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BELLEVILLE, ILL. (September 13, 2019) - Taking the wheel of the Team Ripper No. 21KS on Friday night at Belle-Clair Speedway, Jake Neuman of New Berlin, Ill. delivered a long overdue first win of the year for car owner Steve Reynolds and crew chief Flea Ruzic. After taking the lead on lap six, Neuman fended off mid-race pressure from Austin Brown and survived a late charge from Logan Seavey to score his third win of 2019 and the fifth of his POWRi National Midget career.
Making his 179th career appearance with the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League, Friday's attempt aboard the No. 21KS marked the first time in his seven-year career that Neuman drove for anyone other than his father, Jim Neuman. A series of severe crashes and recent motor trouble over the past month in his own No. 3N contributed to the decision to make a one-off appearance, a decision that paid dividends.
For Team Ripper, the eighth time was the charm, as Neuman became the eighth driver to pilot the No. 21KS in 2019, but the first to park it in victory lane. The list of racers before Neuman is simply a who's who of today's motorsports landscape. Up-and-comer Karter Sarff, USAC sensation Jason McDougal, modified driver Nick Hoffman, micro sprint star Joe B. Miller, Triple Crown champion Tracy Hines, USAC Sprint Car points leader C.J. Leary and California gasser Maria Cofer are all among Team Ripper's 2019 pilots, but it was Neuman who got the job done first.
Starting the 30-lap feature from the fourth-spot, Neuman earned his slot in the outside of row two after jetting away to a dominant heat race win from the pole. However, it was Daniel Robinson of Ewing, Ill. who led the field to green after snagging PAC Racing Springs High Point Man honors backed by a seventh-to-second charge in the opening heat.
Leading the charge into turn one, Robinson quickly assumed the point while Neuman went top shelf to jump from fourth-to-second in the first lap. A lap five caution for Holley Hollan, Andrew Felker and Jesse Colwell halted the action and threw a wrench in the championship battle, sending Colwell of Red Bluff, Calif. to the infield with a DNF as he watched his points lead diminish.
Going back to green, Neuman saddled up and drove flatfooted into turn one with a big slider heading for Robinson as he mounted a bid for the lead. Unable to come back at him, Robinson settled into second as Neuman took the point and focused on clear track ahead on the sixth circuit.
While the high side came in and proved to be the prime place to play, the ultra-fast 1/5th-mile surface became tough to manage in the pack as the speed ramped up lap after lap. Essentially a cowboy up atmosphere on the lip, it was slide or be slid to take position, making for intense mid-race restarts.
The final restart roared to life with 13 laps left as Neuman maintained a strong pace ahead of Austin Brown, who won the May showing at Belle-Clair, and Logan Seavey, who was hungry for his tenth win of the season after starting in the tenth spot. While Neuman put his head down and ran away with the lead, Seavey shot by Brown with eight to go and immediately began cutting into Neuman's 2.6 second advantage.
Eating into the gap each lap, Seavey snuck closer and closer to Neuman's rear bumper as the race came to a close. By the time the two-to-go signal was given, Seavey had the No. 21KS in sight and was only behind by one-second, but the time was running out too fast.
Seavey's late-race charge did not come fast enough, as the checkered flag dropped, and Jake Neuman won his fifth career POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League main event in his debut in the Team Ripper No. 21KS. Marking his third win of the year, Neuman's big night solidified all of Reynolds and Ruzic's hard work and brought him closer to the third spot in this year's championship chase.
Logan Seavey of Sutter, Calif. ran out of time in his pursuit of a tenth victory in 2019, settling for a tenth-to-second run aboard his Keith Kunz-Curb Agajanian Motorsports, Mobil 1, Bullet/Toyota No. 67. Rounding out the podium was local favorite Austin Brown of Millstadt, Ill. in the plain jane No. 17 with a third-place effort.
Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill. made a massive gain in the hunt for the title as his fourth-place finish narrowed Colwell's advantage from 350 points to 180 points. 16-year old Cannon McIntosh made a remarkable recovery after spinning on lap 11, going tailback, and storming back to a fifth-place result.
Rounding out the top ten at Belle-Clair was Karter Sarff of Mason City, Ill. in sixth-from-14th aboard the AJ Felker No. 37X, Tanner Carrick in seventh-from-15th with his Walker Filters No. 71K, 14-year old Daison Pursley in the eighth spot driving his Toyota Racing No. 9, Ace McCarthy with hard charger honors from 23rd-to-ninth, and Shelby Bosie in the tenth position.
Tomorrow, the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midgets encounter the "Mighty Macon" Speedway alongside the POWRi Engler Machine & Tool Outlaw Micros. Pill draw is from 3:30pm to 5:15pm followed by drivers meeting at 5:30pm with hot laps at 6:00pm and racing to follow. If you can't make it, you can watch the entire program LIVE on www.speedshifttv.com.
For more information on POWRi Racing, you can visit www.powri.comonline, like POWRi on Facebook, or follow @POWRi_Racing on Twitter and Instagram.
Auto Meter Heat One (8 Laps):
KSE Racing Products Heat Two (8 Laps):
Advanced Racing Suspensions Heat Three (8 Laps):
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League Main Event (30 Laps):
UPDATED POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League Standings (8 Races Left):