Walker Claims Best Shamrock Classic Finish in DuQuoin
By Jessica Jenkins
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Expecting to use the speed he displayed at the Chili Bowl, Gage Walker unloaded outside the Southern Illinois Center for USAC's season opener. Picking up a fifth starting spot in the third heat, he was top three by the end of lap one. Restarting second after a lap two caution, Walker directly made a move to snatch the lead away out of turn two. However, an immediate yellow sent him to second and he hunted the leader for the remainder of the race. Once points were tallied, the affable 20 year old sat an impressive third in passing points.
Now jumping off from sixth in qualifier three, Walker looked to gain even more points and stay within that coveted locked in position. Intense action filled the 12 lap race, handing Walker a net gain of one position. Back in the pits, Walker's Indianapolis based team went to work fixing the left front shock, a radius rod and a bit of damage to the axle after some contact that had occurred on track. Once the dust settled, he easily earned a spot in his third Shamrock Classic feature that lined him up on the outside of row four. The narrow-grooved track favored the inside line and during the first yellow he sat thirteenth. Now able to make the choice of staying inside or going high, the #7 Impact midget began passing cars. By halfway he had maneuvered his way back into the top ten and kept charging hard, predominantly sticking to the lower groove. When a late yellow reset the field with three to go, Walker found himself back up to eighth. The laps quickly ticked off and handed Walker his best finish in the third annual Shamrock Classic.
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With the determination to go for the win each week, Walker was slightly disappointed to finish just inside the top ten. But he kept an upbeat outlook and reflected on the Du Quoin, IL track by stating, "In the feature, there just really wasn't a lot of passing going on. It was all just kind of stuck on the bottom and we were fast. [The racing was] just kind of gain some, lose some. This track is so much different than any other track we race at. I mean, it's indoor [and] it's probably definitely the smallest track we race on. Some people can say it's similar to Chili Bowl, but it's quite a bit smaller, so you just take what you learn and bring it back for next year."
All of this could not be done without everyone that works on the car and supports him, especially Impact Racing, Spike Chassis, Wilwood Disc Brakes, Business Art DeSigns, Superior Bearing & Supply, Team RAYPRO, Indy Metal Finishing, Inc. and Walker & Sons. You can see this driven racer back in action at USAC's upcoming Kokomo Speedway doubleheader April 13-14th. In the meantime, stay tuned to his Facebook page (@GageWalkerRacing) for updates and pictures from DuQuoin. Also, give him a follow on Twitter @GageWalker7 and visit GageWalkerRacing.com to find out how he's gotten to this point in his career.