The UMP Summernationals rolled in to Quincy on Friday night greeted by temperatures well into the triple digits. For me it was the unofficial start of the second half of the season, and night # 25 of racing. Of the five people who had planned to come with me, the heat scared off all but Keagan. When we arrived at the speedway after I got off work, there was a nice early crowd, but the bulk of the large crowd arrived as we got closer to qualifying time. 31 UMP late models ran hot laps about 7:00, the the smaller than expected field of 16 UMP modifieds combined hot laps with time trial qualifying, with four cars at a time on the speedway. Track point leader Dave Weitholder set quick time for the mods with a lap of 15.284. The top eight in time had been set to be locked in to the feature event, but of course with 16 cars, all would start the $650 to win 30 lap finale. The two groups of eight ran what amounted to position races. Nine hobby stocks were on hand to contest a heat race and a 15 lap feature.
Late model qualifying followed the mods,, with the cars time two at a time. The very first pair on the track were series points leader Brian Shirley and local racre Robby Warner. Shirley blasted around the 029 mile oval at 13.73 seconds, a time that would hold up throughout qualifying. In fact no one else broke the 14 second barrier, with track regular Clint Kirkham second quick at just over 14 seconds. In comparison, the 410 sprint cars racing last Sunday recorded a quick time of 11.7 seconds.
Shirley, Ryan Unzicker, former track regular Brandon Sheppard, and two time QR Summernationals winner Shannon Babb picked up heat race wins, while Mie " Opie " Spatola edged weekly competitor Jim Moon for the B-main win in which only two of 12 starters moved on. Surprise visitor Matt Furman, who we watched over the years at West Liberty Raceway and other Iowa tracks before he moved to Columbus, Ohio, put on the show of the night, running the high line we expected from Jason Feger and Jason Rauen. Unfortunately, the usual tall cushion at QR never developed, and Matt found himself over the bank at each end of the track as the night went along, and he did was not able to run down the top two before the laps ran out.
Track officials tried to keep the show moving along, as the clouds began to build around the speedway. The hobby stocks were originally set to run a 20 lap main event, but with the car count and threatening weather, it was cut to 15 laps. Track point leader Jake Powers had suffered a hard crash on Sunday that sent his # 0 to the frame shop and created several late nights in the shop for his father, ace car builder Jerry Powers. Dad was not sure the car was ready, but wanted Jake to try it out in a non points situation before this Sunday. All the youngster did was bring home the win, crossing the line in a side by side shootout with hard charging Jeff Delonjay.
The 40 lap late model feature rolled out next with Shirley and Sheppard in row one. Brian beat Brandon into turn one, and from there the racing was back in the pack. Sheppard put his new Rocket house car ride close to the Pierce chassis of the " Squirrel " on a couple of occasions, but could not make the pass. With 20 laps in the books and Babb working on Unzicker for third as both were pressured by Feger, a lightning strike knocked out the newer quartz lights in turns three and four. After a delay in the 20 minute range while the lights cooled down the came back up, a couple of stray raindrops fell as we went back to green, one lap shy of an official race. Babb was able to get around Unzicker for third, the the top five remained the same. Dennis Erb Jr, a feature winner at the track earlier this season, had a spirited battle for sixth with Jason McBride, while Jon Henry and Mark Burgtorf in the Richard Realty # 15R dueled behind them. Track provisional Justin Reed followed B main winner Spatola through the pack, finishing tenth and eleventh. Of the 22 starters 14 took the checkered flag.
With the renegade rainstorm now seemingly headed our way, the mods came to the track for a scheduled 30 laps. The front row saw dash winner Michael Long on the pole with Steven Delonjay on the outside. Steven grabbed the early lead, with Long taking over with a strong move on lap six as the rain fell. The caution came out on lap seven as Derrick Carlson lost a driver shaft in his # 367x car. Derrick suffered heavy damage earlier in the week at Jacksonville,Il, and with his # 7x down, he is wheeling his father-in - law Steve Theivagts' # 36. On the restart, defending national champion Mike Harrison took the second spot, and one lap later, the red flag came out. although only eight laps had been completed, track and UMP officials realized it would be difficult for several of the drivers to return to Quincy on sunday, so the race was called complete, with Long, Harrison, Delonjay, Donovan Lodge and Weitholder in the top five slots.
Despite the heat, there was one of the largest crowds in recent memory at QR, and although I have yet to talk to track officials, I would think the night was a success. so hopefully QR will be back on the " Hell Tour " schedule in 2013.
Check back on monday for a rundown of Sunday nights action at QR.