SLICK RICK IS QUICK: Eckert scrubs the field for Plymouth Speedway Victory
By: World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series PR Coordinator Mike Warren, with UMP Modifieds and Front Wheel Drives recap by Plymouth Motor Speedway Media Representative Anita Goodan
PLYMOUTH, IN- Sometimes the best defense, is a good offense. That’s the approach Rick Eckert used to win Saturday’s Morton Buildings Feature at Plymouth Speedway.
Eckert led all 40-laps of the race, but he didn’t dominate. The York, PA driver had to think quickly in lap traffic while holding off challenges from Frank Heckenast, Jr.
Heckenast tried crossing Eckert over several times on the back straightaway but didn’t have the momentum he needed after charging to the bottom off Turn 2.
Heckenast made several attempts to steal the top spot, but Eckert was focused on getting through traffic ahead of him.
“It’s awesome to go almost all the way green, but traffic is tough,” Eckert said. “One time I saw a nose and I wasn’t sure if it was [Heckenast] or a lap car, but it didn’t matter anyway because I was going [to the top.]
“I was just trying to chase traction and chase where there was a hole. I never raced behind me; I was on offense the whole time trying to get through the traffic.”
Saturday’s win is Eckert’s 38th career World of Outlaws Victory. “Scrub” also swept the night setting Slick Woody’s Quick Time and winning his Drydene Heat Race.
Heckenast was impressed with how well Eckert moved through traffic.
“[Eckert] drove a perfect race, for dodging what he had to dodge,” Heckenast said. “I had about 15 shots at him, but not really because of lap traffic. It was just one of those things that was teasing you like a steak out there on a string.”
The only regret for the Frankfort, IL driver, was not being aggressive enough early in the race.
“The only thing I’m upset about is maybe I could’ve pushed a little bit harder the first five or 10 laps when me and [Eckert] were side-by-side,” Heckenast said.
Tyler Bruening, the rookie of the race, crossed the line third. The Decorah, IA driver stayed on the bottom for most of the race, keeping Eckert and Heckenast in his sight.
“We made it interesting if nothing else,” Bruening said. “I don’t really know what we were missing, I think if we would’ve zigged instead of zagged in lap traffic it would’ve made it more interesting.”
Bruening leads the chase for Rookie of the Year—108 points ahead of Ryan Gustin, who finished fifth.
Three-time and defending champion Brandon Sheppard crossed the line fourth.
The reigning champion and New Berlin, IL driver extended his point lead for the second straight night. He’s 46 points ahead of Chris Madden, who finished 7th.
UP NEXT: The Most Powerful Late Models on the Planet travel to Stateline Speedway in Busti, NY on Thursday, June 17.
Morton Buildings Feature (40 Laps)-1. 0E-Rick Eckert [$10,000]; 2. 99JR-Frank Heckenast [$6,000]; 3. 16-Tyler Bruening [$3,500]; 4. 1-Brandon Sheppard [$2,800]; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin [$2,500]; 6. 157-Mike Marlar [$2,300]; 7. 44-Chris Madden [$2,200]; 8. 111V-Max Blair [$2,100]; 9. 28-Dennis Erb [$2,050]; 10. 7-Ricky Weiss [$2,000]; 11. 97-Cade Dillard [$1,600]; 12. 11-Gordy Gundaker [$1,400]; 13. 11T-Trevor Gundaker [$1,200]; 14. 7R-Kent Robinson [$1,100]; 15. 42-Chad Finley [$1,050]; 16. 99B-Boom Briggs [$1,000]; 17. 93-Pancho Lawler [$1,000]; 18. 1M-Mike Mataragas [$1,000]; 19. 79-Troy Worrick [$1,000]; 20. 21N-Logan Nickerson [$1,000]; 21. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain [$1,000]; 22. 21-Billy Moyer [$1,000] Hard Charger: 97-Cade Dillard[+8]
Qualifying –1. 0E-Rick Eckert, 13.652; 2. 16-Tyler Bruening, 13.7; 3. 1-Brandon Sheppard, 13.744; 4. 21-Billy Moyer, 13.768; 5. 19R-Ryan Gustin, 13.777; 6. 99JR-Frank Heckenast, 13.796; 7. 157-Mike Marlar, 13.838; 8. 1M-Mike Mataragas, 13.845; 9. 11T-Trevor Gundaker, 13.893; 10. 7R-Kent Robinson, 14.016; 11. 44-Chris Madden, 14.085; 12. 99B-Boom Briggs, 14.127; 13. 7-Ricky Weiss, 14.15; 14. 111V-Max Blair, 14.164; 15. 42-Chad Finley, 14.171; 16. 28-Dennis Erb, 14.172; 17. 20TC-Tristan Chamberlain, 14.208; 18. 11-Gordy Gundaker, 14.279; 19. 97-Cade Dillard, 14.372; 20. 93-Pancho Lawler, 14.471; 21. 79-Troy Worrick, 14.785; 22. 21N-Logan Nickerson, 14.842
The excitement did not stop after the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series race was over. The UMP Modified drivers took the field for a wild 25-lap feature.
Tony Anderson held the lead for a lot of the race, but a mid-race red flag put an end to his lead. He was ahead of second-place runner Garrett Jameson with Bobby Stremme challenging for the spot.
Then trouble came on lap 10 after Drew Charlson’s car got out of sorts going into turn three and collected Tim Sullivan’s car. Roger Cavness then came up on the pair and rolled his No. 11 over the top of Sullivan’s car and Cavness was upside down in turn three. There were no injuries in the incident.
The race resumed after a long red flag to carefully sift through the crash, where Anderson restarted in the lead with Jameson in second, and Stremme in third. It was not long before Stremme was able to get around Anderson on lap 12 for the lead. Dylan Woodling, who started sixth in the feature, snuck into the third position by lap 13. Woodling used the top groove in an effort to take on Anderson for the second spot, but was unable to get the track position in the closing laps. Bobby Stremme (South Bend, Indiana) was the winner with Tony Anderson (Lima, Ohio) in second and Dylan Woodling (Warsaw, Indiana) in third.
Stremme said, “Thank you to the fans! Hats off to the track crew that put in the effort to work on the track. It was great. They got it done. Thank you also to my family and friends. It’s been a while since I’ve been here and didn’t know if I still had it or not. It’s been tough. This is the best!”
Drivers in the Four Wheel Drives class were on their toes as several lead changes occurred during the race. Jacob Beard was the pole-sitter for the race and everything seemed to be going well for him, and then lost a tire coming out of turn four on lap 7. That moved Josh Lank, Jr. into the top spot, but he got into trouble on the next lap in turn two and left the race following the caution. The lead then went to Josh Lank whose car suffered a mechanical issue and had contact with Phillip McCord’s car which brought out a caution on lap 15. The contact did not slow down McCord who took over the lead and was able to fend off Dale Hayes, Jr. who battled him for the top spot for the last three laps of the 20-lap feature. McCord (Pierceton, Indiana) was able to keep the top spot at the finish line, but only by one-tenth of a second ahead of Dale Hayes, Jr. (Dayton, Indiana). Joseph Smith (Laketon, Indiana), who started ninth, kept his own line throughout the contest and was able to take the third place spot at the end of the feature.
“It was a hard battle early in the race, but luckily the leader broke,” said McCord who thanked the fans and everyone who works on his racecar following his feature win.
The 3rd Annual Charlie Poague Memorial, presented by ILVDIRT, is the next main event at Plymouth Motor Speedway June 11 and June 12 for the chance at a big prize purse! Test and tune on June 11 is for all classes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET and then racing is June 12 featuring Super Streets, UMP Modifieds, and Thunder Cars. The grandstands will open at 4 p.m., with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m. ET. Find race day information at www.plymouthspeedway.net.
Photos by I&S Photos
World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series (L to R): Tyler Bruening , Rick Eckert, Frank Heckenast, Jr.
UMP Modifieds (L to R) Dylan Woodling, Tony Anderson, Bobby Stremme
Front Wheel Drives (L to R) Phillip McCord, Dale Hayes, Jr., Joseph Smith