It often appears that everything is going Jonathan Cornell’s way.
The Sedalia sprint car driver won the points championship at the Double-X Speedway in California, Missouri, won a race at the Randolph County Raceway in Moberly last week and is chasing a sixth-straight ASCS Warrior Region Championship.
Cornell has a 183-point lead going into an ASCS Warrior Region Sprints race Saturday, Sept. 17 at the Missouri State Fair Speedway in Sedalia. And while the native driver has been rolling in ’16, recently, it’s been a different story at home.
At the Missouri State Fair-concluding High Roller Classic on Aug. 21, Cornell blew a steering line, lost his breaks and did not finish his heat. With a provisional steering line and no breaks, Cornell advanced 14 positions to finish eighth.
July 28, Cornell led the sprints feature early before an engine failure parked him. Brian Brown won both features.
And in the Missouri Speedway’s opening race in April, Cornell endured a late crash late to surrender his lead.
Cornell, who placed first at the Missouri State Fair Speedway on May 20, said his recent Sedalia racing experiences were frustrating, encouraging and ultimately enjoyable.
“There were a few races out there we thought we should have won,” Cornell said. “But it feels good to know we have a car capable of winning every time we’re out there.
“I grew up going to the races at Sedalia. I used to live a couple blocks away. That was something my family and I liked to do. For me, it’s fun to race in front of our family and sponsors.”
While Cornell and his family grew accustomed to Friday nights at the track, Sedalia’s next two races, Sept. 17 and Oct. 1, are scheduled for Saturdays.
Local racing fans can expect more Saturday features next year, said track promoter Gerry Olson. He said Friday-night features were among many lessons learned in Sedalia’s first schedule of races since 2012.
“Things learned here, is that Friday nights are not the night,” Olson said. “It’s not working. I know over the years, Friday night was the prominent night here, but we’ve had two Fridays and it’s not what we’re looking for.
“Next year, everything is going to be on Saturdays.”
The Missouri State Fair Speedway hosted Friday night features May 20 and June 17 this season. Olson said next year, only the season’s opening even in April and the Missouri State Fair High Roller Classic will be non-Saturday events.
Despite losing Friday’s, Cornell, among other drivers, credits Olson for bringing racing back to Sedalia. Olson promoted a near-sellout race at the 2015 Missouri State Fair to end a three-year track hiatus. That year’s High Roller Classic paid $12,000.
At this year’s High Roller Classic, feature winner Brian Brown took home $15,000.
“He worked his (tail) off,” Cornell said of Olson. “He gathered a lot of local business to support it. I feel like Sedalia, is kind of a race-driven community.”
ASCS Warrior Region, ULMA Late Models and B-Mods begin hot laps Saturday at the Missouri State Fair Speedway at 6 p.m. and racing begins at 7 p.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2