Pevely, MO – The series’ first appearance at Federated Auto Parts Raceway since 2008, Tanner Thorson of Minden, Nevada survived a grueling battle with Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports teammate Christopher Bell to earn his second POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series victory of 2015, taking the “Prelude to the Ironman.”
Thomas Messeraul of San Jose, California led the field to green in the 5ive-6ix, Inc. Esslinger-powered Triple-X Chassis with Zach Daum to his outside. Daum would take the jump on the initial start, only to be called back for the spun machine driven by Andy Malpocker. Relining up, Thorson would lead the first lap from third while running the bottom, as Messeraul took to the extreme top. With three laps complete, the red would come out for Andy Malpocker who clipped the outside wall in turn one, going for a ride. Malpocker would be alright, but his machine would find itself on the business end of the wrecker.
Coming back to green, Messeraul would try to challenge Thorson by again using the furthest way around the race track. On lap five, Austin Prock would clip the outside wall in turn one, almost identical to Malpocker, and flip hard. Prock would be alright, but done for the remainder of the event. Thorson would get a nice jump on the restart as Messeraul again wasted no time and took straight to the top side of the track. With eight laps in the books, the action would be interrupted as Austin Brown’s Toyota-powered BOSS Chassis slowed entering turn one. Brown would enter the work area and then restart at the tail.
On the restart, Messeraul would go back to the top, but this time Thorson would pull a few car lengths away as Bell would get a grasp on the second position for lap 11. Before lap 12 could be completed, the caution would fly for the slowed machine on the front stretch piloted by Andrew Felker. Felker would restart at the rear of the field. Coming back to green, Bell would rip the top as Thorson worked the bottom through turns one and two, but immediately the red flag would come out as Daniel Robinson took a ride in turn one. Robinson would alright, but done for the night.
Returning to racing, Thorson would be faced with Bell’s repeated challenges until Thorson relinquished the lead on lap 16. Regaining the lead for lap 18, Thorson would take brief control as the duo continued their slider-fest, until Bell came out on top for lap 19, as Darren Hagen took third from Messeraul. Thorson and Bell’s battle would be put on ice as Austin Brown got sideways off turn two, collecting Travis Berryhill and bringing out the yellow.
Restarting the race and reigniting the battle, Bell would continue to tail Thorson, but before his Toyota-powered Bullet could make a move, Kyle Schuett would get upside down in the middle of turns one and two, bringing out the fourth and final red flag of the night. Returning to racing, try as he might, Christopher Bell could not steal the lead from Tanner Thorson. Coming in third at the stripe was Spencer Bayston, edging Darren Hagen for the final podium spot. Zach Daum rounded out the top five in the Daum Crop Insurance, Toyota-powered Eagle.
“All in all, this car was awesome all night,” stated Thorson. “Keith [Kunz] gives me an awesome car. It’s pretty incredible to be racing with Christopher that close. It was one heck of a race; it was probably one of the fun-est races I’ve been in. I just can’t thank these guys in the pits enough. They work their butts off and it was an awesome win.”
“That was a lot of fun,” said Bell. “It’s hard to beat that right there. It’s just so close and that’s a lot of fun being able to race with my teammate like that. So congrats to him, he did a really great job. I kind of snookered him there on a couple restarts; he wasn’t sure whether he should go to the top or the bottom and I had a little time to move around, but those yellows sure weren’t helping me at all.”
“We were running about seventh or eighth there for a long time and finally found the middle and got good in the middle for the last five laps,” Bayston said. “I have to thank Tim, Tyler, Connor and those guys for working their butts off to get me here tonight.”
Ford Heat Race Winners: Heat 1: 67 – Tanner Thorson, Heat 2: 71 – Christopher Bell, Heat 3: 56 – Thomas Messeraul, Heat 4: 7 – Austin Brown
Toyota Semi-Feature Winner: 52 – Anton Hernandez
Great Clips Feature Winner: 67 – Tanner Thorson
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series Feature Results (30 laps): 1. 67 – Tanner Thorson 2. 71 – Christopher Bell 3. 39 – Spencer Bayston 4. 17 – Darren Hagen 5. 5D – Zach Daum 6. 56 – Thomas Messeraul 7. 32 – Garrett Aitken 8. 39C – Payton Pierce 9. 71K – Ryan Robinson 10. 35 – Matt Sherrell 11. 11A – Andrew Felker 12. 52 – Anton Hernandez 13. 27 – Tucker Klaasmeyer 14. 3N – Jake Neuman 15. 50 – Daniel Adler 16. 85 – Shane Hollingsworth 17. 9K – Kyle Schuett 18. 7 – Austin Brown 19. 4A – Travis Berryhill 20. 57D – Daniel Robinson 21. 41 – Austin Prock 22. 22 – Andy Malpocker
For more information, visit www.powri.com.