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Kunz-Willoughby team flexes muscles during Midget Week

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Keith Kunz, Pete Willoughby and their three drivers have dominated the competition all season, and that gave them cautious optimism going into Indiana Midget Week.

They didn’t get to be the best USAC midget team in the land by taking things for granted. When they leave for the track their cars are ready to race. Everything on their Bullet/Toyotas has been checked at least a couple of times.

When the scheduled Indiana Midget Week opener at Gas City I-69 Speedway was rained out, the race at Lincoln Park Speedway started the midget week action. Rico Abreu was back in the cockpit for the first time since taking a bad ride in a winged sprint car May 25. The broken collarbone that he suffered kept him out of the cockpit until June 12.

However, when Abreu rolled onto the track to qualify, it was obvious that his game hadn’t suffered from the three idle weeks. He set quick time, followed by Tracy Hines, Dave Darland, Andrew Felker, Christopher Bell and Damion Gardner.

The Kunz team ran into problems in the heat races when Bell got upside down and his night was over. Abreu and Thorson finished first and second, respectively, in the first heat to earn berths in the feature.

Darland took the lead and led the feature flag to flag. Tracy Hines got past Abreu to take second, and Abreu was third.

At Bloomington Speedway, Bell prevailed.

“I felt like I had to come back and do that for my team tonight,” he said of his win. “They were pretty upset with me after last night (at Lincoln Park), so I owed it to them. I was able to stick the bottom really well from the start, but this place is really tricky. It’s easy to get tight down there and lose the nose.”

At Lawrenceburg Speedway, Abreu notched the victory. “I just have to thank my guys for giving me an incredible car once again,” he said. “It’s good to be back in victory lane now after the injury.”

At Kokomo Speedway, Bryan Clauson scored a Midget Week victory on his 25th birthday. He chased down and passed Abreu on the 18th lap and led the rest of the way.

Abreu took the series title, followed by Clauson, Hines, Darland, Pickens, Bell, Chris Windom and Kevin Thomas, Jr.

Abreu holds a sizable lead in the battle for the USAC National Midget championship with 481, followed by Hines (388), Clauson (387), Bell (370) and Darland (311).

50th anniversary

Twin Cities Raceway Park at Vernon is celebrating its 50th anniversary today. Racing will include modifieds, pure stocks, hornets and TQ midgets. A large contingent of former racers will be on hand to be recognized. Admission is $10, and the track will be selling $1 hot dogs.

Tim McKinney writes a weekly racing column for The Republic.He can be reached at 379-5632.

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