Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dodging the Raindrops

As vacation continues, the weatherman has so far been cooperating as what for me is an aggressive racing schedule has so far fallen into place. Weekend rain left the pit area at Quincy Raceways a bit tough to negotiate for the weekly Sunday night show, but with two weeks of rainouts, everyone was willing to overlook some mud. 14 IMCA late models signed in, along with 24 UMP modifieds, a sparse field of 9 IMCA stock cars, and 14 hobby stocks. Nebo, Il driver Dustin Neese rolled past rookie Justin Jennings on lap two of the late model main event and held the top spot through a non stop run until lap 19 when Jason Perry made a daring turn four move to blow past both second running Keith Pratt and Neese. Perry then stretched his lead until a lap 27 caution, the only one of the race, for a spinning Neese. On the restart, Jason took off, leading the final three laps, with Pratt grabbing second ahead of Joey Gower and Denny Woodworth. Bill Genenbacher edged Jennings at the checkers for fifth. The win was the second of the year at QR for Perry, who started eighth in the 14 car field. Woodworth and Justin Reed began the night ties for the point lead, but Reed appeared to miss the set up and was not a factor, pulling out early. His tenth place finish left him nine markers behind Woodworth in the championship chase, and in fact Perry moved into second, only four behind.
The UMP modified 25 lapper was another clinic put on by Michael Long. The Quincy resident races about half time at QR, and has taken the feature green flag seven times this season, winning all seven times. Only an early season DNS due to an accident has put a blemish on his amazing perfect record. On Sunday, Micheal came from a row six start to take the checkers ahead of point leader and second generation driver Jared Schlipman. Veteran Dave Weitholder held the top spot going into the night, but had engine woes all night long. Defending track champ Abe Huls took advantage of a mid race bobble by Kevin Tomlinson to grab the lead in the stock car main, then held off the Hannibal, Mo. driver for the win. Bobby Anders came through the pack for the hobby stock victory for his sixth win of 2009 over point leader Steve Carlin and veteran Jim Powell. Carlin and Powell were lucky to even be racing after flash flooding on Bear Creek in their hometown of Hannibal nearly destroyed their racing operations. In fact, Powell found his # 48j with flood water above the doors, and his tow vehicle under water. He and nephew Michael Larsen were taken from the race shop by boat when they could not get the race cars out. Jimbo showed me the moisture still visible in the gauges on his dash, even though it had been over a week since the flooding!
After one day back at work, we took off Tuesday for an overnight stay in the Quad Cities. From our home base there, grandson Keagan and I headed north and west to the Farley Speedway to take in the first appearance in seven years of the IMCA Derry Brothers Summer Series. The car count for the mid week show was a bit less than we had hoped, but the racing action made up for it. As has been reported, flat tires - and drivers stopping on the speedway because of them - were a problem in the early stages of the event, but the frequent bunching of the field and the Delaware restarts kept everyone in the middle of the action. All time series wins leader Jeff Aikey and hard charging Kevin Blum in the # 67 normally driven by Tony Von Dresky sat on the front row, but I had my eye on Andy Eckrich, who is a force on the Farley oval. For his part, Keagan zeroed in on series point leader Ray Guss, Jr. And as I have come to realize in the last few seasons, we kept our eyes on " Hammer Down " Jason Rauen. Jason was the first driver pitside for new rubber, restarting three laps into the event in 24th spot. Through at least six more cautions periods Rauen used the top side of the speedway to move forward, and on lap 18 he moved to the runner up spot after a great battle with Terry Neal. Soon after, however, Rauen retired for good with problems in the backend of his # 98. Meanwhile Eckrich had moved past Aikey on lap nine, a lead he would not relinquish. For his part, Guss carefully picked his way through the pack, eventually taking the runnerup spot from Neal, and gaining ground on Andy. Guss then faded in the closing laps, crossing the stripe in third. As he moved to his pit area. the reason for his slowing became apparent, as he was down to four pounds of air pressure in his right rear tire! Aikey came home in fourth, while Mark Preston edged Charley McKenna for fifth. " Chargin' " Charley was another driver in a " loaner " car, as veteran Gary Crawford supplied the hard luck Mc Kenna with a vehicle from his shop. TJ Criss also continued his perfect atteandance streak courtesy of a loaner # 30 ride from Todd Cooney. Rob Toland suffered engine problems in his heat, doing a start and park in both the B-main and 50 lap feature. Cory Goldbeck was a no show come feature time in his # 21G. We saw a black # 69 late model also enter the pit area. but it was never listed in the race program, thus the discrepancy in car count in some reports. The only major delay came in the final heat race when Luke Goedert and Josh Most became entangled on the backstretch. Both were able to finish the evening, with Most turning in a top ten run. Keagan and I wondered why the yellow flag was displayed on several occasions when slowing cars moved to turns three and four of the 1/2 mile track, clearly out of harms way.
We enjoyed seeing a couple of modifeds that compete regularly at Lee County Speedway and 34 Raceway, as Davenport ace Rich Smith and more surprisingly, western Il. hotshoe Brandon Rothzen made the tow to challenge for the $500 to win purse. Brandon had new plain skin on the
sides of his # 33, and we did not recognize the car until alerted by the track announcer! Although Rothzen was strong early, moving through the pack to third, the tire monster sent him pitside late in the 20 lapper. On this night, no one had anything for Waterloo, Ia pilot Vern Jackson, who dominated the 18 car field. Brannon Bechen was equally tough in taking the 4 cylinder Farley Flyer win over eight other competitors.
After a quick trip to the pits we were on the road by 10:35, more than reasonable for a weeknight show. Only a couple of questions remained unanswered, as the posted itinerary advertised hot laps at 6:30, while the radio ad we heard enroute listed 7:00. So thee races were either 20 minutes late or 10 minutes early! Also, the press packer Jeff Broeg shared with me stated that with the 25 car field, five cars would qualify out of three heats, with four to redraw. However, apparently only four were taken, as Todd Malmstrom, who ran fifth in heat one started on the pole and won the B-main. The other two fifth place cars, Criss and McKenna never came to the track for the B-main, and come feature time, McKenna attempted to line up in the seventh row. After a visit from the line up official, Charlie then went to the back of the field.I will try to check this procedure out when the series visits Quincy Raceways on Friday, September 3. While many folks are heading to Knoxville for the 360 sprint car nationals, my weekend plans include Friday night racing at Lee County for installment number seven of the IMCA late models, a first ever visit Saturday to Lake Ozark Speedway outside Eldon, Mo. for the MARS late models, and a Sunday night regular show at Quincy Raceways. Wherever you go, enjoy the races!

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