Baker wins Bettenhausen 100 at Grundy
Recap and photos by Stan Kalwasinski
September 17, 2016
Morris, Ill.-Ricky Baker, of Plainfield, was up to the
challenge and challenges there were as Baker won the Tony Bettenhausen 100 Classic late model stock car special at
Grundy County Speedway Saturday night.
54-year tradition at Indiana's Illiana Motor Speedway until
the raceway was shuttered this year, the annual Chicagoland,
late-season, event was held at Grundy for the first time. The
31-year-old Baker, a former two-time late model Grundy
champion, was challenged hard by this year's Grundy champ
Anthony Danta during the final 25 laps or so of the
$5,000-to-win 100-lap chase.
field of 27 started the race at the third-of-a-mile paved
oval with DJ Weltmeyer, coming from his front row pole
starting spot to lead the first 22 circuits. Baker,
who started third in the field, moved by Weltmeyer for the
lead on lap 23 with the first of nine yellow flag caution
periods coming about shortly thereafter as Michigan's Brian
Campbell got together with Paul Shafer Jr., sending Campbell
spinning between turns three and four. The
front end of Campbell's got hit hard sending the former
two-time Bettenhausen race winner to the pits and out of the
During the caution, Weltmeyer, suffering from a broken
driveshaft, stopped on the track with four-time Bettenhausen
race winner Eddie Hoffman suffering mechanical issues and
dropping out with only 24 laps complete.
Baker in his Rod Baker Ford Fusion leading the way, the
numerous caution periods set up various combinations of
double-file restarts when the race returned to green flag
worked his way to second just passed the 25-lap mark and
chased Baker most of way. At
50 laps, it was Baker and Danta followed by fastest
qualifier Andy Jones, Shafer, two-time Bettenhausen race
winner Boris Jurkovic and Billy Knippenberg.
race wound down to the last two-dozen laps or so, Danta
began to press Baker for the top spot with Danta working the
inside groove with Baker still holding onto the lead even as
Danta moved alongside Baker's leading No. 52. Baker
kept the lead, sometimes using the outside groove as Danta
tried to squeeze inside.
Baker/Danta battle continued until the last yellow flag flew
with four laps to go as a spinning car slowed the action. Right
after the caution light flashed, Danta pulled off the track
and into the pits with a broken rear differential.
final four circuits saw Baker keep Jones behind him with
Baker taking the checkered flag with a 0.227-second margin. Finishing
behind Baker and Jones were Jurkovic, Knippenberg, Shafer
and Michigan's Johnny VanDoorn, who came back from several
pit stops to salvage a sixth-place finish.
some reason, the car had good forward drive on top,'' said
Baker after his victory. ''I
really didn't want to be up there (in the outside groove). My
car was good at the beginning and then it got real tight. The
car just wouldn't turn after all those restarts.
just have to thank Anthony (Danta) for driving me clean. He
could have gotten me a couple of times. I
was driving pretty defensively and I don't like doing that,
but it was for the lead of the Bettenhausen (race) and you
got to do what you got to do.''
Danta, who won four feature races during the regular season
on his way to his first career Grundy title, suffered
another tough defeat in a Bettenhausen race.
(Baker) was giving me the (inside) lane when I was showing
my nose (inside),'' said Danta. ''I
was trying to get by him clean. We
touched a little bit and ran hard. When
the yellow flag came out, something in the rear end broke. The
motor was running, but there was not drivetrain to make it
Support races saw Lamont Critchett win the 30-lap
Bettenhausen Classic for midgets over Scott Koerner and
Jordan Caskey. Kyle
Royster made a last-lap pass to claim top honors in the
20-lap four-cylinder division main event, besting Scott
Ingram and Jacob Theissen.
Ricky Baker, Andy Jones, Boris Jurkovic, Billy Knippenberg,
Paul Shafer Jr., Johnny VanDoorn, Joe Vinachi, Austin Kunert,
Nathan Bertino, Garrett Schwartz, Scott Dunning, John
Nutley, Tom Schnabel, Kevin Anderson, Anthony Danta, Rich
Dearborn, Steve Seligman, Brandon Clubb, Jim Weber, Scott
Koerner, Jamie Wallace, Mike White, Scott Tomasik, Larry
Schuler, Eddie Hoffman, DJ Weltmeyer, Brian Campbell.
Ricky Baker and his No. 52 Ford Fusion on their way to
winning the 55th annual Tony Bettenhausen 100 Classic at the
Grundy County Speedway
in Morris, Ill., on Saturday night. Previously,
the event was a 54-year tradition at the now-shuttered
Illiana Motor Speedway.
Ricky Baker poses for a victory photo with his wife,
Angelica, and daughter, Emersyn,
along with his parents Rick and Barb Baker on the left.
Ricky Baker (52) rolls inside of DJ Weltmeyer for the lead
during the Bettenhausen 100.
Ricky Baker (52) feels the pressure from Anthony Danta (51)
as the Bettenhausen 100 lapper winds down.
Former Bettenhausen race winner Boris Jurkovic (99) races
inside Johnny VanDoorn (71). Jurkovic
came home third in the 100-lap chase.
Fastest qualifier Andy Jones (11) gets inside of Billy
Knippenberg (01). Jones
came home in third place with Knippenberg grabbing fourth.
A two-time Bettenhausen race winner - Michigan's Brian
Campbell works the low line inside of Andy Jones (11) during
the early stages
of the 100-lap contest. Campbell
got involved in an early race accident and finished last (27th).
DJ Weltmeyer and his fresh No. 16 led the early laps of the
Paul Shafer Jr. (7) and Bill Knippenberg (01) in
finished fifth with Knippenberg fourth.
Podium finishers in the 30-lap Bettenhausen Classic for
midgets included (from left to right): Jordan Caskey, who
Scott Koerner, who came home second, and race winner Lamont Critchett.
Lamont Critchett receives the Heroes West trophy for his
winning efforts from Roger Bettenhausen.
Lamont Critchett and his No. 14 were fast timers during
Four cylinder feature action finds Ricky Wilson (57) and
Bryce Leake (48) getting tangled up while Michael Tobuch
steers clear from the fracas.
Kyle Royster (51) works his way by JacobTheissen (46).
Four-cylinder division feature winner Kyle Royster enjoys a
victory photo with his dad, Rick.
Safety workers try to figure out how to get Zack Orts' No.
31 back on all four wheels while Orts (left) surveys the