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17th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 26-28, 2014 ● Memorial Coliseum Expo Center ● Fort Wayne, Ind.




Classic Motorsports         

 FORT WAYNE, Ind. – For Brandon Knupp, the tears of joy didn’t begin until after he climbed from his No. 78 midget in victory lane. In his 18th career start at the Rumble in Fort Wayne, the driver known as Primetime finally had lived up to his nickname.

 The former NASCAR Truck competitor erased more than a decade of frustration Sunday with a dominating victory in the 50-lap midget feature that capped the 17th annual indoor racing classic at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center.

 “There was a pause before I got excited,” the 28-year-old from Sidney, Ohio, admitted. “All I could think the last five laps was, ‘Something is going to fall off, something is going to fall off.’

 “Normally, we always have something happen. Always wrong place, wrong time.”

 Not this time. Knupp, driving a 36-year-old chassis that’s been rebuilt “at least six times,” held off a mild challenge from rookie Ross Rankine, with Bryan Nuckles, Kyle Hamilton and Chris Neuenschwander completing the top five.

 Nuckles was no less surprised to learn he won the newly created points championship, edging Saturday night winner Justin Peck on a tie-breaker. Rookie Anthony Nocella, who won on Friday, finished two points back.

 All three contenders started deep in the 16-car field on a greasy track that essentially was one groove. Nuckles methodically moved up from 11th and clinched the title when David Gough, running third, dropped out in the waning laps. Peck finished seventh and Nocella ninth.

 Nuckles, who turns 34 on Jan. 3, drove a backup car usually reserved for much larger tracks after blowing an engine on Friday. He strung together finishes of second, seventh and third to take home the $1,000 bonus for his family-owned team, headed by his father, Jerry, a former USAC midget standout, and uncle John Nuckles.

 “I had no idea we won,” Nuckles said. “To be able to bring out that backup car and put it together in a half-hour and even make the feature that night was a miracle to me.

 “It wasn’t even in my mind (that he could win the title). They told me we were four or five points behind. Just being able to run the feature was good enough.”

Knupp was the fastest qualifier on both Friday and Saturday – his three career fast times are second only to Tony Stewart’s 10 – but was a modest ninth-quickest on Sunday. With the inversion, he ended up starting from the pole, and he responded with a heady drive that looked almost effortless.

Knupp literally has grown up racing at the Rumble, starting in karts the very first year. Before Sunday, his midget finishes included a second place in 2003 and thirds in 2002 and 2007.

The victory also was the first for his car owner, John Chambers, whose day job is driving a motorcoach for Chip Ganassi’s IndyCar team.

“I can’t tell you what it means to me and to all these guys that have been a part of this,” an emotional Knupp said. “Last year, we finally got it tuned in to where it would run consistently up front. And the stars aligned and we finally got it done.”

Erick Rudolph and Larry Joe Sroufe got a break in capturing the accompanying features for 600cc-powered outlaw modified midgets.

Rudolph, who won the non-winged feature on Saturday, added a victory in the winged midgets after a four-car pileup on the opening lap elevated him from sixth to second. He passed Saturday winner Ben Quinones two laps later and led the rest of the way, beating A.J. Lesiecki and Drew Dorsett.

“I thought we had the car to win, but fortunately for us, there was that four- or five-car pileup,” Rudolph said. “That’s how racing goes.”

Sroufe, long a dominant driver in the 600s, notched his first Fort Wayne victory since 2010, beating Mike Fedorcak and Rudolph. He clipped a marker tire and came to a halt early in the feature, but a caution flag enabled him to get his spot back.

“Been a few years,” admitted Sroufe, who builds his own cars. “I thought they were right on me, but we were getting good restarts and pulling away each lap.”

Quarter midgets also were part of the final day program, with Aaron Leffel taking both the Animal and Heavy Honda classes. Chase Burda, Jacob Denney, Seth Pugh and Zeb Wise each one once.

Among the notables in attendance was IndyCar driver-turned-owner Sarah Fisher, whose brother-in-law, Kyle O’Gara, competed in the midgets. Other weekend visitors included Indianapolis 500 veterans Davey Hamilton and Tom Bigelow as well as longtime broadcaster Jack Arute.


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17th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 26-28, 2014 ● Memorial Coliseum Expo Center ● Fort Wayne, Ind.


MIDGETS (National/Regional/Focus/Kenyon Car)

             Qualifications – 1. Cooper Clouse, 14, Clouse, 7.943 seconds; 2. Derek Bischak, 31, Bischak, 8.007; 3. Chris Neuenschwander, 8, Neuenschwander, 8.075; 4. Mike Fedorcak, 19b, Belt, 8.105; 5. Justin Peck, 5x, Clay, 8.109; 6. David Gough, 6, Gough, 8.139; 7. Billy Wease, 99, Burrow, 8.160; 8. Ross Rankine, 9r, 8.197; 9. Brandon Knupp, 78, Chambers, 8.214; 10. Russ Gamester, 46, Gamester, 8.221; 11. Cory Setser, 24, Setser, 8.247; 12. Kyle Hamilton, 33, Hamilton, 8.253; 13. Rex Norris III, 63, Norris, 8.270; 14. Bryan Nuckles, 59x, Nuckles, 8.290; 15. Jim Anderson, 99a, Guess, 8.296; 16. Patrick Bruns, 22, Grskovic, 8.309; 17. Austin Nemire, 19, O’Connell, 8.326; 18. Anthony Nocella, 4, Seymour, 8.328; 19. Joey Burrow, 49, Burrow, 8.447; 20. Nick Hamilton, 1, Steele, 8.526; 21. Rich Corson, 15, Corson, 8.540; 22. Kyle O’Gara, 27, Lawson, 8.550; 23. Joe Liguori, 74, Williams, 8.574; 24. Anthony McCune, 45, 3-K, 8.575; 25. Jimmy McCune, 61, Kenyon, 8.583; 26. Matt Westfall, 9, Ryder, 8.605; 27. Alex Watson, 41, Sexton, 8.819; 28. Kevin Atkins, 36a, Atkins, 8.874; 29. Branson Dils, 15k, Chambers-Knupp, 8.895; 30. Shayne Riley, 57r, Riley, NT.

First heat (10 laps) – Norris, Knupp, Clouse, Peck, Corson, Nemire, J. McCune, Dils.

Second heat (10 laps) – Nuckles, Gamester, Gough, O’Gara, Bischak, Nocella, Riley.

Third heat (10 laps) – Anderson, Neuenschwander, Setser, Burrow, Watson, Wease, Liguori.

Fourth heat (10 laps) – K. Hamilton, Rankine, Fedorcak, N. Hamilton, Bruns, A. McCune, Atkins.

First semi-feature (12 laps) – Bischak, Wease, Nemire, Corson, J. McCune, Watson, Burrow, Liguori.

Second semi-feature (12 laps) – Peck, Nocella, Bruns, O’Gara, N. Hamilton, A. McCune.

Feature (50 laps) – 1. Brandon Knupp, 2. Ross Rankine, 3. Bryan Nuckles, 4. Kyle Hamilton, 5. Chris Neuenschwander, 6. Derek Bischak, 7. Justin Peck, 8. Rex Norris III, 9. Anthony Nocella, 10. Cooper Clouse, 11. Mike Fedorcak, 12. Cory Setser, 13. David Gough, 14. Billy Wease, 15. Jim Anderson, 16. Russ Gamester. Lap leaders: Knupp 1-50.

Final overall standings: 1. Bryan Nuckles, 12 points (won tie-breaker for championship); 2. Justin Peck, 12; 3. Anthony Nocella, 14; 4. Derek Bischak, 23; 5. Brandon Knupp, 25; 6. Kyle Hamilton, 27; 7. David Gough, 29; 8. Jim Anderson, 30; 9. Billy Wease, 32.


            Qualifications – 1. Erick Rudolph, 22, Lafler, 8.070 seconds; 2. Brad Lamberson, 19, Dunigan, 8.135; 3. Cap Henry, 17, Henry, 8.145; 4. Ben Quinones, 20, APS, 8.268; 5. Bill Dunham, 84, T&E, 8.276; 6. Matt Farnham, 7f, Farnham-Mindeler, 8.321; 7. Tyler Fitzpatrick, 57, Fitzpatrick, 8.411; 8. Drew Dorsett, 11b, Sager, 8.412; 9. Ginny Quinones, 007, APS, 8.438; 10. Chase Ridenour, 11r, Ridenour, 8.442; 11. A.J. Lesiecki, 14, AJD, 8.529; 12. Howard McCormick, 26, Sager, 8.620; 13. Mark Zumbrun, 35z, Zumbrun, 8.672; 14. Rusty Strausbaugh, 29, Strausbaugh, 8.689.

           First heat (10 laps) – Henry, Rudolph, Fitzpatrick, Dunham, Lesiecki, Zumbrun, G. Quinones.

Second heat (10 laps) – Dorsett, Farnham, B. Quinones, Lamberson, McCormick, Strausbaugh, Ridenour.

Feature (30 laps) – 1. Erick Rudolph, 2. A.J. Lesiecki, 3. Drew Dorsett, 4. Daniel Robinson, 5. Howard McCormick, 6. Ginny Quinones, 7. Chase Ridenour, 8. Mark Zumbrun, 9. Rusty Strausbaugh, 10. Ben Quinones, 11. Matt Farnham, 12. Bill Dunham, 13. Cap Henry, 14. Brad Lamberson. Lap leaders: Farnham 1, B. Quinones 2, Rudolph 3-30.


            Qualifications – 1. Jason Ormsby, 51, Ormsby, 8.183 seconds; 2. Erick Rudolph, 32, Lafler, 8.234; 3. Mike Fedorcak, 9, Fedorcak, 8.331; 4. Blane Culp, 34, Culp, 8.435; 5. Larry Joe Sroufe, 21, Sroufe, 8.453; 6. Matt Janisch, 14, Jones, 8.464; 7. Clay Sanders, 21c, Sanders, 8.537; 8. Russ Gamester, 49, GRP, 8.670; 9. Daniel Robinson, 57, Robinson, 8.758; 10. Phil Bozell, 83jr, Wolfersberger, 8.765; 11. Jonathon Lesiecki, 24, AJD, 8.775; 12. Kim Hughes, 6, Hughes, 8.827; 13. Richard Smith, 12, Smith, 8.883; 14. Shawn Grace, 77, Woods, 8.956; 15. Braiden Black, 69b, Black, 8.985; 16. Ryan Ball, 10r, Ball, 9.580; 17. Jeremy Howe, 48, Howe-Foster, 10.429.

           First heat (10 laps) – Sanders, Bozell, Culp, Ormsby, Smith, Ball.

Second heat (10 laps) – Gamester, Rudolph, Sroufe, Lesiecki, Grace, Howe.

Third heat (10 laps) – Janisch, Fedorcak, Hughes, Black, Robinson.

Feature (25 laps) – 1. Larry Joe Sroufe, 2. Mike Fedorcak, 3. Erick Rudolph, 4. Russ Gamester, 5. Clay Sanders, 6. Phil Bozell, 7. Daniel Robinson, 8. Richard Smith, 9. Jonathon Lesiecki, 10. Kim Hughes, 11. Shawn Grace, 12. Jeremy Howe, 13. Matt Janisch, 14. Jason Ormsby, 15. Blane Culp. Lap leaders: Sroufe 1-25.


Heat (8 laps) – Breanna O’Bryan, Zeb Wise, Aaron Leffel, Lexi Pohlman, Chase Burda, Jacob Denney, Emerson Axsom, Owen Foster, Evan Foster, Will Edwards.

Feature (15 laps) – Aaron Leffel, Brenna O’Bryan, Lexi Pohlman, Evan Foster, Chase Burda, Owen Foster, Jacob Denney, Zeb Wise, Emerson Axsom.


Heat (8 laps) – Zeb Wise, Will Edwards, Brianna O’Bryan, Richard Johnson, Jared Leffel.

Feature (15 laps) – Zeb Wise, Jared Leffel, Richard Johnson, Brianna O’Bryan.


Heat (8 laps) – Bobby Elliott, Chase Burda, Jacob Denney, Emerson Axsom.

Feature (15 laps) – Jacob Denney, Emerson Axsom, Chase Burda, Bobby Elliott.


Heat (8 laps) – Aaron Leffel, Will Edwards, Lexi Pohlman, Carson O’Bryan, Justin White.

Feature (15 laps) – Aaron Leffel, Will Edwards, Lexi Pohlman, Carson O’Bryan, Justin White.


             Heat (8 laps) – Chase Burda, J.D. Cowart, Bobby Elliott, Bryce Massingill, Kenny Douglas, Isaiah Pugh, Breanna Berry.

Feature (15 laps) – Chase Burda, Bobby Elliott, J.D. Cowart, Bryce Massingill, Kenny Douglas, Breanna Berry, Isaiah Pugh.


Heat (8 laps) – Seth Pugh, Aiden McCulley.

Feature (15 laps) – Seth Pugh, Aiden McCulley.


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17th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne

Friday, Saturday & Sunday, Dec. 26-28, 2014 ● Memorial Coliseum Expo Center ● Fort Wayne, Ind.


Peck wins again at ‘Rumble,’ challenges Stewart to return


Classic Motorsports


FORT WAYNE, Ind. – With his aw-shucks demeanor and ready smile, Justin Peck might be the last guy you’d expect to start trash-talking in victory lane.

But the precocious 16-year-old couldn’t help himself after winning Saturday night’s 50-lap midget feature in the 17th annual Rumble in Fort Wayne, suggesting that Tony Stewart might want to hurry back before someone – in this case, himself – breaks the NASCAR star’s record of nine victories here.

“Tony is a good guy,” Peck said later, almost apologetically. “I was just being a funny guy. If he does come back – or if he doesn’t – hopefully we can have a little bit of a challenge.”

Peck continued his remarkable run at the Memorial Coliseum Expo Center, darting inside Jim Anderson in the second turn on lap 32 to wrest the lead, then pulling away for his second victory in two years at the 1/6-mile concrete track. Billy Wease passed Anderson for second on the final lap, with Friday winner Anthony Nocella and David Gough rounding out the top five in the caution-filled race.

Peck and Nocella are tied for the newly created points championship going into Sunday afternoon’s finale of the three-day event.

In six starts over three years here, Peck has two victories, a second, a third, a fourth and an engine-related 16th. Only one other driver, Derek Bischak, has even qualified for each of those six features.

“It’s pretty cool,” the high school sophomore said, assessing his streak. “It really helps having such a good car. (Owner) Steve Clay gives me a good Beast every time. But a lot of people really help me.”

Stewart, who has competed here on and off since 1999, is sitting out the Rumble for a second straight year after undergoing a fourth operation on the right leg he broke in 2013.

Anderson seemed headed toward a repeat of his 2010 victory here until his car developed a push just past the halfway point. When he couldn’t hold the bottom entering the second turn on lap 32, Peck shot underneath.

“I was trying all I could to whoa the thing down to get through the corner,” Anderson said. “The more I did that, I could feel him at the back bumper.”

“Honestly, we were a little better than him,” Peck said, “but the only way I got him, he got tight and then got loose (when he accelerated), and I got under him.”

Peck, driving the No. 5x Duracoat Beast-Autocraft Volkswagen, was unchallenged the rest of the way despite a succession of restarts.

Each driver’s (and car owner’s) three feature finishes will determine the overall title, with 1 point awarded for a win, 2 points for second, 3 for third and so on. Peck and Nocella each have a win and a fourth, giving them five points. Bryan Nuckles, with nine points, is the only other realistic contender for the $1,000 bonus, which will be split between the champion driver and car owner. In case of a tie, the higher finisher on Sunday will win the title.

Ben Quinones, youngest of three racing siblings, won the winged outlaw modified feature for his family’s first victory here in more than a decade of trying. Erick Rudolph captured the non-winged dirt modified midget feature, becoming the first driver to win in both of the 600cc classes. The non-winged division was added last year.

“Never been for lack of effort,” said Quinones, 22, who three years ago escaped injury in a wild crash in which he flew into the backstretch fencing. “This was all about patience and being consistent and keeping my nose clean. I knew the car was fast.”

The aptly-named Rudolph picked up a Christmas-time win here for the third straight year.

“We do a lot of homework at the shop,” he said of his Jim Lafler-owned team. “But a lot of the time we bring new equipment, and you’re not really sure what to expect.”

Korbyn Hayslett won twice in karts, with Zach Axlen, Patrick Clark, Brandon Dunn, Dustin Heath, Shawn Kluck and Philip Schneider picking up single victories.

Veteran John Ivy, who has competed in midgets, winged outlaw midgets and karts at the Rumble, received the inaugural David Lesiecki Award, presented in memory of the quarter midget race coordinator who died last March at age 47. The award, voted on by series officials, will be presented annually to the “driver who best exemplifies the spirit and dedication to racing that was (Lesiecki’s) trademark.”

“John is our all-time feature winner,” Rumble Series president Tony Barhorst said, “but this award is for his sportsmanship and willingness to help others. He very much deserves it.”




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