AUDIO/RUMBLE RECAP: Justin Peck stuns Memorial Coliseum; becomes youngest-ever Rumble champion

Jacob Seelman Audio, Featured, Midwest, Other Midgets, Sprints & Midgets 0 Comments

December 29, 2013 — Audio and report by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — Photos by Chris Seelman —

FORT WAYNE, IN — Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.

Saturday night at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center, 15-year-old Justin Peck was both.

Still young enough he has to have his parents sign off on his minor release form, the high school freshman rocketed out to the lead on the opening lap of the 50-lap National midget A-main and triumphed in a furious late race duel with Friday’s winner Russ Gamester to claim an improbable victory and etch his name in the record book as the youngest feature winner in Rumble Series history.

“I’m speechless right now,” Peck said in victory lane after Russ Gamester and Tony Stewart both came up to offer congratulations to the newest Rumble champion. The teenager eclipsed the record of Bobby East, who was 17 when he won at the Rumble in 2001. “I knew we had a shot when we were able to grab the lead on the opening lap, but man, when Gamester got to me, I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to get back to him.”

“When we got behind him, I could tell (Gamester’s) rhythm was off. I thought maybe something was going away on his car, and when he slowed, I almost ran straight into the back of him. Slipped to the inside, and from there, I just knew. This is beyond amazing.”

Gamester, who was looking to become just the third driver in history to sweep the weekend at the Rumble, watched victory slip through his fingers as the engine in his #46 Grant King-built machine soured with two laps to go, allowing Peck to make the winning pass. The motor finally expired in Turn 4 on the final lap, relegating the Peru, Indiana driver to ninth place at the finish.

“We had a shot at it, and you know, that’s all you can ask,” a dejected Gamester said following the feature. “I was hoping we were gonna be able to grab another one there, but it kicked a rod out of the block with a lap or two to go. What can you say? It just wasn’t meant to be for us tonight.”

Mike Fedorcak, driving Tony Stewart’s Deuces are Wild #2 Munchkin, slipped through the chaos when Russ Gamester’s woes began to claim the runner-up spot at the finish. For the Munchkin designer, it was his 15th top ten finish in 16 career Rumble Series A-main starts, with the only blemish being an 11th place finish on the final night in 2011.

“Never expected to finish that strong after the night we had,” Fedorcak said post-race. “It seemed like we were facing the wrong direction more often than not, but racers just keep digging. Every time we come here to the Rumble and these cars perform this well, it gives me a special sense of pride.”

“To come back and do it in this car, the one that really started it all here at the Rumble, is special.”

The youth movement rounded out the podium as well, with 19-year-old Grant Galloway coming home in third to follow up a runner-up result from Friday night. Billy Hulbert charged late to finish fourth and 2012 Rumble champion Derek Bischak rounded out the top five.

Cooper Clouse, who set fast time Friday and qualified second on Saturday, rallied back to finish sixth after flipping in his heat race and than winning his Last Chance Showdown to transfer to the A-main.

After the race, Peck was swarmed in the pit area as fans from every nook and cranny of the Expo Center came to congratulate the young driver on his incredible accomplishment.

“It’s indescribable,” Peck said as the throng of fans asked for photos and autographs. “Best deal I’ve ever had. I hope every young kid coming up can have the same experience I did.”

Peck expects to race USAC and POWRi midgets on dirt in 2014 as he continues on a path that he hopes will lead to Daytona or Indianapolis. But Saturday night was all about the moment. And for his celebration plans?

“IHOP’s where it’s at,” the Monrovia, Indiana teenager said, grinning. “I’ll stick to milk.”

The midget feature was slowed by caution four times over the course of the 50 laps. Patrick Wilda, Justin Peck, Grant Galloway, Rex Norris III and Russ Gamester each won heat races on the night. Fast qualifier Brandon Knupp, Cooper Clouse and Bobby Santos III won the three Last Chance Qualifiers.

Lynsey and Joe Liguori made a small nugget of Rumble history as well, becoming the first husband and wife to qualify for a Rumble midget feature on the same night.

In the winged 600cc midget class, Matt Janisch held off a stunning late race rally by Friday feature winner Erick Rudolph to claim victory at the Expo Center. Rudolph spun on Lap 2 and charged all the way back through the field to finish second, but could not catch Janisch at the checkered flag.

Former class winner John Ivy had led the feature for 17 of the 30 laps, but had a mechanical failure at Lap 24 and finished out of the race in 12th position.

“This is amazing; it’s our first victory here at the Rumble,” a stunned Janisch said in victory lane. “It was a wild ride. We really had this one handed to us, though. There was no way I was gonna catch John (Ivy); he had this one locked up before his car broke. But I’ve lost a lot of races like that as well, so I’ll take winning one like this.”

Blane Culp took the victory over Spencer Bayston in a wild and attrition-filled non-winged 600cc midget feature. Twice over the course of the event, the leader of the feature was involved in an incident, with both Friday winner Tom Fraschetta and Mike Fedorcak being swept up in melees over the course of the 30 lap event.

“Tonight was about survival,” Culp stated when asked about the course of the A-main. “We just managed to avoid everyone else’s trouble and pulled this one off. It’s a big win for us; my first win at the Coliseum, and this is our first time back here since 2005. Just a real special moment.”

Brandon Dunn made up for a rough Friday showing, sweeping three of the seven kart features. Dustin Heath took two victories and Sheldon Oberle and Tayte Williamson also made trips to Victory Lane.

Zeb Wise, Evan Foster, Addison Lushin, Aaron Leffel, Chase Burda, Bryce Massingill and Nicole Cannon all took quarter midget wins on the afternoon.

With the conclusion of the 2013 Rumble in Fort Wayne, the focus now shifts to the 2014 motorsports season, which kicks off Saturday, January 4th with the Winter Heat for US Legend Cars International at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Race Chaser Online and Speed77 Radio would like to wish all race fans a safe and happy New Year! We look forward to seeing you at the track and on the web in 2014!


RESULTS: 16th Annual Rumble in Fort Wayne – Saturday, December 28, 2013

National Midget Feature (50 laps) – 1. Justin Peck, 2. Mike Fedorcak, 3. Grant Galloway, 4. Billy Hulbert, 5. Derek Bischak, 6. Cooper Clouse, 7. Cory Setser, 8. Rex Norris III, 9. Russ Gamester, 10. Dave Darland, 11. Isaac Chapple, 12. Bobby Santos, 13. Brandon Knupp, 14. Patrick Wilda, 15. Lynsey Liguori, 16. Joe Liguori. (Austin Nemire was scheduled to start the A-main, but experienced engine woes and could not take the green flag. Isaac Chapple replaced Nemire as the first alternate.)

Lap leaders: Peck 1-42, Gamester 43-48, Peck 49-50.

Audio with Race Winner Justin Peck:

Audio with Runner-Up Mike Fedorcak:

Audio with 3rd place Grant Galloway:

Audio with 6th place Cooper Clouse:

Audio with Russ Gamester post-race:

Heat Race Winners: Patrick Wilda, Justin Peck, Grant Galloway, Rex Norris III and Russ Gamester

Audio with Heat #1 Runner-Up Austin Nemire (Nemire transferred straight to the A-main, but was later unable to start due to engine woes):

Audio with Heat #2 winner Justin Peck:

Last Chance Qualifier Winners: Brandon Knupp, Cooper Clouse, and Bobby Santos

Audio with LCQ #1 winner Brandon Knupp:

Audio with LCQ #2 winner Cooper Clouse:

Winged 600cc Midget Feature (30 laps) – 1. Matt Janisch, 2. Erick Rudolph, 3. Howard McCormack, 4. A.J. Lesiecki, 5. Bill Dunham, 6. Trent Stephens, 7. Chase Ridenour, 8. Tim Neal, 9. Larry Joe Sroufe, 10. Mark Zumbrun, 11. Amanda Quinones, 12. John Ivy, 13. Drew Dorsett, 14. Tyler Fitzpatrick, 15. Ginny Quinones, 16. Steve Myers, 17. Jason Ormsby.

Lap leaders: McCormack 1-6, Janisch 7, Ivy 8-24, Janisch 25-30.

Audio with feature winner Matt Janisch:

Audio with runner-up Erick Rudolph:

Non-winged 600cc Midget Feature (30 laps) – 1. Blane Culp, 2. Spencer Bayston, 3. Daniel Robinson, 4. Darek Snyder, 5. Bill Unglert, 6. Richard Smith, 7. Nick Eastin, 8. Shayne Riley, 9. Tom Fraschetta, 10. Mike Fedorcak, 11. Jonathon Lesiecki, 12. Clay Sanders, 13. Tim Nye, 14. Austin Creamer, 15. Russ Gamester, 16. Joe Barker.

Lap leaders: Smith 1-6, Robinson 7-8, Fraschetta 9-22, Fedorcak 23-26, Culp 27-30.

Audio with winner Blane Culp:

Senior Heavy Kart Feature (18 laps) – Brandon Dunn, Josh McKnight, Matt Dimit, Jake Shelley, Mike Markle, A.J. Roderick, Justin Sondergrath, Alleca Kerker, Preston Oberle, Zach Axlen, Brock Wilson, Cole Rhoton.

Senior Medium Kart Feature (18 laps) – Brandon Dunn, Zach Axlen, Jake Shelley, Josh McKnight, Matt Randall, A.J. Roderick, Zach Wolff, Justin Sondergrath, Nate Randall, Mike Markle, Preston Oberle, Alleca Kerker.

Senior Caged Kart Feature (18 laps) – Brandon Dunn, Dan Bouc, Sam Longanbach, Zack Myers, Michael Giachetti, Branson Dills, Kevin Wall Jr., Rick Dukes, Michael Ernsberger, Cameron Deckard, Joe Warner, Cole Roberson.

Junior Heavy Kart Feature (18 laps) – Sheldon Oberle, Sam Weaver, Kobe Allison, Dylan Anderson, Gage Etgen, Joey Pendergrass, Andy Ward, Hannah Galitz, Gene Gregoric III, Amanda Bohn, Ashley Kaye Marqueling, Justin Lewis, Noah Anderson, Myles Morrolf.

Junior Caged Kart Feature (18 laps) – Tayte Williamson, Korbyn Hayslett, Gene Gregoric III, Harrison Hadley, Owen Houpt, Breiden Mooney, Paige Rogers, Andrew Castelucci, Jakeb Boxell, Madison Bland, Aaron Mulrooney Jr., Taylor Dietsch.

Heavy Clone Kart Feature (18 laps) – Dustin Heath, Dustin Lundgren, Jake Shelley, Cole Jansen, Ryan Moran, Charlie Schultz, Damon Woodbury, Matt Hall, Tim Ice, Cody Jarrett, Connor Lund, Tylar Rankin.

Light Clone Kart Feature (18 laps) – Dustin Heath, Dustin Lundgren, Ryan Moran, Branson Dils, Charlie Schultz, Tim Ice, Cole Jansen, Connor Lund, Dustin Vandermeir, Derek Hammond, Matt Browning, Josh Morton.

Animal Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Zeb Wise, Aaron Leffel, Bennett Lushin, Chase Burda, Addison Lushin, Jacob Taylor, Owen Foster, Lexi Pohlman.

Heavy 160 Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Evan Foster, Bennett Lushin, Will Edwards, Starla Parsons, Ben Taylor, Jonathon Lesiecki.

Light 160 Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Addison Lushin, Chase Burda, Jackson Lee, Caden Hoyt, Emerson Axsom, Zeb Wise, Michael Clancy, Trey Osborne, Dylan Norris, Steve Darling.

Heavy Honda Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Aaron Leffel, Bennett Lushin, Daylan Karnes, Lexi Pohlman, Starla Parsons, Jonathon Lesiecki, Cindy Chambers.

Senior Honda Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Chase Burda, Jackson Lee, Caden Hoyt, Dylan Norris, Addison Lushin, John Darling, Taylor Nibert, Emerson Axsom.

Junior Honda Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Bryce Massingill, Riley Emig, Dawson Knaul, Koulten Herbert, Parker Leek.

Novice Quarter Midget Feature (18 laps) – Nicole Cannon, Christopher Schisler, Bobby Schisler.


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