Monday, April 24, 2017

Wilson,Woodworth,Schneiderman.Dunker,Fellows Tops at Quincy

Sunday night at Quincy Raceways was my only night at the races this weekend. The weather finally warmed up, and the racing was good, although the car count was light. The UMP modifieds and IMCA stock cars had the night off, with 305 sprints added to the card. While QR has no trouble drawing a nice field of 360 sprints, the 305 class has been slow to catch on. But that did not matter to Jared Schneiderman, who lead the distance in the non stop feature event. Jeff Wilke chased the leader to the flag, with Justin Standridge rolling home third. The UMP Pro late model feature was up second, and it was nearly a copy of week one. But after Tommy Elston led 19 laps, Denny Woodworth won the drag race out of turn four to take the win. The two veterans started on the front row after heat race wins, but Woodworth slid back to third at the start behind Tommy Sheppard Jr. Vance Wilson also got around Woodworth before the only caution of the race came at the end of lap one. The Delaware restart saw Woodworth regain third, and on lap five he slipped around Sheppard for second. Elston built a sizable lead, but was forced to negotiate slower traffic late in the race as Woodworth pounded the cushion. It was the second crate late model win for Denny in 2017. Elston took second, followed by Sheppard Jr.,Vance Wilson,and Sam Halstead, the Friday night winner in Donnellson. Myles Moos made his first ever trip to QR, leading the second five over Brandon Savage, Laine Vanzandt, former stock car pilot Rudy Zaragoza, and Charles Vanzandt. Eleven IMCA sport compacts took the feature green, including Brandon Lambert, who rolled his machine in his heat race earlier in the evening. It was obvious that the # 14L still had some issues, however. Jeffrey Delonjay paced the opening lap, with Darin Weisinger Jr taking over on lap two. Midway through the 15 lapper, rookie Daniel Fellows grabbed the top spot. The Keokuk,Iowa driver, who picked up a win Saturday night in Eldon,Ia. cruised to his second win in two nights. Jake Dietrich slipped around Weisinger on the white flag lap, with David Prim and Barry Taft completing the top five. Next up was the 25 lap finale for the UMP super late models. Jamie Wilson had set quick time at 13.590 secons, picked up the heat win, and rolled a one to start in the pole position for the main event. He quickly jumped to the lead, taking row two starter Woodworth along. Alan Westling used the low line to overtake Rickey Frankel for third on lap five, with Frankel retaking the spot one circuit later. On lap eight, Justin Reed powered to fourth, but about the tenth trip around, Reed lost a rear wheel, smashing the backstretch guardrail, ending his charge, and bringing out the only caution of the race. Following the Delaware restart, Jason Perry entered the top four, but soon fell off the pace, heading pitside. Woodworth was pounding the cushion, as he had in the crate feature, and on a couple of trips around, he was slowed as he drifted too high. Frankel briefly moved to second before Woodworth again took the spot. Wilson appeared to be on cruise control, but Denny had one last shot, and he closed within a car length at the checkers. But Wilson completed the sweep, picking up his first feature win in nearly two years, as he raced only a handful of times in 2016. Frankel held on for third, Westling finished fourth, followed by first time visitor Dustin Hodges, and veteran Mike Hammerle. The IMCA sport mods closed out the show. Tanner Klingele set the pace early, shadowed by Joey Gower. A copule of mid race cautions kept the field close, and as the laps wound down, Tony Dunker, in his announced farewell season, grabbed the lead, picking up his second win of the weekend. Klingele held on for second, while Gower raced to third. Justin Ebbing and Austin Howes picked up top five finishes. The final checkers waved soon after 9:00. Next Sunday night, racing resumes at the Bullring with six classes scheduled to race.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dodging the Weatherman at Donnellson and West Burlington

As the weekend approached, it looked as though this Easter weekend might be race free. But come 5:00 on Friday, the skies were cloudy but rain free as I left work in Quincy and headed towards Donnellson, half expecting to wind up with a rain check. Imagine my surprise as I encountered clearing skies and a dry race track! Hanging on to yet another spring cold, I settled in for the season opener at the 3/8 mile fairgrounds facility. The fact that late arrivals, 2017 registrations and whatever else muddied the waters caused the show to start about 30 minutes late was glaring because Lee County Speedway rarely starts even minutes late. A solid field of more than eighty race teams checked in, aided by cancellations around the Tri State area. Following heat races, the sport compact feature ran first, with Travis Demint showing off a sharp looking # 47T and running away from the field. Me3anwhile, the Reus, Mike and Brandon waged a great battle for runner up honors in the closing laps, with Mike holding on to second. Demint spent considerable time in the tech area, finally being declared legal. He was certainly the class of the field on Friday. The sport mods were second on the card, and they always put on a top notch show at the Lee County Speedway. Following the example set by the compacts, Brandon Lennox ran off with the win on Friday after sliding past early leader Jonathon Logue, who made the long haul from Boone,Iowa. Veteran Jim Gillenwater, who is adding money to the sport mod winner for the first ten races, charged to third at the checkers Followed by a tight battle between Brandon Dale and Tony Dunker. A somewhat surprisingly low car count of eleven signed in to compete in the UMP Pro Late Model class, as the Crate division is sanctioned for 2017. The Frank racing team, which last season boasted one open late model for dad Todd and crate cars for Todd and son Gunner, added yet another for son Chase. Todd picked up the first heat win, and lead in the early part of the 25 lap feature after heat two winner Brandon Savage set a quick pace in the opening laps before contacting the turn two guardrail, ending his night.Denny Woodworth, another veteran racing both an open engine and crate engine car, found a line past Frank to grab the lead following a spirited battle in which Frank pounded the cushion. As defending track champion Tommy Elston came from row four to battle with Frank for the runner up spot, Woodworth stretched his lead to nearly half a track. With no more cautions slowing the event, Denny cruised to the win. Elston settled for second, with Frank third, and Sam Halstead fourth. The Frank boys, Gunner and Chase rounded out the six cars running as the checkers waved. Next up was the IMCA stock car headliner. The opening laps were hotly contested with Jason Cook leading as Dane Fenton looped his ride in turn three. On the restart, the # 99 car of Scott Jordon lost a wheel in turn four. With the only wrecker on hand this night now being out of service, the safety crew attempted to load his car on the roll back truck on the grounds. After watching for several minutes not feeling my best, I decided to head for the car, giving up the final 13 laps of the event, which was won by Derrick Agee, and the IMCA modified finale won by Hunter Marriot. Again on Saturday, I kept an eye to the sky, hoping the Slocum 50 at 34 Raceway would somehow be able to avoid the rain. With the starting times moved up, Keagan and I headed out plenty early, in order to visit with the many tailgaters who prepare goodies in the parking lot. When we finally entered the grandstand, we could see a less than full pit area. This was somewhat expected after the Davenport Speedway had cancelled the Friday portion of the two day MARS, Corn Belt Clash swing. But is was not until later that it was announced that Mars had pulled their sanctioning from the event, telling their points chasers they could stay home. Sounds like plenty of blame to go around, and although this would not have affected my decision to go and support this amazing event, well enough of that.... Still an all star field of 18 super late models signed in, accompanied by about more than 20 305 sprint cars and 19 stock cars, all racing for huge purses before an nice crowd. The sun was out, with a strong breeze, and we kept one eye on the cell phone radar as the action began. Frank Heckenast Jr had set quick time last week at our visit to Peoria Speedway, and the second generation driver duplicated the feat on Saturday. Following three sprint heats, the late models also ran three starting straight up qualifies, with their 50 lap headliner to be lined up with heat one winner on the pole, heat two winner outside, etc. Fourth quick timer Chad Simpson grabbed heat one and the feature pole from the outside row one. Brian Shirley nabbed heat two from the pole, and polesitter Chris Simpson was the victor in heat three. Three stock car heats, with the top four in each redrawing for their feature, had us ready for main event racing. Following intermission, it was the 305 sprints coming to the grid. Harold Pohren had claimed the pole position, and he dominated the 20 laps to collect the $1755.00 check in his # 50P. Ben Waggoner was behind the wheel of the # 78 machine, but he settled for second ahead of John Schultz in a # 11, Shane Quam, and Jarod Schniderman. At this point in the program, I feel the need to mention a pet peeve. The schedule stated that the late models would run next in the feature order. I understand the it was still not dark, and the inbound storms were still miles away, but here is my complaint. Being a stock car fan, I would have certainly stayed for the $1055.00 finale, but there were many in the crowd who I am sure would have loved to get on the road home to hopefully beat the weather, not to mention the the following day was Easter. Add to that the fact that there is only one road out of 34 Raceway, and it can easily take an hour to get to the four lane. Certainly sticking to the running order as advertised would have done little harm. Of course the stock cars then had an unusual case of multiple cautions. With visiting David Brandies jumping from the pole to an early lead, it looked like he might follow Pohrens lead with a flag to flag win. But it was not to be, as outside polesitter Abe Huls and Jim Redmon kept the green #71 in sight. As the race approached halfway, John Oliver Jr joining the fray, moving to third. The third generation racer then used the high line to grab the lead, as Brandies faded from contention. The final eight circuits ran caution free, and Oliver and Huls ran side by side all the way, swapping the lead. With everyone on their feet, it was Oliver crossing the line first, with Huls settling for second. Redmon took third, Dustin Griffiths and Tom Bowling Jr. turned in top five runs. Following the second intermission, is was Slocum 50 showtime. A three wide battle featuring the Simpson brothers and Shirley opened the event, with Chris Simpson soon taking command. The 50 laps went caution free, and Chris spent most of the race negotiation slower traffic. Meanwhile, eleventh starting Bobby Pierce, two time winner of the Slocum in the previous three seasons, began to pick his way forward. With about ten laps to go, he seemed to find another burst of speed, clearing Shirley and third running Shannon Babb. Only Chad Simpson then stood between himself and Chris, who had built a sizable lead. Chad did what he could to hold off the faster car of Pierce, and Bobby used his fenders to try and create an opening. Hard racing, to be sure. Pierce finally grabbed second with a couple laps left, but ran out of time, as Chris Simpson collected the $ 10,555.00 big check. Pierce was scored second, ahead of Chad, Babb, and Shirley. Former winner Ryan Unzicker ran sixth, seventh was Dennis Erb Jr, in what looked like a Jay Johnson car with a #28. Heckenast rounded out the lead lap cars, with Bob Gardner and Jason Feger completing the top ten. A big thanks to Jessi, Brad, the Slocum family and the track promoters for going against the odds to stage the ninth annual Slocum 50!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Back Up and Running

Last Saturday night I was able to get my 2017 racing season underway with the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series late models and Sprint Invader 360s at 34 Raceway in West Burlington. But before I could file a report, the modem on the old Dell decided to give out. And by the time I was back on line, that race was old news in blogosphere time. But weekend number two is in the books, so here we go! Saturday night I joined son Brent and family for a visit to the Peoria,Il Speedway for their season opener, the $5,000 to win Chuck Hamilton Memorial for super late models. The car count for the open engine machines was a bit low at 19, but the quality of the field was top notch. One lap qualifying for the supers and the UMP modifieds opened the show, with Frank Heckenast Jr pacing the late models and Ray Bollinger topping the mods. Outside pole sitter Scott Schmitt topped the first LM heat, while pole sitter Brian Shirley captured heat two. It was a bit curious that the five support classes ran heats of six and seven cars while the super lates ran only two. The 1/4 mile Peoria track is in many ways like stepping back in time, although improvements are being made. However, the PA system sounds exactly like Charlie Browns teacher, so we left not knowing who was wheeling many of the support class entries. The local steel block late model class was 13 strong and featured a couple of drivers who also competed a time or two last season at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson,Iowa. But it was former super late model racer Jason Jaggers who claimed the feature win. Blake Woodruff ran second in a sharp looking # 87, and I believe Raymond Ellis was behind the wheel of the third place #93. Bollinger, who is a part time visitor to Quincy Raceways, topped the UMP mod headliner after Quincy defending point champion Dave Weitholder lost the handle on his ride while leading the feature event. The super feature was last on the card, with Bobby Pierce and Jason Feger setting on row one. Feger jumped to the early lead with Pierce and row two starter Shirley in tow. As the leaders quickly caught the back of the pack, Shirley made a dandy move to shoot from third to the front. He then opened a commanding lead, as a great battle developed for second through fourth, with Ryan Unzicker joining the fray. With cars running all around the oval, Pierce eventually broke away and closed in on Shirley, challenging for the lead. The lone caution in the race, for a stalled Bob Gardner, was well timed for Shirley, and on the restart he was able to maintain a small lead to the checkers. Pierce settled for the runner up spot, with Feger, Unzicker, and Heckenast rounding out the top five. Unoffically, the second five was Mike Spatola, Rodney Sanders, Brent Larson, Schmitt, and Nick Kurtz. The clock had passed 2:00 AM as I climbed in to bed, preparing for the one week delayed opening night for Quincy Raceways. Quincy Raceways has added the UMP Pro late models to their rotation for 2017, with plans to feature five classes each week from among the six now offered. However, with opening not cancelled last week due to wet grounds, it was decided to run all six classes this Sunday night. Things got off to a rough start when the water truck broke down, and with a stiff southerly breeze, the first attempt at hot laps created a dust storm. So the borrowed water truck was put to use and the program got under way about one hour late. A nice field of 74 cars signed in, including a healthy 14 cars in the new late model division. Michigan racer Rusty Schlenk, fresh off a Saturday night feature win in Pevely,Mo. set quick time for the dozen UMP super late models with a lap of 13.355 seconds in his new ride, the #CJ1 CJ Rayburn house car. Ray Bollinger followed up his Saturday dominance in Peoria with a quick time of 14.272 in the UMP modifieds. Schlenk and Highland Speedway winner McKay Wenger topped the super late heat races. Following intermission, the 15 IMCA sport mods lead off the feature parade. It took three tries to get started, but under green, Austin Howes grabbed the early lead. He survived a handful of cautions, each time under heavy pressure from Brandon Lennox, the Saturday winner at 34 Raceway. Meanwhile, veteran Tony Dunker was trying to build a high line around the .29 mile oval. As the 18 laps wound down, Dunker was finally able to get his power to the ground, and on the final lap, he overtook Lennox for the runner up slot behind Howes. Justin Ebbing also found a good line late, advancing to fourth at the checkers. The Pro Crates were up next for 20 laps. Heat two winner, the Lee County Speedway defending champ, Tommy Elston started outside heat one winner AJ May. Elston jumped to the early lead before Sam Halstead lost the handle in turn four, bringing out a caution. Back to racing, Elston opened a lead, while May and veteran Denny Woodworth battled for second. The race stayed green, with Woodworth finally breaking free and running down the leader. He was able to show his nose under Elston in the closing laps, but # 45 held off # 45DW for the win. May grabbed third, while Friday night Jacksonville winner Tommy Sheppard ran fourth. Halstead Charged back take fifth.The second five saw Vance Wilson leading Brandon Savage, Josh Jackson,Trent Grotz, and Gunner Frank. A six car invert in the UMP mod class put Rick Conoyer on the outside of row one, and he quickly jumped to a nice lead. Former late model standout Jason Frankel charged from row four to second in his bright yellow #0, but he jumped the cushion in turn two as Bollinger found his way around Shaun Deering, going from fourth to second. Conoyer stayed in the preferred low groove, while Bollinger went " elbows up" - his words - on the high line. As the white flag waved, Bollinger powered to the lead on the high side, holding on for the win in the non stop event. Conoyer collected second, while Dave Weitholder may a late charge to third. Deering and Frankel completed the first five. The Super lates started straight up, with Schlenk and Wenger on row one. Again, it was 25 laps of green flag racing, and Schlenk held serve for the distance. Wenger chased the leader the entire way, but to no avail. Woodworth jumped from his crate to his open car, pushing Wenger at the checkers, as McKay had a tire going down. Woodworth, the defending track champion, settled for third, taking the spot after a battle with Alan Westling. Justin Reed muscled past Jamie Wilson on the final lap for fifth, Jason Peery ran seventh, and Jose Parga finished eighth in his first visit to QR. Clint Kirkham flipped his # 28 Friday in Jacksonville, but he climbed in Charles Vanzandts # 80V crate car to complete the cars running at the checkers. Derek Fetter and Todd Frank retired early, while Rickey Frankel was in the trailer with apparent rear end issues. The IMCA stock car class was short on cars on opening night, and Rudy Zaragoza saw his night end early when he smacked the front stretch wall in the heat race. Defending track champ Abe Huls led flag to flag for the winahead of Brian Hoener, Jerry Jansen, and Michael Larsen. The biggest class on the night was the 17 car IMCA sport compact class. Missing from the feature line up was Allyssa Steele, who flipped her new ride 1 3/4 times in turn four in her heat race. Barry Taft put his # 57 out front to grab the feature win. Craig Bangert nabbed second. It was a strange night at the Bullring, with two familiar faces absent from the action. Modified standout Michael Long has had engine issues twice already in the young season, and he was at the track without his # 18L. And 16 time late model champion Mark Burgtorf is setting out the 2017 season, at least as weekly racer, although he may be available on a fill in basis. Quincy Raceways will not be racing next Sunday, taking the Easter holiday off. As of now, the schedule calls for racing on April 23, with both late models classes in action along with IMCA sport mods and sport compacts, and 305 sprint cars. The UMP mods and IMCA stock cars have a scheduled night off. This Friday night, I plan to be at Lee County Speedway for their first weekly show, then Saturday it will be off the 34 Raceway for the Slocum 50. Maybe we will see you there!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Rain, rain. go away

Opening weekend for my 2017 season was a washout, as both nights of the Spring Extravaganza at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson,Iowa fell victim to wet conditions. So we will wait one more week and try to get things rolling at 34 Raceway in West Burlington with the lid lifter for the 3/8 mile high banked track, as well as for the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series and the Sprint Invaders in what should be an excellent two class program. The plan then will be to follow that up with the season opener at Quincy,Il Raceways. As mentioned in a previous column, QR will be integrating the UMP Pro late models into a rotation this year, and they will be spotlighted on April 2 along with UMP modifieds and three IMCA classes, the stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts. The UMP super late models will debut the following Sunday before Quincy takes a night off for Easter Sunday, April 16. LaSalle,Il Speedway was able to get the first night of their two night spring event in on Friday, with Josh Richards taking home the $7,000 late model check and Mike Harrison picking up the $1700 modified prize. But rain spoiled the Saturday night portion of the show. Highland Speedway attempted to run on Saturday, but the wet weather moved in during heat races, cancelling the remainder of the action. So hopefully we will be back next weekend with better news - this Sunday afternoon television racing just doesn't quite do the trick!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Random Thoughts

With 2016 in the rear view mirror, it's time to take a look back and a look ahead. In 2016, I attended 49 nights of racing, my highest total in several years, thanks mainly to the addition of the fledging late model class at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson,Iowa, a 40 minutes driver from my front door. In total, I visited eleven tracks this season - Quincy and Pontoon Beach in Illinois, Pevely, Moberly, and Memphis in Missouri, and in Iowa in addition to Donnellson, West Burlington, West Liberty, Tipton, Knoxville, and one new venue, the Dubuque Fairgrounds in Dubuque. The 3/8 mile Sunday night track has been on my list of places to go for many years, but the distance from home coupled with their running the same night as Quincy has always been an issue. My first visit was well worth the trip, and in fact so enjoyable that I made the trip again a month later! I did not, however, take in the racing at the Dome in St Louis in December, so I am more than ready for the 2017 season to begin. There are always some changes made in the off season, and it would seem this year is no exception. While I would consider the first year of the crate late model class a success in Donnellson as far as car counts and competition, promoter Mike VanGenderen has decided to sanction the class on Friday nights for 2017 with the UMP Pro late model division. During 2016 there were a couple cars from Illinois based tracks that made the trek west to race in Donnellson, and LCS track champion Tommy Elston journeyed to Spoon River Speedway in Banner,Il and picked up a win. So we will see what effect the sanctioning will have in the coming year. If I understand correctly, the IMCA late models will again be able to run at Lee County in what is considered phase in season. There were several IMCA cars that competed in 2016. At the same time, Quincy Raceways has announced that they will be adding the UMP Pro late models to the weekly Sunday night card about nine times in 2017. The UMP super lates will be in action about 15 times, so on certain nights, both classes of late models will be racing. It has been stated that on those nights, the top finishing crate cars will have the option of also running the open feature. We will have to see how this plays out, and as of now, promoter Ken Dobson has not indicated which classes will race on which nights. He has however released a tentative schedule which has the track taking a few nights off during the season, including every other week during July and August. So I would encourage everyone to check the schedule ahead of time. Dobson also has the Pro lates several times at the Jacksonville,Il track during the season. While I try to be a solid supporter of weekly racing, I get as excited as anyone over special events. In 2017, the MLRA late models will again make a pair of visits to Donnellson, on Thursday, May 4 and Friday, June 2. The series will follow up in May with races in Davenport, Iowa on Friday, and Independence, Iowa on Saturday. June 1 still shows as a to be announced date, but Saturday, June 3 will mark a return trip to Randolph,Co Raceway in Moberly. Last seasons events in Donnellson and Moberly had strong car counts, 37 and 35 in Donnellson, and 31 in Moberly, and strong competition. The MLRA is among the best regional series, my only gripe is that the are billed by the series owners as Lucas Oil late models. This is a bit deceiving, most likely done on purpose, creating confusion with the Lucas Oil late model national touring series. The World of Outlaw visit to Quincy Raceways has been dropped from the schedule after two seasons, but the always popular UMP Summernationals will come to town on Monday, July 3 following weekend stops in Pevely,Mo and Lincoln,Il. Also, Dobson is trying to put together another high paying late model special mat a time to be determined. In my neck of the woods, racing is set to kick off the weekend of March 17 and 18 at the Scotland Co. Speedway in Memphis, classes and times not yet announced. The following Friday and Saturday is on the card in Donnellson. Quincy Raceways will spring into action on Sunday, April 2. And of course the biggest show in this area falls on Saturday, April 15 at 34 Raceway in West Burlington with the ninth annual Slocum 50. Co sanctioned by UMP, MARS, and The Cornbelt Clash Series, the 50 lap feature will again pay a whopping $10,555 to win. 33 cars signed in in 2016, with Bobby Pierce cashing the big check. The silly season is now in full swing, but we will hold off on rumors and half truths. Schedules and driver plans should be getting firmed up in the next few weeks, and then we can make plans to meet each other as we prepare to go Racin' Down the Road.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

2016 Season Wrap at Shiverfest

My 2016 racing season likely came to an end Saturday with night number 49 at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa. It was the annual Shiverfest extravaganza, as 169 cars in seven divisions competed in what is billed as the final race in Iowa for the season. The format has been expanded to include some festivities on Friday night, but for us things kicked off on a breezy and unusually warm Saturday evening. Following hay rack rides, on track trick or treating with over 100 cars and drivers coming to the track apron and box car races for the youngsters, hot laps kicked off somewhere around 5:30. 21 heat races, a C main for the sport mods and three B mains set the field for the seven feature events, with the hobby stock headliner sandwiched between the B mains. Four of the 17 hobby stockers were out of commission come feature time, but the 15 lapper was nonetheless hotly contested. Nathan Ballard journeyed from Marengo, Iowa to pick up the win over Brandon Hare, fall series champion Dustin Griffiths, and Quinton Miller. The field included Brian Bries from Norway, Iowa, who spends his Friday nights racing on the asphalt at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. The late model feature was up next, with a dozen cars signed in to do battle for 25 laps. Heat winners Todd Frank and Sam Halstead in the Lynn Richard # 26 sat on row one. Frank jumped to the early lead, with IMCA competitor Chuck Hanna in tow. Track champion Tommy Elston started in row three and advanced to third on the fifth circuit. Elston ran his familiar low line, taking over second one lap later as Frank pounded the cushion. By lap eight Tommy had closed the gap, and he took the lead out of turn two on lap twelve only to see the caution wave for young Gunner Frank. Back under green Elston moved again to the lead, but Todd Frank stayed close as the two separated themselves from the pack. Frank was gaining ground when Tegan Evans brought out the final caution on lap 16. Over the final ten laps Elston stretched his lead, picking up his eleventh win of 2016. Frank ran a strong second ahead of Jeff Guengerich, Halstead and Hanna. Derek Liles led the second five ahead of Peoria,Il steel block racer Brian Crebo in his first visit to LCS, late model rookies Pat Gordin and Blake Woodruff,Gunner Frank, and first time rookie Chad Coyne from Orion,Il. The 13 years young female racer Evans was the only car to not complete the 25 laps. The huge 41 car sport mod field needed five heat races and a C and B main to set their 24 car feature field. Track regular Tony Dunker found himself in the unenviable position of having to come all the way from the C to make the main event, but he managed to do so despite a couple of eventful races. Early on the feature became a three car battle between Brandon Lennox, John Oliver Jr. and Brayton Carter. But with eight laps remaining, Carter had his fan puncture the radiator, dropping fluid on the track and ending his run. At this point, B main winner Austin Powell was up to fourth, while Logan Anderson held down third. A solid three car battle developed with Lennox and Oliver r4unning the high line while Anderson searched the low groove. On the final lap Oliver slowed a bit out of turn two and as watched his progress Anderson powered around Lennox to lead only one lap of the race, the one that counted. Lennox, Oliver and Powell crossed the stripe in the next three positions. The mini mod/mod lite division turned out only nine cars, with Chad Dugan of Waukon,Iowa and Don Erger swapping paint a couple of times before Dugan claimed the win. Next came the stock cars for 22 laps, with all but one of the 27 entrants taking the green. Track champion Jeff Mueller and John Oliver Jr sat in row one, and Mueller opened an early lead. With one lap scored, the yellow came out, and row three starter Mike Hughes was already up to second, followed by Todd Reitzler and Oliver. Reitzler shot to second under green, but again the caution waved. Racing once again, Johnny Spaw entered the fray in fourth, Cayden Carter took fifth and Oliver fell to sixth. Mueller and Hughes continued to battle and as the race approached the ten lap mark, Carter and a resurgent Oliver now battled side by side for third. Just past half way, Hughes grabbed the lead and Oliver followed on the high line to second as Mueller ran his usual low line. Meanwhile Carter searched around the oval, running high in turns three and four, low in one and two in the four car battle. Mueller reclaimed the lead with six to go, one lap later it was Hughes again on top. The lead was a toss up on the final circuit, but it was Hughes edging Carter for the win. Oliver Jr., Mueller, Spaw and Reitzler followed, all with solid runs. A record ( for me) 33 sport compacts checked in, I can't remember ever witnessing a 4 cylinder B-main! 24 cars took the feature green for 15 laps. The caution waved on the opening lap, with Levi Heath grabbing the lead as we went back to racing. As second running Josh Barnes fell back, Barry Taft and Brandon Reu took up the chase for the lead.On the fifth trip around, Reu grabbed the lead, and Nathan Chandler followed him, nabbing the runner up spot. Following two more quick cautions, Reu and Chandler battled until the yellow waved with three laps remaining. On the restart, a three wide battle developed for the second spot between Chandler, Heath, and Matt Macey from Delavan,Il. But on the white flag lap, Reu left an opening on the inside line and Chandler sneaked by for the lead and the win. Macey crossed in second but was DQ for an illegal part, turning the runner up slot over to Heath, followed by Reu and Taft. The final race of the night and the season was the 24 car A main for the modifieds. The field had been whittled down for 30 race teams for the 25 lapper. Eric Barnes set the early pace with Milo Veloz in second. The first caution came on lap four, three laps later Dakota Hayden moved to second . One more lap and caution waved again and when racing resumed, Cayden Carter blasted to the lead, with Hayden fading to fifth. Meanwhile Kyle Brown charged from sixth to second before another stoppage on lap ten. Now it was veteran Bruce Hanford on the move, taking over second on lap tweleve. Cater hugged the inside groove while Hanford ran the cushion, with caution again at lap 16. A final caution at lap 20 saw Brown jump to second, but Hanford rebounded quickly to grab the spot again. But there was no catching Carter, as he claimed the final checkers of the year over Hanford, Brown, Hayden, and Donavan Lodge, who hung around the top five all night. The final checkers waved just past 11:00 and considering the high number of caution periods, some rather lengthy, it was a superb job by the track officials, staging a 32 race program in just over five hours before a very large crowd, many of whom stayed around on a gorgeous fall evening. As I stated, this is likely my final race of 2016, but I will try to report the news and some of the gossip as the off season begins, and I know Jeff and my fellow bloggers will as well, so thanks for reading, check back often, and heres hoping we can spend time together on line and at the track in 2017!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

132 Cars at Memphis Finale

Saturday night a big crowd and 132 race cars came through the gate at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis,Mo., as night two of the Fall Nationals wrapped up the abbreviated 2016 race schedule at the fairgrounds facility. Although temps dipped below 50 degrees as the final checkers waved just past 11:00, the action stayed hot on the track. A total of 17 heat races and four B mains set the starting field for the six feature events, which began after a brief intermission. First up, 16 of the 17 hobby stocks took the green for 15 laps. One of several double duty drivers, Mike Hughes took off from the outside pole position. He was never seriously challenged in leading the distance. Meanwhile, Dustin Griffiths won a spirited battle for the runner up spot over Clint Nelson. The sport mods turned out a whopping 40 cars, and 24 of them came to the track for their 20 lap finale. Local favorite Brandon Dale grabbed the lead on the opening lap, but soon had Curtis Vanderwal applying pressure. On lap seven, Curtis grabbed the top spot, and began to stretch his advantage. Two laps later Tim Plummer pulled ahead after a duel with Austin Powell and began to stalk Dale. As the laps wound down, Dale began to fade, with Plummer and Powell taking up the chase of Vanderwal. The lone caution period came as the white flag waved, setting up a green, white, checkers finish. Although it wiped out a commanding lead, Vanderwal picked up the win, with Plummer, Powell, and Jim Gillenwater rounding out the top four. Although Curt Marks of Dubuque, Iowa Moving and Storage came on mid week as a sponsor to bump the late model winners check to $1,000, a disappointing total of nine Lee County and IMCA late models signed in, including Marks himself. Marks and Tommy Elston started in row one for the 25 lapper, but third starting Todd Frank looped his # 21 in the first set of turns. Sam Halstead was piloting the Lynn Richard # 26, and he was forced to take evasive action, smacking the guardrail. Although he was able to drive away, he retired to the pits while Frank restarted on the tail. Back under green, Elston jumped to a big lead and was soon lapping cars. Soon his lead was 1/2 lap, and with the race now going green to the checkers, Elston lapped all but the second place finisher, Derek Liles! Gunner Frank turned in a third place finish, with Pat Gordin and Charles Vanzandt completing the top five. All 23 stock cars lined up for 20 laps, with Kurt Kinsley leading the first circuit. The caution waved as lap two was completing, as Jeff Mueller had mechanical problems in turn four, spinning his ride, then retiring to the pits. As racing resumed, Cayden Carter took over the lead, with Johnny Spaw powering to third. Lap four saw Spaw in second, with John Oliver Jr began a charge to the front from a mid pack starting spot. Oliver nabbed second on lap six, and double duty Hughes took over fourth. The yellow waved on lap seven, and following the restart, Spaw spun out of turn two sparking a five car pile up. Going green again, Hughes took second, setting up a three car scrum along with Cater and Oliver. All three leaders ran the high line until the 14th circuit, when Hughes moved to the low side as he looked for the lead. Meanwhile, Carter began entering the turns on the low side, then sliding up to the middle line on exit. One more yellow cam on lap 16, but Carter was up to the challenge. He took the win over Hughes, while Nathan Wood slipped past Oliver for third. Tom Bowling Jr. completed the top five. A dozen sport compacts checked in, and it was Kimberly Abbott with the hot hand. She jumped to the first lap lead from row two. Soon it was Brandon Reu moving to her rear bumper, and lap after lap the two ran inches apart. But Abbott never gave up the top spot, taking the 15 lap win. Reu settled for second, with Darin Smith in third. The final race of the night, weekend, and season saw the 30 modifieds whittled down to 24 starters for 25 laps. It was Cayden Carter pacing the opening circuit before a lap two caution. Michael Long had taken the green in row nine after a rare spinout in his heat relegated him to the second B main, which he won handily. With racing back underway, Long shot to fourth on lap two. It was lap seven when Long won a hard fought duel with Zack Vanderbeek to take over third. Three more trips past the flagstand saw the 18L in second, and now the leaders were in slower traffic. On lap 16, Carter and Long swapped slide jobs in turn four, but as the two entered turn one on the 17th go around, Long took over the lead. From there he stretched his lead, and with no more caution periods, Michael farly cruised to the win. Carter completed a good night in second, with Vanderbeek in third. Dakota Hayden stayed in the mix to take fourth, and veteran Bruce Hanford edged out Kurt Kile and Kelly Shryock for fifth. Promoter Mike Vangenderen and crew do an outstanding job of creating a great racing surface on a track that is used only a handful of times during the season, and Saturday night was a perfect example. With the season quickly winding down, I am hoping for one more race night, next Saturdays Shiverfest event at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa. If you have never attended Shiverfest, I do recommend it, and if you are coming, do so early, as many of the well over 100 cars come to the front stretch about 4:30 for trick or treating for the kids, and it is a good opportunity to see many of the cars and drivers up close before the night of racing. See you there?!?