifth victory of the season.
The division points leader beat Eddie Hoffman to the finish line by 0.656 seconds. It was close for several laps, but Hoffman was never in position to make a pass.
“It was a lot harder than it looked,” Baker said, smiling. “Man, Eddie was fast and I was struggling pretty bad. So I don’t know … I have to keep working on it. We need to get a little faster.”
Behind Baker and Hoffman was Brett Sontag. Well back in fourth was Knippenberg, followed by Chris Cooling and Brandon Clubb. Nutley came from the back of the 19-car field to finish seventh.
The Nutley/Koerner collision between Turns 1 and 2 came after Nutley spent a few laps tapping Koerner from behind. Koerner refused, however, to surrender the bottom groove.
“I had the fastest car on the track and someone (Koerner) won’t move,” a frustrated Nutley said. “Then he moves over with seven laps to go when we’re at the back of the pack. Why didn’t you do that before? It just ticks me off.
“We were ready (for Friday). The car was bad fast. I don’t know how many times you can beat on a guy’s back bumper for him to move.”
Koerner was fast, too, and briefly challenged Knippenberg before Nutley and the cars behind him tightened things up.
“The car was better at the beginning, but every time I tried to get by Knippenberg I felt like I was being pushed,” he said. “(With Nutley) I don’t know if I checked up too much or what happened, He got into the back of me and around I went. Hard racing, I guess.”
Logan Love found the winner’s circle twice in street stock action, winning his heat and then pacing the field for the final 10 laps of the feature. Love won by a commanding 1.101-second margin over points leader Eddie Ligue. Bob Davis, John Senerchia, Tim Stewart and Rita Fields completed the top six.
RonVandermeir held off a late challenge by John Ventrello to capture the Mid-American main. Ventrello held on for second ahead of Kevin Gentile, Joe Vinachi, Kevin Murphy and Jim Kachel.
Austin Blackwell was awarded the victory in the pure stocks feature after apparent winner Cirk Lindemuth was docked four positions for violating the division’s breakout rule.
Spencer Leake was moved up to second, followed by Mikey Slabenak, Ricky Wilson, Lindemuth and Justin Mikel.
By Tony Baranek – SouthtownStar.com –
Fast Time: Ricky Baker
Heat Race 1: Billy Knippenberg, Chris Cooling
Heat Race 2: Chuck Sottosanti, Tony Brutti
Feature: Baker, Eddie Hoffman, Brett Sontag, Knippenberg, Cooling, Brandon Clubb, John Nutley, Brutti, Scott Koerner, David Einhaus
Fast Time: Tom Knippenberg
Heat Race 1: Kevin Gentile, Vince Cooper
Heat Race 2: Jeremy Clubb, Jim Kachel
Feature: Ron Vandermeir, John Ventrello, Gentile, Joe Vinachi, Kevin Murphy, Kachel, Knippenberg, Luke Baldwin, Clubb, Cody Clubb
Fast Time: Jake Bradley
Heat Race 1: Logan Love, Bob Davis
Heat Race 2: Darrell Gay, Craig Matteson
Feature: Love, Eddie Ligue, Davis, John Senerchia, Tim Stewart, Rita Fields, Billy Rud, Matteson, Gay, Christy Penrod
Fast Time: Zach Sontag
Heat Race 1: Bryce Leake, Ricky Wilson
Heat Race 2: Jim Gross, Steve Hespen
Feature: Austin Blackwell, Spencer Leake, Mikey Slabenak, Wilson, Cirk Lindemuth, Justin Mikel, Dan Schmeissing, Gross, Dylan Marshall, Danielle Dobczyk