CLOCK DOESN'T STRIKE MIDNIGHT FOR STEWART

wsssswwby Ron Ware - FORT WAYNE, Ind. – With 56 minutes to spare, Tony Stewart squeezed yet another victory into a year that already was reaching mythical proportions.

Taking the checkered flag at 11:04 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the three-time NASCAR champion completed a weekend sweep of the 14th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne indoor midget races, winning Saturday’s 50-lap feature in dominating fashion.

While he celebrated with a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon, not champagne, Stewart seemed to treasure his latest accomplishment as much as his hard-fought Sprint Cup title.

“This is the first time I’ve ever raced on New Year’s Eve,” the 40-year-old Indiana native said, a smile creasing his face. “It’s been a dream year. I won by first World of Outlaws race and the (NASCAR) championship. Then I won at Conseco (in an all-star kart race in Indianapolis) and won here two times.

“What a great way to finish the year. It’s going to be hard to keep this up, but it’s going to be a lot of fun trying.”
Even Stewart seemed astonished when somebody pointed out that he’s won an amazing eight times in his past 13 races, starting with his 5-for-10 charge to the NASCAR championship. His numbers at the 1/6-mile track at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center are similar. After sweeping the two-day program for the second time in his career, he’s won nine times in 14 career starts. He’s been the fast qualifier in each of his past 10 appearances.

Stewart’s road to victory lane wasn’t smooth, however. A series of caution periods and constant lapped traffic challenged him all the way, even though he was untested after pole-sitter David Gough dropped out on lap 18 with a broken ignition, handing him the lead. How tough of a night was it for his rivals? Jon Stanbrough finished second in a car that caught fire early in the race. Rex Norris III, Billy Wease and Dave Darland completed the top five, each taking turns coming from the rear of the field. During a caution, Stanbrough pulled into the infield as smoke billowed from his car’s engine compartment. Fire crews doused the small fire, which originated when a piece of heat insulation touched the header, and Stanbrough rejoined the fray. “I was just trying to light a fire under my driver,” team owner Rick Daugherty quipped.

Stewart nudged a sliding Gough in turn three on lap nine, temporarily taking the lead, but the yellow then came out for Rich Corson’s spin, restoring Gough to first place. Nine laps later, though, Gough suddenly slowed with a failed ignition. “I was trying to protect the bottom (of the track) and make it hard for him to get around me,” said Gough, a veteran whose career includes an indoor win at the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis. “I didn’t think he was going to rough me up.” Stewart confirmed that he was intent on making a clean pass. “Gough’s a good race car driver,” he said. “Our car was working so good, it was just a matter of catching him at the right time. I already decided I was going to be nicer tonight.” Ryan Smith won the accompanying winged outlaw modified midget feature, while Doug Jones topped a short field in mini-sprints. Jason Dunn dominated in karts, winning three features for the second night in a row. Addison and Bennett Lushin made it a family affair in quarter midgets, each winning a feature.

Stewart first raced at Fort Wayne in 1999, after he already had won an IndyCar championship and NASCAR rookie-of-the-year honors. Mike Fedorcak, his indoor teammate and builder of his Volkswagen-powered Munchkin car, figures Fort Wayne hasn’t seen the last of him. “He’ll still be racing here when he’s as old as I am,” the 57-year-old Fedorcak predicted. “He just loves it.”

Racing on the 1/6-mile track for the first time in three years, Stewart passed Dave Darland on lap 17 and rolled to victory before a nearly full house at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center in Fort Wayne to win the Friday opener. Altogether Stewart has a total of nine Midget wins in 14 starts at the Coliseum. Even more impressive, including a victory earlier in the month in an all-star kart race, Stewarts weekend "Rumble" sweep gives him a total of eight wins of his past 12 races, including the 5-for-10 finish to the Sprint Cup season that gave him his third NASCAR championship finishing the 2011 season with style.

 

Saturdays Main Event:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Jon Stanbrough
3. Rex Norris
4. Billy Wease
5. Dave Darland
6. Mike Wallace
7. Rich Corson
8. Jim Anderson
9. Derek Bischak
10. Brandon Knupp
11. Mike Fedorcak
12. Kyle Hamilton
13. David Gough
14. Joe Liguori
15. Tim Jedrzejek

Lap Leaders: Gough 1 -17 Stewart 18 - 50

Cautions for Wallace, Corson, Bischak, Gough (ignition)

Red Flag on lap 11 for Stanbrough (engine fire)
Stanbrough returned to finish second.


Qualifications – 1. Tony Stewart, 2x, Stewart, 7.830 seconds; 2. Jon Stanbrough, 0, Daugherty, 8.115; 3. Derek Bischak, 31, Bischak, 8.049; 4. David Gough, 6, 8.081;
5. Cory Setser, 56, Rencurrel, 8.115; 6. Mike Fedorcak, 97, Stewart, 8.135; 7. Joe Liguori, 67, Sexton, 8.148; 8. Billy Wease, 99, Burrow, 8.150;
9. Bryan Nuckles, 59, Nuckles, 8.194; 10. Jacob Wilson, 10, Moore, 8.214; 11. Donnie Adams Jr., 49, Burrow, 8.232; 12. Rich Corson, 15, Corson-Savage, 8.241;
13. Rex Norris III, 63, Norris, 8.244; 14. Mike Wallace, 10, Wallace, 8.247; 15. Kyle Hamilton, 33, Hamilton, 8.251; 16. Tim Jedrzejek, 8up, Williams, 8.262;
17. Taylor Ferns, 55, Ferns, 8.273; 18. Chris Neuenschwander, 3, Bradley, 8.292; 19. Brandon Knupp, 78, Chambers, 8.332; 20. Jim Anderson, 99g, Guess, 8.361;
21. Steve Irwin, 0s, Flying Zero, 8.418; 22. Nick Hamilton, 8, Hamilton, 8.418; 23. Dave Darland, 0, Daughery, 8.510; 24. Cooper Clouse, 14, Clouse, 8.541;
25. Bobby Santos III, 98, Burrow, 8.541; 26. Terry Ahern, 6t6, Ahern, 8.778; 27. Tim Neal, 19d, Dunigan, 8.795; 28. David Fuhrman, 32, Fuhrman, 8.803;
29. Isaac Chapple, 52, Chapple, 8.940; 30. Deano Lennon, 61, Lennon, 9.014; 31. Kevin Shirey, 41, Sexton, 9.017; 32. Mike Osite, 20, Fedorcak, 9.144;
33. Eric Shirey, 22, Sexton, 9.229; 34. Joey Burrow, 92, Burrow, 9.451; 35. Zach Fuhrman, 32x, Fuhrman, 9.585; 36. Matt Westfall, 19, Ryder, 9.801;
37. Gary Bradley, 4, Bradley, NT.

 

Heats - 10 Laps Top Two Advance:
1. Fedorcak, Stewart, Jedrzejek, Irwin, K. Shirey, Adams, Ahern.
2. Corson, Liguori, Stanbrough, Ferns, N. Hamilton, Neil, Osite
3. Norris, Bischak, Wease, Neuenschwander, Darland, D. Fuhrman, E. Shirey
4. Wallace, Gough, Knupp, Nuckles, Clouse, Chapple, Burrow.
5. K. Hamilton, Anderson, Santos, Lennon, Z. Fuhrman, Wilson, Setser.

Semi Feature - 12 Laps Winner Advances:
1. Jedrzejek, Darland, Nuckles, Osite, Clouse, E. Shirey, Santos.
2. Stanbrough, Irwin, Chapple, D. Fuhrman, Z. Fuhrman, Lennon
3. Wease, Ferns, Wilson, K. Shirey.
4. Knupp, Setser, Neil, Neuenschwander, N. Hamilton, Ahern.

Darland added to field as Promoters Choice

 

Above is a photo of Dave Darland exiting the corner in perfect stance behind the wheel of Rick Daughertys' # 0 Volkswagen powered Munchkin, I especially like how the orange is rubbed off in all the right places, a reminder of how Darland took out his own team mate to win last years Rumble. It is that important to WIN in this arena! Having won 3 previous Rumbles Darland failed to qualify for Saturdays program breaking an 18 race qualifying streak but was fortunately given a promoters choice and allowed to tag tail in 15th position before advancing to a top five by race end. Jon Stanbrough is pictured above as track personnel tries to extinguish a stubborn bonnet fire that turned a yellow flag to red. It was determined the blaze was caused by loose insulation and the Daugherty owned team car to Darland was re fired and joined the race at tail where he thrilled the crowd with a rally back to second place.

Next up Tony Stewart goes wheel to wheel with Mike Fedorcak, caretaker to Tony's stable of Midget racers. Stewart showed no mercy and roughed Fedorcak up a touch, but the veteran Midget pilot held the superstar off for the heat win.

Action was everywhere inside the lower level of the Coliseum and the stands nearly full, many spectators proudly wearing their Tony gear but to be perfectly honest, this event does quite well with just the "regulars" in competition. About 41 of the 315 entries were Midgets along with various Karts, Micro Sprints, 1/4 Midgets, and Outlaw Mini Sprints. Many of the staff on hand came from nearby Eldora Speedway and wasted little time providing fans an exciting and timely show. Oh, in case your wondering the slick concrete floor was treated with "Mountain Dew" before taking on rubber providing multiple racing grooves. It was incredible!

On top is your obligatory Tony Stewart picture and his 20 year old Munchkin Midget Racer powered by an Auto Craft Volkswagen engine. I would have a few guesses about a car thats been around for that long, either it has had excellent care which is obvious, never been wrecked or most likely has spent most of its life leading races.
I could also say it's one thing for Tony to come down and stink up a little show like this, after all he lapped up to fourth place, but I must remind you Tony has 14 starts in this event winning nine times. I also found Tony to be very accommodating to fans and just wants to have a good race. Away from the cameras Tony is really just a down to earth kinda guy and truly hands on, determined this race every bit as important as any on the Cup side. It was easy to see what makes this guy one of the greatest.

I missed taking a snapshot of John Ivy who brought his immaculate purple Outlaw Winged Midget for competition and the reason is I just enjoy watching this guy race. Instead of working the floor I joined my friends in our reserved seats to watch and was not disappointed. By time trialing 6th of 33 entries something was surely amiss as John fell off during his heat, from outside pole to dead last before mid way. Relegated to tail of the last chance race Ivy gave a clinic for that win only to earn last spot in the main. Too bad for John but as a fan I knew this was just the preview to a great show, by race end he had worked through the field and was challenging Cap Henry for second when the main event checkers fell. What I liked most he never touched another car the entire night, smoothest driver I have ever witnessed. Great show indeed!

 

Bobby Santos III is a recent Indiana transplant, originally from Massachusetts with a long family history in racing Santos has won in all three USAC National Series, NASCAR Whelen Modified Series, and even found himself behind the wheel of ISMA SuperModifieds. He has also been a part of the Tommy Baldwin's Driver Development Program and made several starts in the premier NationWide series. Plans for 2012 are uncertain for the 26 year old driver but his impressive list of accomplishments will surely find him a quality ride on or off the pavement. Shown here in the Burco Molding owned #98, team car to Billy Wease.

Below: Despite timing in second fast on the night, Jon Stanbrough came up one short in his heat and had to transfer out of consy. Making a difficult situation worse, brake fluid soaked insulation caught fire which should have ended his night for good. The insulation was removed and after a quick clean up, which was not considered working on the car during red flag conditions, the car was re fired only to start tail once more. Amazingly, Stanbrough fought his way back to second .

 

Rumble in Fort Wayne / Page 2

 

Consider this an amatuer website, not a one size fits all template used by many. I'm guessing it probably does not fit your computer screen but reasonably sure it looks pretty good at 1680x1050 resolution, sized to my computer screen. I always suggest full screen or F11 for full viewing. Updates have been few and far between but I want to thank everyone who visits this website, as unconventional as it may be. The numbers surprise me every time I check the site statistics and if you would like to leave a comment I can be reached at krace@raceohio.com. This is page one for 2012 and my plans include varied racing activities such as WCS, Muskingum, Hilltop, Atomic, Fremont, Oakshade, Midway, and Columbus. Of course I plan to make both nights at the next Rumble in Fort Wayne because there is no better way to end, or begin the year than with a fantastic race.