Sunday, October 26, 2014

A Long Night of Great Racing at Shiverfest

With an unofficial car count of 174, our final race of the year in the state of Iowa was a dandy. Shiverfest at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa has become something of a one day version of the Boone Supernationals. There is really no sensible reason, in either case, for that many cars to show up to race for the amount of money paid out, and yet year after year, the pits are full of  many of the top cars and stars of  IMCA. With the warm start to the day yesterday and no threat of rain (or snow), the pits swelled to the largest car count in several years. And although it was a somewhat late arriving crowd, eventually the front gate became a strong one, as well.
 There will be many stories and articles about the actual 36 races that took place, and I confess that I left my big notebook at home and decided to just enjoy the racing as well as a last visit of 2014 with many friends and family, however I would like to share a few thoughts about the event.
 First of all, congratulations to all the drivers, especially the winners, Cayden Carter in modifieds and stock cars - Jason Cook took the stock car checkers but did not make it through post race tech - Dustin Griffths in hobby stocks, Michael Grossman in sport compacts, and Quincy Raceways regular Joey Gower in sport mods. The racing was superior , with only the hobby stock feature something of a runaway despite being the race plagued with the most cautions. It was good to see Dan Keltner back at the track after being checked out at the hospital following his wild ride in which he flipped over the turns one and two guardrail in the sport mod feature. Also hoping that John Whelen is not too sore today after flipping his sport compact multiple times in the closing laps of the sport compact main event. And kudos to Dave Sapp and race director Mike Van Genderen on a nearly perfect racing surface. This was my third visit to LCS this season, and these guys have had an A plus track all three times. And the pace of shows at Donnellson should be a template for every track in the midwest to follow! Get 'em on the track, get 'off, and get the next ones on!
 I would not want to be too critical of any facility that could offer up 174 race teams on the last Saturday in October in the state of Iowa for a $10.00 ticket, but there were a few things rattling around in my head during the very few minutes of downtime. If my fading memory serves, Shiverfest used to be a late afternoon race - hot laps around the 3:30 or 4:00 hour? I realize things like trick or treating on the track and kids box car races - both important and enjoyable events - have been added, but could they happen two hours earlier? Yesterday was probably as warm as the weather will ever be in Southeast Iowa in late October, but... From personal experience, I know the tower in Donnellson is a pretty comfortable place to watch racing, but despite the fact that the " big guy, " aka the LCS flagman stayed true to his habit of wearing short pants, the announcers might have noticed that folks in the stands did indeed have coats, gloves, and blankets in use. Forget what the thermometer says, it was cold. Part of the original allure of Shiverfest was to start around 4:00, and walk out about 9:00 before the temps dropped to 11:30 levels. Again, I realize that they were likely preplanned, but 32 races would have been moneys worth, 30 minutes devoted to " special " races, not necessarily a crowd favorite. One thing that is both a blessing and a curse at LCS is the fact that the races come in such rapid fire succession that it is nearly impossible to announce the starting lineups before the roar of the engines drowns out the PA. Sometimes an early yellow flag offers up time to offer up more information. I like to think I am fairly knowledgeable concerning area drivers, but there were many cars on this night that I will be surprised to see in the results who the driver was. I have found over the years at many different tracks that I prefer one announcer over two. Too often, a two man team seems to get bogged down with idle conversation or a comedy routine. Maybe I am just too much of a " facts" guy?
 With all that said, Shiverfest 2015 has more or less been confirmed, and the Good Lord willing, I will be there to watch was has truly become a staple of midwest racing.
  I am not sure if my 2014 race season is over, but either way, thanks for reading and check back in as I will be sending out thoughts and opinions as we anxiously await another race season.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kay Makes a Clean Sweep at Liberty 100

Saturday night we ventured north for night number two of the revamped Liberty 100 at the West Liberty, Iowa Raceway. Around 100 cars signed in for the night, after the Friday night portion of the show had featured two rounds of heat races in the five classes  and the IMCA Deery Brothers Iron Man feature event. Night number two was set to include last chance races and a total of six features, but due to less than full fields in three of the " support " classes, only the IMCA modifieds and late models needed the B-main events. All but the late models would line up their main events by passing points, while the late models qualified the eight heat race winners from Friday, then took six from each of two last chance races Saturday, then filled the field with a hard charger and three provisional starters.
 Two last chance races from the 28 car IMCA modified  field ran first, followed by the two BH's for the lates. Mike Murphy Jr from Colona,Il, and Tiffin, Ia driver Denny Eckrich topped the two 12 lap events.
  The first feature of the night was a 15 lapper for the 16 car IMCA sport mod field. Bryan Brinker and second generation driver Shawn Cooney dueled up front until the caution waved on lap 11. On the restart, Cody Harris blasted to the lead and held on for his first ever feature win. Brinker and Cooney followed, while Friday nighrt heat winner and track champ Aric Becker settled for seventh. A special thanks to Kelly Underbakke Becker for updates from Friday nights show.
 The IMCA stock cars ran next for 18 laps. It is fascinating to me how much variance there is in car counts in the stock cars, and West Liberty is one of the tracks that struggles in this area. Twelve cars checked in, I am sure in no small part due to the two day show at Lee County Speedway.  Even with the low count, they had an unusually high number of cautions, and the 18 laps seemed to take forever. And I say this while admitting that the stock cars are one of my favorite classes. I am not positive, but I think track champ Davis Brandies was a no show on night one, signing in night two to tag the tail of the feature.  Veteran Johnny Spaw started in row two in the second night out in his # 00, taking the lead on  lap three. When the caution waved on lap six, Brandies was up to fifth. On the restart, the # 71 vaulted to third, and two laps later he powered to second on the big half mile. Following a lap 11 yellow, we suddenly had a back and forth three car scrum, with Spaw, Brandies, and Brandon Jay. Jay slipped to second on lap 16, and the battle between him and Brandies kept the focus off Spaw. At the checkers, it was Spaw, Brandies, and Jay in that order.
 The first 50 lap late model feature was up next, and this one would be the final Deery Brothers Summer Series event for 2014. By virtue of starting his heat race on Friday, Justin Kay from Wheatland, Iowa had clinched the series championship, so he would be racing for pride and dollars. The Casey General Stores pizza box redraw between the heat race winners found Ray Guss Jr and Todd Malmstrom on the front row. Guss crossed the stripe first on lap one, with Malmstrom taking over from there. Third starting Todd Beuseling passed Guss for second on lap four. His row two mate, Kay had fell back early, but moved to third on lap 13. As the leaders pulled away, Beuseling took the top spot one lap later.  On lap 16, Kay took over the runner up spot. The first caution waved on lap 21, and following the restart, Beuseling opened a big lead, while Kay had a comfortable margin over the third place car of Andy Eckrich. As the leaders hit slower traffic on lap 30, Kay closed in on the # 46. During the time, row four starter Brian Harris slammed into one of the tractor tires in turn two while taking third from Eckrich. following a lap 33 caution, Harris moved to second, but again Beuseling pulled away. With nine laps to go, Kay regained second, closing in on the leader. Two laps later, he grabbed the point. During a lap 44 yellow, Harris went to the trailer, giving up a third place run. It was though by announcer Jerry Mackey at this point that Kay had a flat left front tire, but a track by track officials determined that it was just very low, and he was allowed to continue. As the green waved, tenth starting Denny Eckrich took over second, but Kay pulled away for the win. At the checkers, it was Kay, D, Eckrich, Beuseling, Colby Springsteen, and series rookie of the year Ryan Dolan, who had started in a provisional starting spot in row 11. 20 cars finished the main event , all on the lead lap. The main reason was the format for the second 50 lapper. all cars finishing on the lead lap would be inverted for the start of feature two. Any lapped cars, of which there apparently were none(?), would line up next, and cars that dropped out - there were four of them - were replaced by non qualifiers from the 34 cars on hand. I should mention here that 38 late models has signed in on Friday, with four not returning.
  As temperatures began to drop, the IMCA sport compact 12 lap finale came to the track, with Shaun Slaughter topping the ten car field.
 Up next was the 25 lap IMCA modified shootout. 24 cars took the green, but a massive seven car pile up in turn one eliminated four cars, with Chris Zogg winding up upside down. Following a lenghthy
red flag period, 20 cars restarted, but two more dropped out after taking the green. Kelly Shryock in a # 44 and track regular Kurt Kile started on row one, with Kile leading lap one. Those two quickly separated from the pack until the third stoppage on lap 16 bunched the field. Scott Dickey and Bruce Hanford were racing hard for third when Dickey spun on lap 19. On the restart the fifth starting Hanford grabbed second, and began to work on Kile. Hanford had the lead as lap 321 was scored, but Kile was back in front on lap 22. The top three were glued together as the checkers waved, with Kile scoring the win, Shryock back in second, and Hanford third. Dickey came all the way back to fourth at the checkers.
  It was now time for the final race of 2014 at West Liberty, the second 50 lap $3,000 to win late model battle. Jeremy Grady and Nick Marolf held the front row.  Matt Ryan was one of the four cars added to this race after setting out the first. Matt had been victimized by a mishap in his B main, and was caught up in a multiple car pile up on lap one in this race, ending a frustrating night. As racing resumed. Grady grabbed the point with Marolf in tow. The two swapped the lead on lap four, the again on lap six. By lap 13, 22nd starting Kay was up to sixth, and when the caution flew on lap 15, he was fifth. As the Delaware restart took the green, he advanced to fourth. Lap 16 saw fifth starting Chad Holladay take the lead, with Kay moving to third. The flying # 15K took second on lap 17, and blew past Holladay two laps later. By the time the caution came out on lap 42, only five cars remained on the lead lap. Even with the field tightened up, Kay had no issues, cruising to his 31st  feature win of 2014, making a $6,000 Liberty 100 clean sweep in the process. Row eight starter Dolan had taken the runner up slot on the restart, adding a second to his fifth in the points feature. Denny Eckrich came from row nine, adding a third to his earlier second. Andy Eckrich followed his older brother, giving him a fourth to go with a ninth in feature one. Holladay was the final car on the lead lap in fifth.
 The long but entertaining night of racing ended around 11:15. Fans and drivers alike missed the info from the electronis scoreboard, which was vandalized since the last race, and could not be quickly repaired. Although no help to the racers, Mackey did his usual outstanding job of keeping the fans informed of the lap count, lapped cars, etc. Thanks, Jerry!
 With the sketchy weather this time of year, I am not sure if there will be more racing in 2014 for me, but there are still a couple of attractive options, including the two day show next weekend in Memphis,Mo., and Shiverfest the following weekend in Donnellson, Ia. Someday I hope to make it to the late November Turkey Classic in Springfield,Mo., maybe 2014 will be the year? So hopefully we will still meet up in 2014, Racin' Down the Road.

Monday, September 29, 2014

A Weekend Full of Racing

By now, I am sure everyone who cares has read one of the many reports,recaps,testimonials about the Saturday night finale of the 11th edition of the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. So I will start out with just some random observations. As I always try to do, I was taking notes throughout the night, but when Brian Birkhofer charged around the suddenly slowing car of  Scott Bloomquist coming to the checkers at the end of the 100 lap feature, I knew I might as well toss the notebook, because the only story that mattered happened on that final lap. I have attended the Saturday night portion of the three day affair all 11 seasons, missing the feature only the year wet conditions wiped things out after hot laps and the race was run on Sunday. In all those years, I only remember one race that was something of a yawner. There have also been a couple with as much or more excitement than Saturday night, complete with last lap drama. But those shows did not include such unlikely drama from Iowa dirt racings favorite son. Couple that with his earlier announcement that he was backing away from racing for at least the foreseeable future, and his final turn pass to collect his second nationals win and the $40,000 winners purse, well if that were a movie script, I would call it hokey and not buy a ticket! Add in the bent over salute from Bloomer during driver introductions and Birkys slightly off color response, well if you weren't there, you missed an amazing turn of events!
 During all of this, I was wondering who, if anyone could replace Brian as the new darling of the dirt tracks for the Hawkeye state crowd. Certainly one driver who had a big following at Knoxville was former modified standout and up and coming LM star Ryan Gustin. After a lackluster first two nights, Ryan led flag to flag to win the D-main on Saturday. He then charged into the seventh and final transfer spot in the 15 lap C main, but with seven laps to go, his # 19R suddenly slowed, and he exited the track, ending his run. Another young gun with an Iowa connection through Dad and Grandpa, Billy Moyer Jr led the distance to win the "C."
 The 20 lap B main featured an outstanding 24 car field that I would happily pay to see start a feature event any time, any where. A trio of # 1 cars, Wendell Wallace, Rick Eckert, and Will Vaught staged a high powered duel at the front of the pack. Vaught eventually saw his run come to an end, leaving the other two veterans to slug it out. While Wallace held the edge most of the way, Eckert pulled ahead with three laps to go. However Jason Feger brought out a caution as his # 25 went up in smoke, and Wallace regained the lead on the restart, pulling away for the win. Another home state favorite, Denny Eckrich used a last lap pass of Jason Papich to grab the sixth and final transfer spot to the A main.
The top two in Lucas Oil points, Don Oneal and Jimmy Owens were both forced to run the B, however they used the race as a hot lap session, as both would have points provisional starting spots in the feature. The two leaders in series rookie points, Jason Hughes and Papich both took emergency provisionals, giving us a 34 car starting field. That was still less than half of the original Thursday night gathering of 79 drivers, and just over half of the 67 who took to the big 1/2 mile on Saturday.
 Birkhofer and 2013 winner Darrell Lanigan sat on the front row of the 100 lapper, and they staged a tight battle lap after lap, with Bloomquist eventually joining the fray from his third row spot. Birkhofer never dropped below third, and Lanigan had fallen to sixth when his run ended as he set backwards in turn for with 14 laps to go, setting up the unlikely finish. Bloomquist seemed to be in control, holding about a four car length lead at the white flag. Apparently he knew there was a problem in the drive train of his # 0, and he tried to nurse it home. But Birkhofer was up on the wheel, and he powered to the very top of the track in turns three and four, winning the drag race to the checkers in front of several thousand standing and screaming faithful fans. As often happens at Knoxville, there were some memorable runs. Mike Marlar truly may have had the fastest car in the closing laps, and he came from row 12 to cross the line in third. Jimmy Mars picked up 18 spots to take fourth, while Oneal came from 31st to fifth.
 Knoxville is more than a race, it is a total event, and has become a magnet for fans and racer from literally all across the US and Canada, as well. Whether you go for three nights or one, this race should be a destination for late model fans in 2015 and beyond!
  I had though my Sunday night racing was done for the season, but when Quincy Raceways promoter Ken Dobson added an eight car, 20 lap Pick Your Poison late model invitational to Fan Appreciation night, I knew one more visit to the Bullring was in order. Dobson started at the top of the track point sheet, calling drivers until he had eight commitments from the top 11 on the sheet. Clint Kirkham later cancelled, but Check Mitchell stepped up to fill the field. The late models would time trial, then pick their starting spot, fast qualifier picking first, and so on. the catch was, if the winner came from row one, he would collect $500. Row two was worth $1,000, row three $1,500, and row for, $2,000. Second place on back would take home $200. Jason Perry set quick time and chose inside rown four - runnerup Mark Burgtorf took the outside spot of the same row. Justin Reed picked the outside of row three, while Denny Woodworth took inside row two. Jim Moon wound up on the pole, and he grabbed the early lead, but Perry and Jamie Wilson got together, bringing out the caution. Back to racing, Wilson headed to the trailer, and with Woodworth out fron on lap two, Perry again slowed, and he also headed pitside. Reed slipped around Moon for second on lap four ahead of a debris caution, and we then lost Moon and Trace Westling. Finally we were able to string together some laps, With Reed and Burgtorf applying pressure to the leader. There was a competition yellow at lap ten, but no one took advantage to make adjustments. Mitchell retired, leaving us with three fast hot rods. Woodworth was not to be denied on the hammer down surface, and though Burgtorf and Reed stayed close, the late model lawyer took the win and a cool $1,000.
 The modified feature saw the top two points men, Steven Delonjay and Michael Long start side by side in row one. Michael quickly went to the cushion, where he is at his best, and grabbed the lead, while Steven found himself working to hold off Jared Schlipman for the second spot. By the time Delonjay was able top put some distance between himself and Schlipman, Long had built a sizable lead. Long held on to pick up his third win of the weekend following Friday and Saturday victories at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis,Mo. Delonjay, Schlipman, and Frankie Wellman filled out the top four.
With the points season over, the rules were opened up in the other three classes, drawing a few new cars to the program. First timer Jace Gay took the early lead in the caution plagued Sport mod/B mod 18 lapper, but Joey Gower grabbed the lead as things began to shake out of lap three. Two laps later Tanner Klingele moved to second and set sail after the veteran Gower. Joey, however, built a nearly half track lead that was wiped out by a yellow on the white flag lap. Gower was up to the challenge, taking the win over track regulars Klingele, Holtmeyer, and rookie Nathan Bringer.
 Eight stock cars checked in, including three UMP type street stock cars. One of those newcomers Josh Smith, led all 18 laps, as the UMP cars seemed to hold a speed advantage over the IMCA regulars. Another visitor, Todd Cummings was able to slip around track champion Abe Huls, the chased Smith to the checkers. Terry Houston completed the top four.
 Kimberly Abbott loaned her " backup " car to her " significant other," track champ Austen Becerra for the 4 cylinder action. Starting on the pole Becerra withstood challenges from Abbott in the non stop 15 lap finale to take the last 2014 checkers at Quincy. Visiting Ricky Carriker stayed close in third, with Thomas Angelo fourth.
 In the drivers meeting, it was announced that the same five classes would be on the card for 2015, with possibly a tweaking of the sport mod rules, ending a certain amount of speculation surrounding the popular facility.
 There are several choices for excellent racing this weekend, the weather looks pretty good for early October, so maybe I will see you out there somewhere!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Late Models Added to Quincy Finale

Promoter Kenny Dobson has decided to add a rather unique late model event to Fan Appreciation night this Sunday, September 28 at Quincy Raceways. The track will host a " Pick Your Poison " invitational, with eight cars running a 20 lap feature only. The eight cars will qualify, and the fastest qualifier can pick his starting spot for the 20 lapper, The catch is, if the winner comes from row one, it will pay $500, row two $1,000, row three $1,500, row four $2,000! After the top qualifier picks his spot, the second fastest will choose, and so on. The top eight in points were invited to participate - three of them were unable to attend, so the start was offered to the next three in points, who all excepted. So the starting field will consist of Mark Burgtorf, Denny Woodworth, Jason Perry, Justin Reed, Jamie Wilson, Jim Moon, Trace Westling, and Clint Kirkham. These will be the only late models racing. Modifieds, sport mods/B mods, stock cars, and 4 cylinders will also be on the card for only a $5.00 ticket price! This will apparently be the final regular race night of the 2014 season at QR.
Hope to see you there, as I will be making my way back from the final night of the Lucas Oil Late Model Nationals at Knoxville Raceway. The forecast for the rest of the weekend looks great, lets go racing!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Kinder and Sheppard on Top at Mod Mania

 In my last blog, I said the weatherman might play a factor in our racing destination this weekebd, and that turned out to be the case. With the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series race in Davenport,Iowa and night three of Mod Mania at Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach,Il as attractive options, we carefully watched the changing forecasts as Saturday afternoon approached. Fred was already in Davenport visiting, so it was left to Darryl and me to decide. With some ugly looking radar north and clearing skies south, we took off for UMP country and our second visit in eight days to Tri City.
 Mod Mania is a three day orgy of racing featuring UMP modifieds as the headline class with UMP late models in support, and maybe an extra class on occasion. Mod counts on Thursday and Friday had been 72 and 71 respectively, with late model numbers of 42 and 50. Between breakage, shrinking finances and other choices, the Saturday night count is usually down a bit, and 2014 was no exception, but 54 modifieds and 31 late models still added up to a quality show. There was also a full program of police and sheriffs officers from various Missouri jurisdictions racing converted police cars for charity.
 Hot laps and group qualifying was a combined effort , with Mike Harrison setting quick time for the mods at 16.235 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. The track continued to get faster during late model trials with several cars atop the speed chart before one of the last to qualify, Frank Heckenast Jr set the top overall mark at 14.931.
 Six mod heats advancing the top two to the 40 lap finale left 42 drivers to try to come through a C-main and two B's. With several cars on the trailer, the C-main was scrapped when only eight cars came to the track. A pair of B-mains each sent the top seven to the $5,000 to win main event, leaving two provisional spots open in the 28 car starting grid. A dash among the six heat winner set the first three rows, with Hunter Rasdon from Jonesboro,Ar and Chad Kinder from Newton,Il on row one. UMP national late model point champion Bobby Pierce was doing his first racing in a full blown modified this weekend and he would start inside of Michael Long in row two. Controversy and top five runs had been the story for Pierce and Long so far, as well as for Harrison, who started outside Trent Young of Hopkinsville,Ky. in row three.
 Four late model heats were contested, with the top four moving to the 30 lap $2,000 to win finale. All four ten lappers were won from the pole, with Brandon Sheppard besting Randy Korte, Mark Burgtorf, and Austin Rettig in heat one. Heat two went to Tony Jackson Jr. ahead of Billy Laycock,Jason Perry and ageless Bobby Martintoni . Michael Kloos topped Tim Manville,Dillan White, and Allan Murray from San Antonio,Texas in heat three. The final heat checkers went to Heckenast over fifth starting Pierce, Dustin Griffin, and Gordy Gundaker. Justin Asplin won the caution plagued 12 lap B-main over Steve Lance.Jr, Brian Dively,Rick Salter, and rookie Chris Fisher. Veteran Mike Hammerle was awarded the lone provisional in the 22 car starting grid.
 The mod feature was first up, and Kinder shot to the lead at the drop of the green. The first caution waved on lap three as provisional starter Rick Conoyer spun in turn four. At this point Pierce, Rasdon and Harrison trailed the leader, as Long had fallen back to seventh. On lap four Rasdon and Harrison both cleared the fading Pierce, and the yellow waved again on lap five for a fire in the underside of the # Z8 of Max McLaughlin from Mooresville,NC. Back to racing Harrison powered to second on the Delaware restart, but Kinder opened a sizable lead. By lap 14, Harrison was closing, but following another caution, Kinder again took off. When the caution came out, Nick Hoffman had climbed from a row five start to third, and the announcer made sure we were  up to speed concerning the race within the race. Besides a $3000 check on Thursday and $4,000 winner share on Friday ahead of the $5,000 on Saturday, a three day point race is contested for extra cash. Going into the finale, Hoffman, Harrison, Long, and Pierce all had a shot at the title, and by this time it looked like it was down to Haarison and Hoffman, with whoever finished ahead of the other garnering the title. Back to green, Hoffman shot around Harrison, and by lap 22, Rusty Griffaw had methodically worked his way to fourth. He cleared Harrison briefly on lap 23, the fell back to fourth. Hoffman and Harrison then engaged in an entertaining duel, while Kinder again opened a big lead. Lap 30 saw Harrison on second and he began to run down the leader, but a lap 33 caution debris seemed to break his momentum.
The checkers waved for Kinder, who led all the way, and making him the third winner in three days, following Matt Mevert and Harrison. Harrison took runner up honors in the race and the top spot in the mini points chase. Hoffman crossed the stripe third ahead of Young and Griffaw. Long was sixth ahead of Paris,Tn ace Lucas Lee, Pierce, Brian Barber from Greensburg,Ky, and Rasdon. Unofficially Harrison continues to run second in the national points chase to Indiana driver Devin Gilpin, who left after night two to return to his home track in Brownstown,In.
 The late model feature was the final race on the card, with a straight up start putting Sheppard and Jackson on row one. Sheppard, who took the opening night $2,000 check, jumped to the lead, with a lap four yellow slowing the action. At this point, double duty Pierce had moved up three spots to fifth, and he moved to fourth on lap five. By lap ten he was in third, and he powered past Kloos for second on the 13th circuit. B Shepp had opened up a comfortable lead, as his spotter standing by the front stretch wall indicated, but Pierce was pounding the cushion inches from the concrete wall trying to cut into the lead.With traffic now a factor, Pierce had closed the gap by lap 23, and he tried a slide job in turn two on lap 24. He cleared Brandon, but could not get his # 32 to stick, and Sheppard moved his # B5 back ahead. Traffic again got heavy on lap 27, but Pierce could not mount another serious challenge, as Sheppard led flag to flag. With only the lap four stoppage, the leader lapped up to the eighth place car on the still super fast surface. An exhausted Pierce took second, with Kloos holding third. Heckenast turned in a solid fourth, ahead of Friday night winner Korte.  Jackson Jr. topped the second five ahead of Manville, Burgtorf, Laycock, and Perry. Earlier in the evening Korte reaffirmed the at next Friday at Tri City will be his final race, as he continues to battle Myeloma. We wish only the best for the legendary driver of the # 00, his wife Teri, and family.
 There are still plenty of attractive events on the racing calender going forward, but next Saturday should find me in Knoxville,Ia for the $40,000 finale of the Lucas Oil late model nationals. Although I have never been able to make a preliminary night in Knoxville - one of these years...- I have only missed the 100 lapper the year it was rained out and rescheduled for the following day. IF Knoxville is not on your schedule, check the calender on the main page at Positively and find a race somewhere. So far, the extended forecast looks good!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Season Championship Night at Quincy

Although the 2014 season is far from over, Quincy Raceways staged their season championship night on Sunday, wrapping up track titles in the five weekly divisions. Ironically, one of the larger UMP late models fields of the season was on hand to compete for the $1200 top prize, with 17 cars coming through the pit gate. Ryan Unzicker sets second in UMP national points, and he made his second visit to the track in 2014, starting the night off with the quickest qualifying lap of 13.706 seconds. Heat race wins went to Jason Perry and national point leader Bobby Pierce, and the 30 lap feature lineup was set to go straight up, with no dice roll invert for the night. There was plenty of local drama as well, with 14 time track champion Mark Burgtorf coming into the night with a one point lead over defending champion Denny Woodworth. Denny tried to improve his chances by bringing along his nback up car with Keith Pratt behind the wheel just in case he had trouble with his ride. When Denny crossed the line second to Pierce in his heat and Mark dropped from the third starting spot in heat one to a fifth place finish, it looked like the late model lawyer had the advantage. When the green waved, Pierce, who had two QR wins already under his belt shot to the lead. As Bobby began to build a lead, Burgtorf looked like he found something, and he needed only three laps to come from his row five starting slot to drive past the third running Woodworth. The first caution came on lap seven as McKay Wenger , in his first visit of 2014 had a problem in turn four. Woodworth was back to seventh on the restart and Burgtorf in fourth. On lap 11 Denny gained one spot, and at the crossed flags he advanced to fifth. But three laps later Mark eased ahead of Perry for third. On lpa 21, Pierce had a big lead, but he suddenly went over the top of turn one. He recovered out of turn two to hold the lead, but Unzicker was now closing fast. Lap 23 saw last weeks winner, Gordy Gundaker go off the backstretch to bring out the caution, ending his night while running sixth. On lap 24 Pierce again flew off the track, this time in turn three, and he headed for the trailer, apparently out of brakes, turning the lead over to the second running Burgtorf. But it was Unzicker on top as lap 25 was scored, and Ryan held on for his second win in two tries this season at QR. As he mentioned in his post race interview, his other win also came when Pierce broke while leading back in May. Burgtorf came home second to secure his 15th track title, but first in the UMP years. Perry held off Woodworth for third, with Justin Reed and Wenger completing the top six.
 There was an equal amount of drama in the UMP modified division, as defending champion Steven Delonjay came into the night on a run of bad luck that saw his lead over Michael Long dwindle to two points. With all eyes on these two, Jared Schlipman went out and set fast time, adding a heat race win to his resume as well. Long started outside row one with Delonjay right behind. Robbie Reed jumped to the lead at the green followed by Long and Schlipman. Jared blasted to second on lap two, Long and Delonjay followed. On lap four, Schlipman passed Reed, and the caution waved one lap later. The restart had Schlipman, Long, and Delonjay out front. On lap nine Delonjay used the low line to overtake Michael for second, and he continued to hug the low line while Long pounded the cushion. As Schlipman clicked off the laps out front, Long eased ahead of Delonjay by the slightest of margins on lap 18. Just as it looked as though Micheal would take the runnerup spot and the title, the caution waved on lap 21. Long elected the inside groove on the Delaware restart, presumably to keep Steven from his preferred low line, but Delonjay won the battle to turn one, then went back to the bottom. Long again went to the cushion, but with his tires now cool, he could not catch the # 35. At the checkers it was Schlipman completing the sweep, with Delonjay cementing his fourth straight title in second. Long, who may have regretted missing one points night, took third ahead of Reed and Shawn Deering.
  There was little intrigue in the IMCA stock car title chase, and when point leader Abe Huls grabbed the race lead from Nathan Hays on lap two, the battle was for second. The only thing to slow Abe down as a lap 11 yellow that bunched the field, but back to racing he opened a commanding lead. Jake Powers powered his way around Brandon Savage and Jerry Jansen to take second on lap 13, and two laps later Savage moved to third. At the stripe, it was Huls,Powers,Savage,Jansen, and first time visitor William Dahl.
  Like Huls, Tony Dunker had another track title in hand in the IMCA sport mod division going into the 18 lap finale. Six cautions in the first five laps marred the action, with Patrick Phillips holding the early lead, while Dunker was caught up in two of the mishaps. Bobby Anders was shadowing Phillips, while Brad Holtmeyer recovered from a trip to the hot pit to pound the cushion and come back into the top five. With two circuits left, Anders spun in turn rwo as he tried to overtake Phillips. Holtmeyers comeback ended at the same time. On the restart, it was now Joey Gower in second, but Phillips held on to put his # 65 in victory lane for the first time. Brandon Dale also recovered from an early  trip to the tail to finish third , meaning the heat winners finished top three in the feature. Adam Birck and Tanner Klingele rounded out the top five, with Dunker an uncharacteristic seventh at the finish.
 Austen Beccerra was also unable to back up his track title with a feature win on championship night  - Huls was the only one - as he ran second to Kimberly Abbott. Kim has been the dominant driver the last month, but still finished a distant second in the points chase. Brandon Lambert, Austin McClean, and Spencer Coats turned in top five runs.
 Next up at Quincy is a visit by the MOWA sprint cars on Sunday the 21st, joined by the King of the Bullring sport mod shootout paying a whopping $1253.00 to win. For details and support classes, visit the Quincy Raceways website.
 We have a couple of interesting possibilities for the coming weekend, and at this point the weatherman may be our deciding factor. Until next time...

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moyer Jr. Continues Family Tradition

With a vacation day in hand and Fred behind the wheel, we two plus Darryl and friend Bill, back from Washington state made the journey to Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach,Il. It was night number one of the St Louis Showdown, back to back $10,000 to win events, with the mini series moving tonight to I-55 Raceway in Pevely,Mo. Tri City was hit with the same type of monsoon that visited our area, as track owner Kevin Gundaker said they received over five inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday. But the show must go on, enough water was pumped from the infield to make the place raceable, and although there was plenty of mud in the pit area, the vast expanse of ground available left plenty of room. And it was a good thing, because a huge field of 131 cars in three divisions signed in to race. A whopping 57 B-modifieds, a class only added to the Tri City lineup this season checked in to vy for a $1,000 top prize. 35 UMP modifieds were on hand for another $1,000 to win, and a posted number of 39 UMP late models made the trip for the $10,000, although I am pretty sure that supposedly late arriving Jim Moon was a no show, leaving us with 38 competitors. Water was not even the main issue on Friday night, however, as a persistent harsh wind coupled with temps in the low 50's made it feel like late October racing - winter coats and gloves were in use all around! Large car counts are not unusual at Tri City, and hot laps began only about eight minutes late, at 6:38. Unfortunately, 15 hot lap sessions followed by late model qualifying left the track something of a one laner for the 14 heat races. Track record holder Billy Moyer the elder set quick time for the late models at 16.081 seconds, while Moyer Jr turned the next fastest qualifying lap. The father and soon duo both picked up heat race wins, along with local hot shoe Tim Manville, and Jason Feger. Not coincidentally, all four won from the pole position. Tammy Gundaker had stated at the drivers meeting that they would try to run the show with no intermission due to the car count and low temps, but following the heats the decision was made to start changing the program around. The late model dash was scrapped, and a reworking of the 3/8 mile oval began. We were able to duck inside one of the on site rooms and watch the end of the Cardinal game while track work was going on. Following the track prep, it was B-main time for the mods, the it was the two late model B's up next. At this point track conditions were much improved, and Jared Landers came from row three to take the first 12 lapper over Jim Schereck and Don Hammer. Ryan Gustin led the distance in the final preliminary ahead of Randy Korte and Mark Burgtorf. Burgtorf barely edged out ninth starting Brandon Sheppard in the non stop race, as B Shep seemed to totally miss the set up in his heat. Unfortunately, he would be watching the 50 lap showdown from the trailer. Two local provisionals were added to the field, Scott Henseler from Tri City, and Paul Schrempf from I- 55, and the 24 car field was set. Next up was a pair of C-mains for the B-mods, and with the clock ticking it had been decided to push the B-mod B main, and mod feature back in the program and bring the late models out next, much to the delight of the nice sized crowd. Manville shot to the early lead from his pole position followed by Moyers, Jr and Sr. Brian Birkhofer found a seam and powered form outside row four the fourth in the opening lap. Birky then slipped past Moyer for third on the next circuit. By lap nine the leaders hit slower traffic, but by now Manville held a nice lead over Moyer Jr, who had a good margin over Birkhofer, and he the same ahead of Moyer. By lap 15, however, the margin between those four had dwindled, and two laps later Moyer Jr was hounding the leader in heavy traffic. Luck was on Manville side, as the yellow waved one lap later, as Henseler spun in turn four. On the Delaware style restart, Birkhofer jumped to second, and Feger shot around Moyer for fourth. A three car accident in turn two on lap 23 brought out the second caution, and when racing resumed, Moyer Jr. found a bite in the now slickening surface and powered to the lead. One lap later Shannon Babb suddenly slowed, and Jack Sullivan and Billy Laycock stacked up behind him, again bringing out the caution. As racing resumed, Birkhofer also cleared Manville to move to the runner up spot, and national UMP point leader Bobby Pierce was shuffled from eighth back to 11th position. With the race staying green, Moyer Jr opened up a lead, while Birky put distance between himself and Manville, who held a comfortable margin over the next tightly bunched pack of cars. With ten circuits remaining, Birkhofer made his move, closing in on Jr., and when the # 21JR had trouble getting around a lapped car on lap 42, Birkhofer was in position to overtake both cars. However Moyer Jr found an opening, and was then able to hold off the # 15B to the checkers. Manville completed his strong run in third, while a smoking Feger held off Moyer for fourth. Brian Shirley led the second five, besting Dennis Erb,Jr, B main winner Gustin, Korte, and Schereck. Pierce and Gordy Gundaker were next in line, with Laycck completing the group of cars running at the checkers. Two interesting things happened in this race for me, as it was the first time I have seen Moyer Jr in victory lane, and likely the last time I will see the retiring Korte on the track. Best wishes to both going forward. The modified A -main had originally been scheduled to run first, and with Quincy hot shoe Michael Long set to roll off from row three, we were anticipating a good race, but with a B-mod B-main coming to the track next, Darryl with a 6:00 wake up call, and the clocking very close to midnite, we headed for the van. Congrats to Danny Eams on his win in the mods over Rick Conoyer, Steve Picou, Mike Harrison, and Long, and to Ryan Eilers over brother Robbie in the B-mod finale. And thanks to the Gundakers, gracious and friendly as always, for all the hard work to make this show happen. Tonight I will be working my church hog roast and thinking about Pevely - tomorrow night is scheduled to be season championship night in all five classes at Quincy Raceways if " Lake Quincy " has subsided! Where has the season gone?