Kyle Yeack finishes Speedway season as one of top drivers in state

Sean C. Morgan

Kyle Yeack finished second in points in the Classic division at Willamette Speedway this year, winning more than half his races.

Kyle, who grew up in Crawfordsville, and his father, Tom Yeack, of Crawfordsville, didn’t win the final races on Sept. 26, but he’d already won 10 Classic races, finishing 381 points behind Bill Allison in the points race after running only 18 features –to Allison’s 22.

Yeack’s 10 Speedway wins were more than any other racer in any division this year.

Thanks to his dad, Kyle got through the full season. Tom gave up his engine to get Kyle, whose motor had problems, through the year, and he didn’t get as many races in himself as he normally would have, but he ended up winning five times in the Sportsman division.

His bet on his kid paid off, though, as Kyle finished the season with 15 wins, 13 in classic and two in modified, at various tracks around the state.

“Lots of ups and downs,” Kyle said. “I probably blew my motor like three times. It was going good, but we could’ve had a few less motor issues.”

“It went pretty good when it went well,” Tom said. “Motor problems were a pain.”

In the second race, Kyle burned a piston. He got that one fixed, and burned it again in the next race.

“That’s when we pulled it out,” Tom said. They took a week off, swapped Tom’s motor into Kyle’s car and headed for a $1,000-to-win race in Banks and won.

Kyle returned to Lebanon and burned yet another piston, Tom said. But that was Tom’s fault. Apparently, some plastic had gotten caught on the bottom of the carburetor. It didn’t burn up at Banks because it’s a smaller track, without the straightaways at Lebanon. At Lebanon, the drivers push the cars on the straightaways.

They fixed Kyle’s motor and put him back on the road again. He won a $1,026-to-win race and the Wallbanger Cup, a memorial to Mark Howard, in Cottage Grove “on a pass on the last corner off the last straightaways around the top,” Tom said. “Spectacular finish.”

Kyle raced in Lebanon with no issues after that, with Tom’s carburetor and distributor, running E85 fuel, an ethanol blend.

During the season, he also started running a Modified class car owned by Lester and Jody Free of Halsey.

Kyle jumped in the mod and finished second his first time in the car, Tom said. He won a $1,000-to-win race, 50 laps, in St. Helens, and then a 100-lap $750-to-win race in Banks. He returned to Lebanon to finish in third or fourth.

He won twice in modified and finished in second, third, fourth and sixth in additional Modified races.

He won a total of 13 races in Classic, ending the Willamette Speedway season second and then fifth the final night, Sept. 27.

Kyle finished the year with a race in modified at Coos Bay the first weekend in October. He broke a ball joint and did not finish.

He qualified for the main event at Bakersfield, Calif., on Oct. 10 and finished fifth.

Tom said he had a good run when he had a car. He switched divisions this year winning three straight Sportsman and setting the single-lap qualifying time, 15.049 seconds, at Willamette Speedway.

That was faster than in the Modified class he had left.

With Kyle borrowing his motor, he got back into the races for the final three weekends, winning a dash and main and finishing second in a main by .337 seconds. He won the “Beer Cup Trophy” in sportsman.

“It was really a good season for both of us,” Tom said.

Kyle did not finish in four or five races, Tom said. That left him shy enough points to win the season on points. That went to another driver, who didn’t actually win a race but consistently finished top five all season.

Kyle’s brother, Corey Yeack, raced cage carts in Albany this year and finished the season in the top five.