Zach Daum will be going for a single-season record-tying fourth straight victory Friday in the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series in the Herb Barlow Memorial at Jacksonville (Ill.) Speedway. The quarter-mile track has been far from his favorite this season.
The POWRi Midget championship leader finished a season-worst 16th in the opener on April 26 and second-worst 15th on June 6. It was part of a slow start, three top-fives in the initial eight features, for the 22-year-old from Pocahontas, Ill., but has charged in his Toyota-powered Eagle to the top of the points with four wins, four runner-ups and 11 top-fives in the past 15 events.
Daum leads Andrew Felker, the 2012 POWRi National Midget champion, by 240 points, 3,500-3,260, with eight events remaining. Following Jacksonville, the series races Saturday at Spoon River Speedway in Canton, Ill., in the Tom Knowles Memorial.
“We’ve been horrible at Jacksonville this year, but we’ve really got things rolling now, everything is clicking,” Daum said. “I feel like I’m driving a lot smarter, not putting myself in the position to crash. I think winning four in a row would be cool, definitely. It would be something to hang our hat on and be proud of doing.
“I didn’t think about winning four features before this season started and we’ve got a chance at four straight. I hope we can do it.”
Daum would become the second driver to win four in a row in a single season, joining three-time POWRi National Midget champion Brad Loyet, who did it in 2008. New Zealand and Australian national Midget champion Michael Pickens holds the record for consecutive starts with five, two in 2011 and 2012 and one this season..
Felker finished second in the first stop and ninth in the second at Jacksonville. The 20-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., went through a difficult period of failing to start three features in five events because of mechanical problems on the grid, but has been rebuilding momentum with six straight top-eights including a second to Daum at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, Wis., on Aug. 31.
“We have a little more than a one event lead in the points,” Daum said. “We have to keep doing what we’ve been doing. I’m not going to feel good about the championship until the end of the year. It’s racing and anything can happen. We need to run every lap like it’s the last lap.
“Andrew is a friend and I like racing with him. He’s a guy you can trust not to crash you. I hope he can keep it going in the direction he’s been going and we can race for the championship all the way to the end. That’s the way it should be.”
The POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series races its 14th event at Jacksonville. Fifteen-year-old Cale Thomas of Fairland, Ind., has 140-point lead (2,140-2000) over Nathan Benson of Concordia, Mo., with five events remaining. Jeremy Camp of Blue Mound, Ill., the 2010 POWRi Micro champion, is third with 1,725.
Thomas has four wins this season and Benson three. At Jacksonville, Benson was third and Thomas fourth on June 6 and Benson was 20th and Thomas 21st on April 26. Joe B. Miller of Millersville, Mo., the 2012 POWRi Micro champion who is running a partial season, also has three wins this season.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series top-10 points standings (after 23 of 31 events): 1. Zach Daum 3,500, 2. Andrew Felker 3,260, 3. Brad Kuhn 2,270, 4. Jake Blackhurst 2,265, 5. Tyler Thomas 2,135, 6. Austin Brown 1,965; 7. Parker Price-Miller 1,865, 8. Garrett Aitken 1,590; 9. Terry Babb 1,065, 10. Chett Gehrke 1,040.
POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget Series feature winners: Jacksonville, Ill.—Shane Cockrum; Belleville, Ill.—Chris Bell; Macon, Ill.—Brady Bacon; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Michael Pickens; Jacksonville, Ill.—Kyle Larson; Lincoln, Ill.—Michael Pickens; Macon, Ill.—Andrew Felker; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Rico Abreu; Bloomington, Ind.—Zach Daum; Belleville, Ill.—Darren Hagen; Belleville, Ill.—Bryan Clauson; Wilmot, Wis.—Brad Kuhn; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Darren Hagen; Pontoon Beach Ill.—Terry Babb; Cameron, Mo.—Austin Brown; Grain Valley, Mo.—Zach Daum; Belleville, Ill.—Bryan Clauson; Lincoln, Ill.—Rico Abreu; Macon, Ill.—Chris Bell; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Bryan Clauson; Wayne City, Ill.—Zach Daum; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Zach Daum; Sun Prairie, Wis.—Zach Daum.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series top-10 points standings (after 13 of 18 events): 1. Cale Thomas 2,140, 2. Nathan Benson 2,000, 3. Jeremy Camp 1,725, 4. Joe B. Miller 1,550, 5. Aaron Andruskevitch 1,455, 6. Jake Neuman 1,425, 7. Jason Harms 1,220, 8. Dereck King 1,055, 9. Max Pozsgai 1,035, 10. Kyle Schuett 985.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature winners: Jacksonville, Ill.—Dereck King; Belleville, Ill.—Joe B. Miller; Macon, Ill.—Dereck King; Jacksonville, Ill.—Mike Dicely; Lincoln, Ill.—Nathan Benson; Macon, Ill.—Cale Thomas; Bloomington, Ind.—Nathan Benson; Belleville, Ill.—Joe B. Miller; Belleville, Ill.—Cale Thomas; Belleville, Ill.—Cale Thomas; Belleville, Ill.—Nathan Benson; Lincoln, Ill.—Joe B. Miller; Macon, Ill.—Cale Thomas.
For more information, go to www.POWRi.com.