17-Year-Old Rookie, Hunter Baize Goes To Victory Lane At Flat Rock Speedway After Thrilling 7-Up 125 VictoryCRA_admin
Fast 1/4 mile in Southeast Michigan hosts the ARCA/CRA Super Series for the fourth time in four years
Flat Rock, Michigan (Saturday, August 15, 2015): The ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS teams had just a couple of days to regroup from racing in Kalamazoo Klash XXIII at Kalamazoo Speedway on Wednesday, August 12th before traveling east across the Great Lakes State. Champion Racing Association’s (CRA) yearly visit to the 1/4 (0.250) mile high-banked paved oval of Flat Rock Speedway, located south of Detroit in Flat Rock, Michigan was next on the schedule for the running of the 7-Up 125.
In three previous appearances at the fast 1/4 mile, all three races have proven to be some of the most exciting racing of the season and the fourth visit proved to be no exception. At the end of 125 laps it would be 17-year-old Rookie of the Year title contender, Hunter Baize bringing home his second win of his freshman campaign after leading 124 of the 125 lap event. The Bremen, Kentucky driver started on the pole of the 7-Up 125 and after briefly losing the lead to 2014 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion, Dan Leeck on a restart on lap eight, Baize recovered a lap later, passed him back and went the distance for the victory.
“First and foremost, I have to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for the blessings he has given me. Without him, I wouldn’t be here,” The emotional Blue Grass State teenager stated in victory lane after climbing from his #13 Mountain Firewood / VanDoorn Racing Development / Ford. “This was awesome for us and our whole crew. I’m really happy that we got it done again tonight. This one is pretty special too. Brian (Campbell) and Dan (Leeck) are some of the best drivers in the country and I have to thank them so much for running me cleanly. They could have put the bumper to me but they didn’t.” He added.
After EDCO Welding Fast Qualifier, 16-year-old Overall and Rookie points’ leader, Grant Quinlan pulled the minimum of a five for an inversion, Baize and Leeck would bring the field to the green flag for the 125-lap event around the Southeastern Michigan speed plant. Baize jumped out to the lead with Leeck and third place starter, Brian Campbell settling in behind him. The trio quickly got away from the rest of the pack who were still scrambling for position.
Two quick cautions flew on lap seven as Jerry Andrews and Eddie Van Meter made contact in turn one. The second caution came moments later when rookie, Mark Lambert looped his mount and collected Kalamazoo Klash XXIII winner, Ali Kern and hometown favorite from near-by Newport, Michigan, Matt Hall. Kern was able to continue minus a right front fender while Hall lost the entire front end. He would later return but dropped out a few laps later due to handling issues suffered due to the incident.
Once the green flag came back out, Leeck used his momentum from restarting on the high side to briefly take the lead from Baize, his first career lap led in ARCA/CRA Super Series competition. However, a lap later, Baize stormed back on the inside to retake the point. The next 86 laps went green with Campbell eventually catching and passing Leeck and set his sights on Baize. Several times Campbell tried to make the outside lane work only to feel his tires heat up and he would be forced to tuck back in behind Baize.
The last caution flew on lap 93 and by this time, six cars were left on the lead lap plus the ‘free pass’ recipient, Kern. On the restart, Campbell again tried to make the outside lane work, but Baize would hang tough on the bottom. With 12 laps to go, Leeck skated past Campbell to take back the runner-up spot and immediately began to challenge Baize for the win. Leeck challenge Baize several times, but the Kentucky rising star held him off to secure his second checkered flag of the 2015 season for his Hunter Baize Racing Team, Three-Time CRA Championship winning Crew Chief, Butch VanDoorn.
For his efforts, Baize walked away with a slew of awards in addition to the $3,000 payday, the trophy and checkered flag including the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race award for his pass of Leeck for the win after getting swept by on that laps’ restart. He also grabbed the Senneker Performance Rookie of the Race award as well as both the VanDoorn Racing Development Lap Leader award for pacing the field for 124 of the 125 laps. He also would score the VanDoorn Fastest Practice Lap award as well.
Leeck, the 25-year-old from Birch Run, Michigan in just his fourth career ARCA/CRA Super Series start, settled for second in his #12 Mr. Asphalt / Chevrolet. The 2014 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Champion gave Baize all he could hand over the last laps of the race before securing a career high finish in CRA’s premier tour. Leeck didn’t leave Flat Rock, Michigan empty-handed as he did win the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure award. Leeck plans on more appearances yet in 2015 before possibly a full schedule in 2016 going for the series’ Rookie of the Year title.
Rounding out the podium finishers was Campbell in his #47 Merritt Speedway / Ford. The Wyoming, Michigan driver tried numerous times to make the high lane work around Baize throughout the race and did pull up side by side with the race leader on several occasions. However, the 36-year-old driver, a two-time winner in 2015 in the ARCA/CRA Super Series couldn’t complete the pass and would settle for third in the final rundown.
Three-Time ARCA/CRA Super Series Champion, Scott Hantz overcame a spin with 32 laps to go to post a fourth place showing in his #72 South Pointe Radiator / Chevrolet. The 52-year-old veteran from Angola, Indiana was making only his second start of the 2015 racing season and the all-time career statistical leader in most categories in series history made it up to fourth in the end. Hantz, who started 10th, scored the C.V. Racing Products Hard-Charger award as well as the first Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award.
A second Rookie within the top five, Jordan Pruitt claimed a career high fifth place finish in his #8 Gaylord Ford-Lincoln / Ford. The ICAR Top Speed Modified Tour graduate, who has sat out a couple of races this season, debuted a new Port City Racecars chassis and came away with a career high finish. The 28-year-old driver from Gaylord, Michigan will race in the rest of the events in 2015 before regrouping for a potentially strong sophomore campaign in 2016.
Quinlan, who raced in the top five for most of the event, slipped to sixth at the end of the race and saw his point’s leads in both the Overall and Rookie standings dwindle to just 18 markers. Kern recovered from her lap seven incident to post a seventh place showing ahead of Lambert, who also recovered from the same incident and collected the second Hoosier Racing Tire Performance award with an eighth. 2014 Rookie of the Year, Wes Griffith Jr., was shown ninth as Van Meter completed the top 10.
Earlier in the day in EDCO Welding Qualifying, Quinlan won his second straight Fast Qualifier award in two races with a 12.154 = 74.050mph. The ARCA/CRA Super Series Track Record in Flat Rock, Michigan remains with Two-Time Series Champion, Travis Braden who turned a 12.034 back in the series’ first ever appearance at the Southeastern Michigan speed plant back on August 8th, 2012.
For the first time since the 2011 racing season, the fast 1/2 (0.500) mile semi-banked paved oval of Baer Field Speedway located in Fort Wayne, Indiana will host the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS in the running of the Summit City 100 Presented by Trucking Fort Wayne on Saturday, August 22nd. This race will be the first appearance by the ARCA/CRA Super Series at the Northeastern Indiana speed plant since May 22nd, 2011 when Brian Campbell scored the win in Asphalt Wars 100 over four years ago.
There have been 14 ARCA/CRA races at Baer Field dating back to the first race on June 26th, 1999 won by Two-Time Series Champion, Brian Ross. Three-Time Series Champion, Scott Hantz has five of his 31 career wins there while Eddie Hoffman has been to victory lane twice. In addition to Campbell and Ross, a pair of short track legends, Fort Wayne’s own Larry Zent and Canadian, Junior Hanley have a win apiece. So does 2005 Series Champion, Jeff Lane, 2004 Series Champion, Chuck Barnes Jr., and J.R. Roahrig.
For more information about the remainder of the 2015 racing season within all four touring series’ of Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS, go to the series website located at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow along with all of CRA’s touring series’ on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at: www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally, for more information about Baer Field Speedway, the host track for the 10th race of the season for the ARCA/CRA Super Series, go to the track website at: www.baerfieldspeedwayin.com
The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedways.