The Cabin Fever 100 Presented by JEGS.com kicked off fourth season of short track stock car racing for the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance. The premier template bodied / crate motored touring series in the country made their way to the fast 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked paved oval of Springport Motor Speedway, located north of Jackson and south of Lansing in Springport, Michigan. A sunny and breezy afternoon greeted the great crowd on Sunday, May 4th and they were treated to a thrilling day of racing.
A strong 26-car starting field, some of the brightest stars in the country representing seven different states and one Canadian province, would give the fans of southern Michigan a thrilling show and they also witnessed a little bit of history in the process. At the end of the century distance event, 15-year-old J.J. Haley, a contender for the Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year title chase, took the lead from Dan Leeck on lap 78 and from there, the Winamac, Indiana teenager fought off Leeck and the rest of the field for his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour victory and became the first rookie driver in series history to start a season with a win.
"What a great weekend. This is so awesome. I wished we would've qualified better though. I told the team that we'd make it up in the race," The elated Hoosier State teenager stated in victory lane after climbing out of his #99 Braun Ability / Braun Auto Group / Chevrolet to a loud ovation by the fans. "The car was great all weekend long. I just made a mistake in qualifying so we had to start pretty far back in the field. I knew I just had to be patient and pass cars when I had the chance. I can't thank everyone enough. This is just great." He added.
16-year-old Cole Rouse, a contender for the Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year title, and Dan Leeck brought the stout field of cars to Chief Starter, Brian Duncan's green flag and after a complete restart, it would be Leeck edging Rouse heading into the first corner to grab the early lead. After a caution flag on lap seven, Dominique Van Wieringen, the 2012 Track Champion in the tracks Outlaw Super Late Models division, would restart next to Leeck and on the following green flag circuit, the 2013 Rookie of the Year Runner-Up would drive around Leeck to take over the top spot.
Van Wieringen would then proceed to set a torrid pace around the 3/8s mile building up her lead while J.J. Haley, who started 18th had already begun to methodically work his way through the field picking cars off one by one. At the halfway point, Van Wieringen earned the D.T.S. Drive Train Specialists Halfway Leader Award. By then, Haley would be in the top five. In the meantime, Leeck would lose second place to Trevor Berry, who was making his full fended stock car racing debut, worked his way past Leeck and the open-wheeled graduate set his sights on Van Wieringen.
Unfortunately for Berry on lap 62 an oil filter bypass blew out and he would lay oil down heading into turns three and four ending an otherwise impressive debut. After the red flag and ensuing cleanup, the next restart would see Leeck able to inch out ahead of Van Wieringen to reclaim the lead on lap 63. He brought Haley with him and the battle was on for the top spot. Haley would make the winning pass on lap 78 for the point, earning the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award and despite several late restarts, would cross the stripe first to earn his first career JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour triumph in only his third career start.
"This is a great way to start the point's season. We really want the Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie title," Haley continued amidst post-race celebrations around him. "We know now that we can also contend for the overall championship too. This is going to be fun and busy season." He ended. In addition to his win, Haley earned a slew of contingency awards in addition to the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award including the Five Star Racecar Bodies Hard-Charger Award as he advanced 17 positions from his 18th starting spot to earn the victory. He also won the first Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award and the Howe Racing Enterprises Rookie of the Race Award.
Leeck in his #12 Mr. Asphalt / Chevrolet started off the 2014 racing season in a big way by scoring a career high finish of second after leading on two occasions for a total of 22 laps. The 24-year-old, who finished third in the final 2013 points standings, collected the FLUIDYNE High Performance Cool Under Pressure Award for never straying outside of the top three the entire race. He also picked up the VDL Fuel Systems Hot Lap of the Race Award for turning in the fastest overall lap of the event.
Rounding out the podium finishers and ironically making his JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour debut was veteran Steve Dorer in his #10 Racecar Engineering / Chevrolet. The 44-year-old, who originally resided just down the road from Springport in Coldwater, Michigan but now calls Lakeland, Florida home, started and finished third and never fell outside of the top five throughout the event. Dorer, who will return to the Great Lakes State for the summer starting in June, will make select appearances in 2014 in both JEGS/CRA and the ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS.
Eric Lee, who earlier in the afternoon won his first career Boyne Machine Company Fast Qualifier Award, briefly fell outside of the top 10. But the 38-year-old Outlaw Super Late Models standout fought his way back to a career high fourth. The driver of the #5 Action Drywall / Ford also left Springport with the early season points lead thanks to his bonus points for fast time. Josh Nelms completed the top five in his #0 LisaThomasSalon.com / Ford. After spinning on lap 28 due to a right rear flat tire, the 38-year-old from Lockport, Illinois, who started 16th and worked his way up into the top 10, came back through the pack to a top five and earning the Hedman Hedders Husler Award for his efforts.
16-year-old Corey Deuser, the 2013 Howie Lettow Memorial Rookie of the Year, finished sixth place over 19-year-old Dalton Armstrong. The second highest finishing 2014 rookie contender who also collected the second Great Lakes Tire / Hoosier Racing Tires Performance Award for his 20th to seventh place run. Van Wieringen fought her way back to an eighth place finish after a spin with 26 laps to go while battling for second as David McManus also recovered from a late race spin to finish ninth. A third freshman, 16-year-old Tristan Van Wieringen, Dominique's younger brother, who won the Last Chance Race to transfer in, started 23rd and finished off the top 10 in his full-fendered stock car racing debut.
Earlier in the afternoon in Boyne Machine Company Qualifying, Eric Lee bested the 32-car field on the property with a 15.241 which measures out to 88.577mph. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Track Record at Springport Motor Speedway is a 15.109 which was set by 2012 Series Champion, Daniel Hemric back on July 1, 2012. His lap equaled out to an average speed of 89.351mph. In the 15-Lap Last Chance Race, T. Van Wieringen scored the win with a last lap pass on veteran Tommy Cook who also transferred in. Jerrod Foley, 16-year-old Jaxson Jacobs, older brother Marc Jacobs and 15-year-old Grant Quinlan were also added to the field based off of the 2013 JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Owners Points Provisionals.
The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour Presented by Chevrolet Performance will make the farthest trip west of the 2014 racing season for the richest paying race of the year. The immaculate 3/8s (0.375) mile semi-banked paved oval of Lebanon I-44 Speedway, located southwest of St. Louis in Lebanon, Missouri serves as hosts on Saturday, May 17th for the 2nd Annual Mercy Masters of the Pros 144 Presented by JEGS.com. In the series' only other appearance in 2013, now NASCAR Nationwide Series standout, Chase Elliott took home the green jacket after scoring the thrilling victory. There is also a Practice Day schedule for Friday, May 16th from 4:00-8:00p.m., Central Time.
For more information about all four touring series’ within Champion Racing Association Powered by JEGS from throughout the 2014 racing season, go to the series website at: www.cra-racing.com You can also follow CRA on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/ChampionRacingAssociation and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CRAracing Finally for more information about Lebanon I-44 Speedway, the host facility for the second points race of the year within the fourth season of JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour racing, go to the track website at: www.i44speedway.net