Monday, August 19, 2013

Pierce Wins a Thriller at Quincy

Sunday night it was back to Quincy Raceways for weekly racing, and the .29 mile oval has become showdown central for the UMP national late model championship points race. After last weeks races, leader Brandon Sheppard told us that he would be going to Michigan this weekend to run with the World of Outlaws and may not make it back to QR for Sundays races. But when I saw his name in the results for Pontoon Beach on Friday and Pevely on Saturday, it was obvious that he was planning to go head to head with challenger Bobby Pierce throughout the weekend, scrapping the Michigan trip. Pierce bested Sheppard both nights, including picking up a win on Friday at Pontoon, and Brandon was the only car in the QR pits when Keagan and I rolled in Sunday. The Pierce Posse came through the gate shortly after, and it was " game on " again. I am reminded of the old NASCAR weekly racing days when drivers could collect regional points at any sanctioned track, and UMP is the same. The IMCA system builds more loyalty to home tracks, but as a fan, it is sure fun when you never know who might come through the pit gate, especially this time of year.
 The late model count was short, with only 11 cars signed in - Jared Schlipman at the Michigan Sprint Cup race and Rickey Frankel on vacation were among the missing. Pierce topped qualifying with a lap of 13.761 seconds, but rolled a " five " to put himself in row three of the dash. After Dustin Griffin took the heat win, Sheppard started outside row one in the dash and bested polesitter Jason Perry for the win. Jason had led the ten lapper until turn two of the final lap. Pierce managed to work his way to third, meaning he would start the 30 lap main event right behind B Shepp. All 11 cars took the green flag, but Michael Long was a start and parker, having damaged the rear end of the # 56J while leading on the last lap of the heat race. After a false start, Sheppard jumped to the lead, with Pierce on his heels. The yellow waved on lap three, as Cliff Powell came to a stop with broken suspension parts. On the restart, fifth starting Mark Burgtorf moved to third, and he blasted around Pierce on lap four. The bottom groove was the fast way around, and the leaders stayed glued to the bottom. Pierce took a look up high, but soon dropped back down. As  the race stayed green, the leader caught the back of the pack on lap 17. On lap 21, Sheppard tried to put Bill Genebacher a lap down, with the # 72 getting turned around to bring out a caution. On the restart, Pierce decided to try the top groove again, and he slipped around Burgtorf on lap 23. He continued to pound the cushion in breathtaking form while Sheppard hugged the inside groove. On lap 28, the two crossed the line side by side, and Bobby may have had a slight edge at the white flag. Very few were sitting down as the two youngsters charged to the checkers, and  the electronic scoring told the tail. 16 year old Bobby nosed out 20 year old Brandon by.031 seconds! It was so close that the tech crew checked the transponders in each car to make sure they were installed in the proper location. It was late model feature # 32 for me this season, and the last ten laps were the best yet! Burgtorf finished third, and Denny Woodworth held on to the track points lead with a fourth place run ahead of Perry, Griffin, and Genenbacher. Clint Kirkham was one lap down in eighth, and Ron Elbe was pitside when the checkers waved. We may not see the two challengers next weekend, as Highland, Il Speedway has their rescheduled Summernationals $10,000 to win show on Sunday, but hopefully both will be back Labor Day weekend to continue their battle.
  The 19 car UMP modified feature turned in to a double digit caution flag marathon. Point leader Steven Delonjay had set quick time at 15.480 seconds and continued to dominate, as he held a big lead in the feature. But on lap 14 the front end appeared to break as he exited turn two. He became a sitting duck, and was hit hard by Justin Reed and Jake Griffin, ending the night for all three. Dave Weitholder inherited the lead, but on lap 18 there was contact between the # 05 and second place Shawn Deering in turn four that sent Weitholder into a spin. With smoke coming from the back of Weitholders ride, he retired to the pits, and Deering assumed the top spot. Shawn then held on to the checkers, picking up his first feature win at QR in over 130 starts! Mike Vanderiet Jr, Chris Spaulding, Keith Pratt and Adam Birck completed the top five. Pratt had started in row eight after missing his heat race in only his second night in his new modified.
  Tony Dunker picked up points feature win number eight  - he has nine total -in the IMCA sport mod finale. Tony came from the back to take over the top spot following a lap five restart. Tanner Klingele picked up his third straight runnerup finish. Todd Reed debuted a new sport mod and came home third
  Abe Huls continued his charge towards the track point title in the IMCA stock car division, taking over the point on lap six. Brandon Savage made it five top twos in six weeks with the runnerup finish.
Terry Houston nabbed third.
  After point leader Kimberly Abbott suffered damage to her # 71 IMCA sport compact in the heat race, her father rounded up some help and hustled back home to get the pink #71 she wheels at 34 Raceway for the feature. But it was Austen Becerra leading flag to flag in the 12 lap event. As a result, he pulled into a tie for the point lead with the third finishing Abbott. Laine Vanzandt filled the second slot. Another title contender, Skip Dunker smacked one of the tractor tires on lap five, sustaining heavy damage to his # 3 machine.
  There are still six nights of racing scheduled at Quincy Raceways this season, and beginning next Sunday they will move back to school time hours, with hot laps and qualifying beginning at 4:45 and racing at 5:30.  In the meantime, maybe I will see you Racin' Down the Road.

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