Friday afternoon, I had a rare opportunity to get out of work early. Knowing this a few weeks in advance, I had been trolling the track schedules looking for a good Friday night race to take in. I had not updated my schedules when the Cornbelt clash was rescheduled at Davenport, but an internet posting jogged my memory. But is was only when I checked the track website that I realized the IMCA late models would also be running on the big half mile. So I talked buddy Fred into driving provided I actually did get off early. Luckily, Fred, Darryl and I were on the road for the three hour drive from Quincy about 3:20. The skies looked somewhat threatening until we passed the Burlington area, then it lightened up, and so did our mood. Along the way, we debated what the late model car count would be, settling for somewhere between 18-20 in each class. As it turned out, 22 open lates and 16 IMCA were signed in, headlinging the five division program, all running on the half mile track.
Defending Corn Belt champion and current point leader Chad Simpson, who I had already seen capture two events in 2013 smacked the wall in turns one and two in hot laps, but even so, when he was announced as lining up outside row one in heat two, I looked at the guys and said " Uh oh." Before we got that far, Brian Harris was a no show for heat one, as the # 15R would not go into gear. Skip Frey outdueled Justin Kay to top that ten lapper, and when the green waved in heat two Simpson smacked the wall in the same spot, ending his night. Andy Eckrich picked up the win, with Feger coming from the last starting spot to second, making him the passing points leader. Rich Bell nabbed heat three - all three heats were won from the pole - with Matt Furman matching Feger by coming from seventh to second. Feger rolled a " five " for the dash invert, giving Bell and Andy Eckrich the front row. Bell led the first five circuits before slowing coming out of turn two on the final lap. Eckrich took the checkers, setting up a shot at a sweep.
In IMCA action, Andy Nezworski took off from the outside pole and led 9 1/2 laps of heat one before polesitter Stephan Kammerer slipped past for the win. Ray Guss Jr and Mike Garland made early exits, setting up a long run to the front come feature time. A fist lap melee in heat two sent Mike Zemo Jr pitside with damage. When racing resumed, Justin Kay continued the trend, taking the win from the pole, with fourth starting Tom Darbyshire in the runnerup slot.
Late model and 4 cylinder veteran Joe Zrostlik used a borrowed ride to pick up the 4 stock feature win, besting an eight car field. Joe said he will have his late model race ready soon. Jeremy Marquez easily topped the five car street stock main.
The IMCA late models were up next,with Nezworski and Spencer Diercks setting up front. Nezworski put his # 47 out front at the green, with Darbyshire charging from row two to the second spot. Tom stayed close, making numerous attempts at the pass in turns one and two. On lap 14 of the 20 lapper, he made the pass stick, then cruised to the win in the non stop event. Nezworski held off Nate Beuseling for third, while Mike Murphy moved up five spots to fourth. Justin Kay rounded out the top five. Guss Jr came from the back to sixth, with Diercks,Kammerer,Gary Webb in the Jeff Stevens # 11, and Joe Ross completing the top ten. In his post race interview, Darbyshire professed his fondness for the big half mile.
The IMCA modified field was 16 strong, and Rich Smith paced the field early in the AJ Fike # 10, with Brandon Rothzen in close pursuit, while Steve Stewart held third. Hotshoe Bob Dominacki pulled out on lap five running mid pack, and three laps later, Rothzen went to the infield. On the following lap, Smith slowed in turn two, ending his night and bringing out the caution. With the leader out, a side by side restart allowed Kelly Meyer to get the jump on Stewart. Two laps from the finish, Meyer contacted the turn two wall, ending his run, and setting up a side by side two lap dash for the checkers. This time, Stewart snagged the lead and the win.
The 40 lap Cornbelt clash feature rounded out the card, with Andy Eckrich taking the early lead. By lap three, Feger had moved to second, and the caution waved two laps later for Frey.It would be the only stoppage in the race. On the restart, seventh starting Guss Jr cracked the top five, two laps later he moved to fourth. By lap 15, the leaders were running side by side, and with a little help from lapped traffic, Feger secured the lead. Meanwhile, eighth starting Denny Eckrich was on the move, taking fourth away from Guss Jr. On lap 25, Denny took the third spot, but he could not run down baby brother Andy in second. Guss Jr, overtook Kay for fourth on lap 33, and the top five was now set. Jake Meier and Rick Wendling had a great duel for sixth, with Jake taking the spot. Feger managed to lap all the cars up to those two. Mike Fryer, Dave Eckrich, and Diercks completed the top ten. It was a popular win for the personable driver from Bloomington,Il driver, who is currently under suspension from UMP due to tire issues.
Although more than a half dozen of the drivers in attendance have both open and IMCA cars, only Guss Jr. Kay, and Diercks elected to run both class. Kay and Diercks logged 80 laps on the big track, Ray over 70!
It was my first visit to Davenport in a couple of years, and was a fun night of racing. The temps stayed warm, the stiff breeze was no problem, and we were on the road home by 10:30. Hopefully I can make another visit in 2013.
Meanwhile the forecast is a bit ominous as Keagan and I prepare to head to Quincy Raceways tonight, Sunday, for weekly UMP and IMCA action. Hope to see you as we are Racin' Down the Road!