Prock, Young big winners in STARS twin features
MORRIS – Double your pleasure, double your fun is not only an old advertisement for a brand of chewing gum. It also applies to Saturday night’s tenth annual Carter/Anderson Classic at Grundy County Speedway in which twin 36-lap features were held for the STARS National Midgets. Certainly not all the drivers and teams experienced pleasure and fun in both of the features, but the fans in the grandstands certainly did get a mint of a show. There was plenty of exciting racing, highlighted by 240 laps of green flag racing throughout the evening’s event.
In the first feature, the race for Austin Prock began nearly identical as it did for him in the STARS season opener two weeks ago. Prock, starting seventh in his Tony Stewart Racing/Sparco/Venolia/Calico/PPG Paints Mopar/Beast, used the high side to charge up to third place on the opening lap. After second place-running Nick Baran came to a stop on in turn two on the fourth lap, Prock inherited the second spot behind race leader Billy Hulbert.
On the lap four restart, Prock snookered Hulbert coming out of turn four and took the top spot on the inside as they both headed into turn one. On the twelfth lap, Brad Greenup was able to snag the second spot away from Hulbert and attempted to reel in Prock, who had gained nearly a half-straightaway advantage. A Travis Young spin with five laps to go erased the sizable lead built by Prock and put Greenup on Prock’s tail for the final restart. While Prock was able to distance himself from the rest of the field, Jimmy Anderson made a terrific charge on the outside groove to earn third place at the checkered flag after passing Hulbert coming out of turn four on the final lap. Finishing fourth was Billy Hulbert, and Mario Clouser earned a fifth-place finish.
It was Prock, the 18-year-old native of Avon, Indiana, who took his second straight STARS National Midget victory and his fifth STARS victory in the last six series races dating back to the 2013 season. He was able to work his way up to the front of the field very quickly in the 36-lapper, but the fact that there was a second 36-lap feature coming up later in the night did weigh on his mind.
“I got up to the front pretty quick,” Prock said. “From there on out, I just pretty much cruised and wanted to conserve my stuff.”
In the second feature of the night, Prock was looking to continue his dominant run in the series as of late, but he had to do the deed starting from the ninth spot in the 14-car field. The other storyline of the night was seeing if Jimmy Anderson could finally break through and win the event named after his dad on Father’s Day weekend.
As the green flag flew, Travis Young was able to take advantage of his outside front row starting spot to scoot out to a comfortable lead. While Young was cruising out in front, the action was getting busy behind him. Anderson had battled his way to second place from his fifth starting position while Prock had charged to the third spot. On lap 11, however, Prock and Anderson made contact with each other in turn four causing Anderson’s car to spin to a stop on the front straightaway. Anderson was out of the race and very displeased, ultimately making a couple of animated gestures at Prock as he drove by under caution.
Because of the contact, it was determined by race officials that Prock would be penalized for the incident and sent to the tail of the field, essentially ending his bid for a third consecutive victory to start the season. It was Anderson, the three-time STARS National Midget champion, who suffered yet another heartbreak in this race he so badly wants to win for his family. Coming into this race, Anderson had finished in second place in five of the nine Carter/Anderson Classics. A third place finish in the first feature was a solid run, but still wasn’t in the top spot where he desires to be.
For the last 25 laps of the feature, it was the Travis Young Show. Nobody else was able to challenge him as he was able to pull away for his first STARS victory of the season in his 3 Wide Life/BG Products/Indiana’s Finest Wreckers/Big T’s Auto Parts-sponsored Beast/Esslinger. Young was very pleased with how his car worked in the second feature as opposed to the first feature, where he struggled to an eleventh place finish after spinning out with five laps to go. Finishing behind Young were Tyler Trainor, Mario Clouser, Austin Prock and Billy Hulbert.
“The car was as close to perfect as I think we could get it,” Young said. “I had to do a few small adjustments throughout the race to keep it good. I just drove it hard because I knew there were lots of fast guys behind me. We didn’t start out good by any means, but we kept fighting and we ended up on top. That’s what matters.”
In other series action on the night, Pat Kelly and Greg Willis captured the twin features for the Classic Modifieds. Brian Tedeschi was able to sweep both of the INEX Legends features for a perfect evening of racing. Dallas Frueh made a last lap pass on Jaime Domski to earn the CSR Super Cup feature which was his fourth feature win in a row this season. Jordan Caskey took top honors in the Midwest Legacy Series cars.
The Short Track Auto Racing Series (STARS) will resume action this Saturday night for “Kids-a-Palooza” featuring the STARS National Midgets, Classic Modifieds, INEX Legends, CSR Mini Cups, and Allison Legacy Cars. Pit gates open up at 2 p.m. Grandstands open at 5 p.m., qualifying starts at 6 p.m. and the first race begins at 6:45. Adult admission is $12. Tickets for children 12 and younger are free as part of “Kids-a-Palooza” this week. The Grundy County Speedway is one mile north of I-80 on Rt. 47 in Morris, Illinois.