By CAREY FOX Times Sports Editor PUTNAMVILLE — Lincoln Park Speedway wrapped up its 2013 season Saturday night under near flawless fall weather conditions and saw a first time winner in the sprint car division.Brownsburg, Ind. native AJ Hopkins has been tantalizingly close to claiming a feature win over the last two seasons and finally was able to make a trip to victory lane as he pulled away over the final circuits to win over Brent Beauchamp and Conner Donelson.
Hopkins’ CSI Suspension, Indy Race Parts, Butlerbuilt, Simpson Race Suits, Nailon Engines, Hoosier Tire No. 14 was a rocket from the time the family unloaded the car from the trailer.
Hopkins dropped the hammer on the field to win the opening heat race as Beauchamp and Donelson claimed the other two prelims. However, once the field went green for the A-main, Hopkins powered away to a comfortable lead ahead of Beauchamp, Donelson, Nick Johnson, Patrick Giddens and Brian Hayden.
Ten laps into the feature, Hopkins found himself in the thick of lapped traffic and Beauchamp began to reel in the leader. Hopkins worked the field, splitting several lapped cars at one point and moving top to bottom in trying to maintain his lead out front. The field would be re-set as Eric Burns got upside down in turn four and the red flag came out. Burns was uninjured in the accident though his quest to repeat his feature win of Sept. 21 came to a close.
With 13 laps remaining, the field took the green and Hopkins stayed out front as the laps ticked off. Beauchamp was setting a feverish pace in pursuit of Hopkins. Donelson held third ahead of Johnson and Hunter Scheurenberg had worked his way forward from 16th into a chase for a top-five spot.
Hopkins finished the final few laps flawlessly as he was able to build upon his lead in lapped traffic over the last five circuits to pick up his first career win. Beauchamp, Donelson, Scheurenberg and Hayden wrapped up the top-five spots.
The local community lost one of its biggest racing fans earlier in the week as Charlie Johnston lost his life in a traffic accident. However, he assuredly would have enjoyed the way the UMP Modified A-main concluded as Greencastle’s Paul Bumgardner scored the victory.
With many of Johnston’s friends in attendance to witness the victory, Bumgardner worked his way to the front past Eric Varner after an early side-by-side battle. Once he got free of traffic, Bumgardner pulled away as Varner finished off a strong run to second ahead of Wes McClara, who claimed the third spot ahead of Kenny Carmichael Sr. and Randy Shuman.
For Danville, Ind. driver Dustin Shoulders, a full course load at Rose-Hulman has certainly cut into his previously regular racing slate. However, he finished the last month of the 2013 season with a victory after starting fourth.
Shoulders looked like he might have to settle for a top-three spot as Bloomington’s Roy Bruce Jr. appeared as if he might run away to the win. However, Chris Hillman was giving him all he could handle after reeling him in over the middle stages of the A-main. Bruce, the current UMP National Points leader by a scant three points over Steve Peeden, saw his lead disappear as Hillman worked his way into a side-by-side fight for the point following a re-start.
With four laps remaining, Bruce had the lead as Hillman slowed briefly and that opening allowed Shoulders to move into second. Meanwhile, Peeden had blasted forward from 12th to third as Hillman and Kenny Carmichael Jr. led Scott Carrington. Bruce’s quest for another win was derailed as he jumped high on the track as a tire went down and Shoulders slipped past and held off a challenge from Peeden for the win. Hillman, Carmichael and Carrington finished in the top-five.
In the final feature of the evening, David Wallen recorded his second A-main victory of the season, leading wire-to-wire to get the victory ahead of Tyler Neal and Doug McCullough, who started back in 18th.
Wallen jumped to the point after starting outside of the front row with A.J. Smith, but several early cautions kept the Brazil resident from building a steady lead. Once the race stayed green for an extended stretch, Wallen kept his advantage as Neal advanced to second in the latter half of the feature. Damon Harrell had moved to a third-place position before slowing and eventually pulling off. After a late re-start, Wallen held down the lead and went on to finish his second win of the year. Neal, McCullough, Justin Minardo and Jason Trimmer were in the top-five ahead of Jeff Beggs, Jerry Hutto, Ron Smith, Barry Hicks and Bob Farris.
Sprint car feature
1. AJ Hopkins, 2. Brent Beauchamp, 3. Conner Donelson, 4. Hunter Scheurenberg, 5. Brian Hayden, 6. Nick Johnson, 7. Patrick Giddens, 8. Travis Welpott, 9. Michael Terry Jr., 10. Kent Christian, 11. Bub Cummings, 12. Troy Link, 13. Trent Bechinger, 14. Ray Kenens, 15. Brian Lake, 16. John Nicoson, 17. Keaton Dobbs, 18. Eric Burns, 19. Tyler Waltz
UMP Modified feature
1. Paul Bumgardner, 2. Wes McClara, 3. Eric Varner, 4. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 5. Randy Shuman, 6. Brad Barrow, 7. Roger Mills, 8. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 9. Dan Lewellen, 10. Jake Humphrey, 11. Josh Eads, 12. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 13. Jamie Rife, 14. Geoff Buxton, 15. Brent Hudson, 16. Terry Fish Jr., 17. Garry Ricketts, 18. Chad Nolte, 19. Gary Hayden
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Dustin Shoulders, 2. Steve Peeden, 3. Chris Hillman, 4. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 5. Scott Carrington, 6. Jake Leitzman, 7. Josh Boller, 8. Michael Fish, 9. Tyler Loughmiller, 10. Josh McDaniel, 11. Eric Bowman, 12. Roy Bruce Jr., 13. Doug McCullough, 14. Dennis Morgan, 15. JR Watkins, 16. Josh Fagg, 17. Jack Campbell, 18. Mike Staggs, 19. Gene Barnett, 20. Don Duncan, 21. Kenny Fields
1. David Wallen, 2. Tyler Neal, 3. Doug McCullough, 4. Justin Minardo, 5. Jason Trimmer, 6. Jeff Beggs, 7. Jerry Hutto, 8. Ron Smith, 9. Barry Hicks, 10. Bob Farris, 11. Dave Byrdwell, 12. Travis Rogers, 13. James Walters, 14. Jack Campbell, 15. Mark Dickerson, 16. Lenny Krupa III, 17. Chad Weiner, 18. Dustin Colbrin, 19. DJ Smiley, 20. Michael Conner, 21. Damon Harrell, 22. A.J. Smith, 23. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 24. Kyle Krupa, 25. Fred Grayless, 26. Mike Fisher Jr., 27. Jason Trader