In what was the 2023 season's penultimate event, several drivers added their names to the win column while a few others cemented their names as track champions on the final night of the season. Beginning with Matt Hammond of Bourbonnais, IL. The defending UMP Pro Late Model track champion not only won for the second week in a row, but claimed his second straight track championship as well. Hammond was able to quickly take command of the 20-lap $1800 to win feature from the drop of the green flag. Starting third on the grid, Hammond was able to quickly track down polesitter Jamie Lomax and let the field know the battles were going to be behind him.
Kyle McMahon of Mt. Vernon, IL, made his way up to within striking distance but could never really put together a challenge in his runner-up effort, while Austin McCarty, who started ninth, made his way forward to finish third. Lomax would settle for fourth in promoter Billy Knippenberg's car and fast qualifier Gary Schalmo (15.292) flew home from Nashville, TN to nab the fifth spot.
The victory was Hammond's third of the season and 11th all-time in the Pro Late Model division.
The CR Towing UMP Modifieds had a good handful of nationally ranked drivers in the house Friday night and it was Wheatfield, IN modified ace Nick Allen who swept the evening by claiming fast time (15.174) honors as well as winning his heat and the 20-lap, $2000 to win feature. Allen was hounded all race long by Mike McKinney, and while McKinney could practically read the gauges in Allen'a car, he could never quite make it past Allen to the top spot. Michael Ledford once again proved to be a force to be reckoned with as he gave chase in the third spot while Frank Marshall held on to fourth ahead of Trevor Neville, who uncharacteristically spun by himself exiting turn two and was relegated to come back up through the field from the rear.
The win was Allen's 40th all-time modified victory, pushing his advantage back to five over McKinney and eight over four-time track champion Jamie Lomax who was idle on the night from Modifieds choosing to compete only in Pro Lates.
Braiden Keller of West Lebanon, IN returned to take care of some unfinished business Friday night after last week went away in a hurry during the 3 Sons Auto Salvage feature. Keller came back with a vengeance by not only topping the charts in qualifying but setting a new benchmark for others to chase next year. Keller laid down a lap of 16.692.
Keller had some issues in his heat race resulting in a fifth place place run, but that wouldn't deter him on his way to victory lane after starting ninth in the feature. Jeff Hartzell would lead the early going before breaking handing the lead over to Nick Clubb but it wasnt long after Keller made his move to get past for the top spot. Clubb held on to the second spot as all eyes were focused on track champion Jerrad Krick, who was piloting teammate Megan Erwin's car for the feature. Krick
would start 14th on the grid and methodically pick off one driver after a other before finally settling into the top three. It was impressive to say the least. Finishing fourth was Kyle Anderson with another strong effort while Joe Hillman would round out the top five.
The victory believe it or not was Keller's first ever triumph at Kankakee and the track title was Krick's second consecutive. Both drivers will now set their sights on this weekend's UMP Fall Nationals at Charleston Speedway where Krick looks to see up another National Championship.
The focus for most race fans in the know of the points sutuation was on the Express Powersports UMP Factory Stocks where Lee Joseph Hall and Trevor Bitterling would square off one more time to decide a champion.
Bitterling jumped to the point from the drop of the green flag and looked to have things under control before Hall finally made his move down the front-stretch passing Bitterling going into turn one without much resistance. Bitterling would stay close until he got tangled up with a few cars resulting in heavy driver's side damage and a trip to the rear of the field. And while Bitterling was able to carve his way back to the front, he was no match for Hall who would go onto to win his fifth feature of the season. Following Bitterling to the stripe were Hayden Lomax, Jon Doughty and Nathan Arterberry. Arterberry would again reclaim track record honors in qualifying with a lap of 17.700
Hall would ask for the checkered flag on the front-stretch and proceeded to honor and celebrate his three fallen family members, killed by a drunk driver last fall after a race in Charleston, IL, with three Polish victory laps.
The Miller Hydraulic UMP Pro Modifieds was a repeat performance by Kewanee, IL driver Brandon Bollinger, who earned his second straight victory over three-time track champion and 11-time feature winner this season Deece Schwartz. Bollinger hit his Mark's lap after lap running the high line around the 1/4-mile. Schwartz could do little to offer a serious threat although was able to show his nose a time or two on the bottom before giving way to that high side momentum.
Following that duo to the line were Brayden Doyle, Donnie Martin and Ryan Kohler.
In the 15-lap, $300 to win First Place Oils UMP Sport Comoact feature, Spencer Coats of LaGrange, MO made his second visit to Kankakee one to remember as he simply walked away from the field on his way to victory. Coats was on hand because of his chase for the national points championship behind Jimmy Dutlinger of Peoria, IL. And with no David Lauritson on the property because of a blown engine, the track championship was a moot point for Dutlinger.
Evan Eckhoff wrapped up a strong campaign with a runner-up finish ahead of Joshua Wright, Dutlinger and another LaGrange, MO driver Landon. Neisen.
Matthew Balthazor lowered his own track record by .04 to 18.409 in qualifying but would suffer mechanical woes in the feature along with his brother Luke.
Scott Glassford of Kankakee would come out on top of the Stock 4 Cylinder division for the seventh time this season finishing eighth overall in the 15-lap affair.
Jerry Legner of Verona, IL capped the nights on track action by walking away from the field in the 15-lap Crown Victoria feature, the same way he did when the Crown Vics made their first ever appearance way back in May.
Adam Thibo finished a distant second but did earn six victories on the year. He was followed by Sam Ingram, Joe Hillman and Nick Seidel.
What began the year as a two car feature has blossomed into a 15 car turnout at the end of the year. ext year the Crown Vics will earn track points and compete for their own track championship.
Kankakee County Speedway
September 22nd, 2023
Summary of Results
UMP Pro Late Models
(20-laps, $1800 to win)
1. Matt Hammond, Bourbonnais, IL
2. Kyle McMahon, Mt. Vernon, IL
3. Austin McCarty, Bourbonnais, IL
4. Jamie Lomax, Lake Village, IN
5. Gary Schalmo, Nashville, TN
(20-laps, $2,000 to win)
1. Nick Allen, Wheatfield, IN
2. Mike McKinney, Plainfield, IL
3. Michael Ledford, Pontiac, IL
4. Frank Marshall, Valparaiso, IN
5. Trevor Neville, Mackinaw, IL
UMP Stock Cars
(15-laps, $800 to win)
1. Braiden Keller, West Lebanon, IN
2. Nick Clubb, Coal City, IL
3. Jerrad Krick, Earl Park, IN
4. Kyle Anderson, Crown Point, IN
5. Joe Hillman, Frankfort, IL
UMP Factory Stocks
(15-laps, $600 to win)
1. Lee Joseph Hall, Oxford, IN
2. Trevor Bitterling, Star City, IN
3. Hayden Lomax, Lake Village, IN
4. John Doughty, Winamac, IN
5. Nathan Arterberry, Fowler, IN
UMP Pro Modifieds
(15-laps, $600 to win)
1. Brandon Bollinger, Kewanee, IL
2. Deece Schwartz, Ashmore, IL
3. Brayden Doyle, Ashmore, IL
4. Donnie Martin, Oakwood, IL
5. Ryan Kohler, Chebanse, IL
UMP Sport Compacts
(15-laps. $300 to win)
1. Spencer Coats, LaGrange, MO
2. Evan Eckhoff, Onarga, IL
3. Joshua Wright, Danville, IL
4. Jimmy Dutlinger, Peoria, IL
5. Landon Nelson, LaGrange, MO
Stock 4 Cylinders
(15-laps, $150 to win)
1. Scott Glassford, Kankakee, IL
1. Jerry Legner, Verona, IL
2. Adam Thibo, Peotone, IL
3. Sam Ingram, Donovan, IL
4. Joe Hillman, Frankfort, IL
5. Nick Seidel, Bolingbrook, IL