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64th Pay Less Little 500 News and Notes

By Ken de la Bastide

A look into the future

One of the toughest tasks facing teams at the Pay Less Little 500 is the two mandatory pit stops being performed by crew members that are not accustomed to being under the gun.

Aaron Pierce brought a new wrinkle to pit stop strategy on Saturday.

Pierce’s car was equipped with air jacks, similar to what is used in the IZOD Indy Car series, to speed up the process of changing rear tires during the stops.

The car was also equipped with a clutch which allowed Pierce to make the stop without shutting down the power plant and then waiting for a push truck.

The pit strategy worked, but Pierce’s bid to win the Little 500 was derailed by a flat tire with less than 150 laps remaining.

Panic during warm-ups

During the pre-race warm-up session for the 33 drivers in the starting field, the car of Jason Cox failed to fire after two attempts.

The team learned that a gear on the distributor rotor had broken. Once it was replaced the car fired as expected for the Little 500.

Rookies have a mixed night

With six rookies in the starting field, two were able to drive to top-ten finishes in their initial Little 500 starts.

Noblesville resident Billy Wease, driving for veteran car owner Jerry Powell, started 11th and drove to a second place finish. The second place finish brought Wease the Herald Bulletins’ Rookie of the Year honors and the $1,000.

Michigan driver Kyle Feeney said prior to the race his dad, Kevin, gave him some sound advice. “Patience, patience, patience,” Kevin Feeney told his son.

Feeney started 26th and finished seventh. Ironically his dad, Kevin, was bumped from the starting field on Friday and couldn’t find enough speed to climb back onto the starting grid.

Mickey Kempgens made the most of climbing into a second car owned by Pierce. The Florida driver started 20th and finished 11th.

Pendleton’s Travis Welpott had an interesting evening, spinning twice, but was still running at the finish. He started 33rd and drove to a 17th place showing.

Brian Gingras had the best starting position among the rookies at seventh, but was involved in a three-car incident and was credited with a 20th place finish.

Chris Neuenschwander, driving for veteran car owner Ron Kohler finished 27th and starting 24th.


Noblesville driver Brian Gerster won the Most Improved award for his impressive run starting 29 th in the field and driving to a third place finish. He received $1,000 for the effort.

Kempgens received the Frank Riddle Memorial award of $500 for being the top finishing driver from the Sunshine State of Florida.

Early race leader JoJo Helberg, who crashed on lap 121 received the $500 Hard Luck award as determined by the media. Eric Gordon was a close runner-up for the award when a right rear tire caused problems on the nine-time champions’ final pit stop, costing him five laps to the leader.

The drivers in the starting field voted the Robbie Stanley Sportsman Award of $500 to Brian Tyler.