Springport, Michigan: The chase for the 2014 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance Championship was down to just three races heading into the Michigan Cup 100 Presented by JEGS.com. The last appearance in the state of Michigan for CRA in 2014 was at the 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked paved oval of Springport Motor Speedway (MI), located north of Jackson and south of Lansing in Springport, Michigan. The Southern Michigan speed plant hosted JEGS/CRA for the second and final time of the year on Saturday, September 20th.
The return trip to kick off the Fall Season saw a two and a half hour rain delay that hampered things in south Michigan. But when Mother Nature left and the race got the green flag, a rising star emerged with a clean sweep of the entire program. Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year title contender, 15-year-old Grant Quinlan, who earlier in the day won the Boyne Machine Company Fast Qualifier Award, grabbed the lead away from 16-year-old Hunter Baize on lap 23 and for the rest of the race, Quinlan's #28 Quinlan Incorporated / International Tool & Mold / Chevrolet would stay out in front of both Baize and later Steve Dorer to become the first driver in 2014 to repeat as a winner in 11 points race.
"Man this is great. I never would have thought we'd have one win let alone two. This Downey Racing Team works so hard to give me a good car every week and tonight was pretty special," The Harrison, Michigan teenager remarked in victory lane after joining 17-year-old John Hunter Nemechek as the only other driver to score more than one triumph in the series in 2014. Nemechek's two wins both came in non-points events. "Wasn't real sure if we were even going to get this one in with the rain delay, but I'm real happy that the track and the series waited it out." He added.
After setting the mark for freshman drivers for the most Fast Qualifier Awards by a rookie in one season with his second, Quinlan drew the minimum of a five for an inversion which placed a pair of Outlaw Super Late Model veterans, Phil Bozell and Eric Lee on the front row for the Michigan Cup 100 Presented by JEGS.com. After Bozell led the initial lap, 16-year-old Hunter Baize, who started third, skated past Lee for second and then dropped down underneath Bozell to take over the point on the second lap. He brought Quinlan, who started fifth, with him and the two teenagers pulled away.
After a restart on lap 22, Quinlan made what would be the winning pass the following lap as he slipped past Baize to take over the lead. Baize would hang tough with the Great Lakes State rookie for the vast majority of the race. But on each ensuing restart, three more total, Quinlan would lead the field out of turn four and would be able to beat Baize to the first corner to keep the point. Late in the race, Steve Dorer, who started seventh, was able to get by Baize and set his sights on Quinlan for the final battle of the race.
However, Quinlan wouldn't be denied as he would get away from Dorer and the rest of the field to secure his second victory of the season and break a five-way tie for most wins all-time by a rookie in one season with his second of the year. This after setting the mark for most Fast Qualifier Awards in one season, eclipsing 2012 top freshman, Anderson Bowen's mark. "We've really had a great season, even with some races that weren't as good." An appreciative Quinlan continued after the race. "We're leading the rookie points and have a small chance at the overall title. We'll see how these last two races go. But either way, it's already been a great first year in Late Models." He ended.
With the win, Quinlan moved up to second overall in the chase for the 2014 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour championship and has pulled away from fellow freshman, Dalton Armstrong in the chase for the 2014 Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year title. He also left Springport with a slew of awards in addition to his second Boyne Machine Company Fast Qualifier Award. Quinlan also picked up the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award for his winning pass on Baize as well as the D.T.S. Drive Train Specialists Halfway Leader Award for leading lap 50. Quinlan would also score his sixth Howe Racing Enterprises Rookie of the Race Award out of 11 points races in 2014 while also collecting the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap of the Race Award for turning the fastest lap of the event.
Steve Dorer continued his impressive streak of six races in a row with at least a top four finish as the Lakeland, Florida veteran in his #10 Racecar Engineering / Chevrolet scored the runner-up finish. The 44-year-old, who originally is from just down the road in Coldwater, Michigan, has made the most of his limited appearances in 2014 and is now 13th in the points standings despite missing five points races. Dorer didn't head back down to Florida empty-handed though as he scored the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure Award as well as the first Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award for his seventh to second place run.
After leading from laps 2-22, 16-year-old Hunter Baize scored the final podium position of third in his #13 Mountaineer Firewood / Ford. The Bremen, Kentucky teenager, in his second season of JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour competition, has firmly planted himself solidly in fifth in the points standings after his third top three finish in the last four events. With just two races remaining in the season, Baize's title hopes are still alive heading into those final two shows at Lucas Oil Raceway (IN) on September 27-28th and at Winchester Speedway (IN) on October 10th.
Current points leader, Dan Leeck fought hard to maintain not only his championship title hopes, but to stay in the top five throughout the race in his #12 Mr. Asphalt / Chevrolet. The 24-year-old from Birch Run, Michigan finished fourth and will carry a somewhat comfortable 57-point advantage over Quinlan heading into the final two races. Josh Nelms, who came into the weekend second in the points, finished fifth in the race while celebrating his 39th birthday. However, with Quinlan's win, Nelms actually fell to third in the title chase in his #0 LisaThomasSalon.com / Ford. Nelms will head to LOR five points back of Quinlan for second overall and 62 markers behind Leeck.
Phil Bozell, who started P1 and led the first lap of the race, managed to hang on for a sixth place showing while another Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie, Dalton Armstrong scored a seventh place finish ahead of Kyle Hayden, who recovered from a lap 27 spin to earn the Hedman Hedders Husler Award with an eighth place effort. Hayden also picked up the second Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award as he initially started 14th. Veteran Jason Dietsch picked up ninth place while 15-year-old Rookie, J.J. Haley, who won the Cabin Fever 100 Presented by JEGS.com back on May 4th at Springport, completed the top 10. Jaxson Jacobs finished 12th after starting 22nd to pick up the Five Star Racecar Bodies Hard-Charger Award for his efforts.
Earlier in the afternoon in Boyne Machine Company Qualifying, Grant Quinlan broke the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour record for most career Fast Qualifier Awards by a rookie with his second of the season. Quinlan's mark was a 15.350 which measures out to 87.948mph. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Track Record in Springport, Michigan is still held by 2012 series champion, Daniel Hemric who turned in a 15.109 back on July 1st, 2012.
The next race on the schedule for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance will be part of the prestigious McGunegill Engine Performance CRA Fall Brawl 2014 Presented by EDCO Welding on Saturday-Sunday, September 27-28th. The immaculate 0.686 mile semi-banked paved oval of Lucas Oil Raceway, located west of Indianapolis in Brownsburg, Indiana serves as hosts of all four CRA touring series over the last weekend of September.
In addition to the JEGS/CRA teams, the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS, Vore's Welding CRA Late Model Sportsman Series Powered by JEGS and Stealth Trailers CRA Street Stock Series Powered by JEGS are all in action during the weekend. The Chevrolet Performance 100 Presented by Advanced Racing Suspension for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour will be the sixth all-time appearance for the series in the Circle City.
2012 Series Champion, Daniel Hemric leads the way with two trips to victory lane including the 2012 CRA Fall Brawl honors. Dominique Van Wieringen is the defending race winner of the JEGS/CRA portion of the CRA Fall Brawl after her dominating victory in 2013. Colt James was the 2011 winner of the race while Berlin Raceway (MI) Promoter, Mike Bursley has one win as well, which came in July 2013.
Series PR - R&S Racing Photos
For more information about all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, please go to the series website at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA's touring series' all season long on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally for more information about Lucas Oil Raceway, the host facility for the 14th race of the 2014 racing season for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance, go to the track website at: www.lucasoilraceway.com