2-Race Weekend in Illinois Produces Challenges for Walker
By Jessica Jenkins
On a beautiful early September weekend, Gage Walker took off to Illinois for a full weekend of racing. Kicking off the weekend at Jacksonville Speedway Friday and continuing to Spoon River Saturday, the 19 year old was set to make his first POWRi National midget start in two months.
Walker fired off fast at Jacksonville's Central Illinois track by winning the second heat race from the pole in dominating fashion. After a challenge in the first couple laps, the rest of the field found it as impossible to catch the red and black #57 as the BMARA midget field did 5 days earlier in Angell Park Speedway's feature. The result in both cases was a win. Based off the format for that night, the young racer from Indianapolis started the 30 lap Feature in the tenth position. However, it didn't take him long to move up to sixth, followed shortly after by claiming a spot in the top five. An incredible back and forth battle was waged with Spencer Bayston around halfway as they each threw sliders at each other. A red flag on lap eighteen saw Walker restart in seventh as the field went back to the intense racing all around the 1/4 mile. Still pacing about seventh with eight to go, one of his competitors slid sideways and flipped right in front of the RAB Racing machine. With nowhere to go, Walker came to a stop right behind him in turn 4. He was pushed into the staging area with a flat left front tire and work immediately began to change it. Once the green flag waved again, he restarted 14th and quickly gained a spot before the right rear tire went flat with about five to go, forcing him to the infield. Credited with a thirteenth place finish, Walker was left to regroup for the trip north to Canton, IL the next day.
Upon arriving on track at Spoon River Speedway, Walker once more started from the pole in his heat race. Eager to get racing on the super high banked 3/8 mile track, he raced side by side for the lead for the entire first lap and took the top spot for himself. But the difficult-to-race surface brought the rest of the field back to him and handed Walker third spot in the third and final heat. Now set to start from the outside of row six for the Feature, he used the low side to move up to eighth early on. He tried a variety of lines and survived a handful yellows and reds over 24 laps as he discovered the low line was the best way around the slicked off surface. Restarting seventh with only six laps remaining, he fought for every position and ultimately took the checkered flag in the eleventh position.
It wasn't the weekend Walker and the Bill Ecker owned team were looking for, especially on the heels of their win heading into the week, but they worked well together and stayed positive through everything. A huge thank you goes out to Bill and Amy Ecker and the RAB Racing for their hard work as well as Mike Hurst, Spike, Esslinger, Impact, Wilwood Brakes, Business Art DeSigns, Access Mobility, Superior Bearings and Walker & Sons for all of their support.
Stay tuned to Gage Walker's Facebook page @GageWalkerRacing to find out when his next race will be as well as pictures from the weekend. To learn more about this rising star, check out GageWalkerRacing.com.