Tye Mihocko in victory lane at Gas City I-69 Speedway. (Indy Racing Images photo)

Mihocko Conquers Gas City Dirt

GAS CITY, Ind. — With and without wings the sprint car action was fast and furious Friday night as Gas City I-69 Speedway opened its season to an enthusiastic crowd.

Tye Mihocko won the 25-lap non-wing sprint car feature, while John Paynter Jr.  was victorious in the 25-lap main event for the 305 c.i. Schaeffer’s Oil IMCA Indiana RaceSaver winged sprint cars on Benic Enterprises and Benic Shocks Night.

Two forms of stock car racing were well received too, as fans watched James Headley dominate the 20-lap street stock feature and Topher Hillman do the same in the 15-lap hornet feature on the quarter-mile dirt track. 

A bull (Mihocko’s nickname) and a donkey (Mihocko drove Jamie and Michelle Paul’s High ASSpirations Farms DRC No. 24P, which is sponsored by the Pauls’ donkey farm in Eaton, Ohio) was a winning combination in the non-wing sprint car feature.

But it didn’t start out that way, as Koby Barksdale started on the pole and led the first eight laps. 

Barksdale’s Maxim Tranner Chevy owned by Tom and Kim Knight, was 3.726 seconds ahead of Mihocko when Tyler Kendall of Greenfield, Ind., spun in Turn 4 with seven laps down while 12th to bring out the first of only two yellow flags in the feature. Following the restart Barksdale got too high in Turn 4, jumped the cushion, and slid to a stop high in the turn to bring out the second yellow flag with eight laps down. He was able to restart the No. 16K sponsored by A&S and Smith’s Small Engines, but there were three cars ahead of him on the restart on lap nine, so he was penalized three positions in the final rundown.

Barksdale’s misfortune gave the lead to Mihocko, who led the rest of the way, although defending track champion Scotty Weir kept the pressure on him at first. Mihocko had to carefully thread his way through lapped traffic, but he did so without any glitches and he took the checkered flag 1.374 seconds before Weir did the same. 

Dave Darland started and finished third in his DRC Claxton. Chad Boespflug finished fourth and Cole Bodine rounded out the top five.

Polesitter Austin Powell o ran away and hit during the first 11 laps of the Schaeffer’s Oil IMCA Indiana RaceSaver winged sprint car feature. Jeff Wimmenauer, the 2021 IMCA Indiana state champion, passed Alex Nalon for second on lap six and then chased Powell down, making the pass for the lead on lap 12. 

Paynter, who started seventh, got sixth on lap two, fifth on lap three, fourth on lap five, third on lap 10, and second on lap 13. He took the lead from Wimmenauer on lap 15, and already had a 1.693-second lead when the driver who was eighth, Jordan Welch, spun in the middle of turn four with 16 laps down to bring out a yellow.

After the restart Paynter was able to build up a big lead over Wimmenauer, but it all came to naught on lap 22 when Carson Dillion and Kayla Martin stopped in turn two. 

Paynter resumed his high-groove approach on the restart while Wimmenauer tried the low side, but instead of Wimmenauer getting close to Paynter, Powell passed Wimmenauer for second on the last lap. Paynter padded his point lead and had a 2.135-second lead over Powell at the checkered with his No. 23, which is sponsored by JPJ Concrete and Pappy Shack.

Wimmenauer held on for third. Bradley Galedrige also gained a position on the last lap, as he passed Nalon for fourth. Nalon rounded out the top five. 

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