FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Audio and story by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Chris Seelman photo —
Two years ago, Russ Gamester and his 1977 Grant King chassis blew the doors off of the Rumble Racing Series National Midget field to win their first Rumble in Fort Wayne A-Feature.
On Saturday night, however, it took capitalizing on the misfortune of another for the veteran driver to find his way back to Victory Lane at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum and Expo Center.
Gamester inherited the lead with 14 laps to go after polesitter, race-long leader and Rumble rookie Brad Greenup spun on his own in turn three, holding off a determined Cory Setser over three restarts and a race-deciding three lap dash to notch his third overall Rumble in Fort Wayne victory and second in three years in the headlining National Midget division.
“(Brad) was better than I was in the beginning, and to be honest, I just didn’t want to go that fast early on,” Gamester, who broke his own record as the oldest Rumble winner in history at 50 years, 11 months and 17 days old, said after the event. “I knew we were going to catch lapped traffic, and he was running pretty fast and pretty hard.”
“The way I judged it is if someone was beating on me pretty hard, then I knew I had to pick up my pace a bit. So I was just taking it easy, and then he spun and I didn’t really know why — couldn’t see exactly what happened. But after he was out of it then I knew it was my job to lead and be smooth, and if I could protect the bottom then we were gonna be alright. Thankfully it all worked out, and we ended up in victory lane at the end of the night — so all in all, a successful day.”
In a race that saw seven total caution flags, it was that lone lead change that made all the difference. While Greenup led laps one through 26 from the point — after original polesitter Austin Nemire dropped out on the pace laps due to mechanical troubles — once the Channahon, Ill. native was relegated due to his spin, he could never recover and Gamester was left able to drive into the distance.
Despite a late-race caution flag with three laps to go for a multi-car pileup involving Chris Neuenschwander, Grant Galloway, Greenup and former winner Jim Anderson, second-running Cory Setser could never get the bite on his restarts to get a wheel alongside Gamester and contend for the win.
Still, however, the Fort Wayne native was able to settle for second — a career-best effort at the Rumble in Fort Wayne and the highest finish for a Mike Fedorcak-built Munchkin on the opening night of competition at the 2015 Rumble.
“Russ had the faster car,” Setser admitted. “We were a little bit loose through the center [of the corner] and that was the difference. I gave him everything I had on that last restart, and bumped him as much as I could without totally taking him out, but he never made a mistake.”
“Had he slipped, I think we could have got him, but it just wasn’t meant to be tonight. I’m happy to finish second. It’s the best finish we’ve had, and after having the motor rebuilt this year I think it shows more of what we’re capable of here. We’ll come back tomorrow and try to do one spot better, but this really is special. It’s a good feeling.”
Former Eldora Speedway track champion Matt Westfall scored his best Rumble finish in several years by rounding out the podium, followed by fast qualifier Derek Bischak and two-time winner Justin Peck in the top five.
But while Gamester’s night was all good in the National Midgets, it was not so in the non-winged 600cc dirt outlaw midget class.
The main event was a runaway for Blane Culp, who started on the pole and never looked back en route to his second Rumble victory in the class, but Gamester was involved in a skirmish with Jason Ormsby racing for second with seven laps to go.
Gamester tried to make a move to pass Ormsby on the outside, but was squeezed into the wall and went for a wild, end-over-end ride that ended his night prematurely.
“I just shouldn’t have ran [Ormsby] on the outside,” Gamester admitted. “You know, there’s just certain people that you can’t run on the outside. I learned my lesson tonight, and next time it’ll be an inside pass. It looked like a hard hit, but I’m all good.”
Meanwhile, Culp weathered six caution flags and two red flag periods in wiring the field and leading all 25 laps. The win makes Culp the first-ever multiple winner in the class since it was brought to the Rumble in 2013.
“I think I had a little bit of luck on my side tonight,” Culp admitted. “Once Larry Joe [Sroufe] had his issues, I don’t think he ever got back to second — because if he did I’d have been in trouble. This was a lot of fun though, it’s his car and I’m just the lucky one that gets to drive it.”
Clay Sanders and Ryan Ruhl rounded out the podium in that class, with quick qualifier Sroufe making a heroic charge from the rear after being involved in two separate cautions to finish fourth.
Longtime Rumble veteran John Ivy took top honors in the winged 600cc outlaw midget class, passing polesitter Drew Dorsett on lap 13 and running away to an easy victory over fellow Ohio native and teammate Cap Henry. The win was Ivy’s record-tying fourth in the class at the Rumble in Fort Wayne.
“I tried not to think about what might could go wrong while we were leading there in the closing laps, but it was in the back of my head,” Ivy laughed. “I’m just so glad we got the monkey off our back finally. It’s good to be back in Rumble victory lane; it’s been a while, there were a couple close calls, but we made it happen and I’m proud to be here.”
Amanda Quinones-Long, Dorsett and Rod Henning were the balance of the top five.
Brandon Dunn led the go-kart field with two victories on the day (Clone Heavy, Clone Medium), while Zach Axlen (Sr. Flathead), Danny Bouc (Sr. Caged), Aiden Williamson (Jr. Caged), Gene Gregoric III (Junior 3) and Garrett Andexler (Kid Karts) each grabbed single victories in karting action.
Taylor Nibert doubled up on Stoops Freightliner Quarter Midget feature wins (Heavy Honda, Heavy 160), with Levei Hargraves (Sr. Honda), Seth Pugh (Jr. Honda), Jacob Denney (Light 160) and Noah Didinger (Animal) also earning quarter midget trophies.
The 2015 Rumble in Fort Wayne concludes with a full program of heats, consis and features for quarter midgets, go-karts, 600cc winged and non-winged midgets and the headline National Midgets beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday.
For more information on the Rumble in Fort Wayne, visit www.rumbleseries.com.
RESULTS: Rumble Racing Series; 2015 Rumble in Fort Wayne Night One; Allen County War Memorial Coliseum; Dec. 26, 2015
National Midget Heat #1 (8 laps, two transfer): 1. Russ Gamester, 2. Derek Bischak, 3. Bobby Santos III, 4. Brandon Knupp, 5. Nick Landon, 6. Stratton Briggs, 7. Billy Wease, 8. Tony Main.
National Midget Heat #2 (8 laps, two transfer): 1. Jim Anderson, 2. Brad Greenup, 3. Geoff Kaiser, 4. Aaron Pierce, 5. Dave Darland, 6. Damon Taylor, 7. Cory Guingrich, 8. Mike Fedorcak (DNS)
National Midget Heat #3 (8 laps, two transfer): 1. Justin Peck, 2. Joe Ligouri, 3. Chris Neuenschwander, 4. Rich Corson, 5. Kyle O’Gara, 6. Chris Jagger Jr., 7. Nick Hamilton (DNS), 8. Brad Krause (DNS)
National Midget Heat #4 (8 laps, two transfer): 1. Bryan Nuckles, 2. Cory Setser, 3. Tyler Roahrig, 4. Lynsey Ligouri, 5. JP Crabtree, 6. Heath Roberts, 7. Nick Richards, 8. Alex Watson.
National Midget Heat #5 (8 laps, two transfer): 1. Austin Nemire, 2. Matt Westfall, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Taylor Jagger, 5. Travis Welpott, 6. Grant Galloway, 7. Austin Prock (DNS)
National Midget LCQ #1 (12 laps, two transfer): 1. Grant Galloway, 2. Geoff Kaiser, 3. Nick Landon, 4. Cory Guingrich, 5. Lynsey Ligouri, 6. Travis Welpott, 7. Dave Darland, 8. Alex Watson (DNS), 9. Austin Prock (DNS), 10. Brad Krause (DNS).
National Midget LCQ #2 (12 laps, two transfer): 1. Chris Neuenschwander, 2. Rich Corson, 3. Justin Grant, 4. Damon Taylor, 5. Taylor Jagger, 6. Brandon Knupp, 7. Stratton Briggs, 8. Nick Hamilton (DNS), 9. Nick Richards, 10. Billy Wease (DNS).
National Midget LCQ #3 (12 laps, two transfer): 1. JP Crabtree, 2. Aaron Pierce, 3. Tony Main, 4. Heath Roberts, 5. Chris Jagger Jr., 6. Kyle O’Gara, 7. Tyler Roahrig, 8. Bobby Santos III.
National Midget A-Main (40 laps): 1. Russ Gamester, 2. Cory Setser, 3. Matt Westfall, 4. Derek Bischak, 5. Justin Peck, 6. Geoff Kaiser, 7. Joe Ligouri, 8. Grant Galloway, 9. J.P. Crabtree, 10. Jim Anderson, 11. Chris Neuenschwander, 12. Brad Greenup, 13. Rich Corson, 14. Aaron Pierce, 15. Bryan Nuckles, 16. Austin Nemire (DNS).
Lap Leaders: Greenup 1-26, Gamester 27-40.
Audio with race winner Russ Gamester:
Audio with runner-up Cory Setser:
Audio with third-place Matt Westfall:
Audio with fifth-place Justin Peck:
Non-Winged 600cc Dirt Outlaw Midget Heat #1 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Phil Bozell, 2. Larry Joe Sroufe, 3. Clay Sanders, 4. Blake Lamb, 5. Adam Schaeff, 6. Steve Myers Sr., 7. Michael Landis, 8. Jason Hentrich, 9. Kyle Dager (DNS)
Non-Winged 600cc Dirt Outlaw Midget Heat #2 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Joe Swanson, 2. Jason Ormsby, 3. Kim Hughes, 4. Justin Harper, 5. Mike Fedorcak, 6. Jeremy Howe, 7. Cody Williams, 8. Rusty Strausbaugh.
Non-Winged 600cc Dirt Outlaw Midget Heat #3 (8 laps, four transfer): 1. Russ Gamester, 2. Phil Bozell, 3. Ryan Ruhl, 4. Jonathan Lesiecki, 5. Chris Miller, 6. Ryan Ball, 7. Mark Yearling, 8. Steve Allen.
Non-Winged 600cc Dirt Outlaw Midget LCQ (12 laps, four transfer): 1. Mike Fedorcak, 2. Jason Hentrich, 3. Jeremy Howe, 4. Cody Williams, 5. Adam Schaeff, 6. Chris Miller, 7. Michael Landis, 8. Ryan Ball, 9. Steve Myers Sr. DNS: Kyle Dager, Rusty Strasbaugh, Mark Yearling, Steve Allen.
Non-Winged 600cc Dirt Outlaw Midget A-Main (25 laps): 1. Blane Culp, 2. Clay Sanders, 3. Ryan Ruhl, 4. Larry Joe Sroufe, 5. Jonathan Lesiecki, 6. Joe Swanson, 7. Blake Lamb, 8. Kim Hughes, 9. Mike Fedorcak, 10. Jason Ormsby, 11. Jeremy Howe, 12. Russ Gamester, 13. Phil Bozell, 14. Cody Williams, 15. Jason Hentrich, 16. Justin Harper
Lap Leader: Culp 1-25.
Audio with race winner Blane Culp:
Winged Outlaw 600cc Modified Midget Heat #1 (8 laps, four transfer): John Ivy, Drew Dorsett, Howard McCormick, Mark Yoder, Tyler Fitzpatrick, A.J. Lesiecki, Marv Hephner
Winged Outlaw 600cc Modified Midget Heat #2 (8 laps, four transfer): Cap Henry, Joe Swanson, Rod Henning, Mark Zumbrun, Chris Jagger, Steve Myers Jr.
Winged Outlaw 600cc Modified Midget Heat #3 (8 laps, four transfer): Bill Dunham, Matt Farnham, Amanda Quinones-Long, Peter Hathaway, Ben Quinones, Zeb Wise (DNS)
Winged Outlaw 600cc Modified Midget LCQ (12 laps, four transfer): 1. Tyler Fitzpatrick, 2. A.J. Lesiecki, 3. Zeb Wise, 4. Chris Jagger, 5. Ben Quinones, 6. Steve Myers Jr., (DNS), 7. Marv Hephner (DNS).
Winged Outlaw 600cc Modified Midget A-Main (25 laps): 1. John Ivy, 2. Cap Henry, 3. Amanda Quinones-Long, 4. Drew Dorsett, 5. Rod Henning, 6. A.J. Lesiecki, 7. Bill Dunham, 8. Tyler Fitzpatrick, 9. Mark Yoder, 10. Howard McCormick, 11. Peter Hathaway, 12. Joe Swanson, 13. Matt Farnham, 14. Mark Zumbrun, 15. Chris Jagger, 16. Zeb Wise.
Lap Leaders: Dorsett 1-12, Ivy 13-25.
Sr. Flathead Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Zach Axlen (retakes Rumble kart win record with his 11th win), 2. Zach Myers, 3. Sam Weaver, 4. Brock Wilson, 5. Matt Foos, 6. Mike Vilenna, 7. Brad Buchs, 8. Jason Fuller, 9. Nathan Bevard, 10. Derek Hammond, 11. Scott Orr, 12. Adam Unverferth.
Sr. Caged Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Danny Bouc, 2. Brandon Dunn, 3. Jake Shelley, 4. Dylan Wooding, 5. Zack Myers, 6. Charlie Schultz, 7. Dillon Nusbaum, 8. Steven Berlin, 9. Philip Schneider, 10. John Reiser, 11. Kevin Wall Jr., 12. Dustin Ingle, 13. Tylar Rankin, 14. Owen Calderwood.
Jr. Caged Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Aiden Williamson, 2. Larry Kingseed Jr., 3. Kenny Douglas, 4. Jaden Cretacci, 5. Jakeb Boxell, 6. Michael Vilenna, 7. Madison Bland, 8. Teig Ann Freed, 9. Johnathon Hadley, 10. Chanceton Jones, 11. Ryleegh Freed, 12. Paige Rogers, 13. Kasey Ziebold, 14. Ian Creager.
Junior 3 Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Gene Gregoric III, 2. Andrew Scheid, 3. Spencer Smolders, 4. Kasey Ziebold, 5. Zachary Galitz, 6. Kaitlin Randall, 7. Hannah Galitz, 8. R.J. Cornett, 9. Michael Paterno, 10. Devin Hammond, 11. Keenan Richards, 12. Ian Creager.
Clone Heavy Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Brandon Dunn (ties Rumble kart wins record at 10), 2. Zach Axlen, 3. Philip Schneider, 4. Joey Pendergrass, 5. Josh McKnight, 6. Jake Shelley, 7. Shawn Kluck, 8. Ryan Moran, 9. Zach Wolff, 10. Jake Wachtman, 11. Justin Sonderath, 12. Sam Weaver, 13. Austin Long, 14. Travis Fisher.
Clone Medium Kart Feature (15 laps): 1. Brandon Dunn (re-ties Rumble kart wins record at 11), 2. Philip Schneider, 3. Joe Pendergrass, 4. Zach Axlen, 5. Jake Shelley, 6. Cody Gallogly, 7. Ashley Marqueling, 8. Ryan Moran, 9. Shawn Kluck, 10. Zach Wolff, 11. Justin Sondegrath, 12. Travis Fisher.
Kid Kart Feature (10 laps): 1. Garrett Andexler, 2. Brodie Wendel, 3. Drew Phillips, 4. Ryker Orr, 5. Easton Zent, 6. Audra Weaver, 7. Gage Ernsberger, 8. Joshua Toth, 9. Jasper Crago, 10. David Bretz, 11. Paige Fuller, 12. Nevaeh Shepherd, 13. Cruz Parker, 14. Hayden McKnight, 15. Jackson Orth (DNS). DQ: Oliver Osborn, Parker Moyer.
Heavy Honda QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Taylor Nibert, 2. Cole Christy, 3. Tyler Fitzpatrick, 4. Bobby Elliott.
Sr. Honda QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Levei Hargraves, 2. Bryce Massingill, 3. Brandon Freis, 4. Spencer Adkins, 5. Logan Rumsey, 6. Breanna Berry, 7. Jimmy Anderson, 8. Adam Post, 9. Draper Alexander, 10. Noah Dininger.
Jr. Honda QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Seth Pugh, 2. Cameron Watkins, 3. Caidyn Brinkman, 4. Jimmy Blagg, 5. Stone Christy, 6. Aiden Ray Ewing, 7. Charlie Freis, 8. Brodie Wendel, 9. Isaiah Higdon (DNS)
Heavy 160 QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Taylor Nibert, 2. Bobby Elliott, 3. Taylor Gruss, 4. Cole Christy.
Light 160 QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Jacob Denney, 2. Seth Pugh, 3. Logan Rumsey, 4. Aiden Ray Ewing.
Animal QM Feature (15 laps): 1. Noah Didinger, 2. Jacob Denney, 3. Bryce Massengill, 4. Jimmy Anderson.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 21-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
Email Jacob at: [email protected]
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