East Claims Glen Niebel Classic; Keller, Tharp Get Wins

Brownsburg’s Bobby East had to bump and bang his way into the lead but once out in front it was lights out for the competition.

East captured the 10th annual running of the Glen Niebel Classic for the USAC Sprint Cars at Anderson Speedway on Saturday. He becomes the 10th different winner of the annual race that honors the owner of cars that won six Pay Less Little 500 events.

East was the fast qualifier and after the first lap was running fifth. Bobby Santos III grabbed the lead from the pole chased by Chris Windom and the Tony Stewart Racing teammates of Tracy Hines and Levi Jones.

East used the inside line to get around Windom on lap 7 and then closed on Santos. East looked high and low to get around Santos and several times the cars touched but continued racing in tight quarters.

Finally on lap 13 East was able to make the pass entering Turn three and from there pulled away from the competition. By the end of the race, run in a record 19 minutes, East had lapped everyone except second place finisher Tracy Hines.

“This car was awesome,” East said after the win. “Dad built a great car. This car was really fun to drive.

After East took the lead it appeared that Windom was holding up the Stewart teammates. Tracy Hines got around Windom on lap 34 and eventually moved into second by making an outside pass of Santos through Turn one.

Jones moved into the fourth spot on lap 51 and Jerry Coons Jr. grabbed the fifth spot when he made an inside pass of Windom.

There was action from the drop of the green flag with Lincoln’s Dave Darland getting sideways coming off the fourth corner which caused three cars to swerve into the infield. Defending race winner Tanner Swanson suffered front end suspension damage and was finished for the night.

Defending Front Wheel Drive Figure-8 champion Andy Keller made it two consecutive feature wins passing Bill Leisure with two laps remaining.

Leisure took the lead at the start chased by Josh Tharp and Jared Keller. Andy Keller, who started sixth, moved into third after three circuits and battled with Donnie Ellis Jr. for the second spot.

Keller took the second spot on the fifth lap and turned up the pressure on Leisure, who ran a consistent line to maintain the point. On the 13th lap, Leisure allowed Keller to get to the outside coming off the fourth corner and Keller had the advantage entering the first turn.

From there Keller pulled away and was chased to the checkers by Leisure and Tharp with Nick Warner and Travis Burge rounding out the top five.

“He (Leisure) was running a good line and it was tough to make the pass,” Keller said. “He left the door open one time.”

It took three attempts to get the oval feature started for the Front Wheel Drive competitors. The first attempt was halted for multi-car incidents at both ends of the track which eliminated top drivers Nick Warner, Gary Bragg Jr.

The second attempt was stopped when Ashley Patterson spun and made contact with the Turn two wall.

Jerry Dane grabbed the early lead but that was short-lived when the top five cars were running in a tight formation down the back straight and Dane spun coming to a stop.

That put Ray Zirkle into the lead chased by Travis Burge and Rickie Tharp. Tharp took the lead for good on lap 7 with an inside pass of Zirkle.

Tharp pulled away for the win followed to the checkers by a three-car battle for the second spot between Zirkle, Jeff Saxon and Gary Bragg, which was the way they crossed the finish line. Donnie Ellis Jr. came home in fifth.

There will be two nights of racing at Anderson Speedway next weekend. Midgets will be in the spotlight on Friday with the USAC Regional Midgets, USAC Ford Focus Midgets and Kenyon Midgets in action starting at 7:30 p.m.

The Street Stocks, Thunder Cars and the Front Wheel Drive divisions will be in action on the quarter-mile high banked oval starting at 8 p.m.

For additional information on Anderson Speedway call (765) 642-0206.