Unzicker capitalizes, gets $4,000 for Peoria victory
By Jeff AdamsPeoria Speedway
PEORIA, Ill. (April 3) — Inheriting the lead when Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., fell out with a broken axle, Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., led the final 12 laps Sunday at Peoria Speedway to win the Don Bohlander Tribute race. Unzicker earned $4,000 for the victory in Peoria's opening event under the ownership of Curt Mottaz. | YourDirt video | Slideshow
“I hate that something happened to Jason. I was a little worried when he got in front,” said Unzicker, who started eighth in the 20-car field. “But something happened to him and we got the lead. He is so tough to beat here, but we will take it.”
Modified graduate Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Ill., finished second in the non-touring UMP DIRTcar event while Brian Shirley of Chatham, Ill., advanced 12 positions to finish third. Rodney Melvin of Logan, Ill., and seventh-row starter Billy Drake of Bloomington, Ill. — in the Ray Neltner-owned No. 75 — rounded out the top five.
Wes Steidinger of Fairbury, Ill., led the first nine laps from the pole in a Larry Reikert-owned car before a spin involving Scott Schmitt and Frank Heckenast Jr. drew the first caution flag.
On the restart, the seventh-starting Feger pressured Steidinger, taking command in turn three to lead the 11th lap. Feger built a four-second lead erased by a lap-38 yellow flag for Donny Walden.
Unzicker was up to second on the restart, and when Feger's broke an axle heading into turn three, Unzicker took over, surviving a lap-42 caution and holding off Spatola in the final laps.
Unzicker, who also won the previous night at Macon (Ill.) Speedway, initially bolted on four hard-compound tires before the 50-lapper, but adjusted when the track crew watered the higher groove before the modified feature.
“We had four hard tires on, but when they put that water on top, we put soft tires on all but the right rear, and that might have won us the race,” Unzicker said. “It’s just such an honor to win a race named after one of the greatest drivers off all time in Don Bohlander. This is a special win for us.”
Notes: Unzicker's MasterSbilt Race Car has a Rhyne Competition Engine and sponsorship from RJR Transportation and Schumacher's Tyre Service. ... Among drivers failing to make the lineup for the Late Model feature: Jason Jaggers, Dick Taylor, Brandon Thirlby, Russ Adams and Gerry Reeder Jr. ... Butch Weisser won the night's modified feature. ... Peoria begins is regular weekly program on Saturday, April 9.
Don Bohlander Tribute: (1) Ryan Unzicker, (2) Mike Spatola, (3) Brian Shirley, (4) Rodney Melvin, (5) Billy Drake, (6) Brian Diveley, (7) Tim Lance, (8) Brandon Sheppard, (9) Donny Walden, (10) Frank Heckenast Jr., (11) Todd Bennett, (12) Kevin Weaver, (13) Richie Bell, (14) Derek Chandler, (15) Jason Feger, (16) Bobby Pierce, (17) Nathan Balensiefen, (18) Wes Steidinger, (19) Charley Hess, (20) Scott Schmitt. Fast qualifier (among 31 cars): Feger, 12.414 seconds. Heat race winners: Spatola, Schmitt, Steidinger, Diveley. Consolation winners: Lance, Drake.