BELLEVILLE, Kansas — official release — Rich Forman photo — Zach Daum made his first win of the 2014 Honda National Midget season a rout, as he cruised to the win in the opening night of the “Belleville Midget Nationals” on Thursday at the Belleville High Banks.
The Pocahontas, Illinois driver started in row-two and tracked down early leader Dave Darland before disappearing to a 6.920-second victory in the flag-to-flag 25-lapper.
“I’ve never felt more comfortable here, from early in the night to even when the track changed and I had to work the bottom more. It takes time to get used to this place. I knew I had to get Dave quickly before he knew I was there, and it took everything I had to hit a perfect corner and get him when we did. I was happy to see it stay caution-free and protect our lead. We know we’re gonna have to be good up high on Saturday, so that’s what we’ll be striving for,” Daum said.
Darland drew the pole after Tanner Thorson experienced engine problems in his heat and was unable to make the call for the feature with a back-up car. Darland opened up his lead as Daum worked underneath Rico Abreu for the second spot.
It didn’t take him long to catch Darland, and he made the move for the lead on lap eight, working to the low side for the point before checking out on the field. The win was Daum’s third of his career aboard the Daum Crop Insurance – Weld Wheels #5D Eagle/Stanton Toyota.
Behind him, Darland was struggling with traffic, allowing Abreu and new track record holder Tracy Hines to close in to make a three-car battle for second. Abreu finally slid past into turn-three to take home the runner-up spot in the Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports – Toyota TRD #97 Bullet/Speedway Toyota.
“I was pounding the top and got driven by on the bottom. You definitely needed to be moving around to figure out where it was fast. We got going better at the end. Tonight was another good run for us and a solid points night, but we’re not points racing on Saturday night. I’ve run second the last two years here, and with as good as our car is, I really want to win this,” Abreu said.
Darland held on for the third spot in the CML RW Security – Steele Performance Parts #17 Spike/Fontana.
“Tonight was definitely odd with the rain making the bottom wet and so fast in the feature. I led there for a few and Daum got underneath me. The cushion was fast, but just too far around with the bottom being fast too. I lost momentum taking so long to get by a couple guys, and that cost me the second spot,” Darland said.
Hines backed up his ProSource “Fast Time Award” with a fourth-place finish in the Parker Machinery – Turbines, Inc. #24 Spike/Stanton Toyota, and Chris Windom advanced from tenth to round out the top-five in the RFMS Racing – Liberty Village #3 DRC/Stanton Mopar.
RESULTS: USAC Honda National Midget Series; July 31, 2014; Belleville, Kansas; Belleville High Banks;“Belleville Midget Nationals”
FEATURE: (25 laps) 1. Zach Daum, 2. Rico Abreu, 3. Dave Darland, 4. Tracy Hines, 5. Chris Windom, 6. Michael Pickens, 7. Jerry Coons Jr., 8. Don Droud Jr., 9. Isaac Chapple, 10. Cody Brewer, 11. Garrett Hood, 12. Stu Snyder, 13. Jeff Stasa, 14. Bryan Clauson, 15. Robert Bell, 16. C.J. Johnson, 17. Matt Johnson, 18. Johnny Murdock, 19. Christopher Bell. 7:26.50
FEATURE LAP LEADERS: Laps 1-7 Darland, Laps 8-25 Daum.