Gullion, Saathoff, Harker, Cronin, & Armstrong win at the Cracklin’ Classic

Gullion, Saathoff, Harker, Cronin, & Armstrong win at the Cracklin’ Classic

By Greg Soukup

It was warm and windy when Accelerated Graphx presented the Cracklin’ Classic at Eagle Raceway Saturday night. The fans were treated to some of the best racing so far this season, and the kids enjoyed a color run at intermission.

There were two incidents leading up the A Features, both in the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Cars. Nick Bryan’s car rolled in hot laps and Neil Nickolite flipped hard in the second sprint heat. Bryan was not seriously injured and was able to make repairs to his cars and roll out for the B Feature. Nickolite opted to be transported for observation by private vehicle.

Lap 1 of the Hoosier Tire IMCA Sport Modified Feature saw Roger Sluka loop his 5S in turn 1. After a lap was finally in the books, the 09RX of Randy Fox, Nick Beckman’s 22, Anthony Kobus’s 27 and the 18T of Cole Wayman led the field. Kobus moved to third on lap 3 and the next lap saw Shawn Harker’s 40 take over the fourth position. Harker advanced to third the next time around as Gunnar Pike put the 25 into fourth. Harker and Pike both kept advancing, taking second and third after 2 more laps. Harker took the lead with 7 to go. 2 more laps had gone by when Trent Roth took fourth in the 14T. Next, Pike moved up to second and was followed by Roth who moved to third with 2 to go. The final top 4 were  Harker, Pike, Roth and Kobus.

Saturday marked Harker’s third win in a row and fourth overall for the 2017 season after coming from the 10th starting spot. He said “The car is phenomenal right now, and the track was awesome; the crew does a great job here at Eagle. This is my favorite place to race, and I’ve raced all over the country. This right here is #1 on my list! I want to thank Scott Angel and his family with D-Sign Shop. They make this car look absolutely awesome. They take care of me, so I try to take care of them by keeping it looking good and keeping it up front where everybody can see it”. Harker’s sponsors include Speedway Motors, Speedway Shocks, Cole with Lakeside Landscape, Tex Cattle, Patriot Crane and Jet Racing.

Albert Kiihne lopped the 04 on the initials start of the Valentino’s IMCA Hobby Stock Feature. On the complete restart Troy Dowty led the top 4 in the 17T with Tyler Jackson’s 13T, the 62 of Justin Busboom and Cody Leifeld in the 24X. Busboom and Jackson bot passed Dowty on lap 2. There was a debris caution on lap 2. Dowty again took second on the restart. Roy Armstrong jumped to the third

spot in the 6R on lap 6. He moved to second on the next lap with Leifeld moving up to third and Jeff Ware putting the 83 into fourth. Jeff Watts passed Ware the next time around, making the 66 fourth. Watts advanced to third with 5 to go. Armstrong snagged the lead 2 laps later. The last change in the top 4 came with 2 to go when Ware again moved to fourth. The final top 4 were Armstrong, Busboom, Watts and Ware.

This marked 2 in a row for Armstrong. “I thought the track was really pretty good for the hot and windy conditions. Roger did what he could at intermission to try and make it wider, so for the most part with the conditions I thought it was really good. We had a really good time racing with Mr. Busboom. He’s a nice kid and we just got done chatting after the races about racing each other. I want to thank my girlfriend Jo and my sister Bonnie and my pit guy John” he stated. Armstrong’s sponsors include Hummer Contracting, NEAPCO and Schmidt Machine.

The first circuit of the Kaplan University IMCA Modified A Main saw Bob Ruisinger’s 7,  the 86 of Justin Wulf, Dustin Andersen’s 8A and the 19XX of Brandon Spanjer the top 4. Wulf passed Ruisinger for the lead on lap 3 with Andersen moving to second 2 laps later. Johnny Saathoff put the 96J into fourth on lap 7 before moving to third 3 laps later. Andersen snagged the lead the next time around with Clint Homan putt he the 27 into fourth. Wulf retook the lead with 6 to go, but the action slowed for debris on the track, moving him back to second. Wulf looped his racer in 3 & 4 with 3 laps left. That put the 21H of Shane Hiatt fourth. Hiatt moved up to third the next lap. The final lap saw Andersen spin in turns 2 and 4 but keep going. Unfortunately, the spin dropped him to the eight spot. Saathoff ended up with the win with Hiatt, Homan and Bob Zoubek’s 5S rounding out the top 4.

When asked about how long it had been since his last win there, Saathoff said “I actually think it’s been about 11 months since my last A Feature win at Eagle Raceway! I’ll take wins any way that I can get them; I’ll take a couple more next week! The track was pretty good. Roger has been doing a good job; I just need to get my car figured out a little better. Tonight it was a little closer, so we’ll keep working on it. We’re running an open motor that Speedway built for us and it’s been working out really well. It’s just driver error when we’re not doing very well. I want to thank Speedway Motors, Penner Insurance, Jet Racing, Northeast Auto,

I-70 Auto Auctions, Brian Clauson, Toobey’s Lumber, Schmidt’s Incorporated, Chase who does my wraps, Pat Deeke and Corner Tavern. I’ve got a lot of great sponsors who have been with me a long time. You know what? I’ve got sponsors who have been with me for so long that even though their businesses are shut down I still keep them on the car”.

The Mountain Dew Kick Start IMCA Sport Compact A had Melissa Cronin lead lap #1 in the 5M with Shawn Hein’s 5H, Erica Cronin in the 30 and Larry Cronin’s 70SS close behind. Hein took over the lead on lap 2 with Tim Horsham moving to fourth. Erica Cronin advanced to second the next lap. 1 more lap saw Larry Cronin jump up to third with Melissa Cronin falling to fourth. Horsham again moved to fourth with 10 to go. Spencer Pavey III passed Horsham the next time around. Larry Cronin passed Erica Cronin for second with 7 left, but gave the spot back the next circuit. Erica Cronin and Larry Cronin both passed Hein with 4 to go with Pavey also overtaking Hein for third the next lap as Larry Cronin took the lead. The first four to the checkers were Larry Cronin, Erica Cronin, Pavey and Cole Krichau who took fourth the final lap. In post-race tech Larry Cronin, Pavey III and Krichau were disqualified for lack of an inspection hole in the top of the transmission. That made Erica Cronin the winner with Hein second, Nick Lindblad’s 26 third and Horsham fourth.

“I thought my car was pretty fast in the heat. I just couldn’t go anywhere without hitting my brakes because the cars in front of me weren’t going anywhere. In the feature the track was super fast and I thought that I ran against Shawn really well. Then I saw my Dad and I said to myself “NO!”. Then when he got around me I got so upset. This wasn’t how I wanted to get a win, but I’ll take it. A huge thanks goes out to my parents for supplying me with a race car and a huge, HUGE thanks goes to my husband who spends all of his time working on my car. He does everything that makes it possible to do what I did today”. Erica’s sponsors include Moonlight Ranch and Larry’s Auto Recyclers.

The initial start of the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Car finale was called back when the 44 of Keith Dragoo jumped the start. Dragoo led the first official lap with Doug Lovegrove’s 1, the 100 of Clint Benson and Adam Gullion’s 91 following. Lap 2 saw Benson pass Lovegrove for second. Trevor Grossenbacher jumped up to third on lap 5 but the pass was negated when Ryan King did a 360 degree spin in turns 1

and 2 and the yellow caution lights were lit. Lap 6 saw Dragoo pull into the infield, putting Grossenbacher fourth. Gullion pulled a big slide job on Benson in turns 1 and 2 two laps later for the lead. Grossenbacher got past Lovegrove the next lap to take third. Tyler Drueke put the #12 into fourth on lap 14. Benson and Drueke made slight contact with 8 to go, dropping Benson to fourth. Shon Pointer’s 20P stopped in turn 4 with just 1 lap left to set up a green, white, checker finish. Zach Blurton used the restart to put the 2J into fourth making the final top 4 Gullion, Lovegrove, Grossenbacher and Blurton.

Gullion’s first 2017 victory at Eagle Raceway moved him into second place in points, just 2 markers behind Grossenbacher after previous points leader Joey Danley have motor problems all evening. “It’s been a little while. We busted off 3 in a row last year and then my crew chief who is my best friend and a salesman for me at Precise Roofing who had been with me a long time got burned. It completely disrupted everything last year and I don’t think we could hit our behinds if our hands were glued there! He came back and we started to turn things around for the Nationals where we lost a magneto. Then, this year we got a different car and we’ve got some different equipment. We changed a few things with our shock package. So, we’re trying to learn things all over again, but we’re still struggling. I went really, really aggressive with our set-up for the feature; far more than I have in the past. I committed to the bottom for the first few laps and then Trevor actually got a really good run on us and passed me and I think even got past Doug on the backstretch but we got a yellow. So, I’m thinking ‘Either I’m going to get passed trying or if I stay on the bottom he’s going to pass me’. So, I had to give it a shot. I started running the top, trying to be consistent, hitting my marks and getting through traffic when it came. Things just kind of fell our way. When you’re out front and it’s slick you never really know where everybody’s coming from, where they’re catching you at or where you’re beating them. So, I kind of started searching around. I guess we were out to a pretty big lead before that last caution and I think we pulled away a little after it. All in all, I think we had a pretty good night. Hopefully we can turn this into an even bigger positive and turn the rest of our season around. I knew Doug was going to be running the bottom. I’ve known him a long time and talk to him a couple of times a week, so I knew he’d be down there. I got lucky with Trevor showing me the top; I probably wouldn’t have gone up there and tried it if he hadn’t done that. Sometimes it

pays to get those breaks and in my case it did. I need to thank everyone who’s stood behind me for so long. People like that pay off when you can win. After you struggle and then get a win it makes everything a little bit more worthwhile. We’re coming into the second half of the season now, so we’ll see if we can’t pick up some momentum” said Gullion. Gullion’s sponsors include Cheetah Racing Engines, King Racing Products, BE Motorsports, Octane Ink, Pro Shocks, Midwest Roofing Supply, Walker Air Filtration, Red Devil Brakes, Weld Wheels, Shoenfeld Headers, Butlerbuilt, Simpson and Filley Custom Powdercoating .

Next up is this coming Tuesday, June 13th. The Craftsman World of Outlaws returns to America’s Home Track after a 5-year hiatus for the 2017 Eagle Nationals. Front gates open at 4 P.M. and the Pit Gates will open at 2. Hot laps will kick off at 6:30, qualifying starts at 7 with racing beginning at 7:30. For ticket information and pricing, please visit

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