For the first time in history, the New Zealand Midget
Championship has been won by an overseas competitor, with American
Jerry Coons Jr. taking away the silverware at the end of a dramatic
30-lap feature race, with Australian Nathan Smee taking second
place. Shaun Insley was the first Kiwi home in third place.
Each driver accumulated points across two heat races to qualify
for the winner-take-all 30-lap feature race. Coons, along with
Auckland's Michael Pickens, were equal top qualifiers and
consequently started off the front of the grid, with Pickens
credited with pole due to a faster lap time in the heat races.
Coons made an early jump, while Pickens had a slow start, but a
yellow flag after six laps closed the gap between the pair. After
the restart, the pair traded the lead on more than half a dozen
occasions as two of the best midget drivers in the world gave the
10,000 plus fans in attendance their moneys worth and more.
This all came to a halt after 17 laps when Pickens got wide and
suffered a spectacular rollover which stopped only when the car hit
the catch fencing. Although he was ok, his dreams of a fourth
national midget title would have to wait for another year.
This left Coons, from Tuscon, Arizona, to become the first
overseas driver to win the national title, following on from fellow
Western Springs regular, Jonathan Allard, of Chico, California, who
became the first overseas driver to win the Sprint Car title only a
NZ Midget Championships: 1 Jerry Coons Jr (USA), 2 Nathan Smee
(AUS), 3 Shaun Insley (NZ).
Sprint Cars: 1 Jonathan Allard (USA), 2 Ricky Logan (USA), 3
Ryan O'Connor (NZ)
TQ Midgets: 1 Ryan Baker, 2 Paul Le Cren, 3 Jared Taylor.
Western Springs Speedway