18 Cars signed in to the historic Rockford Speedway on a beautiful Saturday evening.
Everyone in the pit area was excited to be back at the track that all IRS drivers and fans love to be at. Track record holder Sean Murphy proved once again he is the man to beat during qualifying as his time of 13.995 was the fastest. Two exciting heat races would proceed the feature event. Patrick Bruns kept his heat race streak alive as he has won all three of his heats this year, Ben Gillis picked up the win in the second heat race in a thrilling battle which saw his car slow off of turn number 4 but have enough momentum to still take the checkered flag in 1st place. The inversion after the heats saw the 11K car of Joe Knippel start on pole position for the 25 lap feature. The pace would be fast and furious early on as 2nd place starter Mike Gass took the lead and drove off into the distance. Knippels car would suffer a mechanical problem which caused his car to slow and the whole lead pack to take evasive action. Everyone got by the stranded car, but Sean Murphy made what was so far the save of the year. After a mid race yellow flag, the field packed up behind Gass, eliminating his big lead. Gass would lose the handle of his car after that, falling behind into the fourth position. Lamont Critchett would take over the lead and lead the pack through lapped traffic and stretch his distance over the field, but as the laps wound down it was evident that points leader Patrick Bruns was coming. The two sliced through lapped traffic when on the final lap, Bruns went to the low side in turns 3 and 4. It wasn't enough though as Critchett would bag the victory by less than a car length over Bruns. 3rd place went to Sean Murphy over Mike Gass and Derrick Gough.
Critchett was estatic in victory lane, as he and his brother Loran have always been snake bitten at rockford. Loran wasn't even able to start the feature as he had motor problems in qualifying. "It was an absolute blast, to be able to run with everybody that close. I think we had the 83 (Bruns), the 52 (Gass), the 5 (Murphy) me and the 11 (Gough) car. There were 5 cars I saw at one time going down the straightaway and I'm thinking to myself, where am I going to go? Everyone was professional, we've all got racing experience under our belt, and this track was built for midgets man what a blast going around here, its like a roller coaster ride."
Critchett knew how close Bruns was on the last lap "The last lap when the lapped cars were coming, I drove it in too low and I heard Patrick coming when the white flag came out I'm like just hit my marks and Ill be fine. Turns 1 and 2 I wasn't worried about, 3 and 4 I let up a little bit early just to make sure I could get the car set through the corner and I saw him come underneath and I knew with how much input in the wheels he had turned he wasn't going to make the pass, I was just going to drive it off the corner and we'll get it and that's all I had to do. "
The driver of the #77 T1 Racing/Hanley Farms/Knights Body Shop/SRS/Micro Blue/Mateer Oil Buzzard/VW knew how much it took to win at this track
"Its good for our family, my brothers and I we work so hard at work all day, we work 70 hours a week and we try to come back and try to work on these things at night so we are up until 1am just so we can come play and have fun. I'm glad we put on a show for the fans, they had to love that, how could you not? That is open wheel at its best. I have to thank Fred Teer, I was struggling with this car, and he came along and helped me and got me pointed in the right direction with it. "
Patrick Bruns had his win streak come to an end but he was still pleased with a 2nd place finish in a hard fought battle. The driver of the #83 Tin Cup RV Park/Advanced Financial/Cains Marine Welding/Mobil 1 Beast/Focus gave it all he had on the last laps "I had to at least throw a shot at him I didn't know if I could pull it off or not, but all in all it was another great night for the full throttle racing team, to come home with a 2nd place finish. Lamont was well deserving of that victory and it was another great night. We were a third place car until that caution came out. I thought Mike Gass had it won and he was just checking out and the top 3 were at least in gridlock, and after I got by him I was content on a 2nd place finish. And we got down to the last lap on the last corner and I thought Id throw one last slider on Lamont and it didn't work and he pulled off the win. "
For the second straight IRS race, Sean Murphy held off his SETracing teammate Mike Gass for 3rd position. The Driver of the #5 Twister/Ecotech talked about his tremendous save on the back straight " I was just kind of holding back waiting for one of them to make a mistake and I think Kinppels car died on the back straight and it was almost a huge pile up that I managed to avoid, but in the process Bruns got around me and I bent up my right rear and knocked the bleeder out. I didn't even realize that, I thought we had a bunch of stagger coming out, but I'm pretty happy to come home third with all of that going on." Murphy was also happy with setting fast time earlier in the evening. "The car is coming close. We have good set ups from last year, so its just note taking and we are coming out of the box pretty close I think."
The Illini Racing Series has another weekend off before they return to the dirt at Kankakee County Speedway on July 6th
This article was posted to the website on June 27th, 2012
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