Monday, May 23, 2016

Moon Shines at Quincy Raceways

 After a wet hammer down track last week, the racing surface on this warm, sunny Sunday at Quincy Raceways was dry slick and taking rubber.
  The evening began with qualifying for the UMP late models and UMP modifieds. McKay Wenger paced the late models at 13.606 seconds, and Michael Long turned a 14.561 second lap to lead the mods. Modified ace Ray Bollinger from Kewanee was back again to try and claim the bounty on Long - a $1,000 pay day this week to win the modified feature. Qualifying three cars at a time, Bollinger was held up on his second lap by a slower timing car, so he was awarded an extra lap. Coming through turn four, he slipped over the top of the track and smacked the guardrail, hitting both the front and back of his # 77. Although he completed his time trial run, he did not come out for the heat or feature.
 The heat races ran off quickly, and after a brief intermission, the IMCA  stock car feature came to the track. Jake Powers was a no show for the 18 lap finale. Jake picked up a heat race win, but his # 0 belched heavy smoke after taking the checkers. Two yellow flags marred the opening laps, then Andrew Hustead settled in, building a nice lead. Abe Huls charged to second, but soon had to contend with Brandon Savage. Hustead and Savage ran the highg line around the .29 mile oval while Huls hugged the low groove. Savage took second on lap six, and the top three pulled away, freight training around the top of the track. Hustead stretched his lead in lapped traffic, and Huls used slower traffic to retake the second spot on lap14. With only the early cautions, Hustead picked up his first win of the season, followed by Huls, Savage, Brian Hoener,  and Dean Kratzer.
 The modifieds were up next, and although Long had captured the heat race win, he rolled a four for the feature invert, putting him outside Shawn Deering in row two. Polesitter Dave Weitholder paced the first lap ahead of Deering, Spencer Havermale, and Long as the caution waved. Another caution came on the restart, but when the action resumed, Long moved to third, then second on lap five. Three laps later, Michael used a high to low move to grab the lead. At the ten lap halfway mark, Weitholder slowed and was hit by Kevin Tomlinson, bringing out the yellow. Weitholder quickly changed a tire, and both cars rejoined the race at the tail. One more caution came out on lap 14 as Tomlinson went over turn three. The final six laps clicked off as Long again built a big lead and he increased his winning streak to four in a row in 2016. Deering ran second, while Weitholder and Tomlinson rebounded to third and fourth respectively, and Russ Coultas completed the top five.
   It was now late model time, 13 cars for 25 laps. Heat one winner Wenger had rolled a six for the invert, and outside polesitter Jason Perry shot to the lead, with Wenger claiming the third spot.. However the yellow waved for Justin Reed, and on the restart, Wenger lost the right rear wheel on his # 42, ending his attempt at a third feature win. Back to racding, it was Perry, Rickey Frankel and eighth starting Denny Woodworth leading the charge. As Perry and Frankel pulled away, Mark Burgtorf came up to challenge Woodworth, and the leaders ran in packs of two until catching slower traffic on lap eight. Frankel used a high side pass to slip around Perry, but the caution waved before the lap was completed, giving the spot back to Perry. On the restart, Jim Moonused the very bottom of the track to move from fifth to third, as Perry and Frankel again separated themselves from the pack. Traffic again came into play on lap 15, and Perry began to pull away until a caution for debris waved at the end of the 22nd circuit. On the restart, Moon again used the low line to take over second, and as the leaders entered turn four, Perry went over the cushion. That was all the help Moon needed, as he had his crate engine hooked up on the dry slick track, and he collected his second 2016 and second career feature win at QR. Frankel claimed the runnerup spot ahead of Woodworth and Burgtorf, while Reed rebounded to snare the fifth spot. Keith Pratt came home sixth followed by Terry Wilson, Perry, and the son, father Vanzandt team, Laine and Charles.
  All 16 IMCA sport mods took the green flag, with Wes Mayfield leading the opening laps. Joey Gower was shadowing Mayfield, when Tony Dunker spun in turns three and four on the dry, slick surface. As the caution waved, Tanner Klingele stopped with flat tire. On the restart, a four car tussle ensued between the new leader Gower, Brandon Lennox, Mayfield and Austin Howes. Dunker quickly rejoined the fray, charging to fifth. By the time the caution waved on lap ten, Dunker was fourth, and he moved to third on the restart, using the low lines in the corners. Another yellow flew on lap 15, and then as the leaders came to the white flag, Justin Bartz lost a wheel in turn one, setting up a green, white, checkers finish. Although Dunker powered to second, Gower stayed in control, picking up the win. Dunker rode home second followed by a strong run from Mayfield, Lennox, and Kingele.
 The IMCA sport compact feature was the finale of the evening. After a false start, Darin Weisinger Jr. jumped out front in his # 11 machine. While Kimberly Abbott set sail in second, Brandon Lambert and Seith Woodruff ran door to door, lap after lap, for third. Meanwhile, Weisinger built a commanding lead, and Lambert settled into third before slowing. Soon after, Woodruffs ride went up in smoke, but the race stayed green, and the younger Weisinger picked up the win. Abbott came home second, and the rest of the top five was Craig Bangert, Jerry Bown, and Brandon Herron.
 The final checkers waved shortly after 8:30.
  Next Sunday will be a MOWA 410 sprint car special at Quincy Raceways, with the UMP late models and modifieds having the night off.
  After my first three race weekend of 2016, I will regroup and watch the weather to see where the Memorial Day weekend takes me. Hopefully it will be to the races!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Late Race Passes At West Liberty

Saturday night was night number two in what is shaping up to be my first three race weekend of 2016. I joined up with son Brent and his family as we made our way to the West Liberty, Iowa Raceway for the IMCA late model Tri Track Challenge event.
 A total of 86 race teams signed in for the five class program. 13 heat races and about a 15 minute intermission set things up for feature racing in the five IMCA divisions.
 The sport modifieds were up first, 18 strong for 15 laps. Jarrettt Brown took command of the race on lap two before yellow fever set in, with four caution periods in the first half dozen laps. During  a lap four restart, it was Colton Livezey finding the top spot, and when things finally settled down, he and Brown battled it out as the green flag laps piled up. The first five cars separated themselves from the rest of the pack on the big 1/2 mile. Although Brown stayed close, the race belonged to Livezey. Aaron Osweiler came home third, with Shaun Slaughter completing the top four.
  The stock car class was short on numbers, with nine, but in usual fashion, offered up plenty of action. Greg Gill paced the opening pair of laps, but the third time around saw row three starter Johnny Spaw take the lead. With Gill running the low groove, David Brandies used a high side pass to move to second one lap later. At the mid point of the 15 lapper, Brandies had closed to within about five car lengths of the leader. In the waning laps he was able to move within striking distance, but Spaw was up to the challenge, picking up the win. Brandies and Gill crossed the line second and third.
  Sport compacts were up next for ten laps. After a restart on the first attempt, the race stayed green throughout. Steve Struck moved to the front on lap four and held off Jason KlerkdeReus for the win.
  The 20 lap modified feature ran next. Oddly, the 24 car field had been split into four qualifying hear races, and had run last in the heat race order, but fourth in the feature lineup. All but one car came to the feature grid, and Quad City area driver Brian Bushong took the early lead. On the third circuit, Davenport, Iowa veteran Bruce Hanford pulled alongside Bushong, and then took the top spot on the fourth go around. Hanford quickly stretched his advantage, as Matt Fulton powered to the runnerup spot just before the crossed flags signaled the halfway point in the race, wirh Bushong falling to fifth. Hanford entered lapped traffic on lap 13, but maintained a healthy lead until the only caution of the race came three laps later. A slower car spun and fourth running Brad Dierkes made contact, setting up a lengthy delay and ending a good run for the # 29D. The Delaware restart had Fulton and Larry Herring lined up behind Hanford, and Herring claimed the second spot as the green waved. Even with a clear track ahead, Hanford could not regain the advantage he had enjoyed, and as the front two came to the white flag, Herring was out front by a nose. Hanford fought back as the two charged down the back stretch, but the night would belong to Herring. Fulton held third ahead of Chris Zogg in fourth.
  It was now time for the 25 lap $2,000 to win late model finale. All 20 cars took the green flag, although track points leader Chad Holliday retired immediately from his row nine starting spot. Outside polesitter Scott Fitzpatrick took command on the start, with third starting Ray Guss Jr in tow. Polesitter Tyler Bruening slipped around Guss on the fourth circuit. As I watched the leaders, I could not help but check on Justin Kay. Having witnessed more than one dominating performance by the Wheatland, Iowa ace at West Liberty, I was surprised when he finished just outside the top four redraw spots in his heat, setting him up in row five for the money race. As lap four was scored, he had moved to the tenth position., and gained three more spots in the next three laps. where he settled in behind Jeremiah Hurst. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick was setting a torrid pace, and he encountered slower traffic on lap 17 of the 40 lap finale. One circuit later, disaster struck. Richie Gustin apparently dropped fluid on the racing surface after possibly contacting the turn four fence. In any event, Fitzpatrick drove through the fluid, lost control and smacked the fence, ending his strong run. As it turned out, this would be the only caution period of the race. With the leader on the hook, the second and third place cars of Bruening and sixth starting Denny Eckrich lined up side by side for the restart, with Bruening choosing the inside line. This also move Kay to row three, and as the green flag flew, he charged all the way to third place. At the halfway point he moved around Eckrich for second, although Denny retook the spot one lap later. Then on lap 22, Kay held the spot as the two raced side by side. Meanwhile Bruening was building what looked to be a comfortable advantage out front. By the 27th trip around, Kay had secured the runnerup spot and began to run down the leader. The front three separated themselves a bit from the rest of the field, but it was Kay on the move. With four laps remaining, he had wiped out the lead Bruening had built, and he wasted no time overtaking the leader with three to go. There was no looking back, as the 15K chalked up another West Liberty win. Bruening held second ahead of Eckrich, row eight starter Joel Callahan, and Nick Marolf. Guss led the second five over Hurst, Andy Eckrich, Ryan Dolan, and Matt Ryan. Rob Moss and Chris Horn were the only other cars running at the checkers.
  Despite several lengthy delays to clean up accidents, the show ended just before 10:30.
  The sun is shining brightly this Sunday morning, so it looks like a night of racing at Quincy Raceways is on the docket to round out a triple header of action. Check back tomorrow evening for a recap of QR events.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Repeat Winner Dominate at Donnellson

 Friday night was another quick trio from work in Quincy to the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson,Iowa. Five regular classes plus the 305 sprint cars were on the docket, with the hobby stocks not in action. I know the hobbys have been struggling with car count, so I am not sure what their situation is at LCS.
 With the late arrival of a pair of IMCA stock cars, the entries sat at 84 on a cool, cloudy evening in front of a fair sized crowd. After a dozen heat races and a candy dash for the youngsters, it was feature time. With the scoreboard not in operation, and difficulty from my vantage point hearing if and when the announcer offers up the laps remaining, especially after a caution, I will apologize in advance if some of my numbers are incorrect.
 The first feature of the night was the IMCA sport compacts. Fifth row starter Josh Barnes charged to the lead at the end of lap one and looked to be in command. But Mike Reu kept Barnes in his sights, and slipped to the top spot in lapped traffic. Apparently having mechanical issues, Barnes began to fade, and Chuck Fullenkamp, in Barnes backup # 13 took up the chase. Once out front, however, Reu was not giving up the spot, powering his # 8 to the win ahead of Fullenkamp. Brandon Reu followed up his win Sunday at Quincy Raceways with a third place finish ahead of defending track champion Kimberly Abbott.
 Next it was 20 laps for the 305 sprints. all but one of the 17 entrants took the green flag. Front row starter Andy Krieger led the opening circuit, with the yellow waving on lap two. Two more cautions came on the next pair of laps, punctuated by a red flag on lap four, as Brandyn Martin flipped his ride over the guardrail just off turn two. By now, Shane Quam had taken over the lead, and back under green, the laps began to tick off. Harold Pohren grabbed the top spot on the ninth circuit, and John Schultz moved to the runner up spot one lap later. Pohren worked the low groove with Schultz pounding the cushion, and as the leaders worked lapped traffic, Pohren was able to stretch his lead. Just as the white flag waved, the final caution came out, setting up a green, white, checkers finish. As the white waved again, Schultz mad a low side pass out of turn four, but Pohren fought back, to notch the win. Quam and Dillan Roth followed the first two at the checkers.
  Again, all but one of the 15 IMCA sport mods came to the track for 18 laps, minus Troy Grotz, who watched from the bleachers after breaking a brake caliper in hot laps. Brandon Dale jumped to the lead from outside row one, and soon it was a two car battle between Dale and John Oliver Jr - a second generation driver dueling a third generation hot shoe! A lap eight caution brought them back to the pack, and on the restart, Tony Dunker slipped to third. Another caution one lap later and Dunker took advantage of the Delaware restart to move to second. Oliver then split the top two to grab the lead, with Dale dropping to third. Now if was Oliver running the high side and Dunker the bottom before a spinning Dale brought out a lap 14 caution. Back to action, it was now veteran Jim Gillenwater joining the chase, third on the restart, quickly to second, and to the lead on lap 16. Oliver fought back on the high side the final pair of laps, but it was Gillenwater taking the checkers. Oliver Jr., Dunker, and defending champ Joey Gower completed the top four.
 Next came the dozen IMCA modifieds. Levi Smith paced the first lap, and a mixup on the backstretch jumbled up the field, with Dennis Laveine able to move forward. By lap four, Laveine had moved to second, and he grabbed the lead one lap later. Bill Roberts Jr. took second on lap six, followed by a lap seven caution. As Laveine opened a big advantage, Jeff Waterman, who had gotten shuffled back on the first lap scrum, began to pick off cars. Waterman found his way around Roberts at the white, and the pair of # 71s took the top two spots, the second win of n2016 for Laveine at LCS. Roberts held on for third ahead of Tyler Groenendyk.
  15 IMCA stock cars took the green, with Andrew Hustead building a nice lead. A caution about lap six wiped out his advantage, with Jeremy Pundt moving to the lead on the restart. The leaders stayed bunched up in the always exciting stock car battle, with Greg Gill going from third to first on lap ten. A four wide duel for second saw Jeff Mueller take second, then first, on the 11th trip around the 3/8 mile oval. Gill mounted a challenge briefly, but Mueller, who started in row five, began to pull away,
capturing what I believe to be his fifth win of 2016 at LCS. Gill held second ahead of Nathan Wood and Abe Huls.
  The finale of the evening was the 20 lap feature for the LCS late models. A dozen cars came to the track, with veterans Tommy Elston and Colby Springsteen on the front row. Elston took the lead at the end of lap one, with two time winner Sam Halstead moving around Springsteen for second one lap later. The third trip past the flagstand had Colby back in second. Row three starter Todd Frank  grabbed third on lap five using the top side of the speedway, but on lap five he smacked the guardrail in turn one and two, retiring to the pits soon after. Springsteen continued to stalk Elston, taking the lead about the halfway point. He then opened a sizable lead in route to his second win of the year. Elston held the second spot, followed by Halstead, Jeff Guengerich, and Tyler Cale. Derek Liles led the second fiver ahead of Gunner Frank, Terry Gallaher, and the son and father team of Laine Vanzandt and Charles Vanzandt.
 Thanks to the LCS crew for a great track and a fun night of racing!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Number 42 Takes Scottie 42

 Mother Nature decided to behave this Sunday long enough for Quincy Raceways to stage the rescheduled Scottie 42, the third annual event honoring the man who conceived and built Quincy Raceways 42 seasons ago.
 A nice field of 80 cars signed in, highlighted by 26 UMP late models, tying the number from the original Scottie 40 two years ago. Unfortunately, persistent rains over the last couple of weeks left the racing surface somewhat soft and rough.
 NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace was one of a handful of visiting UMP modified racers who came in part to try and collect the now $400.00 bounty on undefeated Michael Long. Indeed, a $900.00 payday was available to the driver breaking Michaels season long win streak. Wallace started off on the right foot, setting quick time at 14.426 seconds.
 Late model time trials were up next, and Dustin Griffin turned a blistering lap of 13.010 seconds around the choppy .29 mile oval. Out for the first time in 2016, Cliff Powell saw his night end in qualifying as a plume of smoke trailed his # 6 machine. A similar puff of smoke also marked the end of the night for Troy,Mo. driver Derek Fetter. The track bit Keith Pratt, who climbed the backstretch guardrail, but Keith who set quick time last week before the rains came,was able to continue his evening.
 Before heat race action, the track crew spent some time trying to smooth out the surface, but track conditions in the heats resulted in some crashes and some displays of temper. Tanner Klingele had engine problems early with this IMCA sport mod, borrowed the # 96 Lear machine, and was involved in a heat race crash.
 The three late model heats were entertaining, even though all were won from the front row, all by track " regulars. " Justin Reed took heat one over Griffin, Jason Perry, and Dewayne Kiefer. McKay Wenger, who is making the trip from Fairbury,Il on Sundays in 2016 as he chases UMP national points, took the second ten lapper ahead of Daryn Klein, Chuck Mitchell, and Mark Burgtorf. Denny Woodworth was victorious in the final heat. San Antonio,Texas driver Alan Murray pulled a dandy slide job on Michael Kloos for the second spot, but Kloos came back in turn four of the final lap to take second. Brian Diveley came home fourth.
 Following the dozen heat races, the track crew went to work with the grader, and by feature time, the track conditions were improving.
 Abe Huls moved quickly to the front in the IMCA stock car feature, and built a straightaway lead to cruise to the win in the non stop event. Jacksonville,Il driver Rodolfo Zaragoza turned in a season best runnerup finish, also running well ahead of the pack until Brandon Savage broke free in third. But Brandon appeared to have some suspension damage and settled for third. Visitors Dean Kratzer and Chase Klenk completed the top five.
 Nine of the ten UMP mods took the green flag for 25 laps. Michael Long chargedto the front as the green waved, and challenger Rick Conoyer retired on the backstretch. The yellow waved on lap three as Spencer Havermale stalled out. On the restart contact between visiting Ray Bollinger and Dave  Weitholder left Bollinger with a flat tire. He was a bit slow out of the hot pit, and with the green flag set to fly, he spun his # 77 on the backstretch, allowing himself to restart at the back of the pack. Wallace and Weitholder battled for second, as Bollinger moved quickly up to fourth. Wallace finally secured the runner up spot on lap six and set sail after Long. But on lap 16 he appeared to break a wheel, sending him high in the air as he flipped his # 36, landing upside down. The car caught fire, but quick work by the track crew and even other drivers got the car upright and the fire out. Kenny claimed to be uninjured. Back to racing, Weitholder came to a stop on the backstretch, bringing out one more caution. As the laps wound down, the now second running Bollinger made a run at Long, but he could not get close enough, as Michael kept his undefeated streak alive. Bollinger, Weitholder, Shawn Deering, and Russ Coultas completed the five cars running at the checkers.
 It was now late model time, with 23 starters lined up for 42 laps. Outside row one starter Woodworth held a slim lead as lap one was scored, but polesitter Griffin led lap two. A lap three caution for a tractor tire on the track reset the field in a Delaware start, and back to green Justin Reed powered to second, and then to the lead using the high side of the oval. The yellow waved again for double duty Weitholder, and back to racing, Wenger and Griffin swapped the second spot, with Wenger finally securing the spot. By lap ten, traffic had become a factor, and by lap 13 Wenger had closed the gap in a two car battle. It was just past the half way point when McKay grabbed the lead. aided by Reed bouncing through a rough spot on the backstretch. The caution came out one lap later, and Mark Burgtorf, who started in row six and spent most of the first half of the race languishing around tenth had suddenly charged to fifth. With the advantage of the Delaware restart, the veteran jumped to fourth, by lap 27 he was up to third. Two circuits later, he took the second spot, and quickly began to run down the leader. In the post race interview, Wenger said his car was running hot and his right rear tire was giving out, but he maintained enough advantage over Burgtorf to take his second checkers of the season at QR. He also called the win the biggest of his career. For Mark, he now has two runner up finishes to go with one Scottie title. Reed, Woodworth, and Griffin rounded out the first five. The remaining six cars on the track in order were Gordy Gundaker, Jim Moon, Greg Kimmons, Diveley, Bo Brockway, and Reid Millard.
  Two features remained, but an early Monday morning approaching sent me to the car when a lap five caution slowed the IMCA sport mod finale. Nathan Bringer took the win over rookie Justin Ebbing and Levi Long. The IMCA sport compact main event went to Brandon Reu ahead of the Lamberts, Brandon and Casey.
 Next Sunday all five classes will be back in action at Quincy Raceways for a regular show.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Rain Wins at Quincy

With a less than favorable forecast on this Mothers Day, Quincy Raceways attempted to get in a night of racing. Track officials knew it was a gamble, even pushing the start time back to see what Mother Nature had in store. But when the first shower missed the track, it was decided to continue on. Given the Mothers Day holiday and the ominous radar, the turnout of race cars was below average, with mostly just " locals " on hand. The grandstand gathering was also down, but still a hearty group of enthusiastic fans came to see some action.
 When hot laps began, the dust was flying, as I am sure track officials did not want to add to much water to the racing surface in case of rain.
 Moving quickly into qualifying, Keith Pratt topped a field of seven UMP late models with a lap of 13.616 seconds around the .29 mile oval.
 Seven UMP modifieds rolled out next for their time trials, with Michael Long setting the pace at 14.874 seconds as a drizzle began to fall.
 Eight IMCA stock cars came to the track next to try and keep the surface in racing shape as entrant number nine, Abe Huls came through the pit gate. The persistent shower continued, and began to intensify to the point that the cars were pulled from the track. After waiting a few minutes hoping the rain would subside, it was decided the track was " lost " and the program was cancelled.
 Next Sunday night is the rescheduled Scottie 42 UMP late model $2,000 to win tribute to original track owner Albert Scott. Adult admission is $15.00for this show, but as a reward to the fans who braved the weather tonight, promoter Ken Dobson is going to accept grandstand wristbands from tonights rainout as good for the full admission price next week. UMP modifieds and three IMCA classes, stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts will also be on the card, with hot laps around 5:20.

Friday, May 6, 2016

B Shepp and Superman on Top at Donnellson

 Leaving work in Quincy at 5:12, I hustled to the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson to encounter what was already a full parking lot and a large crowd in the grandstands. I t was obvious looking across the track that the pit area was filled with tow rigs and race cars, and as I had passed the Tony Dunker crew on the road, I knew there were more on the way. My racing companions and I always like to speculate on car counts for the touring series shows, and the general consensus was that a field of 25- 30 MLRA late models and 15 Lee County late models would make us happy. So the count of 37 open engine cars and 21 combination crate and spec engine entries in the Lee County late model class left everyone thrilled. Equally pleasing were the car counts in the other four classes, with a perfectly acceptable 14 IMCA sport compacts the smallest turnout in the 129 car total.
 The above average number of laps on the 3/8 mile oval seemed to take its toll early on the track surface as the opening features for the IMCA stock cars and IMCA modifieds saw most of the cars hugging the low line. However the track crew under the direction of promoter Mike VanGenderen, himself a successful racer, worked the surface throughout the night, and the MLRA 26 car feature was nothing short of excellent, with lots of passing throughout the field. Of course the passing point format used to set the lineup for the 40 lap finale had more than a little to do with that, and also resulted in plenty of action in the four qualifying heat races. In my humble opinion, passing points is the fairest and most entertaining way of qualifying, and kudos to the MLRA for resisting the complaints of many drivers who prefer an " easier " way of locking down prime starting spots. After all, it is called " racing " for a reason.
 The IMCA stock car feature ran first, and it was, as usual, a classic, even as the leaders fought for the inside groove. Jeremy Pundt set the early pace, but as he got shuffled back, he continued to work the higher line, which never came in during the 18 lapper. An early three wide battle for the lead following a lap three caution saw John Oliver Jr. grab the lead, but when he left a slight opening for Jeff Mueller, the # 77M pilot took the top spot on lap seven. When he gets out front, Mueller rarely makes a mistake, and he cruised to his third win in a row at LCS. Nathan Wood also slipped past Oliver for second, but Johnny came back late to reclaim the spot. Greg Gill recovered from an early spin to take fourth.
 Jared Fuller led lap one of the IMCA modified feature, with Kyle Brown taking over on lap three. But the night belonged to Cayden Carter, who left the late model at home, but took the lead from Tyler Groenendyk after staring in row six. Richie Gustin, who wheeled his IMCA late model at LCS earlier this season challenged Carter late, but settled for second. Groenendyk and Brown followed.
  The MLRA headliner ran next. Back from a one year hiatus, Brian Birkhofer has already expanded his " part time " schedule in a Kay Racing ride, and he used a heat race win to earn the pole position next to veteran Dave Eckrich. The passing points format produces some interesting results, with the top 16 from the heats making of the first eight rows. The top four from heat one all qualified, although third place Brandon Sheppard earned more points than runnerup Justin Kay. Five cars qualified from heat two, but only three made the cut from heat three. Four qualified from heat four, with fifth running Jason Rauen besting fourth place Ryan Gustin. Three cars from each of two B-mains were joined by four provisional starters.
 The smart money would have bet on Birky, and he shot out to a big lead. The only caution on lap five brought him back to the pack. Following the restart, it was sixth starting Sheppard on the move. He restarted sixth in the Delaware style restart, but moved to third in two laps. He was one of the few drivers making the high line work, and on lap eleven he powered around Eckrich for second. He then began to chase down Birkhofer, and on lap 21 the third generation driver used a dandy low side move to nab the top spot. From there he opened up a commanding lead. As the laps wound down, fourth starting Florida standout Earl Pearson Jr., a surprise entrant in the Moring Motorsports # 1 drove past Birkhofer. Brian the exited the speedway on lap 47, ending a solid run. Row seven starter Chris Simpson came home third ahead of Tony Jackson Jr. and Jesse Stovall. Eckrich led the second five ahead of Chad Simpson, row twelve starter Jason Papich, Kay, and heat one winner JC Wyman.
  The IMCA sport mods the came to the by now rubbered down track. The late arriving Dunker, added to his long list of checkered flags at the fairgrounds oval, enduring two late green, white checkers restarts, running a high line to the lead and the win. Low groove ace Jim Gillenwater came from back in the 18 car pack to finish second. Early leader Brett Lowry came home third ahead of Joey Gower.
  The Lee County late model $1,000 to win 25 lapper was up next. Several West Liberty IMCA late models came to try their luck with the restrictor plates, as well as visitors Chad Jensen from Nebraska, and 13 year old crate racer Tegan Evans from Clinton,Iowa. Outside polesitter Tommy Elston, who picked up the last checkers at LCA, shot to the early lead. Soon it was seventh starting
" Superman " Sam Halstead closing the gap. It soon became a two car breakaway. The front pair raced side by side in lapped traffic on lap nine, and on the eleventh circuit, Halstead grabbed the lead.
 A caution on lap 13 brought the leaders back to the pack. As  the laps wound down, week one winner Colby Springsteen took the second spot, and as the checkers waved, it was the first three weeks winners taking the top three slot. Halstead became the first two time winner, and my first repeat winner in ten late model features in 2016. The Nebraska driver Jensen came from eighth to fourth, row six starter Jeff Guengerich completed the top five. In his first night out, Jim Lynch finished sixth, leading 21st  starting Tyler Cale, who had been light at the scales in heat one. Veteran Terry Gallaher outdueled heat two winner Todd Frank and heat one victor Kevin Kile to round out the first ten. Although the spec engine cars have had previous success at LCS, Kile was the only of the cars to score a top ten finish.
 With Friday a work day, I headed for the car before what was apparently a wild sport compact finale, with Ron Kibbe besting Kimberly Abbott and Josh Barnes for the win. We want to offer condolences
to Josh and his family on the passing of his grandfather, racing legend Don White, another of the racing heroes of my youth.
 The MLRA moves to Davenport, Iowa Speedway on Friday night, while the MARS and ALMS series stages an event at Farmer City,Il. On Saturday, we plan to join the MLRA at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis,Mo, while MARS and ALMS head north to Fairbury,Il.  Sunday, it will be weekly racing at Quincy Raceways. The rain postponed $2,000 to win UMP late model Scotty 42 will be contested on Sunday, May 15 at QR. The MLRA will be back in Donnellson on Friday, June 3, sandwiched by visits to Oskaloosa, Iowa, and Moberly,Mo. Racing season is now full throttle, see you Racin' Down the Road!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Bloomer Beats the Field and the Rain

Friday night, buddy Lane joined Fred and I as we made the trip south to Kevin and Tammy Gundakers Tri City Speedway in Granite City,Il. for the $10,000 to win Lucas Oil late model Budweiser 50. A solid field of 33 open late models featured a mix of traveling national and local talent, supported by 28 UMP modifieds and 30 B-mods . As it was here at home, the wether forecast was threatening, and it was announced at the drivers meeting that the show would move along quickly, with as little down time as possible. Late model and B mod hoy laps were followed by the UMP mods, who qualified and hot lapped at the same time. Mike Harrison set quick time at 16.072 on the 3/8 mile oval. Late model qualifying came next, with early qualifier Dennis Erb Jr. turning a lap of 14.350 seconds that held up throughout.
 Four eight lap mod heats ran caution free, then the late model heats were next. The first yellow waved for Reid Millard, as he contacted the turn four wall in heat one. Erb took the win over Brandon Shepherd, Michael Kloos and Jason Feger. Iowa driver Chris Simpson took off from the pole in heat two, fell behind outside row one starter Darrell Lanigan, then grabbed the lead. As local hotshoe Jeff Herzog used the high side to move to second, Simpson clipped the tire in turn four, bringing out caution number two, and ripping the nose off his #32. With his night over, Herzog restarted up front, holding off Lanigan, Ryan Unzicker and Bobby Pierce for the big win. Defending series champ Jonathon Davenport grabbed heat three, ahead of Shannon Babb, Time McCreadie, and Jimmy Owens, as the national stars stole the spotlight. Earl Pearson Jr started outside row one in the final late model heat, but climbed the wall in turns one and two. Scott Bloomquist received a still challenge from local ace Tim Manville, but held on for the win. Don Oneal raced home third, with Steve Francis holding off Pearson for the final transfer spot.
 It was then announced that the planned order of events would be altered, as the rain was headed towards the track. Four B- mods heats were contested, then the  two late model B-mains were called.
 Local veteran Jim Shereck bested Bob Gardner and returning veteran Billy Faust in the first 12 lapper, while  track regular, school teacher Billy Laycock topped 18 year old Kolby Vandenburgh and Hunter Rasdon for the final qualifying slots. Two series provisional spots went to Pearson and Jared Landers, while the track promoters added Gordy Gundaker and Rusty Griffaw driving the Jim Black # 10x on this night. Lucas Oil leading rookie contender Colten Flinner used an emergency series provisional to complete a 27 car starting field.
 The late model feature was then called to the track - with rain on the way track and series officials wanted to make sure the 50 lap headliner was completed. Davenport took off from the outside pole to lead lap one, dragging Erb, Bloomquist and Babb along. The # 6 car opened a big lead, and by lap eight he was lapping cars. With traffic in play, the now second running Bloomquist closed the gap by lap 11, as both leaders ran the high side of the three groove surface. Bloomert then shifted to the low line, briefly taking the point on lap 18. With slower traffic still in play the top two ran side by side, with Jonathon back on top on lap 20. Davenport then pulled a nifty move, splitting the side by side running cars of Feger and Unzicker in turn three, padding his lead. With open track now in sight, the # 6 again opened a sizable lead. Meanwhile there was plenty of movement throughout the top ten, with tenth starting Mc Creadie and 12th starting Oneal moving into the top five. As the race continued caution free, Davenport, who we would later learn had no brakes, ran a very high line, making contact with the turn one concrete wall multiple times. Meanwhile, Bloomquist ran the low line, closing in on the leader by lap 40. Three laps later, Davenport again slapped the wall and Scott moved to the front again. This time, the 52 year old veteran Bloomquist pulled away, taking the win in the caution free event. Series point leader Davenport held on for second, with Erb getting back around the charging Oneal for third in a close finish. McCreadie completed the first five. Lanigan lead the second five ahead of Babb, Owens, Pierce, and 24th starting Landers in tenth.
 With the race being taped for television, there was now a very lengthy delay, for interviews and the removal of the Lucas Oil signage. Finally, the modified and B-mod B-mains were contested, and then it was time for the 25 lap modified $1,000 to win finale. The winner from the previous week, Rick Stevenson shared row one with NASCAR legend Ken Schrader, former late model driver Rodney Standerfer and UMP national champion Mike Harrison sat in row two, and hot shoes Michael Long and Dean Hoffman filled out row three of the 22 starters in what shaped up as a classic battle. As the green waved, Stevenson rocketed to the lead, with Standerfer, Schrader and Harrison in pursuit. As the pack crossed the stripe for lap one, the caution waved for a turn four spin. As the field went single file, a single raindrop was immediately followed by a pelting shower. With the still sizable crowd hastily heading for cover, it was announced that the show was over, and that the remaining two features would be completed on dates to be decided later.
  It was about 10:40 when we fired up the van for the long drive home in an off and on rain.
  Though it was disappointing to not get to see the modifieds duke it out, we certainly knew the threat of rain was strong before we headed out, and we applaud Kevin, Tammy, the Lucas officials, and the drivers for hustling to make sure we got to witness the 50 lap headliner.
  As I write this, there is a lot of rain in the Quincy area, but I know Quincy Raceways personnel is hard at work trying to get the track ready for the UMP Big Ten Scottie 42 $2,000 to win late model special on Sunday, May 1. UMP modifieds along with IMCA stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts are also slated to compete, so keep an eye on the track website for information.
 Later in the week, we will be hopefully be heading back to Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Thursday for the MLRA late model special, and then on Saturday for a companion event at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis, Mo. Maybe I will see you Racin' Down the Road!