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Large payout awaits URSS winner at Belleville

OBERLIN — Two races. Two second-place finishes. Now Zach Blurton hopes the third time is the charm.

The Jetmore teen is ready for the United Rebel Sprint Series’ third trip to the famed Belleville High Banks at 7 p.m. Thursday for the inaugural Belleville Nationals. The winner of Thursday night's race will pocket a cool $3,000 — the highest payout in URSS history.

In last year's race at Belleville and this year's race in June, Blurton led the majority of the laps before finishing second in both races.

“It would be amazing to do good up there again,” Blurton said. “I led more than half the laps the last two times I was up there and ran second both times. Maybe the third time is the charm.”

Luke Cranston of Plains slipped by Blurton late in the race June 3 at Belleville as the URSS played a supporting role to the World of Outlaws. This time, the Rebels are the main attraction.

“We're really happy Belleville stepped up and had this race,” said URSS founder Rick Salem. “We hope to put on a good show again, one of the best they've seen from any class.”

Salem has heard from drivers from across the country who are interested in making the trip to north-central Kansas and the lightning-quick 1/2-mile track.

Salem said he's hoping for 35 to 40 sprint cars, with the majority coming from the URSS — one of the fastest growing sprint car series in the nation. He's also heard from drivers from New Mexico and Texas who might make the trip north. Drivers from as far away as New York have inquired about the show, too.

While the winner will pocket $3,000, the cars starting the A-main each will take home at least $400, a good night for any sprint car driver.

“I like running there,” Cranston said. “It takes a little getting used to running at a high speed and so fast and right next to the fence. But I've raced there enough that I'm comfortable with it.”

Cranston used the high line to get by Blurton for the win earlier this season. He carried momentum around the top, avoided disaster when the lights went out during the race and eventually drove to the checkered flag.

“It's such a big race track that it can make for a long race,” he said. “But I can lean my head over against the seat and just have normal breathing. You have to stay smooth and not get excited. When you come up on lap cars, you have to be patient, smooth and smart to get by them.”

Brian Herbert of Dodge City was sixth at Belleville earlier this season. He knows the key to winning Thursday night will be to have a good heat race and see how the inverted start will shake out.

“I think it's going to come down to a guy who keeps driving the car as straight as you can,” he said. “You have to keep it straight and be in the top 12 in passing points. … For you to win Belleville, it will probably take not starting in the fifth row. You want to start in the first two to three rows, probably not much farther back than that. … It's going to be a good race for sure.”

Blurton hopes the good race ends in victory this time. His father, John, raced several times in Belleville during his sprint car career, and the younger Blurton has used his father's time on the half-mile to his advantage.

“We've got it down to a science,” he said. “My dad raced there quite a bit years ago, and he knows how to set up the car for it.”

After URSS drivers battle the half-mile in Belleville, they'll take to the quarter-mile dirt oval of Rush County Speedway on Saturday night. That race will have an elevated payout for drivers, too, capping a “Week of Money” for the Rebels.

“Then it's on to La Crosse,” Herbert said. “That's a big difference, but it's a fun little track. I'm looking forward to being back there again. Belleville will be a good show, but the people coming out to the Rush County Fair are going to be in for a treat, too.”

Jason Martin of Liberal won the earlier race this year in La Crosse, while Herbert passed Corey Lutters on the final lap last year during the Bullring Nationals to win on the short track.


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