Behind the Wheel
Kings Without Wings
Shane Cockrum takes breakthrough victory in Midgets, King wins 21st in Micros to open POWRi season
JACKSONVILLE, Ill. (April 26, 2013)—Shane Cockrum drove to his first victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Dereck King extended his all-time lead in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series to 21 wins Friday night at Jacksonville Speedway.
It was a career breakthrough for Cockrum--his first triumph in a Midget--and it came against an outstanding field with 49 entries including 2012 POWRi Midget champion Andrew Felker, who finished second, and 2012 USAC Mopar National Midget champion Darren Hagen, who finished third.
Cockrum, a 31-year-old from Benton, Ill., was the UMP DIRTCar Pro Late Model Missouri champion in 2008 and decided to chase a lifelong dream of driving open-wheel cars the next season. Cliff Cockrum, his late father, was a top Midwestern Midget and Sprint Car driver in the 1960s and ‘70s.
“Unfortunately, my dad retired before I could see him race, but he took me to open wheel races at Du Quoin (Ill.) and other tracks,” Cockrum said. “I grew up idolizing Jack Hewitt, Parnelli Jones and A.J. Foyt. We had won quite a few races in modifieds and late models, but my heart was in open wheel. I didn’t want to be 31 and never had a chance to race in open wheel.
“We’d won 16 races in 2008 and we turned around and dumped everything to buy the Midget. We were fans, but we didn’t know anything about open wheel racing. It’s been an uphill battle. It’s awesome to finally win in the Midget.”
Cockrum’s victory came in his 28th POWRi feature and 36th event. His best previous finish was fifth at Fayette County Speedway in Brownstown, Ill., in 2010.
“We’re such a low budget team, we run a low number of races,” Cockrum said. “This was definitely a win for the little guy.”
Cockrum started 10th, on the outside of the fifth row, in his Esslinger-powered Triple-X. He passed Hagen and Felker in traffic to take the lead on the 25th of 30 laps and won by three car lengths.
“I knew we had a pretty good car and knew I could say with Felker and Hagan in lapped traffic,” he said. “You could say the waters parted. I got around Hagen in Turns One and Two and Andrew got caught up in traffic and I was able to slide him in Turn Four and complete the pass. I never had to switch lanes coming through the traffic. The lapped cars kept moving over to the inside. It was a technical track and you had to search out the right line.”
Felker of Carl Junction, Mo., started on the outside of the front row alongside Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill., and jumped into the lead at the start.
Hagen of Riverside, Calif., took advantage of three red flags in the opening 12 laps to move up to second. He passed Felker for the lead on the outside in Turn Four on the 18th lap.
Cockrum passed Felker and Hagen on the 25th lap and Felker bolted past Hagen for second on the front straight starting the 26th.
Cockrum had to deal with a restart with four to go and he didn’t have any problems leading to the checkered flag.
“I’m pretty happy with second in a real tough field to start the season,” Felker said.
Hagen said he made a mistake in traffic.
“I think I got a little cautious in lapped traffic,” Hagen said. “We made a little shock adjustment during a red and we probably went the wrong way.”
King of Vienna, Ill., started on pole with Travis Senter of Osceola, Ark., on the outside of the front row in the Micros feature.
Senter took the lead at the start, but on the seventh lap, King’s Stallard-FTZ Honda drove past him into the lead on the outside on the backstretch.
King won the 20-lap feature by six car lengths over runner-up Joe B. Miller of Millersville, Mo. Jacob Patton of Bethalto, Ill., was third.
“I had a feeling the track would be good on top,” King said. “I let Travis go at the start and wasn’t shaken up by it. I was able to get going on the outside and passed him.”
It was King’s first win for first-year owner Josh Kilgore. King, the POWRi Micro champion from 2007-09, had at least one victory in POWRi from the series inception in 2005 through 2011, but entered only five events a year ago. He’d gone 15 events without a victory.
“I didn’t put the effort in last year to run, but we’re going to run the entire season this year.”
POWRi’s Midgets and Micros race at Macon (Ill.) Speedway tonight (April 27) in the second event of the season.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Shane Cockrum, 2. Andrew Felker, 3. Darren Hagen, 4. Dalton Armstrong, 5. Danny Stratton, 6. Tyler Thomas, 7. Caleb Armstrong, 8. Jake Blackhurst, 9. Brad Kuhn, 10. Justin Peck, 11. Colten Cottle, 12. Garrett Aitken, 13. Christopher Bell, 14. Terry Babb, 15. Levi Jones, 16. Zach Daum, 17. Mike Hess, 18. Daniel Adler, 19. Bubba Altig, 20. Bobby East, 21. Derrick Myers, 22. Austin Brown.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series (20 laps): 1. Dereck King, 2. Joe B. Miller, 3. Jacob Patton, 4. Travis Senter, 5. Jeremy Camp, 6. Bubba Altig, 7. Jason Harms, 8. Max Pozsgai, 9. J.B. Gilbert, 10 Kyle Schuett, 11. Jeremy Zumwalt, 12, Dylan Benscoter, 13, Chad Elliott, 14. Cole Campbell, 15. Trent Mulligan, 16. Carlee Gress, 17. Michael Bustamante, 18. Corey Nelson, 19. Evan Turner, 20. Nathan Benson, 21. Cale Thomas, 22. Derek Schuett, 23. Aaron Andruskevvitch.
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