Fan Notes from the Rick Ferkel Classic at Waynesfield

Friday, August 2, 2019
Tom Myers 8/2/2019 – It’s been a month or more since my last race. After Speedweek here in Ohio, the All Stars took off on trips to Illinois, PA, (with the exception of the Lou Blaney race at Sharon) New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa. Meanwhile, my family and I went on vacation the first week in July. The Doty race was rained out, but that’s a weeknight race anyway and I can’t stay up too late and be worth anything at work the following day. The WoO guys then went to Eldora for the Kings Royal…..but I never have gone to that race. I don’t know why but we never have bothered with the Royal. I think a local show or maybe an OVSCA race at Wayne County got rained out as well, so, it’s been slim picking for me until last evening.

Pops and I decided to head west and take in the Rick Ferkel Classic at Waynesfield, paying $5,000 to win and $400 to start for the FAST sprint car series followers. I was excited because Rick was one of my racing heroes, right there alongside A.J. Foyt and Jan Opperman. I think it is a great thing to honor Rick and his contributions to the sport we love so much. When we arrived, Rick was signing autographs and getting pictures taken by the ticket booth at the spectator entrance. Later Rick could be seen roaming the pits talking with the race teams and it looked like he was enjoying himself. During the break between the heat races and the B main, they brought Rick and his family down in front of the grandstands for an interview. The questions were great except Rick’s voice doesn’t project and I couldn’t hear his answers over the PA system. Rick was asked if he had any regrets about his career and also what his most memorable win was. I think I heard Brian Liskai mention Jan Opperman as someone Rick was happy to beat once in his racing career. I can’t be sure. Someone knows what was said and maybe we can read about it somewhere in the next day or so….I hope.

So the weather was sunny, slightly breezy and not too hot, not too cold. It was perfect weather. The track was tacky and a little rough and as the evening got underway, the track presented some challenges for the 32 FAST cars who were on hand. Notable racers in attendance were Danny Smith, Buddy Kofoid, Cale Conley, Cap Henry, Lee Jacobs, Cole Duncan, D.J. Foos and non-winger Justin Grant, who was driving the Fast Signs 6 car Joey Saldana has been driving recently.
Buddy KofoidBuddy Kofoid The first heat lineup was Ricky Peterson and Kelsey Ivy on the front row, Buddy the Kid Kofoid and Lee Jacobs in row 2, Cap Henry and Danny Smith made up row 3 and Chad Wilson and Kirk Jeffries made up row 4. On the first lap Kofoid went low into turn 3 and hooked one of the big white infield tires and then executed a couple of flips. He was okay but was done for the evening. On the restart Peterson grabs the lead and despite a smoking motor, leads the whole race until the last lap when Henry looks to have edged out the win at the flagstand. Lee Jacobs followed in 3rd with Ivy in 4th.

In heat 2 the lineup is Justin Grant and Cole Duncan on the front, Danny Mumaw and Caleb Griffith in row 2, Stuart Brubaker and Max Stambaugh and Cory Crabtree and Bryan Nuckles. Stambaugh scratches with motor issues. The track is starting to slick off just a little about half way up the turns and then you have ruts and a small ledge of tacky dirt. The heat 2 finish is Duncan, Grant, Mumaw and Griffith. Wayne County regular Mumaw is not driving his family 16 car, but is piloting a white 28 car that has GROVE across the hood.

Man, do the cars really get around this little bullring in a hurry…this is an intense place! The heat 3 lineup is Mitch Harble and Nate Dussel on the front row, Travis Philo and D.J. Foos, Dan McCarren and Brain Lay, Mark Imler and Bruce White. At the start, Harble gets crowded off the backstretch by Philo as the cars exit turn 2. Harble fades as Dussel and Foos and McCarren pass him. A few laps in, Harble hooks a rut in turn 2 and flips over the turn. He was okay but the frame was toast. After the restart, the finish was Philo, Dussel, Foos and Lay. McCarren had 4th locked up…but spun it around on the final lap in turn 4.
Cale ConleyCale Conley The heat 4 lineup is Cody Bova, T.J. Michael on row one, Tyler Gunn and Cale Conley in row 2, row 3 is Jordan Harble and Cale Stinson and the last row is R.J. Jacobs and Adam Cruea. On the 2nd lap of this heat, Stinson hooks a rut in turn 2 and flips it over the turn. He’s okay but the frame is bent and he will not return. Michaels, Conley, Gunn and Bova is the running order. This is how they finished.

After the 305 and micro sprint heats there was track work to cut down the ruts before the 12 lap B main. The top 6 finishers will transfer to the A main. The finish is Brubaker and Smith, Cruea, Crabtree Harble and McCarren. Wow the track was smoother but the dust kicked up and the breeze started blowing directly into the stands. My eyes were burning because of the race car exhaust! Time for the goggles!

Before the feature, they cut the track again to remove the ruts and this worked as the surface seemed really smooth for the feature. After a Peterson spin and a Jordan Harble flip, we finally got the feature going. Dussel and Michaels were on the front row, followed by Conley and Duncan. Lee Jacobs and Grant made up the third row. After the third restart, Dussel grabs the lead followed by Michaels and Conley and Duncan. Grant and Jacobs fade as Henry and Foos start making their way to the front. Gosh, this place is…. like Chet Christenson would say…a tempest in a teapot! These racers are really flying around here…I mean the action gets serious. This place is not for the faint at heart, that’s for sure.
TJ Michael celebrates his win with Rick Ferkel at WaynesfieldTJ Michael celebrates his win with Rick Ferkel at Waynesfield About lap 10 or so, Conley moves around Michaels and sets after Dussel. Conley gets him in traffic and then Dussel gets Conley back…but not for long as Conley re-takes the lead and stays out front the rest of the way. Dussel and Duncan and Michaels are never far behind as all 4 of them race almost nose to tail the last 8 laps or so. Dussel briefly passes Conley again with about 6 laps to go but Conley gets back around him immediately. By now, the track looks to be taking rubber but still has a cushion or a ridge that guys can bump into once in awhile. The leaders are running up around the top in the black but right up against the looser stuff and then they will go down lower as well, sometimes sliding up the exit of the turn and sometimes keeping it in the same line through the turn as they negotiate traffic. Then, with 2 laps to go, Brubaker, who was being lapped, spins in front of race leader Conley in turn 3, collecting Conley and Dussel and Duncan…somehow Michaels gets by and becomes your race leader. Conley and Dussel are done but Duncan will restart at the tail. Wow, what a heartbreak for Conley, Dussel and Duncan! On the restart, Michaels cruises to the win followed by Foos and Henry.

Congrats go to T.J. Michaels on his first FAST win I think. He was very happy to be where he was and indicated that he was just holding on and had nothing for the guys ahead of him. He said he has been getting his butt kicked and now it’s nice to have a win finally.

Thank you Waynesfield, thank you FAST series and thank you Rick Ferkel for all the memories. Let’s do this again next year!