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Monett Motor Speedway

Essary, 63, tops younger foes in victory at Monett

June 30, 2009, 1:28 pm
By Brian Garrison
O'Reilly MARS DIRTcar Series
Terry Phillips (75) battles eventual winner Ken Essary (55). (Ron Mitchell)
Terry Phillips (75) battles eventual winner Ken Essary (55). (Ron Mitchell)

MONETT, Mo. (June 28) — Ken Essary may be in the National Dirt Late Model Hall of Fame, but at 63, he's not just sitting around in a rocking chair collecting honors for his impressive racing career. Still in the driver's seat, the Cape Fair, Mo., turned back 21 younger drivers Sunday at Monett Speedway for a victory in the co-sanctioned Showdown in the Heartland at the 3/8-mile oval in southwestern Missouri. | Slideshow

Essary earned $3,000 for the victory an the third event of the weekend co-sanctioned by two O'Reilly Auto Parts-sponsored tours, the MARS DIRTcar Series and National Championship Racing Association. The victory was Essary's first with MARS and first with NCRA since a previous series victory at Monett 23 years earlier.

Eric Turner of Springfield, Mo., the previous night's winner at 81 Speedway near Wichita, Kan., was second followed by Al Purkey of Coffeyville, Kan., and consolation race winner Brandon McCormick of Lebanon, Mo.

Essary started on the pole of the 30-lapper with four-time MARS champion Terry Phillips of Springfield alongside. Essary led early, but two laps after a lap-four restart, Phillips moved underneath to take the lead. But during a lap-15 caution period after Jeremy Payne and Bill Koons got together exiting turn tour, Phillips pulled to the infield to change a flat right rear tire.

Essary was back out front with Turner and Kyle Berck of Marquette, Neb., in pursuit, but Berck cut down a tire and fell from contention. Essary kept Turner and Purkey in check the second half of the race and picked up the checkered flag.

Notes: Essary is sponsored by ARW Digital Balancing and Marty's Auto & Machine. ... Essary drove the No. 55 he normally uses in Race Brothers Show-Me Racin' Series events for Limited Late Models. Essary upgraded his spec engine with an open carburetor but his car had to weigh more (2,300 pounds vs. 2,200) and use a smaller rear spoiler (8 inches vs. 10) than in a Show-Me Racin' Series event. ... NCRA competitors join the July 2-4 Freedom Tour with races at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Neb., Park Jefferson (S.D.) Speedway and Adams County Speedway in Corning, Iowa. ... Next up for MARS is a July 10-11 weekend at Midway Speedway in Lebanon, Mo., and Springfield (Mo.) Raceway.

Showdown in the Heartland: (1) Ken Essary, (2) Eric Turner, (3) Al Purkey, (4) Brandon McCormick, (5) Corey Zeitner, (6) Gary Scott Christian, (7) Terry Phillips, (8) Jason Friesen, (9) Tony Jackson Jr., (10) Kyle Berck, (11) Mike Collins, (12) Darrell Mooneyham, (13) Jason Bodenhamer, (14) Scott Koskovich, (15) Rylan Long, (16) Steve Johnson, (17) Steve Kempt, (18) Bill Koons, (19) Jeremy Payne, (20) Shane Essary, (21) Larry Jones, (22) Jason O’Brien. Heat race winners: Essary, Phillips, Berck, Turner. Consolation winner: McCormick.

Correction: Changes winning purse to $3,000.

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