Monday, May 5, 2014

Kay On Top By Hugging The Bottom

Sunday night Darryl, Fred, and I switched up and made the three hour trip north to Quad City Speedway in East Moline,Il for our second IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series event of 2014. While late model racing in our area is now mostly of the unlimited engine UMP variety, which I do truly enjoy, I still have a fond affection for the cars and stars of IMCA. And although I hesitate to call the high banks of East Moline one of my favorite tracks - only because nearly every track I have been to is a " favorite," the action is always fast and furious, with the unforgiving outside concrete wall just waiting for a rim riding driver to make a mistake on the treacherous cushion. I might add that if you have never been to the fairgrounds 1/4 mile facility, it is worth the trip, but spend at least a few laps watching from the lower level, as it as close as you can get to being in the action without strapping in a race car!
 Partly because of that lurking concrete, many drivers shy away from trips to the Sunday night facility, so we were more than pleased to see 31 late models roll through the pit gate. Add in 23 IMCA modifieds, 14 street stocks and 18 IMRA midgets, and the large crowd was in for a full night of racing on a surprisingly chilly evening. The late model heats ran second on the grid, with Joel Callahan slowing while leading heat one and going pitside. Mike Zemo Jr then took the checkers. In the second ten lapper, Justin Kay used a last corner pass of Ryan Dolan in the Rick Dralle ride to pick up the win. The third heat featured an entertaining duel, with track regulars Mike Murphy Jr on the high side, and Todd Malmstrom running the low line, with Todd grabbing the win. Jeff Aikey led the distance in the final heat race. With only the top three qualified from the heats - was that ever announced? - two B-mains added eight more to the 58 lap feature field. Rob Toland and Matt Ryan picked up the wins in the two 12 lappers. A hard charger provisional - track regular Mike Cothron, and three point provisionals, including series ironman Darrell Defrance filled out the 24 car starting grid.
As I made my way back to the pit area, the street stock feature came to the track, with Rob Nylin taking the win in a race I am sorry I did not witness. I was back in my seat for the 20 lap mod finale. After a couple of early cautions, the race stayed green for about 17 fast paced laps on an increasingly slick though smooth surface. Greg Durbin was doing a splendid job negotiating lapped traffic while holding off former late model driver Jason Bahrs when the caution waved again with three laps remaining. With Durbin running the low line, Bahrs tried a middle groove move in the final turn for the win. Unfortunately for the veteran, the # 96 broke loose, spinning him in front of the charging pack. Although he escaped unscathed, his potential good finish evaporated. Doug Crampton powered to the runnerup finish, with Brian Bushong third.
58 laps, in honor of the late Hershel Roberts was the feature assignment for the 24 starters in the $3,000 to win headline event. Kay had the pole position, with rim riding Jason Rauen to his outside. I will admit that I lost track of the lap count early on, but two things can be said with certainty. Kay was in control the entire distance as he hugged the low groove, and no fewer than a half dozen drivers were able to make legitimate runs at the leader. Rauen, Murphy, Brian Harris, Zemo, and Callahan all made strong runs forward, only to fade throughout the race. Callahan may have been most impressive after starting in row eight. As the laps wound down, it was Aikey who saved something for the end. Kay was obviously not giving up the low side, so the veteran Aikey took to the high side, with his momentum actually pulling him alongside Kay on a couple of occasions. Eventually a slight bobble cost him ever so slightly, and the result was as entertaining a race as you could imagine where the leader led flag to flag. Kay picked up his fourth Summer Series career win, leading Aikey, Callahan, Murphy, and 2013 series champion Harris to top five runs. Zemo led the second five, edging Malmstrom, Tyler Breuning, Andy Eckrich, and Ryan.
With a long drive home ahead of us, we headed out before the midget main event.
Special thanks to Brad Hines and the QCS staff for their hospitality, and well run show.
Also, congrats to Rickey Frankel on his first UMP late model feature win of the season at Quincy Raceways, where we will be next Sunday night.

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