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Pickens streaks to victory in Midgets, Benson wins Micros in POWRi Speed Week at Lincoln

Micheal Pickens, part of the down under invasion, takes night #2 of POWRi SpeedWeek at Lincoln IL. Photo by R.J. Brown
Micheal Pickens, part of the down under invasion, takes night #2 of POWRi SpeedWeek at Lincoln IL. Photo by R.J. Brown

LINCOLN, Ill. (June 7, 2013)—Michael Pickens led all 30 laps en route to his eighth career victory in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series and Nathan Benson won his first feature of the season in the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series at Lincoln Speedway in Friday’s second event of POWRi Speed Week.

Pickens climbed into sixth place on POWRi’s all-time Midget win list. The 30-year-old from New Zealand has made the long flight to race in seven of POWRi’s nine seasons and has entered 18 events. He’s won in six of his last seven starts.

The Midgets were co-sanctioned by Badger and had 47 entries at Lincoln. The multi-time New Zealand and Australian Midget champion started on pole and streaked away from a strong field of 23 starters on the start and two restarts. His lead was never threatened in his Bill Buckley-owned BSL Racing Breka-Essingler, which was shipped from New Zealand. Pickens is also working with his regular crew.

“What an awesome car,” Pickens said. “I have to thank my team for giving me a bullet race car. On the restarts, I pushed away from those guys for a couple of laps and then tried not to make mistakes. The lapped traffic was hard to clear because I wasn’t lapping slow guys.”

Pickens ran the top throughout. The race began with 22 green-flag laps. Darren Hagen was running second for the restarts on laps 23 and 27 and he finished sixth following a wild scramble behind Pickens in the last four laps.

Andrew Felker, the 2012 POWRi National Midget champion from Carl Junction, Mo., made a spectacular pass following the final restart to move up to and finish second, overtaking Hagen and Tyler Thomas with a slide job in turns three and four with his Fontana-powered Spike.

“I was able to get under Darren and Tyler in turn two and got a run down the back straight on both,” Felker said. “I was able to complete a slide job on them both in turns three and four.”

Chris Bell went from 10th to third in the final four laps in Keith Kunz Motorsports’ Toyota-powered Bullet.

“I was way back and at the end, I decided to run the bottom and stayed there,” Bell explained. “I’m really happy, ecstatic. I was stuck around a pack of slower cars for most of the race and got caught racing them. There were cars on the bottom and cars on top and no room to pass.”

Thomas of Collinsville, Okla., finished fourth and Zach Daum of Pocahontas, Ill., was fifth.

It was Benson’s second POWRi Micro victory. The 29-year-old from Concordia, Mo., has been a part-time entrant in the series, but is making a determined effort to run for the championship this season. He was a season-best third on Thursday in the Speed Week opener at Jacksonville and was fourth at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville, Ill., and seventh at Macon (Ill.) Speedway earlier this season.

Benson started third, behind polesitter Aaron Andruskevitch of Riverton, Ill., and moved into second on the opening lap. He passed Andruskevitch on the 11th of 20 laps.

“The middle (groove) was starting to slick off and I found a wet spot down the track that nobody had run and it allowed me to pass Aaron,” Benson said. “It feels good to win again.”

Cale Thomas of Fairland, Ind., finished second and Andruskevitch was third.

POWRi’s inaugural Speed Week continues tonight (Saturday) at Macon (Ill.) Speedway and concludes Sunday at Vermillion County Speedway in Danville, Ill.

POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature results (30 laps): 1. Michael Pickens, 2. Andrew Felker, 3. Chris Bell, 4. Tyler Thomas, 5. Zach Daum, 6. Darren Hagen, 7. Tanner Thorson, 8. Casey Shuman, 9. Rico Abreu, 10. Jerry Coons Jr., 11. Dereck King, 12. Danny Stratton, 13. Nick Knepper, 14. Garrett Aitken, 15. Brad Mosen, 16. Daniel Adler, 17. Austin Brown, 18. Jake Blackhurst, 19. Terry Babb, 20. Ryan Criswell, 21. Justin Peck, 22. Brad Kuhn, 23. Tim Siner.

POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature results (20 laps): 1. Nathan Benson, 2. Cale Thomas, 3. Aaron Andruskevitch, 4. Chris Openshaw, 5. James Morris, 6. Jeremy Camp, 7. Max Pozsgai, 9. Jake Neuman, 10. Jason Harms, 11. Shelby Bosie, 12. Dereck King, 13. Mike Dicely, 14. Chris Ohl, 15. Ayrton Gennetten, 16. Corey Nelson, 17. Steve Finn, 18. Derek Schuett, 19. Jeff Beasley, 20. Braden Fickas, 21. Joe B. Miller, 22. Devin Feger, 23. Kyle Schuett.

For more information, go to www.POWRi.com.

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