Kevin Murphy in victory lane after winning the 25-lap sportsman feature race Friday night at Illinois’ Grundy County Speedway. (Chris Goodaker photo)

Murphy Wins Grundy Sportsman Feature

MORRIS, Ill. — Kevin Murphy in sportsman stock cars and Tom Schnabel in Midwest Mayhem Midgets were among the winners in feature race action during Friday’s First Responders Night at the Grundy County Speedway.

Murphy, a former two-time division champion from Manhattan, Ill., wheeled his Chevrolet No. 427 to victory in the 25-lap main event, scoring his third victory of the year.  

Racing side-by-side with Timmy Stewart for the first lap or two, Murphy took command of the top spot and led the race till the checkered flag. A late-race, two-laps-to-go, caution gave fast qualifier Jeremiah Senko a chance to grab the lead but Murphy got a great jump on the restart and bested Senko by 0.353 seconds at the finish. 

Points leader Kenny Benson finished a close third, followed by Rickey Mathis Jr., Dan Janjanin and Stewart. 

“We knew we had to get around (Timmy) Stewart on the outside,” said Murphy.  “I tried to run away with it.   I tried to stay consistent and not try to wheel-spin it off the corners and get a good launch off.  They (Senko and Benson) were better coming in (to the turns).  They’ve been better than us all year on entry.  I was kind of holding on there and counting the laps.

“I didn’t need the caution with two laps to go. I did a good job on the restart. I pulled a car on him (Senko).  He was coming there but I beat him to the checker.” 

Schnabel, a veteran of close to 20 years of midget racing, was the winner of the 25-lap Aaron Willis Sr. Memorial race for the open-wheel Midwest Mayhem Midgets.  

Schnabel, from Yorkville, Ill., held off the continuous challenges of Travis Mahoney to score his second win of the season in his Kendall County Concrete-sponsored, Ecotec-powered, midget No. 81. Mahoney had won the last three previous midget features at the third-mile paved speedway.

Basil Hicks finished third at the finish with six-time champion and series points leader Scott Koerner grabbing fourth and Mike Slabenak fifth. 

“He (Mahoney) kind of snookered me on the start,” said Schnabel. “I got by him on the next lap and he raced me clean.  We never touched.  I saw him on the outside of me there. My car was so good from the center off.  I was trying not to use a lot of brake. When he got along side of me, I knew I had to push it.” 

The victory was a sweet one for Schnabel as he had an out-of-the park experience at Grundy a number of years ago.

“I had a bad accident here and went out of the race track,” said Schnabel.  “I never knew there was a pine tree out here until I went through the pine tree.  I still have my old helmet at home with pine sap on it.” 

Points leader Matt Chester claimed top honors in the 25-lap street stock headliner.  Chester posted his eighth feature win of the season ahead of Cameron Preisler and Christy Penrod. 

Danielle Dobczyk captured the 25-lap pure stock (four-cylinder) division feature race, besting Matt Lee and Zach Chanda. Jacob Senerchia won another Midwest Super Cup Series feature, scoring the 20-lap victory in the crash-filled contest over JoJo Fadke and Carter Appleton.