After a disappointing rainout Thursday night at Quincy Raceways with 30 UMP Summernational late models on hand 30 minutes before hot laps, we were ready to try again Friday night. Keagan was till away at Boys State, but Fred, Darryl, and I headed south to Kevin and Tammy Gundakers Tri City speedway in Pontoon Beach ( Granite City ), Illinois for the $10,000 to win showdown. The pit area was filling up nicely when word came that Belle Clair Speedway just down the road in Bellville,Il. had fallen victim to the ominous looking clouds building overhead. The late influx of cars from there swelled the field to 43 UMP super late models and 47 UMP modifieds, also vying for a $1,000 top prize. 15 crate late models and 26 B-modifieds also checked in, giving us 131 cars in four classes! It was later announced that the second largest crowd ever at the track filed in even with the threatening skies.
The modifieds qualified during their hot lap session, with NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace setting quick time at 17.215 seconds around the 3/8 mile oval. As the sprinkles and distant lightning strikes comtinued , local favorite Tim Manville bested the touring late model drivers with a lap of 16.322.
The modifieds then ripped off four qualifying heats races caution free on what was fast becoming a one groove on the low side track.
Late model heats came next, with Manville leading all the way to win heat one over Michael Kloos, seventh starting Mark Burgtorf, and Rodney Melvin.Billy Moyer Jr came from row two to top heat two ahead of polesitter Ryan Unzicker, Brian Birkhofer and Jim Shereck. The first caution of the night came during heat three for a slowing Austin Rettig. Brandon Sheppard cruised to the victory followed by Bobby Pierce, Shannon Babb and Rick Eckert in what was an incredibly loaded eleven car ten lap event. The final heat saw Billy Moyer get past polesitter Randy Korte on the final circuit. Chris Simpson and Brian Shirley also transferred to the 50 lap A-main.
With the skies looking better, the crate and B-mod heats ran off quickly, followed by the modified C main. The late model C main saw Jay sparks out front for the distance with Billy Laycock in pursuit. Several drivers took a stab at the third and final transfer spot, including local standout Scott Weber, Matt Santel, Ryan Little, and Dewayne Kiefer, but popular veteran Mike Hammerle held on to claim a spot in the B-main. Before the twelve lap consy, however, promoter Gundaker and crew decided to rework the track to try and add multiple grooves to the surface. although it took about 45 minures, the results proved successful.
With a top and middle groove now as fast as the low side, Jason Feger was able to charge from the third row to take the win over early leader Tanner English. 18 cars were now locked in to the 50 lap finale, with four provisional being added - Pennsylvania driver Gregg Satterlee, Scott Scmitt, Weber, and Jason Riggs. Although I realize it takes a healthy dose of " freebies " to keep car counts up on the tour, I would sure like to see more qualified cars have a shot at the big check! If memory serves, as I was away from my seat a while, I believe the mod B-main ran next, setting the grid for the two traveling series.
Responding to some criticism received when a fourth class was added to the program, the Gundakers had made it clear that the late model feature would run first.
The four heat winners had redrawn to set the first two rows of the 50 lapper, with Moyer and Manville on row one. Moyer held serve by a bumper on lap one, but Manville took over on the following circuit. With Sheppard and Moyer Jr falling back slightly, it became a two car race, until Korte began to catch the leaders on lap eight. A handful of the cars running at the back of the field pulled out, and it was lap 20 before traffic became a factor. Several laps later, Manvilles # 33 seemed to develop a push and he began to drift high in turns three and four. Moyer grabbed the lead on lap 30, while Korte began to fade and Moyer Jr. rejoined to lead pack. Lsp 35 saw the younger Moyer move into the runner up position, well behind his father. Two laps later a rejuvenated Sheppard overtook the fading Manville, bring Birkhofer tenth starting along with him. Kortes run came to an end on lap 39 as he dove to the infield. The race stayed green from start to finish, With Moyer crossing the line well ahead of his son, B Shepp, and Birky. Babb gained six spots to take fifth. The second five has Shirley moving up ten spots to sixth ahead of Manville, Unzicker, Kloos and Eckert. the 50 laps took less than 15 minutes to complete!
Although the hour was late, we were anticipating a competitive modifield feature, with literally the best of the midwest on hand. Following one false start, the green waved, and Rusty Griffaw and Dean Hoffman crossed the line side by side to complete lap one of 25. Rusty hugged the low groove and Hoffman blasted off the cushion to gain the lap two advantage. One lap later, mike Harrison rode the high line to second. On lap three, 16 starting Michael Long had used the now super fast top line to charge to seventh., and as Hoffman and Harrison duked it out, Long rolled to fourth behind Ray Walsh.
Harrison soon found his ideal line, and opened a sizable lead, while to other three now battled for second. Long continued to flirt with disaster on the high side, but it paid off, as he was able to claim the runner up spot. He was never able to make a serious run at the 24H, as this race, too, went green to checkers, caution free! Hoffman held third, Griffaw rebounded for fourth, and Indiana ace Levi Kessinger rolled home fifth.
Still on the car was a B-main for the B-mods, crate and B-mod features. But the midnight hour was drawing near, and it was time for we three to head for home.
Thanks to Kevin and Tammy for another quality show.
Sunday night is midseason championship night in all five classes at Quincy Raceways IF the waetherman cooperates. Hope to see you Racin' Down the Road.