SCHERERVILLE | Jeff Cannon set the tone for a night of racing when he set a new qualifying track record during time trials at Illiana Motor Speedway on Saturday evening.
The 34-year-old racer from Kouts wasted little time proving how fast he was in the feature race as he roared into the lead on lap five and never relented, claiming top honors in the 30-lap Season Championship race for Schepel Buick GMC Late Model stock cars in his Wayne Govert-owned Chevy Impala SS.
Starting eighth in the 21-car field, Cannon wheeled around the outside of early racer leader John Nutley and took over the lead, going on to win his fourth feature win of the year, all coming during the final month of the season at the half-mile paved oval. A caution flag with two laps remaining erased Cannon’s commanding margin, but he still finished with a 0.886-second win over Eddie Hoffman, last year’s Late Model champ.
Dyer’s Jack Kalwasinski held off Paul Shafer Jr. of Portage to take third place. Shafer, a 16-year-old high school student, grabbed overall track championship honors for the year, winning three feature races and becoming the youngest driver to ever win an Illiana Late Model crown. Rounding out the top six were Ricky Baker and D.J. Weltmeyer of Dyer.
“The car was good off the truck, but now we have to keep it good for a 100 laps,” said Cannon, referring to next Saturday’s 52nd annual Tony Bettenhausen Memorial 100, which closes out Illiana’s regular stock car racing schedule.
“It was a tune up for sure (for next week). Actually after practice, I was hoping it would rain so we could put it back in the trailer. It’s probably a good thing that we raced because we have some gremlins in the rear end (differential), so we’re going to have to go to work this week.”
John Senerchia of New Lenox, Ill., capped off his championship-winning season as he and his Monte Carlo claimed top honors in the 25-lap Turbo Stox main event on Illiana’s quarter-mile track. Taking the lead on lap six, Senerchia went on to win his fourth feature of the campaign, finishing ahead of Jacob McKown of Hobart and Griffith’s Billy Jarrells. Senerchia enjoyed a successful 2013 as he also won the Street Stock championship at the Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Ill.
The most dominating driver of the season, Chris King of Kouts, again was the top man in Legends division action as he won the class’ 20-lap headliner, becoming a three-time champion in the Legends division. Posting his 12th overall victory, King defeated Andy Jones and Paul Shafer Sr. of Portage.
The 15-lap Pure Stocks feature went to William Panshyn of Highland, his second consecutive win. Panshyn took the checkered flag over Colin Robinson and Mac Hastings. Kenny Myer, 14, of Calumet Township was the top runner in the Bandoleros feature as he took the checkered flag over Cole Sutton of Griffith and Kaitlyn Coates.