If Friday night was any indication of just how hungry folks are for some outdoor entertainment during this Covid-19 pandemic then Kankakee County Speedway was the shot in the arm this community needed. A estimated record crowd for an opening night race was on hand as were 100 race teams set to do battle, as the sultry heat of the day gave way to slighter cooler temperatures at night but equally as hot was the action on the 1/3-mile dirt oval.
"It's been a long, long time since I turned the corner at the fairgrounds entrance and seen that many vehicles in the parking lot. Long lines greeted fans to get tickets and as the night moved forward, even longer lines were discovered for fans to quench their thirst and grab a bite to eat", said public relations director Paul Bayne. "The one thing I noticed however more than anything else was the influx of young people returning to the track once again", he added. In fact kids of all ages filled the grandstands and cheered on their favorites, whether by name or by color scheme.
Six divisions of race cars were scheduled to compete and the first was the UMP Stock Car division. Coal City's Nick Seplak proved to be an unstoppable force that never faultered as he drove the low groove masterfully on his way to his first career win at the speed plant. He was chased to the checkered flag by defending track champion Zachary Zuberbier and Matt Fabrizius. Seplak, Jerrad Krick, and Zuberbier earned preliminary heat race wins in a field of 24 cars
Jason Hastings scored the win in UMP Modified action despite an early race skirmish which wadded up the front end of his machine. Nonetheless, Hastings of Kankakee rode the highside to victory while fending off the advances of Steven Brooks and Nick Clubb. Justin Gregory and Hastings scored preliminary heat race wins amongst 18 entries.
In the ever growing always exciting UMP Pro Late Model division it was Cullom's Torin Mettile netting his 17th career feature triumph outpacing the likes of Kyle Cooper and Chad Osterhoff in a race filled with cautions Mettile is the divisions winningest driver since it's inception back in 2012. Chase Osterhoff and Mettile nabbed heat race wins in a field of 24 cars. The UMP Factory Stocks are now a staple of the racing scene at Kankakee and once again they did not disappoint. RJ Akers of Black Oak, IN served notice and hustled his way around the high side to fend off division stalwarts Jesse Simmons and Lee J, Hall and pick up his first career win at Kankakee. Heat race wins went to Akers and Zane Reitz in a modest field of 16 cars.
Matthew Balthazor of Chebanse picked up where he left off last year as the defending track champion used a late race pass of race long leader Jake Momper to snooker the win away from the divisions all-time winningest driver. Tyler Griswold held on to take the third position. Bryce Leake and Matthew Baker earned prelim wins in the field of 12 cars.
The night night marked the official debut of the UMP Pro Modifieds or some may know them as B-Mods. In the end it was fourth generation racer Deece Schwartz of Charleston earning both the heat race wand feature race wins over Brandon Wirtz and Dave Whittington.
Racing action resumes at the 1/3 mile high banked oval next Friday night with a full program of racing. Fans are reminded that you can save $2 off next weeks grandstand admission by showing your ticket stub from Friday's opening night.
Speedway Crowns Five Champions in Season Finale
Kankakee County Speedway crowned all five of it's divisions this past Friday night but for one champion it didn't become official until late Monday afternoon. Torin Mettile of Cullom, IL was clearly the car to beat all year in the UMP Pro Late Model division, having secured (8) eight feature wins along the way to win second consecutive track championship, this one in memory of his late grandfather Dick Turner, who passed away this past off-season but not before seeing his grandson garner top honors at this past season's awards banquet. Finishing second was Mike Marden 160 points back while Phil Line was outdistanced by 176 points.
In the UMP Modified division, newcomer Mike Learman of Woodstock, IL claimed his first title despite only one feature win throughout the whole season. Learman was simply a model of consistency finishing in the top five nearly every night out and even impressed when the top modified drivers in the region would come to visit. Heading into the final night, Learman held a 28 point lead of runner-up Jason Hastings and took care of business on the season's final night while Hastings struggled to make a charge. In the end, Hastings fell 34 points short of triumph while part-time competitor Jamie Lomax leaped to third 150 points back with a pair of September victories.
The UMP Stock Car division wasn't decisively know until late Monday afternoon. And much like a Florida election, the points had to counted and recounted several times over by several track officials to determine the final outcome. In the end it was Wilmington, IL driver Joe Brown Jr. laying claim to his second consecutive title by a mere point over runner-up Matt Hammond of Bourbonnais, IL, who held the top spot nearly all year and headed into the final night one point up over Brown. During the 46-lap Dick Potts Tribute race however, Brown, despite getting a flat tire with about 20 laps remaining, charged up through the field and passed a slipping Hammond for sixth place with several laps to go then held on as the checkered flags flew. Both drivers were called to a meeting on Monday afternoon, where the scenario was explained to each of them and the matter put to rest. Both drivers offered each other congratulations on what was nothing short of an incredible year. Third place honors went to four-time track champion Don Hilleary, who won the Dick Potts Tribute race, finishing 71 points back.
The I-Mod division championship was over shortly after this past season's banquet, and maybe before that. No one and I mean no one except for Don Stone wrestled a checkered flag out of the hands of Chris Tippit of DeMotte, IN all year. Tippit collected an incredible 12 victories in thirteen nights along with one runner-up spot to finish only five points shy of a perfect season. And for the second consecutive year Tippit has held the top spot in the division since the Jon Robbins left the division several years ago. However, don't be fooled into thinking this division doesn't have some up and oming talented drivers waiting to pounce when Tippit does falter. The division has proven to be a solid building ground for the driver's of the future. Andrew Short finished 170 points back of Tippit followed by Lane Jackson at 239 points in arrears.
Finally, the UMP Sport Compact division was a good battle all year long as Matthew Balthazor claimed his second consecutive title while collecting three feature wins along the way. Cody Burson had his best season ever finishing 82 points back while Matt Minor grabbed the third spot 141 points behind.
For immediate release,
Kankakee County Speedway officials are proud to be one of only 50+ tracks/series in the nation to have the prestigious Contingency Connection national grassroots RACER REWARDS program for their racers in 2018! Over 100 tracks and series applied to participate in the program and Kankakee, as well as Lincoln and Macon, were chosen because of the importance they place on their weekly racing programs.
We are pleased to announce that we will offer in upwards of $100,000 in NATIONAL Contingency Connection RACER REWARDS in 2018. Beginning in May, the top 15 drivers in each regular division’s standings will be eligible to take home the bonus rewards. Details of how the awards will be given will be announced near the end of April
National manufacturers such as Renegade Oil, ELGIN, Holley, SCAT, Richmond Gear, JE Pistons, Edelbrock, Clevite, Stage 8, K&N Filters, Auto Meter, MSD, Mr. Gasket, Accel, Mahle, Lincoln Electric, Taylor, Melling, Hedman Hedders, Canton Oil Pans, SCE Gaskets, Jet-Hot and many, many others will be posting awards at Kankakee.
The RACER REWARDS coupon book will be presented to our loyal drivers. Racer Rewards coupon books include manufacturer discount coupons averaging over $2000 in Racer Rewards WEEKLY for every winner!
Kankakee weekly racers can win more money more often at our track than most tracks in this region!
RUN the decals and BUY the products of the posting sponsors to be eligible to win thousands of dollars in contingency awards all season long!
RACER REWARDS by Contingency Connection is YOUR DIRECT CONNECTION to performance manufacturers and we’ve got it at our tracks in Central Illinois.
KANKAKEE'S RENT-A-RIDE DIRT RACING EXPERIENCE
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to circle the high banks in a real fire breathing, ground pounding dirt late model? Or perhaps you're already an experienced racer who's thrown in the towel at the costs associated with running your own race program and just want to relight the fire that burns within you. Well, if either of these scenarios sounds like it's for you, Kankakee County Speedway has a program geared just for a memorable night you won't soon forget.
Once again this year,Kankakee County Speedway presents the Rent-A-Ride Dirt Racing Experience, the only track in the Midwest that offers fans and racers alike, the opportunity to climb in behind the wheel of a real dirt late model ranging from brand new equipment to equipment with some laps on them but gently used.
For more information call Tom Smith at (708) 417-6018
KCS To Utilize Double File Restarts During Features
Again in 2018, in an ongoing effort to provide great racing for our fans, will be the use of "Kankakee Double File Restarts". A modified version of the more popularly known Delaware Double File Restarts, where under caution the leader will be placed at the front of the pack by himself, while the second place car will move to the inside lane and the third place car will take the outside lane and so on back throughout the field.
The reason the second place car takes the inside lane rather than have a choice is to make it easier and simplify things more for the drivers, but also for the scorers and track officials. There's bound to be a driver or two whose radio has quit working or they simply can't hear the tower. Thus, making this system fool proof should eliminate any unnecessary delays with the lineups.
The Kankakee Double File Restarts will only be used during feature competition but not less than 5 laps to go. This rule does not apply to the UMP Sport Compact class, who will lineup single file as instructed by the tower officials.
NOTICE TO SPORT COMPACT DRIVERS
UMP Sport Compacts must weigh a minimum of #2400 with driver at all times. UMP does not have a weight rule in this class, however this is a local track rule that will be enforced each week. So drivers need to be aware of what their cars weigh before arriving at the track.
2018 SEASON NOTICE: 2018 MEDIA REQUESTS
Media requests should be made in writing at least one week prior to the scheduled event you are wishing to cover. This includes all reporters, photographers, and videographers. Proper ID is required when signing into the pits at the track. All requests may be made by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put KCS Media Request in the subject line of your email.
While we welcome diversity, we can not guarantee all requests will be approved. Media publications may be limited as to the number of requests approved. You will be asked to provide links to any articles and/or photos from your covered event. You will receive confirmation by return email as to whether your request has been approved or disapproved. If your name and/or credential does not appear on the comp list, you will be expected to pay appropriate admission. This applies to all photographers, media members, vendors, and promotion staff from other tracks.