Pickens dominates Peoria
New Zealand driver scores win#2 in States
By Bryan Gapinski
Peoria, Ill., June 4—Michael Pickens completed the weekend sweep, Saturday Night capturing the 30-lap POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series & Stark Automotive Group/Mid-State Equipment Badger Midget Series co-sanctioned event at Peoria Speedway. The evening earlier Pickens captured the co-sanctioned event at Fayette County Speedway.
Polesitter Brett Anderson set the pace at the start of the event, however three cautions during the first five-laps slowed the event. On a Lap 5 restart Pickens and Thomas Meseruall both moved up on Anderson. One lap later exiting Turn 2, the trio went three-wide for the lead, with Pickens edging Meseruall at the line for the lead. Anderson regained the runner-up position two-laps later as Pickens began pulling way from the field. A five-car battle for second continued behind Pickens.
Three additional cautions appeared between laps 12-17, kept the field bunched up. Each time Pickens pulled away on the restart. A two-car accident with three laps remaining set up a restart with Pickens leading Brad Loyet. On the restart Loyet made a charge for the lead passing Pickens entering Turn 4, however Pickens drove under Loyet to lead at the start/finish line with two laps remaining.
Pickens driving the Jack Berry owned Breka/Ford-Esslinger No. 29, finished three-cars length ahead of Loyet, POWRi Series points leader Nick Knepper, Jerry Coons Jr.and Anderson. After an opening lap spin Bubba Altig recovered to finish sixth, and leads the Badger points heading into the June 19 event at Angell Park Speedway (Sun Prairie, Wis.).
"The crew had the car perfect again, Brad (Loyet) made a good pass at the end, but he couldn't make it stick and I drove backunder him, this is a great start to our ten-race USA Tour" commented Pickens afterwards.
---The feature victory for Pickens was his eighth career in Badger competition. Pickens has won for four different car owners in Badger events: Steve Smith (three), Hans Lein (two), Jack Barry (two) and Ralph Wilke at five different tracks.
---Pickens car owner Jack Barry just arrived in the States on Friday and was in New York on Friday Night, before arriving in Peoria on Saturday to watch his car score the feature victory.
---Dillon Welch driving for Marc DeBeaumont, made his midget racing debut on dirt during the weekend, and made the feature field at Peoria before beginning sidelined with mechanical problems. Welch won three USAC D1 pavement events last year and is the son of well-known Motorsports TV reporter Vince Welch.
---The five heat races went green to checkered, without a caution and helped move along the program which was partially run in a light drizzle.
---Jerry Hardy owner of Mike Hess's car was not in attendance and has recovered from an auto accident earlier in the week in the Dane County area. Hess was running in the top-ten late in the feature when he suffered a flat tire. Quick service by the John Callahan led team put Hess back on the track before the restart.
---Bubba Altig and car owners Davis & Imhoff lead the Badger Series points for the first time in their racing careers.
30-lap Feature: 1. Michael Pickens; 2. Brad Loyet;, 3. Nick Knepper; 4. Jerry Coons Jr.; 5. Brett Anderson; 6. Bubba Altig; 7. Tyler Robbins; 8. Derek Kingston; 9. Austin Brown; 10. Thomas Meseraull; 11. Jake Blackhurst; 12. Dalton Armstrong; 13. Tim Siner; 14. Mike Hess; 15. Daniel Robinson; 16. John Campbell; 17. Dereck King; 18. Brandon Waelti; 19. Scott Hatton; 20. Derek Rossio; 21. Dillon Welch; 22. Chris Bell.
12-lap Semi Feature Winners: Robbins, Waelti.
10-lap Heat Race Winners: Meseruall, Brown, Coons, King, Anderson..
Cars Present: 41 Feature Lap Leaders: Anderson 1-6, Pickens 7-30.
*Travis Berryhill flipped during second semi feature landing outside of track, escaping injury.