Just one night after scoring his first Rumble in Fort Wayne win since 2011, NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Tony Stewart made it a clean sweep of the weekend with another trip to victory lane on Saturday night. It was the 11th career Rumble win for the former NASCAR and IndyCar champion, extending a Midget record at the event.
Similar to Friday night, Stewart started ninth after needing a consolation race to earn his starting spot in the A-Main. ‘Smoke’ quickly worked to third before his march toward the front stalled through the middle stages. He used a restart with 14 laps to go to get by Justin Peck for second, then wrestled the lead away from former Little 500 winner Kyle Hamilton with just over five laps to go to collect the win.
“This is indoor racing. Anyone that came to watch a parade came to the wrong place,” Stewart said in victory lane. “We get rough and rowdy in this building, and all night it was like that. Everybody keeps asking why I come to this deal, and it’s because of the fans and the fact that they want to see a show. They don’t want to see us just sit there and ride around and follow each other for 50 laps. That’s the nature of the beast.
“We saw it all night. I don’t know why when I do it (make contact while making a pass), it’s not acceptable, but I think everyone came to see a show and if they didn’t get a show out of that, I don't know what else to do, man,” Stewart added. “I sat there and ran 50 laps and I only leaned on guys a couple of times when I needed to. I never spun anybody out in the two days that I was here. All in all, I don’t think I did too badly. After last year, it’s pretty sweet to be back here winning again.”
Hamilton led from the drop of the green flag until lap 29 when he gave up the lead to Peck. He would regain it off a bold restart with 16 laps to go and try to run away with the race, but a slew of yellows kept the field close. He would finish the race in second after losing the lead late.
“I felt like when Peck got around us that it wasn’t the end necessarily,” Hamilton said. “The handling was starting to go away and the red came out and all the tires cooled down. Peck’s car was going away, it seemed like he couldn’t hold the bottom just like I couldn’t hold the bottom when he got around me. You leave the door open here with someone like Peck or Stewart, they’re going to throw it in there and take it.
“We got the lead but at that point it wasn’t a really good feeling because you knew Stewart followed me. I kind of felt like a sitting duck,” he added. “We were the second-best car here tonight, can’t really hang your head on getting beat by somebody like Stewart at his own game, he’s really good here.”
Peck, Derek Bischak, and Travis Welpott rounded out the top five.
RESULTS: 22nd annual Rumble in Fort Wayne Finale Night; Dec. 28, 2019
National Midget Qualifying (best of two laps): 1. Tony Stewart, 2, Stewart-7.606; 2. Nick Hamilton, 6, Kenyon-7.652; 3. Derek Bischak, 31, Bischak-7.656; 4. Kyle Hamilton, 16, Kenyon-7.692; 5. Joe Liguori, 8up, Williams-7.757; 6. Cap Henry, 44, Williams-7.760; 7. Matt Westfall, 9, Ryder-7.794; 8. Bryan Nuckles, 59, Nuckles-7.835; 9. Trey Osborne, 61, Kenyon-7.853; 10. Justin Peck, 5x, Clay-7.866; 11. Troy DeCaire, 67, Williams-7.911; 12. Scott Hampton, 5, D. Dietsch-7.919; 13. Travis Welpott, 18, Gorman-7.931; 14. Mario Clouser, 99, Guess-7.950; 15. Austin Nemire, 19, O’Connell-8.000; 16. Billy Wease, 99, Burrow-8.053; 17. Junior Gould, 65, Gould-8.057; 18. Sean Murphy, 4b, Murphy-8.057; 19. Rich Corson, 15, Corson-8.134; 20. Jordan Caskey, 33, Caskey-8.149; 21. Jim Anderson, 36, Anderson-8.151; 22. Cory Setser, 24s, Setser-8.173; 23. Aaron Pierce, 98, Pierce-8.220; 24. Mike Fedorcak, 97, Stewart-8.252; 25. Justin Harper, 53, Harper-8.393; 26. Brian Vaughn, 49v, TnT-8.510; 27. Billy Lewis, 49, Burrow-8.686; 28. Chris Malaterre, 6m, Malaterre-8.992; 29. Jared Rouch, 88, Jagger-9.004; 30. Tim Buckwalter, 8, J. Dietsch-11.015; 31. Rico Abreu, 2.5, Stewart-NT.
National Midget Heat #1 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Joe Liguori, 2. Travis Welpott / 3. Tony Stewart, 4. Trey Osborne, 5. Jim Anderson, 6. Junior Gould, 7. Justin Harper, 8. Jared Rouch.
National Midget Heat #2 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Justin Peck, 2. Nick Hamilton / 3. Mario Clouser, 4. Cap Henry, 5. Sean Murphy, 6. Brian Vaughn, 7. Tim Buckwalter, 8. Cory Setser.
National Midget Heat #3 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Troy DeCaire, 2. Derek Bischak / 3. Matt Westfall, 4. Austin Nemire, 5. Aaron Pierce, 6. Rich Corson, 7. Billy Lewis, 8. Rico Abreu (DNS).
National Midget Heat #4 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Kyle Hamilton, 2. Scott Hampton / 3. Bryan Nuckles, 4. Mike Fedorcak, 5. Billy Wease, 6. Jordan Caskey, 7. Chris Malaterre.
National Midget B-Main #1 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Tony Stewart, 2. Austin Nemire / 3. Jim Anderson, 4. Tim Buckwalter, 5. Sean Murphy, 6. Mike Fedorcak, 7. Billy Lewis, 8. Bryan Nuckles.
National Midget B-Main #2 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Cap Henry, 2. Billy Wease / 3. Trey Osborne, 4. Rich Corson, Justin Harper, Chris Malaterre, 7. Cory Setser, 8. Rico Abreu (DNS).
National Midget B-Main #3 (10 laps, top two transfer): 1. Matt Westfall, 2. Mario Clouser / 3. Aaron Pierce, 4. Junior Gould, 5. Brian Vaughn, 6. Jordan Caskey, 7. Jared Rouch.
National Midget Dash (4 laps, sets first two rows): 1. Kyle Hamilton, 2. Justin Peck, 3. Troy DeCaire, 4. Joe Liguori.
National Midget A-Feature (50 laps): 1. Tony Stewart , 2. Kyle Hamilton , 3. Justin Peck , 4. Derek Bischak , 5. Travis Welpott , 6. Matt Westfall , 7. Billy Wease , 8. Nick Hamilton , 9. Scott Hampton , 10. Troy DeCaire , 11. Cap Henry , 12. Mario Clouser , 13. Austin Nemire , 14. Joe Liguori .
Lap Leader(s): Kyle Hamilton 1-28, Justin Peck 29-34, Kyle Hamilton 35-44, Tony Stewart 45-50.
Hard Charger: #2 – Tony Stewart (+8)
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN/MI) – Twitter @kgeyer3
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com