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Scary Moment in USAC 600 Sprint Race, Tight Points in UMP Modifies Division at Plymouth Speedway

Monday July 15, 2013

 

By: Anita Soltis

July 13, 2013

The crowd at Plymouth Speedway took a collective gasp as the number 349 of Eric Saunders’ USAC 600 Open Sprint got loose out of turn one during Saturday night’s action. A hard hit by Billy Cribbs caused Saunders’ car to roll over. Saunders, a determined racer who is paralyzed from the chest down, was upside down in his race car when a fire started. Fire crews and EMTs were quick to respond, as well as track workers and his family. The fire was quickly extinguished and Saunders was able to be pulled to safety with the help of his brother, Garrett, and emergency personnel.

“I’m okay,” stated Saunders after the incident. “It scared me because I didn’t think I could flip upside down in one of these cars and I did. And then it started on fire which really freaked me out. Thank you to everyone for helping me during that incident. We all worked hard on my car this week and it was the car to beat. I had a lot of confidence going into the feature after I won the heat race. It’s too bad our night ended so early.”

After the field went back to green after the red flag condition, another caution occurred on the restart. On lap six, Kris Knox, who began the race in the fifth position, took the lead and led the rest of the 20-lap feature by two seconds over Billy Cribbs who finished second. Tyler Huffman rounded out the top three.

“I’m excited to get the win,” beamed Knox. “The track was perfect for my driving style. It’s great to get my first feature win!”

After the race, Cribbs stated that he felt bad getting into Saunders and causing that accident. It was tight racing at that point in the race.

Super Street points leader Bob McLean had a yo-yo race as he started on the pole and found himself deep in the field during the middle of the race. Bobby Hinkle and McLean were fighting for position when McLean made a mistake out of turn 2 on lap 10 and Hinkle took the spot. JC Moldovan then got past McLean on lap 12 which put him back to fifth. Moldovan and Hinkle battled which allowed McLean to pass and snag the third spot. While all of this was going on, Michael Clark was enjoying the lead all the way to the checkered flag.

“Thank you to everyone who helps me with my car and especially my sponsors,” said Clark. “I like the racetrack a lot and my car runs around the racetrack really well.”

It was Clark’s first feature win. David Short had a podium finish in the second spot while Bob McLean finished third.

The USAC r600w Sprint race started with Bud McCune on the pole, but Nicholas Schaefer quickly found clean air on the first lap. That didn’t last long as Nick Katrakis passed Schaefer on lap 4 and didn’t look back. Katrakis stood atop the podium with Schaefer in second and McCune in third. Garrett Saunders started last in the feature and didn’t gain much ground in the 15-lap feature.

“I had the perfect car tonight,” stated Katrakis. “Thank you to my Dad for working on my car and everyone who supports me. It was great tonight.”

The UMP Modified race is always quite a race to watch as there is a lot of bumping and banging due to close racing. Points leader Frank Marshall and Tommy Beezley II have been swapping places in the points in recent weeks and all eyes were watching to see how this one would play out – especially since both drivers started deep in the field when the green flag dropped. Both moved up quickly and Adam Williams, who is also in the hunt for the points lead, was involved in a dust-up on lap 6 which took him out of the race. Zeke McKenzie took over the lead on lap 9 after he passed race leader Damen Bock. Bock and Steven Pena were running second and third when they tangled and had to go back to the end of the line after causing a caution. McKenzie had a handle on the lead by lap 12. Frank Marshall and Shawn Scripter battled for position until the end of the race when Marshall closed the gap and ended up second and Scripter third.

“We started out with bad luck at the beginning of the season and now we’re turning it around,” said McKenzie. “Thank you to everyone who helps me every week.”

This was Scripter’s second race at Plymouth Speedway and his second podium finish.

The Thunder Stock 15-lap feature was a clean race. Pole sitter Kevin Kerlin experienced some trouble during the race and the driver starting in the next spot, Eric Brown, was able to take the lead on lap 2. It was John Rhoads who came from the fourth starting position to the front on lap 7 and took the checked flag in the first position. Eric Brown ended in the runner-up spot while Jason Atkinson took the third spot on the podium.

“I was wondering if I was even going to race tonight as I’m battling the flu,” said Rhoads. “It’s a good thing I got through it!”

Join us next week at Plymouth Speedway for more action from the UMP Modifieds, USAC 600 Sprints and the USAC r600w Sprints, Super Street, and Thunder Stock divisions. Pits open at 3 p.m., grandstands open at 4 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m. ET. For more information, visit www.plymouthspeedway.net, follow Plymouth Speedway on Facebook and @PlymouthSpeed on Twitter.

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This report was provided by an outside PR source and posted by Mike Neff.

 

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