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Bruce Yentes

Bruce Yentes

While relishing the victories and the top-5 finishes that gave him the 2017 WAR Sprint Car Series title, Springfield's Korey Weyant says the thing he enjoys the most is the camaraderie among the competitors in the pits.

"Everybody's hanging out talking, joking, sharing stories, having a good time," Weyant said. "We race each other hard on the track and then leave it there and come back in the pits and have a good time."

Fans at Fairbury's American Legion Speedway (FALS) will have the opportunity to party hardy with the sprint car guys next weekend when the track hosts its inaugural Sprint Mania FALS Classic on Oct. 6-7. MOWA/IRA winged sprints along with UMP Modifieds will join Weyant and the non-winged WAR East sprint cars on the slate.

When it comes to sharing racing stories, Weyant has been hearing them for his entire life. He's a fourth-generation competitor from a highly esteemed racing family.

Chuck Weyant, his great-uncle, drove in four Indianapolis 500s between 1955 and 1959 and, for a number of years, was the oldest living Indy veteran until his death back in January at age 93.

"Our shop is right across the street from his house and when we were kids we used to play around in go-karts in a field over there," Weyant said. "He would come out and talk about racing. It was always a different story and he loved to tell them."

Keith Kunz and Jerry Russell are first cousins of Weyant. Kunz heard the stories while on his way to establishing Keith Kunz Motorsports and helping to propel current NASCAR notables Christopher Bell and Kyle Larson, among others, from midget racing into the majors.

Russell is a former USAC national competitor who went on to a successful career as a sprint car chassis builder.

For his part, Weyant has won five non-winged sprint car titles at the grassroots, local level. He decided to check out the regional WAR series after Casey Shuman bought it prior to the 2016 season. 

Weyant had both a blast and a bit of success last year and decided to run for the title this season.

"That was our goal," he said. "We committed to go out and and win a championship, we worked at it all year and to finally pull it off was great."

Weyant won five WAR features and grabbed 11 top-5s, as well as finishing in the top-10 13 times in 20 outings. He's picked up two other feature wins in the companion WAR East series which will be competing next weekend at Fairbury with Weyant as the points leader in that division as well.

One of those War East wins came at Fairbury in July when a last-lap crash involving race leaders Mario Clouser and Kevin Thomas Jr., a USAC National Sprint Car Series regular from Cullman, Ala., allowed Weyant to slip past them for the victory.

"We put ourselves in position for the win and we were far enough back to stay out of the mess," said Weyant, who clung to the bottom of the track to avoid the wreck.

Weyant will be seeking to break the WAR record for wins in a season next weekend. He's been finding his success against some increasingly stiff competition and gives credit to Shuman for growing the series.

"In a short period of time, Casey and (his wife) Brooke have raised this series from the ground up," Weyant said. "They took it from a series where we wouldn't get a ton of cars to one where we run a B-Main almost every race."

While regional in scope, the series has attracted a number of top drivers from the national level.

USAC National Sprint Car Series points leader Justin Grant, also the winner of this year's Bettenhausen 100 USAC Silver Crown Series race at Springfield, nabbed a WAR feature win at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Mo., in May.

Canton's Chris Windom, the 2016 Silver Crown Series champion, has won three WAR East events this season. The most recent WAR East race, in August at Lincoln Speedway, was won by USAC great Dave Darland, a 2017 inductee into the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame.

"A lot of the bigger guys, the guys that do it for a living, are seeing what's going on in this series and are wanting to be a part of it," Weyant said, adding he welcomes their presence.

"When you race against them, it makes you better," he said. "You really have to step up your game when you race against them."

Weyant, 32, made his Silver Crown debut this season, finishing 22nd in the Bettenhausen 100 at Springfield.

He said he's likely to slow down some next year to focus more on getting his two sons, 8-year-old Jarrett and 6-year-old E.J., started in the sport.

"I'm planning to cut back a little bit," he said. "I've got two little ones that are itching to go."

And itching to extend the family legacy.

"I've been doing some searching and they would be the only fifth-generation drivers that I could find," Weyant said.

Bruce Yentes covers motor sports for The Pantagraph and can be reached at Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes


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