The third annual National Speed Sport News 66 Mike Phillips Memorial, widely regarded as the country's premier Micro Sprint event, will be held Friday and Saturday at Belle-Clair Speedway.
There are an expected 100 entries competing for a $10,000 first-place purse on Saturday, the largest in the nation this year.
"It may be only its third year, but the 66 Mike Phillips is definitely the biggest race of the year," 2012 winner Chris Andrews said. "The purse ($37,500 total) has a lot to do with it and, for sure, it's a treasured trophy. It's very prestigious to win."
Hot laps are at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday with racing at 6:30 p.m. There is a 30-lap feature race Friday and a 40-lap finale feature Saturday. Tickets are $12 for adults, $5 for children 7-12, with children 6-under admitted free.
The NSSN 66 Mike Phillips will be the 10th and 11th events of the POWRi Speedway Motors 600cc Outlaw Micro Series, which has teamed with promoter Brad McDaniel to launch the event the past two years at Southern Illinois Raceway in Marion.
There were 113 entries for both days in 2011 and an average of 102 for three days in 2012. Drivers from 15 states competed last year.
"It's the best of the best," Andrews said. "Other than the drivers from California and the Western states, everybody is there. There are 10 who can win it on any single night."
Andrews went undefeated in the 66 Mike Phillips last year, winning his heat, qualifying race and the opening-night feature to advance to the final. The 28-year-old from Tulsa, Okla., won the dash between the eight cars locked into the feature to start on the pole and led 38 of 40 laps in the feature.
"We've got some good momentum off last year and we've done pretty good this year," Andrews said. "I've run one race at Belle-Clair, a couple of years ago, finished fourth and I like it. I think it's a fun race track.
"I like to run the inside and the concrete wall down there at Belle-Clair makes it more difficult, but I can go up top if I have to."
Andrew Felker has been focusing on Midgets this season. The 20-year-old from Carl Junction, Mo., leads POWRi's Lucas Oil National Midget Series and is also a top contender for the championships in Badger Midgets and the Honda USAC National Dirt Midgets this season. He was the POWRi National champion in 2012.
Felker also has 14 feature wins in POWRi Micros and all his attention will be on the Phillips 66.
"This is a huge event for Micros in the country," Felker said. "It's definitely very special because it's only one class. Everybody wants to win it. Belle-Clair is my favorite Micro track and we've won races and had success there."
The 66 Mike Phillips Memorial was started by McDaniel of Carbondale to honor his close friend and car owner who passed away in 2010. The 2011 race was McDaniel's first promotion.
He decided to move it from SIR's one-eighth mile track to Belle-Clair's one-fifth for personal and professional reasons.
"Belle-Clair was always one of Mikey's favorite tracks ever," McDaniel said. "He used to love going up there, wouldn't miss it for the world.
"I always wanted and envisioned this race being there, but in earlier years, it was going to be hard to make it happen. POWRi's (co-founder) Kenny Brown has been a huge help in making this possible and I can't thank him or show my appreciation enough."
Rick Salter took the lead on Lap 15 and never looked back last Friday on his way to victory in the UMP Late Model feature race at Belle-Clair Speedway in Belleville.
Mark Voigt was second and Frankie Martin was third.
Brian Bielong maintained his points lead in UMP Modifieds by winning the 20-lap feature race, holding off Tyler Ratajczyk for the win. Zeb Moake was third.
Mark Pflueger claimed his first UMP Sportsman feature win at Belle-Clair Speedway.
Kentucky driver Steve Francis was the big winner last week at Tri-City Speedway as he took home the $10,000 check for winning the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series feature race at the "Battle at the Beach."
John Blankenship was second and Chris Simpson was third. Highland's Randy Korte was the highest finishing local driver in eighth place.
Michael Long won the $1,000 UMP Modifieds feature and Aaron Heck won the $1,000 UMP Pro Crate Late Models feature.
Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach will host the second annual Russ Wallace Memorial on Friday night featuring the regular racing program plus Gateway Vintage Cars. NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace is expected to be on hand and driving in the UMP Modifieds division.
Saturday night is Ladies Night at Highland Speedway, featuring the regular racing program along with the Crates division. That event will serve as a tune-up for the Madison County Tractor Pull on Tuesday, July 23 and the MOWA Sprint Series Racing event featuring sprint card, SportMods and Outlaw Micros on Wednesday, July 24.
Rick Salter won the UMP Late Model feature last Saturday at Highland and Brian Bielong won the UMP Modifieds feature. Jeremy Thoele won the UMP SportMod feature.
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