Sunday, October 4, 2015

Erb is Illinois State Champion

 On a cool and blustery Saturday, Darryl and I headed out to the Peoria,Ill Speedway for the 100 lap $5,000 to win 61st annual Illinois State Championship race for UMP late models. Blissfully - until now - unaware of the nightmare traffic jam that is the Spoon River Color Drive, we arrived at the 1.4 mile oval just as the late models were being summoned to the track for 5:30 hot laps. Considering the biting wind and cold conditions, that may have been a fortunate situation for us. Joined by friend Lane Evans, we settled in for a night of quality racing action.
 We were pleasantly surprised by the solid field of 36 late models, including two - Dennis Erb Jr and Brandon Sheppard - who high tailed it back to their home state after the Lucas Oil weekend of racing was washed out in Georgia by Hurricane Joaquin. Also on the card were modifieds, street stocks, Hornets, and the final appearance of the Illinois Lightning Sprints, a group that would be disbanding after the nights action.
 Newlywed Mike Spatola set quick time for the late models in single lap qualifying, with the field broken into four ten lap heat races.
 Following two heats for the ten street stocks, the late models clicked off their heats, with the top four from each event advancing to the 100 lapper. Jason Feger captured heat one from the pole over Donny Walden, Kevin Weaver, and Tim Manville. Heat two went to row two starter Ray Guss Jr ahead of Kyle Logue, and  track champ Todd Bennett in a photo finish over Billy Drake. Ryan Unzicker topped Spatola in the third heat, with McKay Wenger and Rich Bell also running in the top four. The final heat went to Erb, besting Gordy Gundaker , Sheppard, and Brad Stewart.
 16 UMP mods, 18 sprints, and 11 hornets ran heat races, and then it was a pair of B-mains for the remaining 20 late models. With only the top two in each B moving up, the racing was intense. But it was front row starters Ryan Vandenbergh and Mike Mullvain advancing from the first 12 lapper. Outside polesitter Jason Wagner topped fifth starting Mike Provenzano in the second consy. It was a great recovery for Provenzano, who stumbled in time trials, and started on the tail of heat three. Local racer Charley Hess, the feature winner in our last trip to Peoria, was granted the lone provisional, rounding out a 21 car starting field.
  Following a break for the third watering and repacking of the track, the street stock 15 lap feature was up. Wally Zander, the track champion and a 42 year racing veteran, led the first ten laps, but Robert Cottom sneaked past after a lap 11 caution, picking up the win.
  Next up was the modified 20 lap finale. Mike Chasteen Jr led flag to flag for the win, while a great battle for second saw Nathan Balensiefen edge Hess, driving in two classes, for second.
 To our delight, the 100 lap headliner was up next . The four heat race winners had drawn for the two front row starting spots during one of the breaks. Guss Jr and Unzicker sat on row one, Erb Jr. and Feger in row two, with the rest of the field straight up by heat race finishes. Guss shot to the early lead, with Unzicker in hot pursuit, The yellow waved on lap ten for Provenzano, who stopped in turn two just before going one lap down. As Unzicker continued to pressure the leader, the caution came out again five circuits later as Sheppard was unable to exit the track on the front stretch, his run over. One lap back to racing, a four car pile up in turn four again stopped the action. Under green, Guss continued to pace the field, riding a high line as Unzicker worked a middle groove. On lap 24, Guss suddenly dove to the infield with apparent engine issues, ending his run. Unzicker was now in charge, with Feger pounding the cushion in second. As Feger  moved in to challenge, the leaders caught slower traffic on lap 28. Now Erb joined the fray, and the top three exited turn four three wide on lap 33 as the yellow came out . As racing resumed, it was a three car race, but Unzicker continued to be scored the leader. Lapped traffic came in to play again at the half way Mark, and now it was 14th starting Drake joining the leaders. On the 69th trip through turns three and four, sparks flew as Feger made contact with the outside wall, and Drake dove past to take third. Two more laps saw him battling with Erb and Unzicker, with heavy traffic in play 75 laps in. With 23 circuits left, Erb found a way around the leader in traffic, and once out front, he opened a commanding lead. The final 67 laps went caution free, even with more than 15 cars circling the incredibly smooth oval, by far the best surface I have ever seen at Peoria. Erb collected the $5,000 check, with Unzicker holding off Drake for second. Feger and Spatola recorded top five finishes. The next five spots went to Wenger, Weaver, Bennett, Manville, and Walden. By my count, the top seven finished on the lead lap.
 With two races still to run, we headed to the car, with the clock reading 10:00 on the dot as Darryl fired up the heater and we began a much shorter journey home!
 Despite the unfavorable weather, it was a very good night of racing, as mentioned, the best I have ever seen the Peoria 1/4 mile. It was also most likely our final late model race of 2015, though there are  still a few weekends of racing close to home. But after six straight weekends, I may need to take a breather before finishing out the season. Big racing weekends await, two in Donnellson,Ia and one in Memphis,Mo., so there are still plenty of good choices. Quincy Raceways is also toying with possibly one more circle track event later in October after an October 18 Night of Destruction, so keep an eye on the QR website for more info.
 Maybe we will see you yet again in 2015 Racin' Down the Road!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Another Nailbiter at Knoxville

Saturday morning I headed for the Knoxville,Iowa Raceway for night number three of the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals. In the 12 years of this Crown Jewel event, I have yet to make all three nights, but have missed the 100 lap finale only m the year it was pushed to Sunday by wet conditions. And I can an honestly say I can remember only one time that the race was something close to " ho-hum." Well, the 2015 version certainly did not disappoint, either! Total car count was down a bit this year, with 63 super late models checking in on Thursday, and 55 surviving until Saturday, still more than enough for a show well worth the money, especially considering the quality of competition. Things got off to a rousing start, as Jason Rauen exploded an engine as the B-main cars hot lapped. Jasons' # 98 spewed a cloud of smoke that fortunately blew towards the unoccupied north grandstands, a plume so big you could hardly see for several seconds. Rolling to the front straightaway, fire erupted underneath the car, and there were a few tense moments until the Farley, Iowa driver climbed for his disabled machine.
 With two scheduled B-main cars not on hand, the front row C-main cars were promoted to the " B", leaving 13 drivers vying for what was advertised as four, but would now be six spots at the tail of the B- main. 15 laps around the half mile saw the now pole sitter, Iowan Chris Spieker cruise to a comfortable win in the non stop event. Another home state veteran, Dave Eckrich ran second , Wisaconsin driver Mitch McGrath was third ahead of Denny Eckrich. A former winner of one of the best 100 lappers yet, Illinois' Brian Shirley, and RC Whitwell, from Arizona, also transfered to the B.
 Backing up a bit, for those who are not familiar with the qualifying procedure for this event, full programs are run on Thursday and Friday night, with a great emphasis placed on time trials. Points are awarded for time trials, heat, and feature finishes, and a driver can run Thursday only, or both nights, with their best point total for one night used for Saturdays lineups.
 So the 20 lap 24 car B-main came next, with six spots up for grabs in the $40,000 to win finale. Wissota ace Ricky Weiss and Lucas Oil tour regular  Frank Heckenast Jr  sat on the front row. Weiss led lap one, and the caution waved on lap two, as Ricky Bell made contact with the fence in turn three, a spot that proved treacherous throughout the remainder of the program. Jason Feger powered into second on the Delaware restart, but Heckenast quickly regained the position. One lap later, the yellow came out for a slowing Jason Utter , and back to racing, things remained the same until a lap nine caution for Spencer Diercks. With the green waving, seventh starting Morgan Bagley jumped into contention in fourth. , but when Weiss  drifted high off turn two on the 13th circuit, Heckenast powered to the lead, taking Jimmy Mars  and Bagley along, with Weiss dropping to fifth. Ray Guss Jr. had made his way to the final transfer spot, but just as quickly began to fade. The yellow came out a final time with two to go for McGrath, and on the restart Mars took the lead taking Bagley with him as Iowa ace Ryan Gustin moved to sixth. However Gustin looked low under Weiss for fith, and Eddie Carrier Jr slipped past in turn two. Mars claimed the win to become the only driver to start all twelve National features. Bagley, Heckenast, Feger, Weiss, and Carrier also advanced. Carrier had been in line for one of the two provisional starting spots in the 32 car field, but with no Lucas Oil regulars now needing provisionals, they were awarded to the drivers with the highest point totals not qualifying for the feature. Both were homestaters, Diercks, and Joel Callahan.
 The 100 lap finale was the final event of the weekend, and as the large crowd settled in and driver introductions concluded, the green flag waved at about 9:00. There were 24 drivers already qualified when the night began, and Iowa standout Chad Simpson, the Fridaty night feature winner, and national star Jimmy Owens made up row one, with the two top rated drivers of 2015, Scott Bloomquist and Thursday winner Jonathon Davenport in row two. Simpson charged to the lead on the first trip around the big 1/2 mile, and Owens pulled even as lap two was scored. Simpson led the next two rounds as a Three way battled developed for second. On lap five, Davnport took the point and began to build a lead, with Don Oneal moving to second on lap seven, and Simpson faded to fifth. The first caution came on the twelfth lap for AJ Diemel, who retired to the pits. The restart saw Owens and Oneal in a duel for second, as Texan Chris Brown moved to fourth. Davenport was riding the high line, while Owens and Oneal worked the low groove. The leader hit slower traffic on lap 20, as Indianas' Kent Robinson began a charge towards the front using the leaders high line. Bloomquist had dropped back early, but moved to fourth on lap 26, and the yellow came out for a spinning Brown on lap 30. Owens cleared Oneal for second on the restart, and two circuits later Oneal blew a tire in turn one, scattering debris and bringing out the caution. Simpson gained some steam on the restart, reentering the top five, and at the lap 42 mark, Davenport agin found himself in lapped traffic. Owens took this opportunity to close the gap, and on lap 44, Davenports run ended as smoke poured for under the hood of the # 6 machine. Owens now had the top spot, followed by Bloomquist and seventh starting Jared Landers, and on the 48th trip around, fourth running Simpson jumped the cushion, with Shannon Babb getting around him. The caution waved at the halfway mark for Oneal. Back under green, Landers shot around Bloomquist for second, and row ten starter Josh Richards entered the top five. Simpson vaulted to third on lap 53, one lap later Richards climbed to fourth. Lap 56 saw Richards and Mason Ziegler get past Simpson, but the yellow came again on the 58th lap for a slowing Carrier Jr. Lap 60 saw Ziegler jump the cushion, but luck was on his side as the caution waved for Tim McCreadie. A battle for second developed on the restart, with Richards taking the spot on lap 65. Three laps later, Landers bobbled, and Ziegler took third. Owens caught lapped trafiic on lap 72, but two laps later, Bloomquist slowed, his night now over, and his chance of making up a lot of ground on Davenports series point lead out the window. Owens held the lead on the restart, but with 22 to go, Richards pulled a dandy slide job in turns three and four to grab his first lead of the night. Things stayed that way until lap 87, when Landers cleared Owens for second. He then began to run down Richards, who had opened a comfortable lead. On lap 91, Landers made his turn three move, taking his first lead of the night. Richards regrouped in the final laps, coming close with two to go, but Landers held him off for his first Nationals win. At the pay window, it was Richards in second, followed by Owens, Mike Marlar, Darell Lanigan, the Simpson brthers, Chad, and Chris, Brandon Sheppard, Heckenast Jr., and Steve Francis in tenth.
 By my count, 19 cars were still running at the conclusion of the 50 miles.
 Veteran Billy Moyer, who finished eleventh after fighting issues throughout the night, announced he will cut back his racing schedule to " part time" in 2016. Moyer, of course, is heavily involved in producing his brand of chassis for sale.
 An after running the last weekend in September for several years, 2016 will see the Nationals move to the third weekend in September, the 15-17. Of course the first thought of the local fans is that this is the weekend when Farley Speedway would normally hold the Yankee Dirt Track Classic, and would create a major conflict for a handful of drivers, but a large group of fans. We will see how this plays out moving forward.
 The MOWA sprint cars will headline racing tonight at Quincy Raceways, and we have our sights set on the $5,000 to win UMP late model special next Saturday at the Peoria Speedway. The season is winding down, enjoy some racing while you still can!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Point Champs Crowned at Quincy

 Sunday night was season championship night at Quincy Raceways, featuring the final night of  the UMP Big Ten late model series, as well.
 62 cars in five classes signed in to do battle on the .29 mile oval. Time trial qualifying started things off, with Big Ten point leader and track regular Brian Diveley pacing the late models at 13.220 seconds. Micheal Long once again led the UMP modifieds at 14.391 ticks around the oval.
 Feature racing kicked off with the IMCA sport mods, with all but Austin Howes taking the green flag. Jon Lear led the early laps from his front row starting spot, with Mike Goodwin chasing. But Goodwin headed to the pits on lap four, one lap ahead of the only caution period. Following the restart, Joey Gower powered to the lead, and one lap later, Brandon Lennox grabbed second. On lap nine, Lennox took the top spot, but as the leaders caught slower traffic, Lennox took the high line and Gower slipped back ahead in the low groove. From the point, Gower stretched out to a commanding lead, claiming both the feature win and the track title, his third of 2015. Lennox held the second spot, with Adam Birck running a solid third. Tony Dunker rode home fourth, with Tanner Klingele completing the top five.
 The stock car class showed only six cars, but again the racing was top notch. Jake Powers led the opening lap, with the yellow waving on lap three for a spinning Andrew Hustead. Back to racing, Jerry Jansen and Abe Huls battled side by side for the runnerup spot until Hustead again lost the handle on lap eight. Under green once more, Huls began to challenge for the lead., but the caution waved again on lap 11 for a spinning Jim Lynch. Powers continued to lead with Huls trying several lines, with the two making contact, becoming hooked together briefly on lap 16. Huls broke free and grabbed the win, followed by Powers, Jansen, Beau Taylor , and track champion Lynch.
 The 30 lap $2,000 to win late model headliner was next. First heat winner Bobby Pierce had picked a six for the feature invert. However Michigan ace Rusty Schlenk, back for the second week in a row, was forced to scratch from his row two starting spot, damaging his UMP national title hopes. In fact, the top three in national points were all in attendance, Schlenk, Pierce, and Michael Kloos. As racing began, Dustin Griffin won the race to turn one with Pierce in tow. But Kloos charged to the lead on the second trip around. The caution came out on lap five as Justin Reed kicked a tractor tire onto the track., and two laps later a multi car pileup ended the night for the Littles, Ryan and Jake, and Tennesee pilot Caleb Ashby. With Kloos seemingly in command, he jumped the treacherous turn four cushion on lap ten, and he then retired to the pits. Back under green, Pierce charged to a big lead, as Denny Woodworth shot to second. Just as Pierce caught slower traffic on lap 18, the yellow waved for a spinning Keith Pratt. On the restart, Griffin retook the runner up spot as Pierce again opened up a big advantage. Lap 19 saw Diveley take third after starting seventh, and Mark Burgtorf advanced to fourth one lap later as Woodworth faded running the high line. At the checkers, it was Pierce winning his fourth feature in the last four nights, pulling down a cool $17,000 for his efforts. Griffin, Diveley, Burgtorf, and Woodworth turned in top five runs. The next group included Reed, Pratt, Trace Westling, and first time visitor Scott Geaschel, the only cars still running after 30 laps. Burgtorf was then crowned late model track champion for the 16th time, while Diveley collected the Big Ten title.
  13 cars started the UMP modified finale, with Shawn Deering leading when the caution came out on lap two. Two laps back to green, Long took the lead and began to pull away from the pack. Deering also stretched an advantage over the three car battle for third between Rickey Frankel, Frankie Wellman, and Steven Delonjay. Meanwhile, Dave Weitholder, who was involved in a heat race altercation that heavily damaged his ride, had come from last to sixth by lap ten. On the 14th circuit, Weitholder split the cars of Wellman and Delonjay, a dandy move that took him to fourth. On lap 18, he cleared Frankel, and began to run down Deering, He charged to second with two laps to go, but ran out of time to challenge Long. It was victory number 11 for the 2015 track champion.
  The IMCA sport compacts were the final race on the cars, 12 cars for 15 laps. Trent Orwig led through a lap two restart, but after a stoppage on the fourth circuit, Jeffrey Delonjay took the lead, and Brandon Lambert moved to second. Lambert took the point on lap seven, and one lap later Kimberly Abbott slipped into the runner up slot. At the checkers, it was Lambert, Abbott, Delonjay, Orwig, and Bryce Baker. Like Gower, Abbott picked up her third track title of 2015, becoming the first female champion in QR history.
  The advertised second late model feature had to be scrapped under the UMP format. Of the 16 late models in attendance, four were at QR for the first time in 2015. Unfortunately, it was not a good night for the longest travelers, Schlenk from Michigan, and Ashby from Tennessee.
  Quincy Raceways has three more nights on the 2015 schedule. Next Sunday will be a visit of the MOWA sprint cars, the following Sunday will feature UMP modifieds, and the UMP late models are scheduled to return to close out the season on Sunday October 11.
 Next up for Racin' Down the Road is a Saturday night trip to Knoxville, Iowa Raceway for the final night of the Lucas Oil late model nationals. Maybe I will see you there!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Pierce Hangs on at Tri City

 Kevin and Tammy Gundakers Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach,Il was our racing destination Friday night. It was night number one of the St Louis Showdown, paying $5,000 to win the 40 lap UMP late model feature.
 98 cars packed the pits, including 32 late models, 32 UMP modifieds, and 34 UMP B mods.
 With the potential for rain in the area, Kevin and Tammy promid=sed a quickly run show, and they delivered. Only the late models qualified, with Bobby Pierce setting quick time at 14.38 seconds. The second generation ace then rolled a four for heat race lineup inverts. The first ten lapper would have seen Gordy Gundaker on the outside pole alongside Alan Murray, but this second generation pilot smacked the turn four wall on his second qualifying lap, ending his night. This moved the fast timer from heat one, Jeff Herzog to the outside pole, but when he was unable to answer the bell, third row starter Mark Burgtorf found himself at the front. Mark the led the distance, with Brian Shirley, Murray, and Jim Shereck rounding out the top four. It was my first time to see Tennessee hot shoe Ashley Newman race, and he led the distance in heat two ahead of Pierce, Shannon Babb, and Darrell Moser.
Michael Kloos took heat three from outside row one, besting Billy Laycock, Tanner English, and Cody Conner. The fourth ten lapper went to Jason Feger, followed by the father and son Moyers, and late model rookie Rusty Griffaw. Kevin Cole, who unloaded his # 33, but never made it to the track was a scratch in the final heat.
 One B-main went to Tim Manville, leading the distance ahead of Brian Diveley, who took second at the checkers as Kolby Vandenberghs # 15 suddenly slowed. Austin Rettig ran fourth, Chris Fisher fifth, and Claude Walker edged Caleb Ashby on the last lap for the final qualifying spot. Scott Henseler and Herzog were awarded provisional starting spots for the feature, and the B-main drama became moot when Ashby was given a spot when Vandenbergh scratched.
 With no intermission and little fan fare, and a few sprinkles falling, the late model headliner ran first. The caution waved on the start, and English and Shereck both went pitside, Shereck on the hook, ending their night early. On the restart, Newman shot to the lead from outside row one, with Burgtorf and Feger in tow. Feger cleared Burgtorf on the second circuit, and by lap eight, the leaders had caught the back of the pack. With a battle for first shaping up, the caution flew for a spinning Ashby one lap later. The restart again saw the caution wave as the middle of the pack became bottled up. Back to green with a Delaware start, tenth starting Babb charged to fourth, as Feger grabbed the lead. Pierce powered to second on lap 13 as Feger began to distance himself from the field. Two laps later, Babb cleared Newman for third. Traffic again came in to play on lap 22, and Pierce began to close on Feger. The 25th pass by the flagstand saw the front two side by side, and it was Pierce in front on lap 27. I was beginning to write down the finish as the white flag waved, but Griffaw looped his ride in turn three bringing out the yellow and setting up a single file two lap shootout. We could see thatr the tow was off on the Pierce machine, and the youngster admitted in the post race interview that he could tell his steering was off. But he hit the loud pedal at the green, and the # 32 stuck for two more trips around the oval. Unfortunately, Feger made contact with the backstretch wall on the final go around, but he recovered to finish fourth behind Babb and Shirley. Newman rolled home fifth, ahead of Moyer and Moyer Jr. Manville came from 17th to finish eight, ahead of Burgtorf, who was the last car on the lead lap. Laycock completed the top ten.
 Next it was 20 laps of UMP modified racing. With one car unable to make the starting grid, the field sat on the track for a bit  waiting for an alternate. When the cars rolled off, their was a puddle of what appeared to be oil under the # 18L of Michael Long. Track officials peered inside the engine compartment of his ride, and what they saw caused Long to retire before the race began, a poor ending to his birthday. Rick Conoyer started up front, and held the lead until Mike Harrison made a mid race pass. From there, the # 24H fairly cruised to an amazing  33rd feature win of 2015. Conoyer scored the runner up finish. The real race was for third, as Matt Mevert held of Dean Hoffman and Nick Hoffman in a down to the wire finish.
 With a long Saturday ahead, we headed to the parking lot while Josh Russell was preparing to top the B-mods ahead of Robbie Eilers.
 Sunday night should find us back at Quincy Raceways, as the UMP Big Ten late model series comes to town racing for the final time in 2015, with a $2,000 top prize. There will also be a second late model feature, lined up as a complete invert of the finish of the Big Ten headliner. UMP modifieds, and three classes of IMCA cars, stocks, sport mods, and sport compacts will round out the card. Hopw to see you there or somewhere Racin' Down the Road before the season ends!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Schlenk In Search of Points

Sunday night it was back to the " Broadway Bullring," Quincy Raceways, for a night of five class racing. It was non points night for the IMCA stock cars,sport mods and sport compacts, being the raindate for the IMCA Supernationals, but a regular points night for the UMP late models and modifieds.
 Even though his # 6K machine was destroyed Saturday night at Pevely,Mo., late model standout Michael Kloos was on hand with a " borrowed " # 56H ride. Michael is near the top of the UMP national standings, and having attained 35 starts used for championship totals, he is trying to " throw out " poor finishes and replace them with better ones. With the late model field setting at 12 cars, through the gate at the last minute came the national point leader, Rusty Schlenk. The driver of the # 91 machine calls Jackson, Michigan home, but he frequently ventures south in search of races, especially with most tracks in his area closed for the season. He has visited QR on a handful of occasions, but never with so much on the line. With two of the top point men in the pits, however, it was another traveler, Fairbury,Il pilot McKay Wenger who blistered the .29 mile oval with a qualifying lap of 13.083 seconds. Track regular Jason Perry got the jump on Wenger and picked up the first heat win, and then rolled a one to set up a straight up start in the 25 lap feature.
 For Michael Long, it was business as usual in the UMP mod class, as he set quick time and captured the first heat. He then rolled a three to put himself in row two to start the main event.
 Things were moving along quickly in the preliminary events until the final heat race featuring the sport compacts. Alyssa Steele, whos' early 2015 accident and subsequent hospital stay was detailed in the blog a few weeks ago, was running near the front of the six lap race when she caught the berm in turn four, turning her around and into a series of rollovers. Her # 55s went over four complete times, landing on its wheels. Shaken up, the 17 year old was transported to the hospital to be checked out. Fortunately her injuries this time were not serious, and she was released later in the evening.
 The first feature of the night was 18 laps of sport mod action. With no points being awarded, area B-modified cars were invited to try their luck, with several new drivers doing just that.
 All but two of the 18 entrants took the feature green. After a couple of lap one yellows, things got rolling, with Tanner Klingele taking the early lead ahead of Brandon Lennox and Adam Birck. Tanner opened a sizable lead before a lap seven caution bunched the field. Lennox, however, ducked to the hot pit area, giving up second place. As the lineup was being reset, Klingele rolled to a stop, done for the night. this put Bobby Six and his # 6 car out front for the restart, with Birck second. Lennox rejoined at the tail, and following a multi car mixup two laps later, Lennox was back in contention. But this night belonged to Six, who scored his first win of 2015. Birck and point leader Joey Gower ran side by side for several laps, with Joey finaaly winning the battle for the runnerup spot. Lennox eased past Tony Dunker, as the two veterans posted top five runs.
 The stock car class was short on cars, but not on action. Four of the five in attendance ran for 15 laps after newcomer Kenny Bringer could not get his ride up to speed. Abe Huls and Beau Taylor ran side by side and nose to tail for the top spot, while Jake Powers and Jerry Jansen did the same for third, 15 laps of green flag racing. At the line, it was Huls, Taylor, Powers, and Jansen.
 It was now late model time, with Perry and Denny Woodworth making up the front row. Perry led the first circuit, with the inside line of Wenger, Schlenk, and Mark Burgtorf making up the top four. Wenger then grabbed the lead on lap two, and on the third round, the yellow waved as Charles Van Zandt smacked the front stretch fence after his car made a sharp right turn.  On the restart, Schlenk nabbed second, taking Burgtorf along in third. Wenger continued to pound the fast cushion, while Schlenk and Burgtorf ran the top in turns one and two, and tried the low side in three and four. With six laps to go, Wenger rolled to a stop off turn four, bringing out the caution. Back to action, it became a two car battle between Schlenk and Burgtorf. Mark had a nose in front on laps 22 and 23, but Rusty used the high line to regain the lead on lap 24, holding on for the win. Justin Reed claimed third, followed by Perry and Kloos. Woodworth scored sixth, ahead of Brian Diveley, Keith Pratt, David Janes, and Trace Westling. Janes is piloting a # 7B car that I believe is to be the 2016 ride for Burgtorf.
 Next up was the UMP modified 25 lapper. Rick Conoyer and Dave Weitholder made up row one, and they took off in that order under green. Three laps in, Long advanced to second, and he and Conoyer quickly distanced themselves form the pack. The first caution came at lap 11, and on the restart, Conoyer opened a sizable lead, as Spencer Havermale charged to fourth. As Long began to make up ground, Havermale looked under Weitholder for third, but lost the handle on his # 733, bringing out the caution as four cars piled up. When the green waved again, it was Conoyer and Long checking out, as Russ Coultas used a low side pass to nab third. The caution waved on lap 21, and on the restart, Conoyer went over the turn three bank. Although the yellow waved for a different car, Conoyer continued on to his pit, ending his strong run. Long led the final laps fore the win, while Coultas held off a stiff challenge from Frankie Wellman to record a season best runner up finish. Weitholder and Jared Schlipman completed the top five.
 The sport compact feature was the final race on the card, with all but two of the 11 cars signed in taking the green. Brandon Lambert has been hot of late, and he had the front row for this redraw feature. But he headed to the pits on lap one. A three car battle for the top spot then began, before Josh Barnes lost a wheel on lap six while running a close third. It was now a two car duel with Brandon Reu holding off point leader Kimberly Abbott until the ninth trip past the flagstand. Once out front, Abbott stayed in command, besting Reu, Blaise Roe, and Taylor VanderMaiden.
 Next Sunday night, the late models will be running double features, with the first being the final race in the UMP Big Ten series, and the second a lower paying race inverting the finish from the first feature. UMP modifieds, and IMCA stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts will, I believe, also be on the card.
 The 2015 season is winding down, don't miss a chance to take in a few more races!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Harris Going Out in Style

Davenport speedway was our Saturday night destination for night number two of the reborn Iowa Governers Cup. 75 cars in five divisions signed in to race on the intimidating fairgrounds 1/2 mile after the opening night program was conducted on the inside 1/4 mile. Drivers were scored on their average finish to become the overall champion, although each night offered a complete show and purse.
 Eleven heat races were run on off quickly, with only one yellow flag slowing the action
 Street stocks were up first in feature action, with 14 cars racing for 12 laps. It was a flag to flag win for Perry Gellerstedt, although Rob Henry pushed him hard for the second half of the event, which was lowed twice by caution flags. Joe Bonney and Rob Nylin also turned in top four runs, with Gellerstedt also the overall champion.
Next came the 4 stock class, short on cars, but not action. Six of the eight on hand took the green for ten laps of feature racing. Again, it was a flag to flag win, this time for Sean Fersch, who polished off a clean sweep of the heat and feature. The race went caution free, with Brandon Setser grabbing the runner up spot and the overall Cup title.
 All but one of the 21 IMCA modifieds came to the track for 15 laps of racing. Dakota Hayden was scored the leader after lap one, with front row starter Brad Dubil exiting the track. Hayden held the lead as row four starter Justin Kay began a march to the front. By lap four, the two class standout was second, and he grabbed the top spot one lap later. Meanwhile, row six starters Bruce Hanford and Brad Dierks moved to fourth and fifth respectively. Clearing the veteran Hanford on lap eight, Dierks moved to third as lap nine was scored, and around Hayden on the tenth circuit before the first yellow flag wiped out the pass. However he used the Delaware restart to not only clear Hayden, but Kay as well to take the lead. At the same time, Hanford moved up two spots to third. As the checkers waved, it was Dierks sweeping the weekend to become Cup champion. Kay held on to the second spot, with Hanford alongside in third and Hayden fourth.
 IMCA sport mods were next for 12 laps featuring 11 cars. Zach Maurer led the early laps, with Jacob Waterman trying everything to take the lead. Meanwhile, Ross Neal was closing fast. As the top two raced side by side, Waterman finally made the winning pass on lap nine. With less than two circuits remaining, Neal powered to second, and the top three crossed the line in that order in the caution free race. Cameron Goben rounded out the first four, with Neal the overall champion.
 The final event on the card was the 40 lap $5,000 to win feature for the 20 Corn Belt Clash late models
 The redraw found multi time series champion Chad Simpson setting on the fadter outside row one line alongside Nationak Dirt Hall of Famer Ray Guss Jr. Certainly nothing against Chad, but this was shaping up to be one of those races where the fans left early, based on his victory on Friday night.
However Guss got the jump, leading lap one. Just as quickly, the veteran slowed and pulled to the infield as lap two began, handing Simpson the lead. He began to open a sizable advantage as row two starters Jason Rauen and Brian Harris, along with fifth starting Jason Utter jockeyed for second in that order. Harris slipped past Rauen on lap five, and Utter did the same four laps later, though he and Rauen raced side by side. Slower traffic came in to play at this time, but Simpson was having little trouble disposing of the cars in front of him. But on lap 16, his night came to an ends, as he slowed and pulled to the infield. It was now a duel for the top spot between Harris and Utter, with Rauen and Justin Kay now closing on the leaders. Kay advanced to third on lap 22, and with slower traffic again in play by the lap 24, he pulled alongside Utter for second. Kay took the spot two laps later and began to reel in Harris. But with ten to go, the # 15K slowed out of turn four, bringing out the caution. As the wrecker hooked to Kays machine, Utter pulled through the turn three gate to the pits, ending his run as well.
 From there, Harris mission was one of surviving one more caution period for sixth running Rob Moss three laps later, and he did so without a stiff challenge. It was only his second night out in his new ride, a Diercks Racing machine boasting his longtime # 21H on the side. In his post race interview, the red head, who announced his impending retirement from racing recently, said that he was contacted ten days prior with an offer of the open engine ride to finish out the 2015 season. This comes after a couple of successful seasons wheeling the Lynn and Karen Richard # 15R IMCA late model.
 If he will indeed call it a career after the season, he goes out on a high note as the 2015 Iowa Governers Cup champion, having collected a third place run on Friday.
 Rauen took second on Saturday, followed by the # 10 car out of the Parker Racing stables in Wisconsin. Son Paul was given as the driver in the feature, but dad Pete in the heat race, so....?
Nick Anvelink had a solid run in fourth, with young Spencer Diercks, Harris' teammate in fifth. The second five was led by veteran Dave Eckrich, as brother Denny dropped out with two to go. Mike Fryer was seventh, ahead of Skip Frey, Mark Rose, and Matt Furman. Chuck Hanna and Jay Chenoweth rounded out the cars running at the checkers.
 After posting this, it will be off to Quincy Raceways for five classes of racing tonight, as the season rapidly winds down. Grab a jacket and head for the races while you still can!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Pierce and Kinder Top Spoon River

 With the Monday holiday from Work, Darryl and I headed out Sunday night for the UMP Fall Nationals at Spoon River Speedway in Fulton,County,Illinois. The race, headlined by the American Modified Series was supposed to be the third night of the Illinois swing, following shows at Farmer City on Friday, which was rained out, and Saturday night at Fairbury.
 At Spoon, 59 modifieds signed in to vie for the $5,000 top prize, with UMP super late models, 26 strong, competing for a $2,000 winners check. 22 UMP Pro late models and 19 UMP Pro modifieds contributed to a jammed pit area.
 Chad Kinder topped modified qualifying, while three late model drivers broke the non Summernationals track record, with Donny Walden the fastest at 13.68 seconds. 16 heat races and three last chance races set the feature fields at 20 cars for each of the headline classes, with six provisionals added to the modified field.
 Kinder sat on the outside pole for the 50 lap feature, and although he jumped to the early lead, a lap one caution reset the pack for a complete restart. Amazingly, the 50 laps then clicked off caution free, with Kinder leading each circuit around the oval, which had been reworked during the intermission. Ray Bollinger came from row two to challenge Kinder early, and the leaders encountered slower traffic by lap 21. As the front runners worked through lapped cars, Kinder began to stretch his advantage. Matt Kooper powered to the third position, chasing the leaders, but about lap 35, it was hard charging Tait Davenport moving to third. He quickly ran down Bollinger and tried different lines to grab the second spot. Bollinger was up to the challenge, hanging on for the runner up finish behind Kinder. Lucas Lee trailed Davenport in fourth, while Kopper held off pole sitter Donovan Lodge for fifth.
 The super late models ran next, with 25 laps on tap. The four heat race winners had redrawn for the first two row starting spots, with Walden and Bob Gardner drawing row one, and national UMP point contenders Michael Kloos and Bobby Pierce in row two. Walden took the lead at the green, with Pierce powering to second. The caution came out on lap four, as Jeff Herzog and Steve Lance Jr got together. On the restart, Pierce used the very bottom line of the track to ease ahead of Walden, as seventh starting Billy Drake advanced to fourth. Despite the reworking of the super high banked oval during intermission, the surface was now super slick, and the leaders all hugged the low groove, looking for an opening. Only sixth starting Kolby Vandenbergh and row seven starter Mike " Opie " Spatola searched for an advantage in the high groove without much success. The front two distanced themselves from the pack, while Gardner and Drake had their own duel for third.. Again, lap 21 was when traffic came into play, and while Pierce had some issues, he was able to maintain his momentum, holding off Walden to the checkers. Gardner scored a third place finish over Drake, while Tim Lance brought out a plain black #48, starting and finishing fifth. Lance and Russ Adams did double duty in both late models classes, while veteran Kevin Weaver did the same in the open mods and super lates. The " Flatland Flash " ran 13th in one of the Allen Racing mods, but came home sixth in the late models in his own # B12. Peoria standout Todd Bennett was in one of the Bob Gardner # 4 cars and ran seventh, besting Kloos, Charley Hess, and Mike Mullvain to round out the top ten.
 With the time on the wrong side of 11:30, we headed to the car with the final two features in staging.
This was the first trip to " the Spoon " for either of us in many years, and it was fun to meet some new friends and connect with old friend Kevin Paul, a former Quincy Raceways racer who now wheels one of the # 93 late models for Crazy Ray Racing. Thanks to the Spoon River staff for their help and hospitality.
 The holiday weekend is nearly over, now back to work...