And following Sunday night, DeLonjay might also be in control of the modified points race in his pursuit of a fourth straight series championship at Quincy Raceways.
DeLonjay, the 22-year-old who has already won five track titles — including two in the introductory four-cylinder class — may have taken a major step toward another when he won Sunday night’s midseason championship race.
DeLonjay took control of the 25-lap midseason feature on lap three when he wrestled the lead away from Dave Wietholder. DeLonjay spent the final 22 laps hugging the bottom line, a strategy both he and his father, 13-time track champ Hank DeLonjay, have used to their benefit over the years.
DeLonjay reached the checkers a comfortable 2.46 seconds in front of Wietholder, Michale Long, Robbie Reed and Keith Pratt.
“My dad (Hank is his son’s crew chief) set the car up for the bottom, and it worked well down there,” understated DeLonjay.
The victory was DeLonjay’s third of the season, but first since going back-to-back May 18 and June 1.
“I feel like I needed this one,” DeLonjay said. “It felt good to come out and get a win.”
And build his points lead.
DeLonjay now has a 40-point (531-491) advantage over Wietholder. Long is third (435) and Reed fourth (428).
Wietholder was disappointed with the runner-up finish, his fourth in the last five features, but also realistic.
“I’ll take what I can get,” he said. “Steven’s tough to beat when he’s on the bottom. Every time I got something going up top there was a caution.”
DeLonjay’s midseason championship win was his second straight and third in the last four years.
Other midseason championship race winners were Jason Perry in late models, Tony Dunker in sport mods, Abe Huls in stock cars and Austen Becerra in sport compacts.
NEVER TOO LATE
Perry spent most of the late model feature chasing Mark Burgtorf, who appeared to have his second straight — and eighth overall — midseason championship race victory in hand.
And then came a late caution in the 30-lap finale.
The yellow flag drew the field together for a lap 27 restart and Perry was able to run down Burgtorf by commanding the low line and keeping Burgtorf high. Perry got around Burgtorf on lap 28 and led the final three circuits for his first midseason championship race victory.
Perry beat Burgtorf to the finish line by 0.011 of a second, the second-closest finish in the track’s electronic era, which dates to late 2007. Burgtorf’s second-place finish was his fourth in the last five features.
“That caution bunched us together,” Perry said. “I felt sorry for Mark. He had make a decision whether to go high or low, and when he did (go high), I went low.”
Justin Reed, Robby Warner and Denny Woodworth filled out the top five.
TOP 10 CLOSEST FEATURE FINISHES since late 2007
1. Steven DeLonjay (Dave Wietholder), 0.010, July 11, 2010 (modifieds)
2. Jason Perry (Mark Burgtorf), 0.011, July 6, 2014 (late models)
3. Steven DeLonjay (Mark Burgtorf), 0.024, Sept. 25, 2011 (modifieds)
4-tie. Bobby Pierce (Brandon Sheppard), 0.031, Aug. 18, 2013 (late models)
4-tie. Tony Dunker (Joe Bliven), 0.031, Aug. 28, 2011 (sport mods)
6. Tony Dunker (Tanner Klingele), 0.041, July 6, 2014 (sport mods)
7. Dave Wietholder (Michael Long), 0.056, April 8, 2012 (modifieds)
8. Steven DeLonjay (Dave Wietholder), 0.058, Aug. 19, 2012 (modifieds)
9. Justin Reed (Steven DeLonjay), 0.087, May 31, 2009 (modifieds)
10. Jake Wenig (John Oliver Jr.), 0.096, May 18, 2008 (stock cars)
ANOTHER CLOSE FINISH
Dunker put on a last-lap charge to edge Tanner Klingele at the finish by 0.041 of a second, the sixth-closest finish in the electronic era. Dunker, Klingele and eventual third-place finisher Brandon Lennox were all going for the lead in the closing laps and all three took turns leading the race.
“The track was slicked up, just like we like it,” Dunker said. “The track was awesome — again.”
Klingele, although just 19, has raced full-time since 2009, first in a hobby stock and for the past three seasons in a sport mod. He has yet to collect his feature victory in a sport mod, but now has eight runner-up finishes.
“We just haven’t been able to seal the deal,” Klingele said. “We’ll get a win at some point.”
IT’S HULS — AGAIN
Honest Abe Huls won his third straight stock car midseason championship race and fourth in five years. He overtook Beau Taylor on lap 17 of the 18-lap main event.
Huls (329) holds a narrow lead over third-place finisher Jim Lynch (328) in the points race.
“It should be an interesting second half of the season,” Huls said.
Taylor praised Huls afterward.
“It wasn’t the finish I wanted — but I’ll take it,” said Taylor, who led the feature for 15 laps. “Abe can run — and win — anywhere.”
Lynch let it be known he’s in it for the long haul this season, his first at Quincy Raceways.
“I’m running for points, and to put on a good show,” he said. “If I was just running for wins, I would have raced a lot rougher.”
IT’S BECERRA — AGAIN
Becerra won his seventh sport compact feature of the year and his second straight midseason championship race. Brandon Lambert was second, Kim Abbott third.
RECENT MIDSEASON CHAMPIONSHIP RACE WINNERS
2014: Jason Perry
2013: Mark Burgtorf
2012: Dustin Griffin
2011: Keith Pratt
2010: Robby Warner
2014: Steven DeLonjay
2013: Steven DeLonjay
2012: Michael Long
2011: Steven DeLonjay
2010: Vance Wilson
2014: Tony Dunker
2013: Bobby Anders
2012: Tony Dunker
(2012 first full season of sport mods)
2014: Abe Huls
2013: Abe Huls
2012: Abe Huls
2011: Aaron Brocksieck
2010: Abe Huls
2014: Austen Becerra
2013: Austen Becerra
2012: Mike Hornung Jr.
2011: Robert Thompson
(sport compacts debuted in 2011)
SUNDAY NIGHT RECAP
Late models: Jason Perry (1st).
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay (3rd).
Sport mods: Tony Dunker (1st).
Stock cars: Abe Huls (3rd).
Sport compacts: Austen Becerra (7th).
MOWA sprints: Chris Urish, Elkhart, Ill.
Late models: Justin Reed (2nd), Jason Perry (2nd).
Modifieds: Michael Long (3rd), Steven DeLonjay (4th).
Sport mods: Tony Dunker (2nd), Aaron Brocksieck (4th).
Stock cars: Brandon Savage (3rd), Abe Huls (2nd).
Sport compacts: Bryce Baker (2nd), Brandon Lambert (2nd).
MOWA sprints: Jerrod Hull, Chris Urish, Jeremy Standridge.
Points leaders (unofficial)
Late models: Mark Burgtorf 410, Denny Woodworth 383, Ricky Frankel 306, Justin Reed 290.
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay 531, Dave Wietholder 491, Michael Long 435, Robbie Reed 428.
Sport mods: Tony Dunker 348, Bobby Anders 332, Brad Holtmeyer 328, Joey Gower 320, Tanner Klingele 317.
Stock cars: Abe Huls 329, Jim Lynch 328, Brandon Savage 321, Jake Powers 313.
Sport compacts: Austen Becerra 352, Kim Abbott 335, Bryce Baker 318, Brandon Lambert 312.
Late models: Justin Reed, 76.299 mph (fastest of season).
– Overall track record: Will Vaught, Crane, Mo., 82.406 mph, 12.669 seconds, July 3, 2009. (UMP Hell Tour qualifying.)
– UMP weekly series record: Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin, Ill., 79.361 mph, July 28, 2013.
Modifieds: Michael Long, 70.125 mph (fastest of season)
– UMP weekly series record: Dave Wietholder, Liberty, Ill., 70.365 mph, July 28, 2013.
Late models: Bo Brockway, 66.160 mph.
– Overall track record: Jeep Van Wormer, Pinconning, Mich., 78.376 mph, July 11, 2010.)
– UMP weekly series record: Brian Shirley, Springfield, Ill., 77.754 mph, Sept. 16, 2012.
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay, 64.133 mph.
– UMP weekly series record: Michael Long, Quincy, Ill., 73.763 mph, Aug. 22, 2010.
Sport mods: Tony Dunker, 60.754 mph.
– Track record: Tony Dunker, 65.976 mph, Sept. 30, 2012.
SUNDAY NIGHT STARS
10 stars: Jason Perry, who trailed for 27 laps in the late model feature. Fortunately, they race 30.
9 stars: Tony Dunker, who emerged from that three-car scrum in the sport mod finale for his first feature victory of the season.
8 stars: Steven DeLonjay, whose win may not have been as spectacular looking as what Perry or Dunker turned in, but Steve-O’s victory had the edge in dominance.
7 stars: Abe Huls, whose Sunday night win was his third straight midsedason championship race win and fourth in the last five years.
6 stars: Austen Becerra, whose feature victory was his seventh of the season. Is there any doubt the Mighty Becerra will be the first driver to clinch a championship this summer?
5 stars: Zippee, the longtime Quincy Raceways mascot who made his return to the track Sunday night. Now all we need is his freckled cousin Zappee to come back.
4 stars: Robby Warner, whose first late model night of racing this season resulted in an impressive fourth-place feature finish.
3 stars: Tanner Klingele, who missed his first sport mod feature win by a the blink of an eye.
2 stars: Tim and Emily Miller, who spent their first anniversary in the press box at Quincy Raceways running the scoreboard.
1 star: The Kennyburgers at the concession stand Sunday night were the best of the season. Just the right amount of seasoning.
Late models: 10. Season average 12.3.
Modifieds: 14. Season average 13.9.
Sport mods: 11. Season average 14.4.
Stock cars: 11. Season average 10.4.
Sport compacts: 14. Season average 10.3.
Total: 81 (including MOWA sprints). Note: Sunday night was the first time this season all five weekly classes had 10 or more cars.