MORRIS – Nothing, not even a torrential downpour, could stop Kyle Hamilton during Saturday night’s D’Arcy GMC Pavement Nationals presented by Bell Helmets at Grundy County Speedway.
A heavy mid-afternoon storm soaked the 1⁄3-mile, paved oval, but that was not enough to pull the plug on the event. A relentless effort by the track crew to dry the racing surface allowed the night’s events to begin with only a slight delay.
In qualifying, Hamilton, known as “The Professor” in racing circles, claimed his fifth fast qualifying time in five STARS appearances this season. The quick lap also set a new STARS record as he collected his record ninth fast qualifying time in his career.
In the first heat, the story remained the same as Hamilton wasted no time getting to the front from his sixth starting spot and was able to pick up his first career heat race win in STARS action. Plainfield’s Nick Baran, who was gunning for his shot at coming one step closer to taking the $2,000 bonus for winning the Safety-Kleen Triple Crown, took the win in the second heat race.
Three-time UMARA champion, David Gough, and current STARS National Midget series point leader, Austin Prock, led the 17-car field to the green flag in the 50-lap feature. Gough got the jump on Prock at the start and took off to a comfortable advantage. While Gough was pacing the field, Hamilton methodically picked his way through.
On Lap 15, Hamilton got on the inside of Prock while entering turn three and it resulted in the two waging in a spectacular side-by-side battle for the next two laps. On Lap 17, Hamilton was finally able to clear Prock heading down the back straightaway, and then immediately dove to the low side in turn three to overtake the top spot from Gough.
From that point, it was all Kyle Hamilton, who led the remaining 32 laps to take his third win of the season and the seventh victory of his STARS career in only his 14th feature start, which moves him into second place on the series’ all-time win list. Hamilton earned the coveted Bell Helmet in victory lane along with a $3,500 check, a portion of which he donated to the ALS Foundation. Behind Hamilton at the finish line were Prock, Kyle O’Gara, Nick Hamilton, and Tyler Baran.
Hamilton earned the first sweep in the history of the STARS National Midget series by turning the fastest lap in qualifying, winning his heat race, and then taking the checkered flag in the feature.
The next STARS event comes Saturday, with the Bob Lockard Memorial STARS National Midget race. Also on the agenda are the Illini Racing Series Midgets, STARS Classic Modifieds, INEX Legends, and the CSR Super Cups.
Adult tickets are $12. Kids ages 5 to 12 get in for $2. Children age 4 and younger are free. Pit gates open at 2 p.m., grandstands open at 5 and racing starts at 6:30 p.m.