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Cranston hits payday in Belleville

BELLEVILLE — If something isn't working, change it. In the case of Luke Cranston, he and his team weren't happy with the way things went during their heat race.

Then he and crew chief Kirk Reinert went back and made several changes. It proved to be the right moves as Cranston won the A-main, grabbing the highest payout in URSS history — $3,000.“We didn't have a very good run in the heat race,” Cranston said. “We ended up having a bad start and had the wrong gear in it. That kind of killed us in the heat race, and that was worrying us a little bit.”

While Cranston's run might not have been great, it was good enough to lock him into the A-main Thursday night during the inaugural Belleville Nationals for the United Rebel Sprint Series. And as a supporting class was running on the small track inside the “World's Fastest Half Mile,” Cranston surveyed the track he'd be competing on later.

“When the cruisers were running, we went around the track and went back and changed every single thing on the whole car,” Cranston said. “I'm glad we did that because it was fast.”

Cranston, who won the June 3 show in Belleville, started inside the second row alongside Jeff Radcliffe. Zach Blurton, who had solid runs in Belleville the previous two times the Rebels competed on the half-mile track, paced the field to the green, with Keefe Hemel on the outside of the front row.

Blurton jumped to the early lead, while Cranston moved into the runner-up spot on the first lap, with Radcliffe in third and Hemel in fourth. Meanwhile, Patrick Bourke, who started ninth, moved into fourth on the second lap, and Ray Seemann moved into fifth.

“I knew that if I went hard on the bottom, most of the guys wouldn't trust it from the get-go,” said Seemann, who started 11th. “The moisture came back up on the track, and it was good everywhere.”

Blurton would hold down the lead, but by lap seven, he was starting to encounter lap traffic. That's when Cranston made his move. He used the lap cars to his advantage and used the high line to take the lead from Blurton on lap eight.

“I just caught it right where he had to dive down to the bottom to get around a lap car, and I stayed on the top,” Cranston said. “I kind of rode the brake a little bit to slow down, and it worked for me. It cleared up faster for me than it did for him. It just worked out.”

Once Cranston earned the lead, he was relentless. The Plains driver slowly increased his advantage as he sliced his way through lap traffic to stay up front.

While Cranston positioned himself for the win — his third in a row after winning Friday at Colby and Saturday at Norton — the field was closing in on Blurton. Bourke got by Radcliffe on lap 10 to move into third. He passed Blurton on lap 12 to move into second.

Seemann passed Radcliffe on lap 12 as well to take fourth, then got by Blurton on lap 18 to move into third.

“I was doing everything I could to catch Cranston,” Bourke said. “I could see him and gain a couple car lengths on one lap, then the next lap I'd be back again. He ran a great race.”

It was Cranston's series-leading fifth win of the season.

“That's the most money I've ever won in my life racing,” he said. “Going into it, I just wanted to have a good run — go out and move forward and not backward. Mentally going into it, if we would have been in that top three, I would have been happy. I'd never guess we'd do three in a row.”

Bourke finished second in the 20-lap feature, while Seemann finished third. Blurton was fourth, and C.J. Johnson was fifth after starting eighth.

Heat race winners were Craig Jecha, Judd Sheaffer and Radcliffe. Kirby Hagans won the B-main.

Haley Arnold earned the Keizer Aluminum Racing Wheels Hard Charger Award, going from 24th to 13th.

Feature results

1. Luke Cranston, 2. Patrick Bourke, 3. Ray Seemann, 4. Zach Blurton, 5. C.J. Johnson, 6. Keefe Hemel, 7. Ty Williams, 8. Judd Sheaffer, 9. Adam Trimble, 10. Josh Fairbank, 11. Richie Dewell, 12. Kasey Beckham, 13. Haley Arnold, 14. Lance Davis, 15. John Webster 16. Jerry Caldwell, 17. Craig Jecha, 18. Connor Atkinson, 19. Bob Sheaffer, 20. Cody Caldwell, 21. Howard Van Dyke, 22. Cody Keiswetter, 23. Jeff Radcliffe (DNF), 24. Kirby Hagans (DNF).


1. Kirby Hagans, 2. Kasey Beckham, 3. Ty Williams, 4. Lance Davis, 5. Cody Caldwell, 6. John Webster, 7. Bob Sheaffer, 8. Connor Atkinson, 9. Howard Van Dyke, 10. Cody Keiswetter, 11. Jerry Caldwell, 12. Haley Arnold, 13. Reed Bernbeck, 14. Brian Herbert (DNS), 15. Larry Radcliffe (DNS).

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