---- — Arizona open-wheel standout Jerry Coons Jr. and four-time Kokomo Speedway and Gas City I-69 Speedway track champion Shane Cottle scored impressive wins in the seventh running of the Kokomo Klash over the weekend at the Kokomo Speedway.
Piloting the Edison Motorsports/Crume-Evans Insurance/Spike Chassis No. 10E sprint car, Coons looked dominant in the early going of Friday’s 25-lap feature event, rocketing out to a straightaway advantage over the rest of the field.
While he was out front, the racing for second through sixth was as intense as the local fans have seen at the track.
Gary Taylor and Dave Darland swapped slide jobs at each end of the speedway in the battle for second while Jon Stanbrough, Chris Windom, Robert Ballou and Scotty Weir were battling tooth and nail for position.
Once Darland cleared Taylor, bringing Stanbrough along, the race was on.
Lap after lap with Coons mired in lapped traffic, Darland and Stanbrough, the two drivers who rank first and third in all-time non-wing sprint car wins at the track, began to slowly reel in Coons. With two laps to go, the three were running nose to tail.
After taking the white flag, both Coons and Darland hammered the turn two cushion, however Coons seemed to rebound a tick quicker and held off the Lincoln veteran at the checkered flag.
”Not bad for a bunch of gray-haired guys,” joked Coons after the race. “This is just a great team to drive for. It seemed like we really came together as the season went along. What is so special is that whenever we had a setback this year, the team shrugged it off and dealt with it and came back out strong.”
Darland settled for second with Stanbrough third. Windom and Taylor rounded out the top five. Weir, Ballou, Brady Short, Kyle Robbins and Jarrett Andretti completed the top-10. Kokomo’s Josh Spencer was impressive in his Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery/Colescott’s Mobil 1 Express/Chalk No. 66J. Logan Jarrett worked his way from the back of the star-studded pack to finish 14th while Cottle settled for 19th after his motor let go while he was battling for the fifth position with a handful of laps remaining.
If Cottle was frustrated with how his night ended aboard his sprint car, he took all those frustrations out on the rest of the field in the midget main event.
To put it simply, he was clearly the class of the field.
After getting around Billy Wease on the fifth lap, the Kokomo standout checked into his own zip code the remaining 20 laps, opening up over a half-track advantage over the rest of the field.
”I wasn’t even planning on running a midget [Friday],” Cottle said. “But this team called me up and asked me if I wanted to drive their car for this race and I knew they always had good equipment so I jumped on the chance. I had a lot of fun out there. There was a nice cushion to lean on and the car handled great. It’s always fun to race these little cars but to be honest they’re uncomfortable since I’m a taller guy but I always have fun when I drive one.”
Kurt Mayhew finished second, Chet Gehrke third, Spencer Bayston fourth and Tate Martz fifth. Parker Price-Miller, who grabbed the POWRi Midget Series Rookie of the Year honors last month, settled for 13th after mechanical problems brought his night to a premature end.
In the Thunder Car feature, Ervin Turner never trailed in his No. 1T in posting the 25-lap win. Eric Brown battled through the field to finish second while Jason Fritz was third. John Simmons and Travis Wolford rounded out the top five. Kokomo High School junior Kory Glassburn, who wrapped up the track championship in September, finished 22nd after losing his right front wheel in the opening laps.
Chris Miller was the dominant driver all night in the 600 Micro Sprint division as he led all 25 laps in the feature event to hold off a hard-charging Trent Wilson.
Miller set sail early after starting on the pole while Wilson had to work his way forward after starting 15th. As the laps wound down Wilson was able to get to within a car length of Miller, but ran out of laps.
Matt Johnson was third, Shayne Riley fourth and Tyler Blackburn. Kyle Schuett was sixth followed in the top-10 by Todd Kirkman, Cole Angle, Ethan Foster and Danny Clark. Kole Kirkman was 14th after losing his right front wheel entering turn one late in the race, Matt Ostler 16th, Gavin Taylor 17th and Andrew Peters 18th among area drivers.
In the UMRA TQ Midget feature, Nick Spiedel scored his second straight Klash win, easily picking up the win.
On Saturday night Nick Allen reached a personal milestone to highlight the happenings on the final night of the season.
Competing in the U.M.P. Modified, Allen led all 25 laps to pick up the feature win, the 100th of his career. Chasing him to the finish line was hard-charging Dona Marcoulier who came up about half a hood short of the win. Brian Ruhlman was third, Matt Westfall fourth and Derek Losh fifth.
Luke Gash showed the way in the Street Stock feature event. Coming home second was Mike VanDermark while Craig Walker got his No. 3W tuned to a solid third-place showing. Glen Gamblin was third and Dean Baker fourth. Track champion Brandon Roundtree was 12th while Landon Miller was 15th and Gary Mock 19th. Miller noted that Saturday’s race would be the final of a solid career that has saw him pick up nearly 90 feature wins both in Indiana and Texas.
Roy Bruce picked up his first career feature win aboard a Sportsman Division car, holding off Doug McCollough and Troy Clark. Bill Lewis and Steve Hollars completed the top five. In the Late Model main event, Kevin Weaver was never seriously challenged in posting the win. Brandon Thirlby, Ruhlman, Ethan Burgrass and Zak Blackwood comprised the top five.
The Kokomo Speedway will open its 2014 campaign in April with the USAC Honda National Midget Series and POWRi Midget Series in a co-sanctioned event.
Brett Bowman covers the Kokomo Speedway for the Tribune. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.