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MARION, ILL. (October 12, 2019) - Saturday's Southern Illinois Shootout was a wild one from start-to-finish for the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League. Encountering the 1/8th-mile Southern Illinois Raceway for the first and only time this season, drivers faced a rough and rowdy surface with character aplenty. Four different leaders stood at the front, some slipped back and some stormed forward, but through all of the chaos and carnage it was Jake Neuman and Team Ripper capitalizing late and finding victory lane once again.
Swarmed by several inches of rain on Thursday and Friday, Mother Nature left a signature mark on the SIR short track as the POWRi National Midgets rode into town for their lone appearance of 2019. From hot laps to feature action, it was a cowboy up kind of track with holes grabbing drivers, bumps shaking 'em up, ruts throwing 'em around and surprises around each corner.
Going green for the 30-lap main event, Jesse Colwell of Red Bluff, Calif. quickly put his right foot down and hammered around polesitter Tyler Courtney to gain initial command of the lead. Entering with the championship lead under his own control, Colwell set sail with a focus on keeping his nose clean aboard the Keith Kunz Motorsports, IWX Motor Freight, Bullet/Toyota No. 71.
Lap traffic on lap five quickly threw a wrench into that plan as Colwell dealt with backmarkers in front of him and a furiously fast Courtney hot on his tail. A lap eight side-by-side bout nearly ended in chaos when Colwell closed the door on Courtney into turn three and launched out of a hole into a lapper, but luckily his No. 71 mount recovered and kept control of the top spot before third-running Cannon McIntosh brought out the red flag with a gnarly turn one flip off the fence.
Back to green on lap nine, Courtney successfully attacked Colwell as he bobbled, moving the Clauson-Marshall Racing, NOS Energy Drink, Spike/SR-11 No. 17JR to the point. "Sunshine," a two-time winner POWRi competition, drove off into lap traffic through the middle stages while Colwell dropped at the hands of his KKM teammates, Tanner Carrick and Holley Hollan.
At the halfway mark, Colwell's No. 71 slowed to a halt in turn two to bring out the caution and throw some serious championship implications into the fray as he went to the pit area with a mechanical issue. Returning to racing with ten to go, Courtney continued to lead Carrick while Chris Andrews of Tulsa, Okla. made it by Hollan for the third spot.
Coming together in a fight for the top spot, Colwell and Courtney collided off turn four on the 23rd circuit. They both kept it together and held onto 1st and 2nd, but the damage was already done. Over the next lap, Carrick's front end folded on the Keith Kunz Motorsports, Walker Filters, Craftsman No. 71K and then Courtney's left rear went flat, eliminating both contenders from the show.
Inheriting the lead with eight laps left, Chris Andrews commanded the field in a Jim Miller owned No. 95 entry. The chaos quickly resumed, however, as Andrews' bid for a breakthrough first-career National Midget win were shattered just three-quarters of a lap later, when contact between he and Jake Neuman shot the No. 95 around and to a stop.
The final restart saw Neuman fire the field with Andrew Felker and a hard-charging Buddy Kofoid at his heels. Neuman took the conservative route around the inside, but Buddy, who was making his first-ever POWRi National Midget start, was going all-out after making it to the front from 17th. Kofoid was a show in-and-of himself over the final eight laps while running high, biking big and smashing the gas in pursuit of Neuman, a race that he would make close, but ultimately fall just short of stealing.
At the checkered flag, it was Jake Neuman of New Berlin, Ill. withstanding the chaos and winning the Southern Illinois Shootout at SIR from the 11th spot. Marking his sixth career POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League victory, tonight's triumph was Neuman's fourth of 2019, a season which has proved to be the best of his career. Driving the Team Ripper No. 21KS, Neuman and crew chief Flea Ruzic have made five starts together since September with two wins coming their way.
Buddy Kofoid of Penngrove, Calif. left a lasting first impression on the POWRi National Midget ranks in his league debut at SIR. Falling short of the victory, the teenage sensation delivered a remarkable 17th-to-2nd run aboard the Keith Kunz Motorsports, Toyota Racing No. 97 and made his name known across the midget racing landscape.
Andrew Felker, the 2012 POWRi National Midget champ and current POWRi West points leader, rounded out the podium with a third-place showing in the Chad Shields Racing, MelMark Pipe & Supply, Ripper/Fontana No. 44S. Closing out the top five at SIR was a pair of KKM teammates with 14-year old Daison Pursley finishing fourth in the Toyota Racing No. 9 and the record-chasing Logan Seavey in fifth with the Mobil 1 No. 67.
Finishing inside the top ten was Tucker Klaasmeyer of Paola, Kans. in sixth, Kyle Jones of Kennedale, Tex. in seventh for the TriFecta Motorsorts No. 7U, championship contender Zach Daum in eighht-from-19th, midget rookie Kameron Key in ninth-from-18th, and Jesse Love in tenth-from-23rd.
Daison Pursley (Auto Meter Heat 1), Logan Seavey (KSE Racing Products Heat 2), Tyler Courtney (Advanced Racing Suspensions Heat 3) and Tanner Carrick (Schoenfeld Headers Heat 4) topped heat race action. Buddy Kofoid won the Rod End Supply B-Main.
The POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League visits Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill. tomorrow Sunday, October 13 for the Charlene Meents Memorial. If you can't make it, watch LIVE on www.speedshifttv.com.
For more information on POWRi Racing, you can visit www.powri.com online, follow @POWRi_Racing on Twitter and Instagram, or like POWRi on Facebook.
Auto Meter Heat One (8 Laps):
KSE Racing Products Heat Two (8 Laps):
Advanced Racing Suspensions Heat Three (8 Laps):
Schoenfeld Headers Heat Four (8 Laps):
Rod End Supply B-Main (10 Laps / 6 Transfer):
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League Main Event (30 Laps):