This past weekend was pretty much representative of the entire 2010 racing season, as rain played a major role in the festivities. With a vacation day on Friday, I was able to get to 34 Raceway plenty early to wander the pit area and catch up with some old friends while getting a good roster of the 51 late models that showed up to attempt to qualify for the $10,000 to win Saturday Pepsi Nationals IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series finale. The car count was down a bit from the past few seasons, but that is a trend I have been seeing most places I go, surely a bi product of a tight economy. Still, the best of the best in IMCA late model racing was on hand, and anticipation was high for the weekend. Despite my prediction, the track stayed pretty consistent throughout qualifying, and although most of the top times came during the first half, Quincy Raceways point champion Denny Woodworth set quick time with a lap of 16.575 late in the time trial round, locking him in to a starting spot for Saturday. Things got a little strange when I went back to the pits to record the heat race lineups. Tommy Elston was checking out his starting spot and mentioned to me that he did not see Mark Burgtorf on the lineups. After some conversation it was determined that Marks # 7B had been listed instead as 70. Although officials corrected the board apparently no one from the track contacted Mark, and his team had thought he was in the second heat instead of the opening one. As a result, he was late to staging, and would be relegated to a Saturday night B-main. Meanwhile, last years winner, Jason Frankel, driving Bill Genenbachers # 72 took the first qualifier to earn the pole for the money race. Nate Beuseling, Lonnie Bailey, Boone McLaughlin and Summer Series rookie of the year Andy Eckrich also captured the 12 lap preliminary events in which 15 cars qualified. While I missed the 305 Sprint event, I was back in the grandstands to see Jeff Mueller capture the IMCA stock car 20 lapper, leaving only the late model Ironman 20 lap feature to be contested. This race is a special event for the drivers who attend each Summer Series race throughout the season, and pays $750 to win. Former rookie of the year TJ Criss from Oskaloosa parlayed a front row start into a flag to flag win. While TJ had the field covered, there was plenty of action behind him, with Terry Neal advancing from ninth to take second in the 12 car field. Mark Preston, Eckrich, and series champion Ray Guss Jr. completed the top five.
Jeff Aikey finished sixth in another Guss car. Jeff broke his engine in hot laps, and the Roberts - Guss team loaned him their new # 58 car, which they brought along as a back up, electing to use the red # 58 as their primary car for the weekend. We left the track knowing that rain was a possibility for Saturday, and made some backup plans on the ride home.
Saturday morning was spent close to the phone and computer, and it was a bit after noon that the official word came that Saturdays racing was posponed until Sunday. At the same time, Quincy Raceways cancelled their Sunday races to avoid any conflict with 34. With the radar looking good to the south, Keagan and I met up with buddies Darryl and Fred and we headed south to I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Mo. for the Pepsi Nationals World of Outlaws late model $10,000 to win 55 lap one day event. 124 cars signed in for the four class program, including 31 World of Outlaw late models. It was grandson Keagan first WoO show, and he was filled with anticipation. Happily, he was not disappointed. Steve Francis set quick time around the 1/3 mile oval with a lap of 12.768 seconds. Heat race wins went to Francis, point leader Josh Richards, and Billy Moyer, while Chub Frank captured the B-main. The two ladies in the field, April Farmer and Jill George collected provisionals to fill out a 24 car field. The announcement was then made that rain - what else? - was headed our way, and the late model feature would be run first. Why can't more tracks make such good decisions? As the field rolled out, with Darrell Lanigan and Tim McCreadie on the front row, we all made our picks - I picked last and took T-Mac. The first 29 laps went non stop, with McCreadie, then Lanigan holding the top spot. The yellow came only because the ambulance was needed in the outside pit area. On the restart, T- Mac, who was second, spun in turn four. When racing resumed, ninth starting Shannon Babb charged to third, and began to work on second running Moyer, who had been swapping the lead with Lanigan. By lap 39, Babb had the runnerup spot, and after one last caution, 13th starting Brady Smith powered in to third. Babb worked the low line to take the lead and the win, with his mentor Moyer in second and Smith third. Lanigan took fourth over 11th starting Clint Smith. The second fiver included Richards, Francis, McCreadie, Frank, and 18 year old Austin Hubbard. Lanigans finish gave him the series points lead over Richards. With lightening flashing around us, we headed for the car, and barely made it to the interstate before the rains came. They were able to get the UMP modified feature in, with Mike Harrison taking the $1,000 win, but the sportsman and Pro 4 feature were apparently washed out. The late model feature may have been the best we have seen in 2010, with an excellent track and plenty of passing.
It was Sunday morning when we learned what we suspected on the trip home, that 34 Raceway would be unable to race on Sunday. It was a surprise however to learn the event would not be rescheduled.
Plans for this weekend include a Saturday night visit to the West Liberty Raceway for the Liberty 100 50 lap features for open and IMCA late models. Then on Sunday Quincy Raceways will try again to kick off their fall series featuring $1,000 to win late models with rules allowing the ULMA steel block late models and the UMP crate lates to compete with the IMCA cars. also racing are the UMP modifieds, IMCA stock cars and hobby stocks, with hot laps scheduled for 4:00 PM. Hope to see you at the races!