On Thursday evening at the Rush County Fair the Midwest TQ Racing League presented by Jenmarco.com held the "Russ Hankins Memorial." Hankins was a lifelong resident of Rush County and had been involved in three-quarter midget racing from the mid 1950's until his passing in November 2010.
Hankins' grandsons, Brett and Chad, compete with the MTQRL with cars numbered 14 and 71 respectively in honor of their grandfather. Brett started the evening as the MTQRL point leader and ended in victory lane with his family celebrating his first feature win of the season.
Twenty-six three-quarter midgets competed on the night with Jon Steed setting quick time with a lap of 12.510 seconds in qualifications and earning a $25 cash prize from photographer Chris Pedersen (www.racephoto1.com). Nick Speidel won the Jackson Oil & Solvents Duel for Fuel, rookie Tristan Maggart won the semi feature, and Perfect North Slopes heat winners were Rob Walton, Ronnie Combs and Cody Kiewitt.
Bobby DeWitt and Jason Willis paced the feature field from their front row starting spot with Willis getting the advantage at the drop of the green flag. Willis quickly pulled away from the field with Chad Hankins moving into second place on lap two. As the leaders encountered lapped traffic Brett Hankins got around Bobby Walton for third place on lap ten.
With Willis and the Hankins brothers out front the caution waived when Kiewitt spun in turn two. On the restart Willis was still out front but catastrophe would strike several of the front runners just one lap later. Willis spun into the infield when his engine locked up, Chad Hankins stopped inturn four and Nick Speidel, who had won three of the four features this season, pulled off.
Brett Hankins would take over the point on the restart followed by Bobby Walton, Rick Robinson, Chris Mann and DeWitt.The caution waived again on lap twenty when DeWitt stopped on the backstretch while running in sixth place.
The only red flag of the evening came on lap twenty-two when Mann rolled in turn two while battling with Kiewitt for fifth place. Mann was uninjured but both he and Kiewitt were done for the evening.
On the restart Brett Hankins pulled away leading the final twelve laps to score the feature win over Ronnie Combs, Bobby Walton, Rick Robinson and Devin Fairchild. Jamie Ross, Rob Walton, Matt Hedrick, Scot Quintel and Craig Eaglin rounded out the top ten.
Devin Fairchild's fifth place feature finish was the highest of the five rookie drivers competing and he was named the Tony Stewart Racing Rookie of the Race. Another rookie, Matt Hedrick in his first MTQRL start, passed twelve cars in the feature and earned the Indy Race Parts Hard Charger award. The Duane & Sonja Alexander Hard Luck Driver award went to Chris Mann after his flip, and Brett Hankins won the drawing for the Jackson Oil & Solvents gift certificate.
The MTQRL will begin a busy stretch of three races in four days with the traditional Fourth of July race at the Rush County Fairgrounds (Rushville, Ind.) on Wednesday evening. The day will begin with the Vintage & Modern Race Car Benefit Show from 11:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Rush County Fairgrounds Livestock building and end with fireworks after the races. A double header of fair races is on tap for the weekend; Friday July 6th at the Shelby County Fair (Shelbyville, Ind.) and Saturday July 7th at the Jefferson County Fair (Madison, Ind.)