SCHERERVILLE | Anthony Danta had his championship in hand before Saturday night’s racing at Illiana Motor Speedway.
The 29-year-old Orland Park racer put a little icing on the cake as he breezed to victory in the 25-lap season championship race for Schepel Buick GMC Late model stock cars at the local half-mile paved raceway.
Starting eighth in the feature field, Danta passed John Nutley early in the race for the top spot and easily rolled to his fifth feature win of the season and claimed his first career Illiana Late Model title.
This year’s second-ranking driver, Chris King of Kouts, finished in second place in the 25 lapper with Dyer’s D.J. Weltmeyer grabbing third. Nutley and Scott Tomasik rounded out the top five.
“It was pretty good to win the feature (tonight),” Danta said. “It’s awesome to have a year like this. No matter what you do, you are always going to have ups and downs. We had some downs, but we had a lot of ups. Those (ups) make the bad days good. (During) the last few weeks (the car) has been pretty near-perfect. I hope I can continue it into next week and have a good run (in the annual Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100). I’ve been coming here to Illiana since I was a little kid and I would like to win that race. It would mean a lot to me and my family.”
Highland’s Mark Ross Jr. was the winner of the 20-lap Turbo Stox main event, again on the Illiana half-mile. The 25-year-old Ross wheeled Billy Jarrell’s Monte Carlo to his fourth win of the campaign ahead of Alex Treptow, who Ross battled side-by-side in the closing laps for the win. Jacob McKown came home third, followed by Ryan Moore and Timmy Stewart.
The 36-year-old Stewart, a native of Gary, claimed the Turbo Stox championship, using three early-season feature wins to propel him to the title. Stewart had previously won an Illiana championship back in 2000.
Racing on Illiana’s shorter quarter-mile track, Ben Fidone of Kouts won his second Legends feature race of the year. Fidone took top honors in the 15-lap chase ahead of Stan Zolodz IV, Paul Zolodz and Dyer’s Matt O’Leary.
The 24-year-old O’Leary picked up enough points during the evening to win the Legends division championship. During practice, engine woes put O’Leary’s regular car out of action with the soon-to-be-champion using John Rock’s car during the evening’s racing.
Hobart’s Jacob McKown bested 17 other competitors to win the 15-lap Pure Stocks feature on the Illiana quarter. McKown guided his four-cylinder racer to the checkered flag over Mike Kushnerik and Ryan Lagestee. Kushnerik, of Oak Lawn, was named the division champion.
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