The May 25 edition of Sunday Night Thunder at the Double-X Speedway, California, was the 'Tribute to Jesse and Daniel,' the annual race in memory of the late Jesse Hockett and Daniel McMillan, two beloved members of the racing family who called the California track home.
This year the evening was also a time to remember Cory Wierman, a young man who was a part of the local racing community who passed away late Friday, May 23. Cory was a friend and relative of many racers, officials and fans at the Double-X.
A bond was formed with friends and family of these young racers as memorials were conducted and a member of the Hockett family reached out to Cory's family and said, "We are all family in racing."
Some of the bestÂ in the ASCS Warrior Sprint Car ranks were on hand at the Double-X May 25. After the top 16 in passing points were set by the heat race action, eight young race fans were paired with the top eight drivers to draw for their starting position in the feature event. Jonathan Cornell's partner drew #1, setting him on the pole for the start of the feature event. Adding to the excitement was the opportunity for a driver to make some extra money by accepting the "Hockett Style" Challenge. Racers and fans contributed $950 to the driver who would accept the challenge of starting at the tail of the field and racing their way to the front like Jesse Hockett did in his final race at the Double-X. Sedalia's Cornell respectfully declined, so the opportunity went to fellow front-row starter Josh Fisher, Jefferson City, who accepted the challenge and the cash. The lineup then changed to put hard-charging Jason Johnson, Rocky Mount, next to Cornell on the front row.
At the drop of the green, Johnson took the point with Cornell and the remaining field racing hard behind. After a lap six restart the running order was Johnson, Cornell and Nixa's Kyle Bellm in the top three spots respectively. Cornell retired to the pits on lap 8, and by lap 10, Johnson was being trailed by California's Randy Martin, who started in the 12th spot, Bellm, California's Evan Martin and Lone Jack's Cody Baker, respectively. The leaders set a quick pace for the next few laps until the red was displayed for Eugene's Corey Nelson, who overturned in turn one.
On the restart, Johnson had the lead with Randy Martin, Bellm, Evan Martin and Elwood's Jay Russell completing the top five. After a lap 20 caution for Fisher, who had advanced to eighth from shotgun on the field, Bellm used a power move on the high side in turns one and two to take second from Martin. Over the remaining 10 laps, positions in the field would change, but "the Ragin' Cajun" Jason Johnson would take the victory.
Following Johnson under the checkered flag were Bellm, Randy Martin, Russell and Slater's Bryan Grimes, respectively. Rounding out the top 10 were Evan Martin, Baker, Clarksburg's Lanny Carpenter, Sedalia's TJ Muths and St. Joseph's JR Topper, respectively.
Heat Races for the ASCS Warriors were claimed by Cornell, Savannah's Randy Hibbs, Bellm and Muths.
Carpenter claimedÂ a well-earnedÂ victory in the B Feature and transferred to the A Main along with California's Tyler Blank and Tyler Elliott, and Higginsville's Brad Ryun.
Also in competition May 25 at the Double-X were the always popular Street Stocks. Harlan Dowell Jr. claimed the feature win, but it was no cake walk for the Tipton driver. He survived challenges, first from veteran Dale Berry, Tuscumbia, then from California's Chris Dunham. At the finish, Dowell persevered over Dunham, Tipton's Tim Cressley, Berry and Fulton's Johnny Wyman, respectively. Heat race victories were claimed by Cressley and Dowell.
In the Hobby Stock division, Gage Wineland, Syracuse, claimed his second victory of the weekend in different cars. Wineland, who picked up his first career ULMA Late Model victory on Friday, May 23, put a bookend on the weekend by picking up the Hobby Stock feature at the Double-X May 25, defeating Sedalia's Will Register. Following the lead duo under the flag were Sedalia's Kevin Prall, Tipton's Eddie Lavery III, and Sedalia's Mike Schrader rounding out the top five. Heat races were won by Wineland and Register.
The visiting support class for the evening was the Mid America Lightning Sprints. Fans saw a familiar face in victory lane as Phil Heavelow, Buckner, claimed the 15-lap feature event, despite being challenged by Columbia's Mark Billings for the duration of the event. Dusty Murry, Kansas City, placed third, while Zach Morehead, Grain Valley, claimed fourth place and Ryan Kent, Blue Springs, claimed fifth. Heat races were won by Billings and Heavelow.
The 25th season of Sunday Night Thunder at the Double-X Speedway will continue Sunday. Be sure to join racing fans for a family-friendly evening of dirt track racing in the heart of Missouri.