In front of a hometown crowd, Ricky Baker accomplished a big goal in his racing career, as he got his name on the list of winners of the Wayne Carter Classic at Grundy County Speedway in Morris, Illinois.
The 32nd running of the Rod Baker Ford/Illinois Truck & Equipment Wayne Carter Classic will go down as a classic battle between the two-time Grundy County Speedway champion and the three-time defending ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment champion.
Baker and Ty Majeski gave the fans an intense race throughout the second half of the 100-lap event. Majeski was glued to Baker’s bumper lap after lap looking for the right time to make a move for the lead. Majeski would try to jump to the inside of Baker entering turn three, but Baker would make it difficult for Majeski to get side-by-side and challenge, forcing Majeski to back up and look at another attempt.
The best opportunity for Majeski came with 17 laps to go when Majeski got to the inside of Baker and get alongside to challenge for the lead.
As the two came on the frontstretch, contact was made causing Majeski’s car to ride up the side of Baker’s car causing Majeski’s tires to off the ground. Majeski’s car would come down and he would spin going into turn one and bring out a caution.
Midwest Tour officials said the caution was for Majeski’s spin and he was sent to the rear of the field while Baker held on to the top spot.
Baker drove the final 17 laps with Paul Shafer Jr. in second and Travis Braden in third.
The final caution flew with two laps to go when Michael Ostdiek spun in turn two. During the caution, Majeski would head to the pits and fall out of the race. After the race, Majeski confirmed the car lost oil pressure.
With Majeski not finishing on the lead lap, the $1,500 bounty places on him was not eligible to the winner.
Baker could not be challenged in the final two laps as he would go on to enter his name into the Wayne Carter Classic list of winners.
“The trophy means more than anything, that is all I cared about,” an emotional Baker said after the race. “The money doesn’t bother me too much. We work really hard on these cars and we busted our butt today and real happy to go as good as we did tonight.
“It was hard with having him (Majeski) in my mirror for so many laps and we burnt the tires off the car and drove as hard as I could,” Baker said.
The talk after the race was the incident between Baker and Majeski that ended Majeski’s five race win streak in the ARCA Midwest Tour.
“I race here a lot and I can race side-by-side for 10-15 laps with someone and never touch. He (Majeski) ran into me in the heat race and ran into the side of me on that deal. I will give you a line, just don’t overdrive the car,” Baker explained. “He didn’t need to do that, if he didn’t do that, he probably would have gotten the lead. I just wasn’t going to give up.”
Majeski was already looking forward to his next race.
“We had a really good car, probably the best one out there,” Majeski said afterwards. “We just tried to get around him. We will take it back home and get the other car ready for Slinger on Tuesday night. There is not too much damage here. We will pull the motor out and send it to Donnie at B&B Race Engines and go and get them on Tuesday.”
Shafer, who won the night before at Grundy, was hoping to go back-to-back, but fell one spot short tonight. He made a huge comeback after being involved in a melee earlier in the race where he lost his driver side door panel.
“The car was good, could have been a little bit better,” Shafer said. “It is what it is, sometimes you are on, sometimes you are off. Second place isn’t bad and nothing to be ashamed of.”
Travis Braden, former ARCA/CRA Super Series champion and defending Winchester 400 winner, finished third in his second ARCA Midwest Tour start.
“This crew gave me something to work with as we were struggling all day long,” Braden said. “We still struggled a little in the feature, but I got motivated a little and got some luck which got us a top three the first time out.”
Eddie Hoffman finished fourth while Rich Bickle Jr. finished fifth.
For Baker, this win was something special.
“Coming here as a kid, seeing Joe Shear win it all the time and other names like that, its pretty cool,” Baker explained. “This is the only big race here that I have never won. This is the one I have always tried the hardest at and never had the best luck. This just happened, it was cool.”
Those last few laps for Baker weren’t an easy drive to the checkered flag.
“We went back to green and I had sparks shooting everywhere, there was an electrical short somewhere,” Baker said laughing. “I shut everything off and just hoped it wasn’t one of those gremlin things where everything would go wrong, but we fought through it.”
And if that wasn’t all for Baker, part of the right rear shock assembly was rubbing into this Hoosier tire and it was down to the cords.
The ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment will be back in action Tuesday, August 1st for the Dixieland 250 at Wiscosnin International Raceway in Kaukauna, Wisconsin featuring Kyle Busch and Mark Martin. The Big 8 Series will also be in action with the Dixieland Delight.
Advance VIP tickets and general admission tickets are on sale now exclusively at the Allouez, Appleton, Ashwaubenon, De Pere, and Green Bay Tobacco Outlet Plus Grocery locations in Wisconsin.
Visit midwesttour.racing for the full schedule and be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment on Facebook (/midwesttour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).