Updated: Jan 16, 2022
Fort Wayne, IN (December 18, 2021) – The Rumble in Fort Wayne Presented by Jason Deitch Trailer Sales opened Friday, December 17th for the 23rd Running of the Famed Indoor Midget racing event inside the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum in Fort Wayne, Indiana. After the 50 laps main event, it was a familiar face in victory lane. Now, a five-time feature winner, Russ Gamester drove with precision to clinch his fifth win, moving him up to second on the all-time wins list.
Gamester’s triumph didn’t come easy. Former race winner, Justin Peck started on the front row alongside Travis Welpott. Welpott got the better start, jumping out to the early race lead while Peck was quickly shuffled back to fifth. Peck would eventually retire from the race on lap 27.
The first caution flew on lap four when Charlie Schultz, the Ohio Sprint Car racers, spun in turn four as a result of a right rear tire puncture from contact with the back straight-a-way wall. Schultz was making his first Rumble start in a midget since 2008.
As the race resumed, Travis Welpott began to pull away. Attention drew towards the third position as Billy Wease nearly ended his own night trying to pass Russ Gamester on lap 12.
A 17-lap green-flag run came to end with Brandon Knupp drawing a caution.
On the restart, Wease began applying relentless pressure on the race leader, Travis Welpott. Getting a little too close, Wease hopped over the rear tire of Welpott, propelling himself up the track, allowing Gamester to capitalize, taking over the second position.
Welpott stretched out his lead until a pair of caution flags on lap 31. The second of which resulted in a red to clean up a melee in turn two involving Brandon Knupp and Joe Liguori.
When Chief Starter Tom Hansing displayed the green flag once again, it was a familiar story - Welpott maintained the lead with Russ Gamester trailing just behind in second. On lap 38 hearts sank in the Welpott fan club as he unexpectedly pulled his number 18 midget to the infield pit area with rear-end failures.
This turned the lead over Rumber veteran Russ Gamester. Billy Wease closed the gap to Gamester. He looked for a passing lane low, he looked high, but Gamester defended the lead for the final 10 laps to score the win.
It was an emotional victory lane ceremony for Gamester who noted he had won this race in the very same midget car his Grandparents owned. This 1976 chassis was the same car he had won a midget race in at the Allen War Memorial Coliseum four decades ago.
Midget Heat Race wins went to Billy Wease, Joey Payne, Bryan Nuckles, and Derek Bischak. Tony Stewart took his number 2 Munchkin Midget to the garage during the parade laps of Heat Race number 1. Stewart returned for the last chance race, starting 11th. The NASCAR Cup Series Champion showed why he’s the winningest driver in Rumble history, Stewart maneuvered his way up to third place, the final transfer position. Just after securing P3 Stewart struck the tractor tire in turn two, destroying the left front suspension, ending his Friday night, and ending his perfect record of starting every A-Main he’s entered at the Rumble.
Saturday night is the second and final night of the 23rd Running of the Rumble in Fort Wayne Presented by Jason Deitch Trailer Sales at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum. Race tickets are still available and fans can also watch live on SpeedSport.TV.
23rd Running of the Rumble in Fort Wayne
Friday – Midget Feature Results
1) 46 Russ Gamester
2) 99 Bill Wease
3) 31 Derek Bischak
4) 8UP Joe Liguori
5) 59 Bryan Nuckles
6) 6 Trey Osborne
7) 24M Jack Macenko
8) 2.5 Joey Payne
9) 97 Mike Fedorcak
10) 18 Travis Welpott
11) 99 Brandon Knupp
12) -- Jordan Caskey
13) 5 Justin Peck
14) 9 Charlie Schultz