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Grundy County Speedway, Morris, Ill. 
September 4, 2016
 
Danta wins Schuler Memorial and Grundy title
By Stan Kalwasinski
Photos by Stan Kalwasinski

 

 
Anthony Danta maintains the lead during his run to victory in Sunday night's Lee Schuler Memorial 61-lap late model special
 at Grundy County Speedway.  With the win, Danta captured season track championship honors at the Illinois raceway.

 

Morris, Ill.-It was a night that Anthony Danta will long remember.  The 30-year-old Orland Park resident was in a tight points battle for the late model track championship at the Grundy County Speedway and the final points race of the season - the Lee Schuler Memorial race was to be his final chance to either win or lose his first Grundy title.
 
Danta and his D&B Racing crew put the whole package together Sunday night during the track's 40th annual Night of Features, capturing for the first time the special 61-lap Schuler race with a strong performance and, in the process, claiming the late model track championship at the third-of-a-mile paved oval.  Danta was last year's champion at the now-closed Illiana Motor Speedway in Schererville, Ind.
 
Danta, the night's second fastest qualifier among a field of 22 late models, charged around the outside of leader and nearest points competitor, Larry Schuler, after a green flag restart with just over 40 laps to go.   Danta and his Chevy No. 51 went on to take the checkered flag with about a half-straightaway margin over a closing Ricky Baker at the checkered flag.  Baker, a former two-time Grundy titlist, came back from an early race tangle to keep Danta from strolling away from the rest of field.
 
At the finish, Danta, scoring his fourth feature win of the year, had a 1.345-second advantage over Baker with four-time track champion Eddie Hoffman in third, followed by fastest qualifier Andy Jones and Billy Knippenberg.  Joe Vinachi, Schuler, John Nutley, Brandon Clubb and Nathan Bertino rounded out the top ten.
 
''This is the biggest race I've ever won and it feels pretty good,'' said Danta after his victory.  ''The plan was to keep it safe tonight, but then a few yellow (flags) came out.  I got into a position that I had to go for it (the win).  It just worked out.  Everything went my way.  Everyone says you have to get all the right breaks and I got them all today. 
 
''The first few laps after a green (flag) are the most important.  My car is usually the best then.  I was able to get around Schuler and I was able to get a big enough lead and then just pace myself and get the win.  When I got out with about a three or four car length lead, I wanted a little bigger of a gap.  With about 10 laps to go, my car started to get pretty loose off (the turns).  I wanted to be able to take it easy and ride to the finish.  I was trying to make laps and be smooth and not over drive it.''
 
Last year's division champion Matt Clemens won the 40-lap Mid American Sportsman feature over Ron Vandermeir Jr. who claimed track championship honors.  Clemens posted his second win of the season with a 0.220-second advantage over Vandermeir with Cody Clubb, fastest qualifier Kevin Gentile and Jake Bradley the rest of the top five.
 
Rolling to his sixth feature won of the year, John Senerchia secured track championship honors in the Street Stock division.  Senerchia, the track's 2013 division champ, got by leader Seth Blommaert with a few laps to go to score the win in the 35-lap chase.  Chad Proctor, Zach Sontag and Cheryl Hryn rounded out the top five.
 
Sixteen-year-old Michael Tobuch won his sixth feature win of 2016 in the four-cylinder division and nailed down the class track championship.  Tobuch defeated Trevor Starek and Bryce Leake.
 
For the second time in as many nights, Lamont Critchett captured the Illini Racing Series midget feature.  Critchett won the 25-lap headliner ahead of Patrick Bruns, Austin Smith, Erica Ensor, Jordan Caskey and Scott Koerner. 
 
Troy Hoffman won the 20-lap Classic Modified feature with Greg Meiste winning the 20-lap main event for Allison Legacy cars and Trevor Addams taking top honors in the 20-lap Mini Cup feature.


Anthony Danta poses in victory circle after he won the Lee Schuler Memorial 61-lap late model stock car special at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill., Sunday night.  With the victory, his fourth of the season,
 Danta wrapped up the late model season track championship at the third-of-a-mile paved oval.


Race winner Anthony Danta (right) poses with his crew, including his Dad, Frank (second from the left).


Holding the checkered flag, Anthony Danta completes his victory lap around the Grundy oval
 after winning the Lee Schuler Memorial 61 lapper.


Race leader Larry Schuler (30) tries to hold off the outside groove charge by Anthony Danta for the lead and the eventual victory. 


After an early race tangle, Ricky Baker (52) charges through the field on his way to a second place finish. 
 
Here Baker, a former two-time Grundy champion, passes James Gregait.


Fastest qualifier Andy Jones (11) battles with Eddie Hoffman during the early stages of the Schuler Memorial race. 
 
Jones came home fourth at the finish with Hoffman taking third.


Brian Tedeschi (29) and Mike White (00) are done for the night after this crash.


With the checkered flag in hand, Matt Clemens celebrates the moment after winning the 40-lap feature race for Mid American Sportsman competitors.  It was feature win number two this season for Clemens, who was last year's Mid American division champion at Grundy.


Matt Clemens keeps his No. 99 in the lead.


Ron Vandermeir Jr. and his fast No. 3 were the Mid American Sportsman division champions at Grundy this year.  Vandermeir, who won seven feature races during the season, is the grandson of Chicago stock car ''old timer'' Jim Vandermeir, who use to race at the old O'Hare Stadium.


Cody Clubb and his No. 23 turned in a strong third-place finishing  performance in the 40-lap Mid American chase.


Jeremy Clubb (46) and Aaron Shelton (00) race side by side during the opening laps of the Mid American feature.


A familiar site at Grundy this season, John Senerchia with the checkered flag after winning a Street Stock feature.  Senerchia won Sunday's 35 lap
 main event and
 claimed overall division track championship honors.
  The championship is Senerchia's second Street Stock title at Grundy.


John Senerchia (77) makes a late-race pass on Seth Blommaert , grabbing the lead in the Street Stock feature.


Last year's Street Stock division champion, Christy Penrod (42) battles Craig Matteson during the 35-lap feature.


Michael Tobuch and his Dad, Mike, celebrate a feature race victory and championship honors in the four-cylinder division.
  
Young Tobuch won six features during the season.


Dan Schmeissing (12) works inside Matt Chester (73) during the four-cylinder feature.  Schmeissing looked to be on his way
 to his third career four cylinder title at Grundy until he ''broke out'' in time from his posted qualifying lap.


Lamont Critchett raises his arms in victory after he won his second in as many nights
 Illini Racing Series feature race at Grundy.


The scene looks familiar - Lamont Critchett and his No. 14 on their way to victory in open-wheel midget action at Grundy.


Greg Meiste (18) battles Jordan Caskey (11) during the Allison Legacy feature.


Troy Hoffman (97) holds the inside groove on his way to victory in the 20-lap Classic Modified feature.


Greg Meiste poses with the checkered flag after winning the 20-lap feature for Allison Legacy cars.  The win was Meiste's first-career victory.


Troy Hoffman of Grand Rapids, Mich., grabbed top honors in the 20-lap main event for Classic Modified competitors.


Trevor Addams guides his No. 2 to victory.


Nicknamed ''The Ice Cube,'' 14-year-old Trevor Addams made it two victories in two nights of racing
 at Grundy as he won the 20-lap Mini Cup feature.


Covering the local auto racing scene since 1976, Tony Baranek was presented the Frank Welch Award of Excellence
 for his many years of reporting Grundy County Speedway racing action for the Daily Southtown newspaper.