LIMA - Limaland Motorsports Park concluded its 16th season under the ownership and operation of the University of Northwestern Ohio by crowning track champions in all three racing divisions and the touring K & L Ready Mix NRA Sprint Invaders. Ideal weather conditions greeted another huge crowd at the pristine facility on Dutch Hollow Rd and the racing action did not disappoint.
The evening's features began with a stacked field of cars for the sprint cars. Veteran car owner Ron Hammons fielded a second entry on this night with Pennsylvania star Tim Schaffer competing alongside teammate J.R. Stewart, who began with the point's lead and ultimately ended the night as the track champion.
Schaffer started on the pole for the 25-lap showdown with 2012 track champ Hud Horton to his outside on the front row. Horton, who missed a few starts at mid-season, was very fast and roared to the front through the opening laps. Schaffer executed a perfect slide job pass through turn two and took over the lead position on lap nine.
A series of dramatic spills saw eventual NRA champ Butch Schroeder and Horton become eliminated, with Schaffer left to hold off young guns Sheldon Haudenschild, Dallas Hewitt and veterans Darren Long and Phil Gressman. Although the action was dramatic for spectators, no one was able to get around the experienced Schaffer and the nationally prominent sprint car driver was able to post his first-ever win at the track.
"I had a great starting spot," admitted Schaffer afterwards. "Ron Hammons (car owner) gives me a great race car and when you combine the two, it makes for great fun. To be here on the front straight for a first time is just great!"
J.R. Stewart of Bellefontaine, Ohio, posted a seventh place finish and that was enough to reward him with his fourth Elwer Fence sprint car track championship. It added to previous titles in 2008, '09, '10. Stewart accomplished the point's crown without winning a feature race during the season. "Been a wild season for us to wind up as track champion," said the soft spoken Stewart. "Hats off to Ron (Hammons) and my crew chief Zach Swisher. He is the hardest working man in the pits."
Leipsic, Ohio, racer Butch Schroeder finished 18th, but still held onto the point's championship in winning the touring NRA crown. He won the title without capturing a feature win during this 2013 season. "I'm thankful to my wife, crew, owners and sponsors. It is great fun to race here (Limaland) and to race with these NRA guys," said Schroeder.
The 20-lap K & N Modified feature would determine if either Todd Sherman or UNOH Racer Kody Weisner would reign as champion for 2013. Pole starter Matt Westfall was intent on adding to his earlier conquest from June 14 of this season. He blasted to the front at the start and at times seemed to stretch out his advantage. Weisner, starting on the outside of the front row, gave chase to Westfall, but was unable to complete a pass for the lead. Westfall was impressive as he navigated through lapped traffic and just a pair of caution flags, to post his second win of the season.
"When you get into lapped cars and you're running at the top, you start pulling slide jobs and you're not sure if anybody is there or not," explained the Troy, Ohio competitor. "This is the best season I've ever had and I can only thank all of my crew."
Indiana ace Todd Sherman finished fifth and was crowned 2013 Modified track champion for a fifth time. "Kody (Weisner) was up on the wheel all year long and I know he was trying to win this one," said Sherman. "I was just trying to stay out of trouble and not really push the issue. It's awesome to win another title. We really benefit from not having failures with our equipment." Sherman added to previous championships won in 2004, 10, 11 and 2012.
The 15-lap Budweiser Thunderstocks feature was another opportunity for point's leader Tony Anderson to get into the winner's circle for a first time this season. Jeff Koz and Shawn Valenti had dominated the division with four wins each heading into the season final event. Unfortunately for all three drivers, Jeff Babcock, the all-time leading winner in the division, was also entered and he was his usual self.
Findlay's Tim Cole led the first circuit around the famed ¼-mile oval, and then Babcock made a powerful pass to the outside. Valenti and Koz made attempts to catch Babcock, but they proved futile as the Wayne, Ohio veteran went on to post the 42nd win of his career at the track Cole finished fourth behind Valenti and Koz, with Tony Anderson taking the fifth position and with it his eighth track championship.
"My throttle stuck a bit and I was having to pull up to get it unstuck," said Babcock from the front straight. Meanwhile Tony Anderson was humble with his track title. "I know we didn't put it into the winner's circle this, but this crew changed engines so many times and with other things, I can't thank them enough."
The night of racing also saw the 15th edition of the King of Quarter Mile ten-lap contests. They matched all feature winners throughout the season for a total of $6,000 in additional prize money.
Kody Weisner of Muskegon, Michigan, a UNOH Racer, won the $2,000 Modified King race.
Randy Hannagan, who won five features at the track during the season, but failed to win either the track sprint car or NRA title, salvaged the night after outlasting Jared Horstman to win the $3,000 Sprints King crown.
Veteran Jeff Babcock, the winningest driver in Limaland stock car history added to his feature win from earlier in the evening to take the $1,000 Thunderstocks King race.
The 2013 racing season wraps up in it's entirety with the Limaland Motorsports Park Awards Banquet on October 19 at the UNOH Event Center.
All the latest news and information about America's premier quarter-mile dirt track, can be found at www.limaland.com. You can also find 2013 Limaland Motorsports Park on Facebook and Twitter.