MORRIS – Just a little more than one month ago at Grundy County Speedway, Kyle Hamilton ended up on his head, upside down in turn one after an incident that began with the loss of his brakes. Just a handful of weeks later, the 22-year-old native of Danville, Indiana found himself with all four wheels firmly planted on the pavement in victory lane in the D’Arcy GMC STARS National Midgets Freedom 50.
In hot laps, the midgets were mired in a playground of misfortune. Four of the 11 cars on hand suffered a setback of some sort. Brad Greenup, who stood fourth in the STARS point standings, had an incident with a push truck that forced the team to thrash to get their car repaired and back on the track. STARS point leader, Austin Prock, had a gear issue that put their car out of order for the remainder of the night. Prock was forced to jump into an unfamiliar mount: the backup car of fellow competitor, Ryan Probst. The most recent winner in STARS action, Travis Young, lost an engine that forced his team to the sideline for the night. Kyle’s brother, Nick Hamilton, had his car on jack stands in the pit area and could not put the car back together in time to make a qualifying attempt. Fortunately, three of the four drivers were able to make it back out on the track for the feature.
Although the war of attrition was the story early on in the night, it eventually became merely a footnote. Kyle Hamilton, a current student at Purdue University, wrote his own chapters of success by beginning the night strong when he set the quickest time during qualifying with a lap of 14.325. In the 50-lap feature, Hamilton lined up third behind Mario Clouser and Brad Greenup who led the field to the green flag from the front row. Clouser was able to jump out to a sizable lead at the start while Hamilton was able to get by Greenup for second. By Lap 11, Hamilton was able to reel in Clouser and executed a nifty inside pass of Clouser on the bottom of turn four. Just five laps later, Greenup made almost exactly the same move in turn four to take over second place from Clouser.
Greenup was able to close the gap for the top spot and put a little bit of pressure on the orange tail tank of Kyle Hamilton’s Spike/Esslinger. However, with just 16 laps to go, Greenup’s car encountered trouble. As the car dropped off the pace dramatically and sputtered around the track, it became clear that nobody was going to be able to present a challenge to Kyle Hamilton the rest of the way. At the checkered flag, it was Kyle Hamilton taking the win followed by Clouser, Prock, Tyler Trainor, Probst, Hulbert, Greenup, Charley Judd, Nick Hamilton and Travis Mahoney, who was making his debut in a national midget and is the son of former midget and sprint car star, Jim Mahoney. This was Kyle Hamilton’s second career “Freedom 50” victory. He also won the same race in 2012.
In other action, Dallas Frueh continued his domination of the CSR Super Cups at Grundy County Speedway. Frueh is now 3 for 3 in the series this year after besting the 14-car field in the 20-lap feature. Andy Jones earned his second victory of the season in the INEX Legends. It was Tom Schnabel who pulled out the broom to sweep the night of events in the Classic Modifieds. Schnabel was the fastest qualifier, won his heat race, and then picked up his second feature win of 2014. If it was Schnabel who brought the broom, it was Jordan Caskey who brought the dustpan out for the Midwest Legacy Series. Caskey was also able to earn the trifecta of fast qualifier, heat winner, and feature winner.
STARS racing action resumes this Saturday night, with the Illinois State Championship presented by Chicagoland Speedway. The event is Round One of the Safety-Kleen Triple Crown. Also on tap along with the STARS National Midgets are the CSR Super Cups, INEX Legends, Classic Modifieds, and Midwest Legacy Series. Adult tickets are just $12. Kids age 5 to 12 get in for $2. Children age 4 and younger are free. Grandstands open up at 5 p.m. and racing starts at 6:30. Grundy County Speedway is one mile north of I-80 on Route 47 in Morris.