This holiday weekend featured a full dose of sprint cars, as we hit the road for the first time in three weeks. Saturday night, Darryl, Fred, and I challenged the forecast and headed south to I-55 Raceway in Pevely,Mo for their salute to the troops show. Serving and retired military personnel receive free admission, a benefit I know buddy Fred appreciates. For the rest of us, the show is a good value, with the 410 Midwest Open Wheel Sprint Association and UMP late models racing for $2,000 to win, the UMP modifieds for $1,000 top prize, and the Allied Auto Racing Association sportsmen winner collecting $400, all for a $20 ticket. 105 cars checked in the four divisions in what turned out to a long but entertaining night of action. The 28 MOWA cars, in the middle of three straight nights of action, used passing points through three heat races to qualify for their 25 lap feature, while the late models and mods did group qualifying, and the sportsmen I assume used a draw format. Following hot laps, qualifying, and a dozen heat races, the track was torn up and completely reworked during the longer than I want to remember intermission. the result, however, was a perfectly prepared 1/3 mile for the remainder of the night. The dust problem from the early part of the night, with a pesky wind blowing the crumbs in the front stretch bleachers, also was greatly improved.
The MOWA cars then ran a six car, six lap pole dash, although the Friday night winner from Jacksonville,Il Speedway, AJ Bruns lost brakes as he came to the rack, and watched from the infield as Indiana racer Paul May earned the win. A sprint B-main, then a pair of modified B's and we were set for feature racing.
The MOWA 25 lapper was up first,with 22 starters. May jumped out from the pole, and was working slower traffic by lap five. 17 year old talent Paul Nienhauser started second and fell back early, but he was soon pounding the narrow cushion as he began to pick off cars and run down the # 71 of May. Moving into the second spot and getting May in his sights, he jumped the berm in turns one and two on lap 16, flipping his # 9 ride at least five times as the pack of cars somehow avoided his car, which landed on the low side of the high banked oval. For restarts, MOWA not only lines up single file, but they also place lapped cars where they were in the running order. This gave May a two car cushion over now second running Corey Weyant. As the green waved, May checked out again, but Weyant quickly cleared the slower cars, and set sail for the leader. With only the one stoppage, however, May could not be overtaken, leading all 25 laps for the win. Weyant took the runnerup finish, with Bruns coming back to grab third.
Next up, 24 of the 34 UMP mods came to the grid. Ray Walsh and Michael Long made up row one, with Rusty Griffaw and Mike Harrison in row two in what was an incredibly strong field. Long took off as the green waved, with Harrison in tow. On lap three, Griffaw moved to second, two laps later, Kenny Schrader joined the fray in fourth after starting in row four. But this night belonged to Long and the " Festus Flash," Griffaw. While Michael pounded the cushion, Rusty hugged the low groove. Lap after lap, Griffaw would hold the lead off the corner, with Long easing ahead down the chute. The leaders caught slow traffic on lap 13, and Griffaw was scored ahead for lap 14. But two laps later, Griffaw was forced to alter his line for slower traffic, and that was all Long needed to pull away. The 20 laps ticked off caution free, With Harrison and Schrader trailing the top two.
Heat winners Scott Weber and Brandon Sheppard made up row one for the 25 lap late model finale. Sheppard quickly jumped out front, with row two starter Tim Manville in second. Row four starter Randy Korte joined the leaders in fourth on lap five, and slow traffic became a challenge on lap eight.
The first of a handful of yellows waved on lap 16, but each time the third generation racer Sheppard was up to the challenge. Manville and Korte swapped the runnerup spot in the final laps, with Manville second at the checkers. Korte was third, while Dave Jumper charged to fourth ahead of Weber.
With the sportsman main coming to the track, we headed to the car for the long drive home.
Sunday night the scene shifted to Quincy Raceways, with the MOWA series wrapping up their three race weekend. The WAR non winged sprints also came to town, with three of the regular classes, IMCA stock cars, sport mods and sport compacts also on hand.
Before the scheduled program, the 4 cylinder feature from the week before was completed. The race had been suspended with three laps scored after Alex Baker took a nasty flip off turns one and two and was transported to the hospital. The youngster was held overnight, and was in the grandstands Sunday night watching brother Bryce. Alex says his new ride should be ready next week. Track point leader Austen Becerra was out front in his # 2M ride, but Pat Dunker flew around the leader with two laps to go. But as the leaders exited turn four at the checkers, Becerra and Dunker locked horns, with Austen taking the win. Kimberly Abbott and Baker completed the top four. Becerra then prepared his # 22 for the regular show, turning the # 2M over to former track champ Seith Woodruff. Following ten heat races to set the feature lineups for the 77 cars, the track was reworked during an intermission which featured an infield wedding!
The 19 car MOWA field was up first and the race was red flagged on lap one, when Jimmy Light suffered a wild flip off turn one, ending his night. A handful of cautions slowed the 25 lapper, but Jerrod Hull was on a rail in his # 12 sprinter and he held off all challenges to lead the distance. Joey Moughan battled throughout the middle stages of the race with veteran Jim Moughan, finally claiming the third spot. On the final lap, he slipped past Weyant to finish in the second spot, while Nienhauser brought out another # 9 ride and claimed fourth. Weyant skipped his on track interview as he hustled back to the pit area to prepare his # 99 to run the non wing faetre, as well. He was the only driver who chose to run both classes.
The IMCA sport mod 18 lapper was next, and it featured some side by side action along with a bunch of crash and bang action. Aaron Brocksieck took off from the front row, with Bobby Anders moving in to challenge on lap four. Anders edged ahead on lap six, one lap later, Joey Gower suddenly found himself backwards on the backstretch where he was hit hard by Sean Wyatt. At the same time, Tim Anders, wheeling Nathan Anders #19 was almost overlooked upside down off turn two. Back to action, Bobby Anders and Tony Dunker were locked in a side by side duel, when contact sent both to the hot pit. Dunker was able to rejoin the filed, while Anders was done for the night. With the time limit in effect for the third straight week, the remaining cars clicked off the final six laps. Brocksieck took his first sport mod trophy to go along with numerous hobby stock and stock car wins. Brad Holtmeyer overcame three miscues during the night to take second, and Trevor Hagerbaumer came back from a trip to the hot pit for a podium finish in third. Dunker crossed the line in fifth, ending his 34 race streak of top two finishes.
The non wing sprinters saw Chris Parkinson take off from the pole, leading the first ten laps. Wismiller put his #1 around, but a yellow flag negated the pass. Meanwhile, Weyant had started last in the 18 car pack, and was now up to sixth. On the restart, he vaulted to fourth, on lap twelve he took third, and on lap 15, he had cleared Parkinson, as Wismiller held the lead. A lap 17 yellow bunched the field, and the three leaders ran nearly side by side at the flagstand completing lap 22. When the checkers waved, it was Wismiller on top, with Weyant finishing a sucessfule weekend in second, and Parkinson third.
The IMCA stock car drivers have been grumbling a bit about always running the first feature on the reworked race track on Sunday nights, but last night, they had a slick, black surface for their 18 lapper. A Season high 13 cars took the green, with Nathan Hayes jumping to the lead. Hayes set a fast pace, but Brandon Savage picked his way to second in the tight pack, and grabbed the pint on lap seven. The yellow waved on lap eight for a spin by second running Beau Taylor, triggering a handful of mid race cautions. Savage stretched his lead each time, and he became the first two time stock car winner of 2014. Jake Powers collected a season best second ahead of Jim Lynch, Abe Huls, and visiting Shane Watts.
The final race on a long night was the regular 15 lap sport compact main event. Baker held the top for three laps, but it was Becerra on top as lap four was scored. Dunker moved to second on lap six, and the ten cars clicked off 15 caution free laps. Becerra took his 13th straight win, two wins on this night in two different cars! Dunker, Woodruff, and Baker crossed the stripe in that order behind Austen.
It was a very long but full night of racing in front of a crowd estimated at 2500.
The new promotion team at QR has things headed in a positive direction, with improvements in the racing surface and the concessions among the most obvious to long time fans. Getting the shows completed in a timely manner would seem to be the next big challenge, as things are looking up at the storied facility.
My personal calender is filling up with non racing events for the next few weekends, but we will carve out time for racing as we can, and hopefully will see you Racin' Down the Road!