Salem, Indiana — 13-year-old Hazelwood, Missouri teenager Charlie Keeven got his first Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Models feature win Friday night at Corrigan Oil Speedway, ending Chase Burda’s streak of four straight series wins. The event had the most exciting finish to date in the inaugural season for the series.
“Wow this is awesome,” remarked a very excited Keeven in victory lane. “I thought I messed up and wasn’t going to get the win after leading all those laps, but I had an opportunity on the last lap and I stuck it in there and it worked. Thanks to my mom and dad for all their support and thanks to Brent Downey for working with me and helping me get this win!
The Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Models is a new racing series in 2019 to focus on a youth movement for short track stock car racing that will see 10 to 15-year-old drivers compete amongst themselves for both experience and recognition in full size late models with an economical drive train and suspension alternatives. Saturday’s race was the sixth of eight scheduled events for the series in 2019.
Burda claimed his sixth straight MPM Marketing Fast Qualifier Award, but not with out some excitement. Keeven had surged to the top of the board with five minutes to go in the series group qualifying session, before Burda went back out and beat Keeven’s time. That didn’t end the excitement as Katelyn Hettinger went back out also for a second chance and passed Keeven for second and wasn’t far behind Burda.
Burda got his fifth heat race win of the season in the series first heat race over Keeven and Hettinger. 11 year old Zack Wilhelm held off Brandon Varney and Dawson Knaul to get the win in the second heat race.
Keeven took full advantage of his pole starting position, after the three-car inverted start, to take the lead at the drop of the green flag with Burda on his tail. Keeven built a nice lead and looked to be on his way to getting the win when Burda spun by himself on lap 20, setting up a five-lap shoot-out.
The next start resulted in a yellow flag with Burda and Varney spinning into the grass after contact on the restart. Knaul spun in turn four by himself on the next restart with Burda receiving some damage trying to avoid Knaul, setting up a third restart on lap 20.
At the drop of the next green flag Keeven drifted a little high in turns one and two leaving the bottom groove open for Zack Wilhelm, who took full advantage and took over the lead with Keeven and Hettinger right behind him. Those three battled for the lead for the next four laps and while taking the white flag. Going into turn three Wilhem drifted high giving the bottom groove to Keeven, who made the inside move to take the lead coming to the checkered flag. Wilhelm and Hettinger got together and ended up against the turn four wall. Burda managed to nurse his damaged car to a second-place finish. Knaul finished in third place.
Keeven picked up the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award for his winning pass coming to the checkered flag. With the win Keeven is locked in as one of the three competitors who will battle for the series Championship in the series September 28th Season Championship event at Anderson Speedway. Burda was the regular series regular season points Champion and earned an automatic spot in the final three drivers who will race for the series Championship. The final spot will be determined by the winner of series second Chase event at Toledo Speedway or by whoever has the most points in the first two Chase events.
The next Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Models event will be race number two in the series 2019 Chase for the Championship at Toledo Speedway on Saturday, September 21st. More information on the Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Models is available at www.cra-racing.com.
-CRA Press Release
-Photo Credit: CRA