December 28, 2013 – Audio, cover photo and report by Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online – FORT WAYNE, IN – Brandon Knupp’s Rumble in Fort Wayne weekend has been like two sides of a coin, cut in half and put on opposite ends of the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum.
After struggling with motor issues and then being penalized during his Last Chance Showdown for aggressive driving on Friday, Knupp came back to the Rumble with a vengeance and a mission on Saturday.
Knupp’s black #78, affectionately known at the Rumble as the “Munchkin-eater”, feasted on Cooper Clouse’s quick time late in Saturday’s qualifying session and never let anyone else get close. Knupp used a scorching lap of 7.929 seconds to claim his first career Rumble Fast Time Award.
“This is a huge confidence-booster for us,” the Mooresville, North Carolina driver said moments after qualifying. “I’m not going to make any predictions about tonight, because we felt this good yesterday and look what happened, but if we can catch the right breaks, it could be a huge night for us.”
Knupp has paid tribute this weekend to the late Tim Richmond, NASCAR and open wheel star from the 1980s, with a throwback replica firesuit to Richmond’s days at Hendrick Motorsports. He says it would mean the world if he could honor his racing hero with a win in tonight’s Rumble.
“This weekend is about carrying on Tim’s legacy and showing the world that how he died isn’t the kind of man he was. He was a fan favorite and my racing hero. If I could carry the torch by bringing his name with me to victory lane tonight, it would be unbelievablely special.
Cooper Clouse, Friday night’s quick timer, ended the session second-quick with a lap of 8.048 seconds.
“The track is way different than when we qualified here yesterday,” Clouse said after his run. “We’re working on a few things for the feature, but Brandon just got us there at the end. He had a fast hot rod.”
Bobby Santos III, 2012 Rumble champion Derek Bischak, and David Gough completed the top five in qualifying for tonight’s midget program.
One driver change to note, Mike Fedorcak has stepped in to race Tony Stewart’s black #2 Munchkin for tonight’s program after Lou Cicconi was transported to the hospital due to illness following Friday night’s feature activities. Fedorcak laid down a lap of 8.251 seconds, good enough for eighth quick on the time sheets.
Tonight’s activities will conclude the 2013 Rumble in Fort Wayne, with full heat race and feature programs for the winged 600cc, non-winged 600cc and national midget fields beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
Listen in as we caught up with fast qualifier Brandon Knupp immediately after the end of time trials:
Audio with Cooper Clouse, second quick qualifier for the national midget class: