Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE -- The rain that has plagued the state of Indiana for the entire month of May, finally subsided on Friday afternoon and the heavens even shed a little sunshine on the Hoosier state and allowed fans and drivers to enjoy a little dirt track fun on Saturday.
Lincoln Park Speedway saw nearly a 100 cars unload for competition at the Putnamville oval on a cool, spring evening.
With several Indiana tracks having to cancel their races due to the week's heavy rains, LPS was visited by plenty of new drivers in all classes.
Kent Christian is certainly no rookie when it comes to wheeling a sprint car around the Putnamville dirt and Saturday, he showed why he's earned a number of victories at Lincoln Park Speedway.
Christian conquered a choppy track and defending track champion, Billy Puterbaugh, in a hotly contested second heat race to earn a starting spot outside of row two in the A-Main. With his second-place finish in the heat, Puterbaugh drew a front row grid for the main event. Casey Shuman already owns one win at LPS this year and had his sights set on adding a second.
Not to be overlooked though were some hungry hotshoes that included Eric Smith, who started third alongside Christian and Kenny Carmichael Sr., who also is no stranger to the quick line around LPS.
Puterbaugh pointed his black No. 71p to the cushion and dropped the hammer with Shuman close behind. The two quickly found their way into traffic as Christian had the third spot locked down followed by a two-way battle between Carmichael and Eric Smith followed by Travis Welpott.
While navigating the lappers, Christian reeled in Shuman and was able to shoot by moments before a yellow could negate the pass for second.
Christian would make good use of a strong restart and blasted into the lead off turn four and didn't look back.
While building a small cushion, Christian wasn't going to take it easy, darting through traffic and even squeezing between two lapped cars by using the little used middle of the track.
Over the final laps, Shuman closed the gap and gave Christian a quick look, but wasn't able to gain enough ground. Christian powered the MPHG Promotion, B.C. I, Red's Reamers, Durabuilt Racing sponsored sprinter powered by J&B Performance across the line for the checkers.
Shuman grabbed the runner-up spot ahead of Puterbaugh, Travis Welpott and Carmichael Sr. Kenny Carmichael Jr. started the second-five with James Bradshaw, Smith, Kevin Chambers and Adam Andretti wrapping the top-10.
In UMP Modified action Saturday, Paul Baumgardner was able to erase some of the bad luck he's experienced in the early stages of the 2009 season by rocketing to his first win of the year.
Coming in as the defending track champion, mechanical woes that followed Bumgardner from Florida at the Winter Nationals, relegated him to 16th on opening night. However, round number two saw the Greencastle native finish strong on a third-place run. This time around though, Bumgardner wasn't to be denied.
From the wave of the green, he charged into the top spot and led to the checkers, three-wheeling and using the entire track to navigate lapped traffic.
Bumgardner's run to the win wasn't easy as Daryl Herbert chased him early before pulling off and Marty O'Neal gave him a number of runs.
With lapped traffic in his sights, Bumgardner began working the top, middle and bottom of the track to hold O'Neal at bay. Clint DeMoss and Travis Shoulders waged a furious battle for the third spot down the stretch and Brad Barrow eventually had his hands full as Phil VanSant calmly worked his way up from the middle of the pack.
A caution with two laps remaining set up O'Neal for one last shot at Bumgardner, but the veteran track champion wouldn't give him an opening. At the finish line it was the Cardinal Contracting, Durabuilt Racing, Bumgardner's Auto and Track Repair, J and D Performance No. 54 that found victory lane. O'Neal cruised in with a second-place ahead of DeMoss, Shoulders, Barrow, VanSant, Dennis Gilpin, Matt Bex, Carmichael Sr. and Danny Harris.
Bex' run was impressive after having to win the B-Main and starting 16th in the feature.
Lincoln Park was the beneficiary of a couple of tracks' rainouts that blessed the fans with some added talent from both Paragon and Brownstown.
A number of super stock pilots made the haul to Putnamville and gave fans some great racing.
Chris Hillman was a regular last year at LPS and made the trek Saturday and went home with a winner's share of the purse after pulling away from Greg Amick, who is also a victory lane veteran at LPS.
This week however, Hillman was the class of the feature in the Vest Contracting, Speedy Bail Bonds, Superior Systems Supply Inc., GB Graphics super stock also sponsored by The Checkered Flag Restaurant.
Cullen Goodman stayed in the hunt for a short time before Hillman began to open up a big advantage. With Hillman checking out on the field, Goodman was being chased by Kris Starks, Kenny Carmichael Jr. and Amick.
Starks would eventually pull off after a spin sent him to the tail, but Amick would get past Goodman late in the race for second. Marty Cooper slid past Carmichael Jr. for the fourth spot. Roy Bruce Jr. took sixth ahead of Doug McCullough, Scott Carrington, Jeremy Wilson and Gregory Owens.
The bomber feature was caution filled and proved to be a battle of attrition, but that didn't dampen the best finish of the night.
Dustin Shoulders and Mark Bryant took turns leading over the first half of the feature, but a spin would send Shoulders to the tail at the same time that April 25 winner, Ryan Freeland, went to the back.
Bryant would leave the track shortly afterwards with mechanical problems leaving David Daniels in front. That is before a broken driveshaft ended his night early.
Ron Wallen Sr. was left in front and looked ready to repeat his win from the final night of the year last season. But with laps counting off, Freeland had worked his way through the field and was chasing Cullen Sandusky for the second spot.
Sandusky wasn't going to settle for second and made a dive under Wallen for the lead. The move would result in a lost driveshaft for Sandusky ending an impressive run for the teenager.
With a couple laps left, Freeland was closing the gap between himself and Wallen as Ron Wallen Jr. gave chase ahead of Junior Shepherd.
On the final lap, Freeland went low alongside Wallen off turn four and the two blasted towards the finish. At the line, Freeland was able to edge Wallen by the width of a bumper to repeat his bomber win in the North Salem Food Plaza, Teresa Wyeth Designs sponsored car.
Wallen Jr. was third ahead of Shepherd, Kelly West Jr., Barry Hicks, Curtis Fouts, Richard Watkins, Art Heminger and Sandusky.
Next weekend will be National Armed Forces Day where anyone with Military ID will receive $2 off admission. There will also be a school bus race along with sprint cars, UMP Modifieds, UMP Super Stocks and bombers.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature
1. Kent Christian, 2. Casey Shuman, 3. Billy Puterbaugh, 4. Travis Welpott, 5. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 6. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 7. James Bradshaw, 8. Eric Smith, 9. Kevin Chambers, 10. Adam Andretti, 11. Troy Link, 12. Dakota Jackson, 13. Jared Harris, 14. Michael Fischesser, 15. Andrew Prather, 16. Jim Dugan, 17. Ray Humphrey, 18. Jeff Shepherd, 19. Nick Johnson, 20. Drew Ikerd, 21. Jon Siscoe
B-main winner: James Bradshaw
Heat winners: Kent Christian, Eric Smith, Casey Shuman
UMP Modified feature
1. Paul Bumgardner, 2. Marty O'Neal, 3. Clint DeMoss, 4. Travis Shoulders, 5. Brad Barrow, 6. Phil VanSant, 7. Dennis Gilpin, 8. Matt Bex, 9. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 10. Danny Harris, 11. Richie Lex, 12. Jared Hix, 13. Harold Grayless, 14. Wayne Cooper, 15. Craig Smith, 16. Gary Hall, 17. Jaymie Turner, 18. Doug Bryant Jr., 19. Daryl Herbert, 20. Paul Wright
B-main winner: Matt Bex
Heat winners: Dennis Gilpin, Daryl Herbert, Brad Barrow
Super Stock feature
1. Chris Hillman, 2. Greg Amick, 3. Cullen Goodman, 4. Marty Cooper, 5. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 6. Roy Bruce Jr., 7. Dough McCullough, 8. Scott Carrington, 9. Jeremy Wilson, 10. Gregoy Owens, 11. Elijah Heminger, 12. Tami Lawson, 13. Joe Starks, 14. Kris Starks, 15. Michael Conner, 16. Justin Davis, 17. Mark Blalock, 18. Travis Heramb, 19. Dough Flynn Jr., 20. Slick Griffin, 21. Mark Dickerson
Heat winners: Chris Hillman, Elijah Heminger, Cullen Goodman
1. Ryan Freeland, 2. Ron Wallen Sr., 3. Ron Wallen Jr., 4. Junior Shepherd, 5. Kelly West Jr., 6. Barry Hicks, 7. Curtis Fouts, 8. Richard Watkins, 9. Art Heminger, 10. Cullen Sandusky, 11. Dustin Shoulders, 12. David Daniels, 13. Sean Yakel, 14. C.J. Bryan, 15. Josh Fagg, 16. Ron Smith, 17. David Wallen, 18. Stacey Ford, 19. Josh Presley, 20. LeRoy Sherfield
B-main winner: Ron Wallen Jr.
Heat winners: Josh Fagg, Dustin Shoulders, Ryan Freeland