Times Sports Editor
PUTNAMVILLE -- The summer of 2009 has gotten off to a pretty good start if your Todd Kimmel.
The teenager graduated from high school five weeks early, got the opportunity to race the Baldwin Brothers sprinter and on Saturday night, added the first sprint car feature win of his career in the family's own car.
Kimmel has been racing a sprint car for three years, which made the win at Lincoln Park Speedway that much sweeter after taking the checkers in the Long's Bakery, Hoosier Towing, Butlerbuilt, Hinchman Racewear and Hoosier Tire machine.
Competition was spread all over the state on Saturday, which lowered the car count across the state, but Kimmel had to overcome defending track champion Billy Puterbaugh down the stretch and then held off Brandon Mattox and Kenny Carmichael Jr. to take the feature victory.
Puterbaugh got a strong start to build a commanding lead over the first half of the race. Kent Christian was able to slip by Kenny Carmichael Sr. after a spirited battle and JJ Hughes was in fourth-place before a small bobble in turn one caused him to slip back.
A lap later, Hughes' venture over the top of the banking appeared to cost him an eventual top-five finish as he rolled to a stop in turn two with some flames flashing beneath the No. 76 sprinter. Those flames were quickly extinguished, but so were Hughes' chances at a win.
The caution also eliminated Christian and Carmichael Sr., who each appeared to have flat tires, further narrowing the field.
Puterbaugh used his experience to build another solid lead on the restart, but with fewer than 10 laps remaining, his lead began to shrink as seemingly backed off the throttle while holding to his lead.
Kimmel and Mattox began to devour Puterbaugh's lead while battling each other for a chance at the top spot. However, with two laps left, Kimmel shot past Puterbaugh who would pull high off of turn four and bring his night to an end with mechanical problems.
Kimmel and Mattox were left in a dual to the finish on the green with Carmichael and Stines in tow.
The Avon hotshoe would hold off Mattox to take his first sprint car win and spark a well deserved celebration with his father in victory lane.
Mattox took second ahead of Carmichael Jr., Stines, Andrew Prather, Troy Link, Michael Fischesser, Puterbaugh, Tony Main and Christian.
In the UMP Modified feature, Paul Bumgardner continued his hot streak with his third win in a row, two at Lincoln Park Speedway sandwiched around last weekend's win at Vermilion County Speedway in Danville, Ill.
Bumgardner was able to get past Clint DeMoss, who started on the pole, and held the lead the remainder of the way.
DeMoss gave the Greencastle native all he could handle over the final laps, but he defending track champion at LPS, used his experience to finish off the win and narrow Travis Shoulders' points lead to just two at 234 to 232.
Shoulders wasn't far behind as he duked it out with Carmichael Sr. for much of the feature event before settling for fourth behind Carmichael.
Phil VanSant strengthened his grip on third-place in the points with a fifth-place finish ahead of Gary Hall, Dan Lewellen, Wayne Cooper, Harold Grayless and Jared Hix.
In the UMP Superstocks, Kris Starks was able to gain his second win of the season and creep within 17 points (250 to 233) behind Greg Amick, who placed second in the feature.
Amick held the top spot for the entire race until the final laps of the A-Main as Starks tried the outside for the pass, but couldn't make it stick. Doug McCullough and Cullen Goodman were close behind with Tami Lawson on their bumpers, but it was the battle for the point that had the crowd locked up.
Starks chased Amick down and got just the bite that he needed off of turns three and four to draw even and make the pass coming off turn four to the checkers. McCullough, Goodman and Lawson wrapped the top-five. Elijah Heminger, Slick Griffin, Kenny Carmichael Jr, Travis Heramb and Michael Conner capped the top-10.
In the bomber feature, it was Ben Williams claiming his second feature win of the season and keeping Ryan Freeland from extending his win streak to three in a row.
Freeland maintains the points lead over Ron Wallen Sr., who placed seventh.
Williams took the win in his Williams & Sons Body Shop, Specialty Grafix, Trump Stix, Franklin-built race car.
Dustin Shoulders placed third and moved into the same spot in points. Chuck Walden was fourth ahead of Josh Fagg, Ron Smith, Wallen Sr., Corey Gregory, Richard Watkins and C.J. Bryan.
Next week will include a regular show of sprints, modifieds, bombers and super stocks and will be a Salute to Crawfordsville Night, with residents of the town with a state-issued ID receiving $2 off admission. Salute To Brazil Night will take place on June 6.