Reigning USAC National Midget Series champion Spencer Bayston (97) vies for the lead with NASCAR truck series champ Christopher Bell last season at Lincoln Speedway. Midgets return to the track Sunday night with the Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget League joining dirt late models on the slate at Lincoln's Summer Nationals Series event.

It worked out quite nicely a year ago. 

Dipping into the coffers to bring the USAC National Midget Series to town, Lincoln Speedway added the legendary open-wheel tour to the slate for its annual UMP Summer Nationals dirt late model series race.

The result was a packed-to-the-rafters, overflow crowd that was the largest in Lincoln Speedway history.

The track hopes to match or exceed that again Sunday night with an open-wheel/dirt late model blockbuster with racing slated to get underway at 6 p.m.

This time, the midgets will be provided by the ever-growing Lucas Oil POWRi National Midget League.

The series has been attracting some whopping car counts in recent weeks and POWRi honcho Kenny Brown expects a pit area chock full of competitors again on Sunday at Lincoln.

"We've been off for a couple of weeks and everybody's looking forward to getting back into action this weekend," Brown said. "The season's been going really well. We've had some good crowds, great car counts and there's a good battle going on for the championship among the front runners."

Ryan Robinson of Foresthill, Calif., has recorded a feature win among his 10 top-five finishes to wheel his Keith Kunz Motorsports/Curb-Agajanian entry into the POWRi points lead after 13 events. Tucker Klaasmeyer of Paola, Kan., and California driver Logan Seavey are well within striking distance.

Seavey, the champion of this year's rain-abbreviated POWRi Illinois SpeedWeek, is also among a slew of POWRi regulars who also compete in the USAC National series ranks. He's currently leading the quest for that title while also battling for POWRi championship honors.

A pair of Illinois drivers round out the top five.

Former POWRi champion Zach Daum of Pocohontas stands in fourth, an off-year by "The Dauminator" standards. Young phenom Karter Sarff of Mason City heads for his "home track" while nestled in fifth.

Sarff, 15, just completed his freshman year at Illini Central High School. He began cutting his racing teeth as a five-year old in Abe Lincoln quarter-midgets. A stint in outlaw karts was also a prepping ground on the way to this, his rookie season in a midget.

In his first outing in a midget, Sarff found himself in the feature field with Christopher Bell, the reigning NASCAR truck series champion, as well as a former USAC and POWRi series national champ.

"It was exciting to race against him," said Sarff, who finished 20th in the event won by Bell at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City.

It was one of two POWRi victories for Bell this season, who occasionally returns to his grassroots midget roots when not competing in his NASCAR Xfiniti Series ride that's fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing.

As for Sarff, he struggled a bit in the early going before recording three top-fives in his last four outings to work his way toward the top of the standings.

"I'm starting to get more comfortable with the car and trusting it more," he said.

Sarff is hoping to join the seven other drivers who have recorded a POWRi victory thus far. Seavey leads the way with three A-Main checkered flags. Klassmayer, Nevada's Tanner Thorson and Kevin Thomas Jr. of suburban Indianapolis join Bell as winners of two events.

The series will visit Macon Speedway on Saturday night before Sunday's race at Lincoln.

The DIRTcar Summer Nationals series has events slated for Thursday at LaSalle Speedway, Friday at Terre Haute and Saturday at I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo., before wending its way back to Lincoln on Sunday.

Moweaqua's Shannon Babb has totally dominated the early stages of the month-long tour, winning five of the first nine races. Veteran Billy Moyer, 60, has picked up a pair of wins. Bloomington's Billy Drake and El Paso's Ryan Unzicker have also visited victory lane.

There's a bit of a twist to Friday's event at Terre Haute and the Saturday outing at Pevely. Both of those races are also part of the World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series tour.

Babb holds a healthy 59-point lead over Moyer in the Summer Nationals title chase. Chatham's Brian Shirley is only 15 points in back of Moyer. Bloomington's Jason Feger is a distant fourth with UMP weekly series national champion Rusty Schlenk rounding out the top-five.

Despite his victory, Unzicker has left the tour and dropped back into a 10th-place tie in the standings with Washington's Bob Gardner heading into Thursday night's race at LaSalle.

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Bruce Yentes covers motor sports for The Pantagraph. Contact him at (309) 820-3391. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_yentes


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