By Mike Strevel
FORT WAYNE, Ind. (April 20, 2002) –
The 2002 Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint series got off to a great start with a very popular victory at Baer Field Speedway in Fort Wayne, Ind. by Parma MI racer Bill Tyler. The 1997 and 1998 National champion has had his share of bad luck the past two seasons with no A-main victories. The victory Saturday night April 20 was a hard earned one as there were several yellow flags and one red during the 30 lap main event.
The evening started with 29 cars signing in and 28 of them taking qualification attempts. The fastest of the fast was Warsaw racer Denny England with a time of 14.876. The second quickest was Johnboy Hotchkiss at 14.930 and Rick Baker was third at 14.991. The average speed by England on the Fort Wayne half-mile was over 121 Miles per hour.
The three heat races were next and capturing them were Bill Jacoby of Marshall MI, Jimmy McCune of Sylvania OH taking his first AVSS checkered and Curt Shumaker of Ortonville MI took the third heat. The B-Main went to 2001 rookie of the year Tim Cox of Park City IL and the other four drivers taking transfer spots in the last chance race were Hank Lower, Mike Astrauskas, Sean Stafford and Scott Hull.
When the 21 car field was pushed off for the 30 lap main event the very vocal crowd at Baer Field gave the three wide Super Sprint salute to the fans a huge cheer and then it was time to get the show under way. The front row consisted off pole sitter John Batts of Advance IN and Ron Koehler of South Bend. The start was marred by a six-car accident involving many of the top racers including fast qualifier England, Baker, Stafford and Ryan Katz. The 2001 National champion Gary Fedewa was involved also and had to pit for service and restarted in the rear.
The race was restarted and after one lap fourth place starter Tyler made a brilliant pass coming out of turn two and by the time he entered turn three he had gone from third to the lead which he never relinquished. There was a couple of small incidents, one of which involved Hotchkiss and another that took out Hull. The race was red flagged for fuel on lap 18 and was quickly restarted. The last 12 laps had many battles for position back through the field, but leader Tyler was not to be stopped. The remainder of the top five was Tom Fedewa second, Shumaker third, Cox fourth and Doug Stepke fifth from a twentieth and he was awarded the Suspension Spring Specialists driver of the race award.
The school teacher from Parma MI was very excited in victory lane and thanked his many sponsors that included Larry Bingham, Hamilton Trucking, Joe Montgomery Builders, BMC Machines, Thunder Chassis, Keith King Great American and new sponsor Terry Wellhoff concrete and construction.
The next step in the chase for the championship is Saturday May 4 at Auto City Speedway in Flint MI. The Auto Value/Bumper to Bumper Super Sprint Series web site is (supersprints.com) for all information on the fastest asphalt short track series in the country. Qualifying- 1. 84 Denny England 14.876 2.JB Johnboy Hotchkiss 14.930 3. 4B Rick Baker 14.991 4. 42 Gary Fedewa 15.033 5. 66 Doug Stepke 15.043 6. 24 Bill Tyler 15.104 7. 20 Tom Fedewa 15.299 8. 10 Ron Koehler 15.323 9. 6 John Batts 15.349 10. 98c Tim Cox 15.359 11. 35 Ryan Katz 15.406 12. 70 Dennis Craft 15.418 13. 9 Dorman Snyder 15.454 14. 69 Gary Sherman 15.469 15. 71 Curt Shumaker 15.508 16. 44J Bill Jacoby 15.538 17. 14 Jimmy McCune 15.550 18. 3A Mike Astrauskas 15.555 19. 4 Troy Underwood 15.568 20. 48 Scott Hull 15.603 21. 55 Sean Stafford 15.624 22. 10 Jason Blonde 15.662 23. 77b Steve Burch 15.677 24. 81 Mike Blake 15.879 25. 37 Hank Lower 15.927 26. 38 Nick Landon 15.982 27. 29 Dean Best 16.355 28. 7G Adam Grim 16.406 29. 11p Tom Paterson N.T.
Heat 1- 1. Jacoby 2.Snyder 3.T.Fedewa 4.England 5.G.Fedewa 6.Lower 7.Cox 8.Hull 9.Underwood 10.Grim
Heat 2- 1.McCune 2.Sherman 3.Koehler 4.Katz 5.Hotchkiss 6.Stepke 7.Stafford 8.Burch 9. Landon
Heat 3- 1.Shumaker 2.Craft 3.Batts 4.Tyler 5.Baker 6.Blake 7.Blonde 8.Astrauskas 9.Best
B-Main-1.Cox 2.Lower 3.Astrauskas 4.Stafford 5.Hull 6.Blonde 7.Underwood 8.Blake 9.Best 10.Grim 11.Landon 12.Stepke 13.Burch
30 lap A-Main- 1. Tyler 2. T. Fedewa 3.Shumaker 4.Cox 5.Stepke 6.McCune 7.G.Fedewa 8.Craft 9.Sherman 10.Lower 11.Snyder 12.Jacoby 13.Batts 14.Koehler 15.Astrauskas 16.Hotchkiss 17.Hull 18.Baker 19.England 20.Katz 21.Stafford