By CAREY FOX Times Sports Editor PUTNAMVILLE – To say that the 2013 racing season has been a rollercoaster for Jeff Bland Jr. would be to put it mildly. An opening night victory on April 6 at Lincoln Park Speedway seemed to bode well except for the fact that a blown power plant curbed the joy of the win. However, the family has got the No. 38 sprinter back in shape and Saturday night’s effort at the Putnamville oval was rewarded with another top of the podium finish aboard the B&B Auto Brokers, Maxx Cigarettes, Van Horn Graphics, ServPro, Iron Pit Barbeque sponsored machine.
Along the same lines, Brian Hayden, who placed second in a spirited challenge to Bland in the sprint car A-main, led from the opening green flag in the UMP Modified feature to top Paul Bumgardner and Eric Varner.
In the UMP Super Stock feature, Roy Bruce Jr. slipped back from a fifth-place starting position and then fought his way back in to challenge eventual winner Steve Peeden, who picked up his seventh feature win of the season. Bruce showed his nose to the Martinsville native over the final circuits, but couldn’t find the edge on Peeden, who took the top spot.
The final two features of the evening saw Carlos Bumgardner Sr. and Tim Wright pull off the victories at scenic Lincoln Park Speedway.
Bumgardner jumped to the point early ahead of Damon Harrell in the early circuits. However, Harrell would have his hands full with David Wallen over the front half of the A-main. With Bumgardner topping the field, the side-by-side fight for the second spot ended prematurely on lap No. 8 when a mechanical problem in the rear end of Wallen’s No. 59 led to a flip in turn one and a red flag. The Brazil native proved to be okay after being examined by medical personnel, though a strong run was derailed.
On the restart, Bumgardner maintained his bottom line and paced the field the remainder of the final seven laps as Harrell took second and Jordan Almanza placed third. Bumgardner captured his second feature of the season in the Speedway Auto Parts, Perfect Pallets, Bumgardner’s Auto and Truck, Specialty Graphics, Pipe Puffer, Crazy 8 Trucking machine.
Jack Hatton, James Walters, Jerry Hutto, Megan Cavaness, Kyle Krupa, Lenny Krupa III and Scott Tidwell finished the top-10.
The final feature of the evening went to Wright, who put the KTI Dirt Werx, Total Electric, Shores Chassis, Hanna’s Wrecker Service No. 44w to victory lane.
Jason Thornburg started up front alongside Tom Courtney to start the A-main, but a spin by Thornburg on the third lap left Wright up front. He wasn’t going to relinquish that position once the field went green once again as the Camby resident steadily built a commanding lead 10 laps into the feature. Curt Leonard moved up to the second spot down the stretch and Josh Presley pulled into third while last week’s victor, Greencastle’s Blake Cross, picked off the competition after starting back in the 10th position. Cross eventually placed fourth ahead of Mike Fisher Jr., Josh Foxworthy, Jeff Beggs, Bob Farris, Ron Smith and Thornburg.
Bumgadrner’s win kept him 15 points ahead of Wright in the point standings with Cross just 20 markers back in third.
In the sprint car field, Bland was on hand looking for that second win in a 22-car field as he produced his seventh top-five in a shortened season of just 14 races in 2013. Bland was a white, hot rocket despite the stunning pace of Ethan Barrow over the opening 10 laps. Barrow started inside row two and powered to the front quickly. He remained on the point with a commanding lead over the first half of the feature. However, Bland began to slowly reel the leader in ahead of Hayden. Chris Phillips’ brought out a red flag with a tumble on lap 16 that changed the complexion of the race as the field was re-set.
On the re-start, Barrow was moved back two spots and Hayden attempted to make a move on Bland, who was the new point man. Twice, Hayden got a perfect jump on Bland to take the lead, only to have the start called back due to another quick caution. Conner Donelson, running fourth on a re-start with seven slaps remaining, spun to bring the field back. Bland would get the jump he needed on the final green flag and piloted his spriner to the win ahead of Hayden and Barrow. Max McGhee and Keaton Dobbs rounded out the top-5.
In the UMP Modified feature, Hayden started on the pole and was flawless in maintaining his advantage despite heavy challenges by Bumgardner. The pair opened a comfortable gap ahead of the rest of the field with Varner giving chase along with Ryan Thomas. Chad Combs ran fourth early before pulling to the infield. Wes McClara was hot on the group’s bumpers over the latter stages of the feature before a late spin.
Hayden would record the victory in the Cyclone Custom Products, IndianaOpenwheel.com, York Chevrolet, Greencastle/Cloverdale Napa Auto Parts, All American Karate Academy, Oakflats Motorcycle sponsored No. 2H. Bumgardner took second to maintain a slim, six-point lead over Hayden. Varner, Thomas and Roger Mills filled out the top-five spots.
Peeden’s victory in the UMP Super Stock feature wasn’t overly challenged during the second half of the race, but the real battle was for the second spot.
Bruce Jr. had his hands full after moving up to second along with Kenny Carmichael Jr., Chris Hillman and Doug McCullough, who had designs on dethroning him. The group was a thrilling watch for the crowd as Bruce gained some separation and put his nose under Peeden over the last few laps. The four-way battle for the second spot was a wild one with Bruce, Carmichael, Hillman and McCullogh all within several feet of each other running door-to-door. However, Bruce took over second and reeled in Peeden for a brief challenge following a late re-start. However, Peeden kept the lead and gained the win over Bruce with McCullough, Carmichael Sr. and Hillman in the top-five spots.
Next weekend will feature the Midwest Sprint Car Series that will pay $3,000 to the winner with the Slick Griffin Memorial race for super stocks. UMP Modifieds and bombers will also be on the card.
Lincoln Park Speedway
Sprint car feature
1. Jeff Bland Jr., 2. Brian Hayden, 3. Ethan Barrow, 4. Max McGhee, 5. Keaton Dobbs, 6. Brian Karracker, 7. Jarod Harris, 8. JT Stapp, 9. AJ Francis, 10. Conner Donelson, 11. Kevin Studley, 12. Troy Link, 13. Kent Christian, 14. Shawn Miller, 15. Hunter ONeal, 16. Ethan Fleetwood, 17. Jimmy Romig, 18. Eric Burns, 19. Daylan Chambers, 20. Chris Phillips, 21. Cole Smith, 22. John Nicosan, 23. Matt Brannin
UMP Modified feature
1. Brian Hayden, 2. Paul Bumgardner, 3. Eric Varner, 4. Ryan Thomas, 5. Roger Mills, 6. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 7. Larry Lambert, 8. Dan Lewellen, 9. Jeff Deckard, 10. Aaron Zellers, 11. Wayne Newlin, 12. Jamie Rife, 13. Wes McClara, 14. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 15. Brent Hudson, 16. Chad Combs, 17. Matthew Freeman, 18. Gary Ricketts, 19. Terry Fish Jr., 20. Randy Shuman, 21. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 22. Duane Lee
UMP Super Stock feature
1. Steve Peeden, 2. Roy Bruce Jr., 3. Doug McCullough, 4. Kenny Carmichael Sr., 5. Chris Hillman, 6. Kenny Carmichael Jr., 7. Scott Carrington, 8. Jake Letizman, 9. Steve Smiley, 10. Tyler Loughmiller, 11. Josh Boller, 12. Mike Staggs, 13. Josh Fagg, 14. JR Watkins, 15. Kenny Fields, 16. Don Duncan, 17. Travis Heramb, 18. Larry Babbs, 19. Jacob Wright, 20. Brandon Query
Bomber feature 1
1. Carlos Bumgardner Sr., 2. Damon Harrell, 3. Jordan Almanza, 4. Jack Hatton, 5. James Walters, 6. Jerry Hutto, 7. Megan Cavaness, 8. Kyle Krupa, 9. Lenny Krupa III, 10. Scott Tidwell, 11. Doug McCullough, 12. David Wallen, 13. DJ Smiley, 14. Cami Smith, 15. Fred Grayless, 16. Jack Campbell, 17. Mark Dickerson
Bomber feature 2
1. Tim Wright, 2. Curt Leonard, 3. Josh Presley, 4. Blake Cross, 5. Mike Fisher Jr., 6. Josh Foxworthy, 7. Jeff Beggs, 8. Bob Farris, 9. Ron Smith, 10. Jason Thornburg, 11. Tom Courtney, 12. Justin Litton, 13. Brad Neese, 14. Doug Parker, 15. Paul Wright, 16. Cody Wright