Promoter McDaniel, POWRi Micros bring prestigious 66 Mike Philllips Memorial to Belle-Clair for 3rd running, 100 entries expected
BELLEVILLE, Ill. (July 16, 2013)-The National Speed Sport News 66 Mike Phillips Memorial, widely regarded as the USA’s premier Micro Sprint event, moves to Belle-Clair Speedway on Friday (July 19) and Saturday for its third running with an expected 100 entries competing for a $10,000 first-place purse, the largest in the nation this year.
“It may be only its third year, but the 66 Mike Phillips is definitely the biggest race of the year,” 2012 winner Chris Andrews said. “The purse ($37,500 total) has a lot to do with it and, for sure, it’s a treasured trophy. It’s very prestigious to win.”
The NSSN 66 Mike Phillips will be the 10th and 11th events of the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series, which has teamed with promoter Brad McDaniel to launch the event the past two years at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion. There were 113 entries for both days in 2011 and an average of 102 for three days in 2012. Drivers from 15 states competed last year.
“It’s the best of the best,” Andrews said. “Other than the drivers from California and the Western states, everybody is there. There are 10 who can win it on any single night.”
Andrews went undefeated in the 66 Mike Phillips last year, winning his heat, qualifying race and the opening-night feature to advance to the final. The 28-year-old from Tulsa, Okla., won the dash among the eight cars locked into the feature to start on the pole and led 38 of 40 laps in the feature.
“It’s the biggest win of my life,” Andrews said.
Andrews expects to be in the hunt in his Yamaha-powered Sawyer this year, too.
“We’ve got some good momentum off last year and we’ve done pretty good this year,” he said. “I’ve run one race at Belle-Clair, a couple of years ago, finished fourth and I like it. I think it’s a fun race track. I like to run the inside and the concrete wall down there at Belle-Clair makes it more difficult, but I can go up top if I have to.”
Andrews won the 600cc Outlaw Micro non-wing class in the highly competitive Tulsa Shootout in late December.
“I’ve won in the Shootout twice,” he said. “Brad’s (McDaniel) race is harder to win than the Shootout. There are 900 entries at the Shootout, but they’re spread over eight classes. In the Sixty-six, everybody is racing in one class.
“We’ll have Joe B. Miller, Dereck King, Scott Sawyer, Travis Senter, Cale Thomas, Nathan Benson, Andrew Felker and Andrew Peters. I should be up there racing with them.”
Felker has been focusing on Midgets this season. The 20-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., leads POWRi’s Lucas Oil National Midget Series and is also a top contender for the championships in Badger Midgets and the Honda USAC National Dirt Midgets this season. He was the POWRi National champion in 2012.
Felker also has 14 feature wins in POWRi Micros and all his attention will be on the Phillips 66.
“This is a huge event for Micros in the country,” Felker said. “It’s definitely very special because it’s only one class. Everybody wants to win it. Belle-Clair is my favorite Micro track and we’ve won races and had success there.”
Felker finished fourth in 2011 and fifth in 2012 the 66 Mike Phillips’ grand finale.
Miller was champion of POWRi’s Micros and 10th in the 66 a year ago. He’s running a partial season in the Micros, Midgets and Sprint cars this year, but has feature victories in both his Micro starts at Belle-Clair. The 22-year-old from Millersville, Mo., used them as trial runs for the 66.
King of Goreville, Ill., has two POWRi Micro wins this season to stretch his all-time leading total to 22. He’s a three-time POWRi Micro champion and finished fourth 2011 and fifth in 2012 in the 66.
Sawyer of Broken Arrow, Okla., is an accomplished, veteran driver who was third in 2011 and second in 2012 in the 66.
Senter of Osceola, Ark., is also a veteran, a winner of multiple major races. He finished 11th in 2011 in the 66.
The 15-year-old Thomas of Fairland, Ind., is the POWRi points leader and has two victories this season including one at Belle-Clair.
“Getting the second win is really good,” Thomas said. “It makes us more confident for the Phillips.”
Thomas won a $5,000 to win non-sanctioned feature and added $500 for his win in the preliminary feature the HighBanks Hustle at Southern Illinois Raceway last weekend. It had 63 entries including Benson, who has two POWRi wins this season and is second in the championship.
It’s also possible for a driver to have a breakthrough victory in the 66. Chris Bell of Norman, Okla., won the 2011 Phillips and it became a springboard for his career. He’s won in POWRi and USAC National Midgets and Sprint cars this year and is in demand by car owners. Bell isn’t entered in the 66 this year.
The 66 Mike Phillips Memorial was started by McDaniel of Carbondale, Ill., to honor his close friend and car owner who passed away in 2010. The 2011 race was McDaniel’s first promotion. He decided to move it from SIR’s one-eighth mile track to Belle-Clair’s one-fifth for personal and professional reasons.
“Belle-Clair was always one of Mikey’s favorite tracks ever,” McDaniel said. “He used to love going up there, wouldn’t miss it for the world. I always wanted and envisioned this race being there, but in earlier years, it was going to be hard to make it happen. POWRi’s (co-founder) Kenny Brown has been a huge help in making this possible and I can’t thank him or show my appreciation enough.
“Southern Illinois Raceway is an awesome track that hosts some amazing racing, but I was having problems overgrowing the facility in all aspects–pits, grandstands, etcetera. And as great as the racing is, the track is narrow and often harder to pass on. The great thing about Belle-Clair is it’s not much bigger around, but it’s incredibly wide and puts up a slick, phenomenal race surface perfect for this race as well as micro sprints in general. There’s no better venue I can think of for The NSSN 66 and I am excited to see where this takes me as well as what this allows me to do with it in the future.”
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series top-10 points standings (after nine of 20 events): 1. Cale Thomas 1,440, 2. Nathan Benson 1,290, 3. Jeremy Camp 1,180, 4. Jake Neuman 1,065, 5. Dereck King 1,010, 6. Aaron Andruskevitch 940, 7. Jason Harms 860, 8. Joe B. Miller 860, 9. Max Pozsgai 750, 10. Kyle Schuett 660.
POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series feature winners: Jacksonville, Ill.-Dereck King; Belleville, Ill.-Joe B. Miller; Macon, Ill.-Dereck King; Jacksonville, Ill.-Mike Dicely; Lincoln, Ill.-Nathan Benson; Macon, Ill.-Cale Thomas; Bloomington, Ind.-Nathan Benson; Belleville, Ill.-Joe B. Miller; Belleville, Ill.-Cale Thomas.
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