Chris Andrews Steals Terry Sprague Memorial Preliminary Triumph with Late Race Pass at SIR!
By Brian Walker – Maximum Dirt
Marion, IL | July 29, 2017 – Setting a new event record with a staggering car count of 102 entries for Friday’s showing of the Terry Sprague Memorial preliminary night, the stout field of the nation’s best non-wing competitors did not disappoint. Following an exciting program that included 11 heat races, six qualifiers and a 30-lap feature, it was none other than Oklahoma’s Chris Andrews parking his Sawyer Chassis No. 8 on the front stretch at Southern Illinois Raceway! Using a late-race pass on Indiana’s Cole Bodine, Andrews locked himself into tonight’s $5,000/Win main event along with Bodine, Tom Curran, Andy Bishop, Joe B. Miller & Tyler Rust.
After a set of 11 heat races, it was Pennsylvania’s James Morris serving as the high point man, as he guided the Zarski Motorsports, Hyper Racing No. 131X to a smooth sixth-to-first run worth 65 points. Backing up his heat race triumph with a qualifier score, Morris secured his spot as the pole sitter for the opening night of the TSM. Also earning a sixth-to-first heat race run and a qualifier win was Cole Bodine in his Concept Chassis No. 57, as he claimed his spot alongside Morris on the outside pole. Filling out rows two and three for the feature lineup were fellow qualifier winners Chris Andrews, Joey Wirth, Tom Curran and Tyler Rust.
At the drop of the green flag in the feature, it was James Morris who stormed into the early lead, but after a few short laps of holding the edge, Cole Bodine came rocketing at Morris with a challenge for the top spot. With five circuits down, Bodine whipped his machine around the outside of Morris and looked destined to claim another preliminary triumph, after his 2016 #BigDance preliminary score.
However, as the cross flags flew on lap 15, a new challenger would arise when Oklahoma’s Chris Andrews stormed past Morris for the second spot. Quickly cutting away at Bodine’s advantage in the Justin Blevins owned Sawyer Chassis No. 8, Andrews tracked down the Indiana native and took to the lead on the 22nd circuit with a slider. Bodine would remain consistent in his effort against Andrews, but following the final caution of the race with five to go, Andrews would pull away just enough from the No. 57 machine.
Leading the remaining nine laps, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Chris Andrews would hang on to secure the preliminary victory and lock-in to tonight’s $5,000/Win main event. It’s worth nothing that Andrews and his car owner, Justin Blevins, are no stranger to big-time success on the high banks of Southern Illinois Raceway. At the 2012 “The 66,” the duo swept their preliminary night and went on to win the dash and 40-lap feature as they scored a huge $10,000 payday together.
Coming home with a close second place finish was Indiana’s Cole Bodine in his Concept Chassis No. 57. The “Hoosier” put on a valiant effort while leading over half of the preliminary feature and while he ended up in second, he still is sitting pretty on the outside pole of the dash for tonight’s finale. Bodine, a notable non-wing ace, led much of the Outlaw Non-Wing feature at the Tulsa Shootout this year before finishing second to California’s Tristan Guardino.
Rounding out the podium in third was the feel-good story of the night in Kansas City, Missouri’s Tom Curran. The driver of the Pace Chassis No. 11 made his mark big time as he attended his first out-of-town special event. A low-budget competitor with his father, Kevin, the duo race nearly every weekend at Sweet Springs Raceway and Double-X Speedway in Missouri. But, it was last night as Curran formally introduced himself to the micro sprint nation and locked-in to the biggest race of his career.
Earning a fourth-place finish was local SIR racer and Harrisburg, Illinois native, Andy Bishop, as he locked his Hyper Racing No. 42 into tonight’s main event. Charging from 16th-to-5th, the defending TSM champion, Joe B. Miller, has found his Hyper Racing No. 51B ready for contention at another $5,000 tonight. The final lock-in went to the sixth-place finisher of Indiana’s Tyler Rust in his Hyper Racing No. 10. Rounding out the top ten was Joey Wirth in seventh, Jeffrey Newell in eighth, Russ Gamester in ninth and Jordan Herrman in tenth.
The finale of the 10th annual Terry Sprague Memorial commences tonight at Southern Illinois Raceway as 100+ competitors vie for the $5,000 grand prize! For those unable to attend, you can follow live updates on Twitter at @MaximumDirt_ or watch the live broadcast on www.fastfourmedia.com.
Heat Winners: James Morris, Zac Taylor, JB Gilbert, Andrew Felker, Chris Andrews, Tom Curran, Daniel Robinson, Joey Wirth, Todd Kirkman, Austin Stone, Cole Bodine.
Qualifier Winners: James Morris, Cole Bodine, Chris Andrews, Joey Wirth, Tom Curran, Tyler Rust.
A-Main (30 Laps): 1. Chris Andrews (3), 2. Cole Bodine (2), 3. Tom Curran (5), 4. Andy Bishop (13), 5. Joe B. Miller (16), 6. Tyler Rust (6), 7. Joey Wirth (4), 8. Jeffrey Newell (7), 9. Russ Gamester (24), 10. Jordan Herrman (19), 11. James Morris (1), 12. Matt Howard (17), 13. Andrew Felker (22), 14. Zac Taylor (15), 15. Jimmy Wood (20), 16. Scott Britton (18), 17. Jessee Holt (23), 18. Brandon Rose (21), 19. Daniel Robinson (12), 20. JB Gilbert (14), 21. AJ Hopkins (9), 22. Todd Kirkman (11), 23. Chris Cochran (8), 24. Frank Galusha (10).
Lap Leader(s): Morris 1-4, Bodine 5-21, Andrews 22-30.
Hard Charger(s): Gamester +15, Miller +11.