Saturday night Darryl and I made the trip to 34 Raceway for season championship night. It was also Fan Appreciation night, with half price admission, and one of the largest crowds I have seen in sometime came through the gates to watch 101cars in seven classes duel for the hardware. The heat races were mostly uneventful, as near as I could tell, all classes except the UMP late models had their features lined up straight up by points. The three IMCA classes only ran five lap heat races, while the other four ran their normal length. If it sounds a bit confusing, it was, and I wish the announcers would explain it, as there were obviously some first time fans in attendance. It would also help explain why several of the top points cars merely " turned laps ' in their heats, not wanting to risk damaging their cars with their feature starting spot already determined. The most significant development of the 15 heat races took place in the 305 sprints, when Daniel Bergquist ran over the back of another car as the green flag waved, and he endured a series of violent flips in turn one. He quickly climbed from his mangled ride, apparently uninjured.
Following a well stocked candy dash, the IMCA stock cars started off the feature action. Jason Cook and Abe Huls made up the front row, and Huls quickly grabbed the lead. John Oliver Jr. soon overtook Cook and applied pressure to Abe early on, as the caution flag waved a couple times. By mid race, Brett Timmerman had taken over the third spot, and soon the battle was between him and Oliver for second. Huls led the distance, cruising to the win, with Oliver second, while Tom Bowling Jr found his way around Timmerman for third. Cook faded to fifth, but still collected enough points to secure the season championship.
Point leader Bobby Anders took off from the pole position and was never seriously challenged in the IMCA sport mod finale. Sean Wyett finished runner up in the ten car field. Of course, Anders was also crowned the season point champ.
The 22 car 4 cylinder feature was up next, with John Whalen getting to the front quickly and holding off Austen Becerra for the win. Becerra stayed glued to the rear bumper of Whalen, but John made no mistakes. 75 years young Wayne Noble started on the pole, and came home third, good enough to claim the points title. Wayne still wheels his car with his left hand, while grasping the top roll bar with his right!
The race of the night was the 20 lap 305 sprint feature. John Schulz and Donnie Steward sat on row one, only five points separating them in the standings, and they crossed the stripe side by side after lap one before a too quick yellow was thrown for a spinning car in turn two that never stopped. The Delaware restart put Schulz out front. Steward assumed the second spot, but as the leaders worked slower traffic on lap eight, he grabbed the lead. Steward built a sizable lead , but on lap 17, again in slower traffic. Schulz regained the point. Steward was ahead at the stripe as lap 18 concluded, and the battle raged on as Schulz was ahead as the white flag flew. Steward put his # 16HD out front briefly on the final lap, but Schulz regained the lead out of turn two, and then moved up the track entering turn three, where Steward had been particularly strong. It proved to be the winning move, as the veteran Schulz collected both the feature win and the points title. The lap two caution was the only one slowing the action as I believe 17 of the 19 cars signed in took the green flag. Jayson Ditsworth was strong early, moving up to third before fading to fifth behind Justin Newberry and Andy Houston. Still, this was classic two car side by side, no touch battle that had everyone on their feet and cheering at the end!
The 15 car IMCA modified feature had trouble getting a lap in, and on the first false start, row two starter and top contender Bill Roberts JR. headed to the trailer. When lap one was finally scored, point leader and polesitter Mitch Morris was out front. A couple more early cautions saw outside row one starter Jeff Waterman get shuffled back, and following a lap three restart, it was Dennis Laveine and Tyler Glass battling for second. Morris saw his big lead fade awy on a lap 11 yellow, but he took off again on the restart as the duel for second resumed. On lap 13, Glass eased ahead of Laveine, and three laps later it was the veteran Dean Gee overtaking Laveine. At the checkers, it was Morris,Glass, McGee, Laveine, and Waterman. Morris, from Eldridge, grabbed both the win and the track title.
Next came the UMP late model finale. The late models ran the only heat that affected the feature lineup, as the UMP rules dictated a straight up start from the heat finish. Denny Woodworth captured the eight car qualifier, and nabbed the pole, with point leader Mark Burgtorf along side. Mark held the lead as lap one was completed, but Denny grabbed the top spot on lap two. Jay Johnson moved from his row three start to third on lap three, as the two leaders continued a side by side battle for the lead, with Woodworth holding the preferred low line. The action stopped on lap eight for a spinning Bill Genenbacher, and following the restart Burgtorf found an opening down low, grabbing the lead. Mark began to distance himself from the pack, as Woodworth and Johnson battled for the runner up spot. The caution waved for the second and final time on lap 17 for a spinning Jared Schlipman, and on the restart, Johnson used the high line to claim second. He then pulled alongside Burgtorf one lap later, but could not complete the pass. Burgtorf picked up the main event checkers and the track championship. Johnson came home second, followed by Woodworth, Dave Eckrich, Schlipman, who came roaring back after his late spin, Justin Mitchell, Ron Elbe, and Genenbacher.
The mod lite feature would finish off the night, but we headed for the car as the cars came to the track.
Checking the results, I see that Evan Epperson, who was dominate in his heat, picked up the win.
All in all it was a solid night of racing at 34, and we were headed home shortly after 10:30. Many thanks to Denny Woodworth for the special considerations as he was a sponsor of the nights action.
I will be picking up Keagan and heading out in a couple hours for our regular Sunday night of action at Quincy Raceways. If you plan to attend, remember the earlier school year start time, with hot laps now at 4:45. Hope to see you Racin' Down the Road!