Saturday, September 13, 2014

Moyer Jr. Continues Family Tradition

With a vacation day in hand and Fred behind the wheel, we two plus Darryl and friend Bill, back from Washington state made the journey to Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach,Il. It was night number one of the St Louis Showdown, back to back $10,000 to win events, with the mini series moving tonight to I-55 Raceway in Pevely,Mo. Tri City was hit with the same type of monsoon that visited our area, as track owner Kevin Gundaker said they received over five inches of rain Tuesday and Wednesday. But the show must go on, enough water was pumped from the infield to make the place raceable, and although there was plenty of mud in the pit area, the vast expanse of ground available left plenty of room. And it was a good thing, because a huge field of 131 cars in three divisions signed in to race. A whopping 57 B-modifieds, a class only added to the Tri City lineup this season checked in to vy for a $1,000 top prize. 35 UMP modifieds were on hand for another $1,000 to win, and a posted number of 39 UMP late models made the trip for the $10,000, although I am pretty sure that supposedly late arriving Jim Moon was a no show, leaving us with 38 competitors. Water was not even the main issue on Friday night, however, as a persistent harsh wind coupled with temps in the low 50's made it feel like late October racing - winter coats and gloves were in use all around! Large car counts are not unusual at Tri City, and hot laps began only about eight minutes late, at 6:38. Unfortunately, 15 hot lap sessions followed by late model qualifying left the track something of a one laner for the 14 heat races. Track record holder Billy Moyer the elder set quick time for the late models at 16.081 seconds, while Moyer Jr turned the next fastest qualifying lap. The father and soon duo both picked up heat race wins, along with local hot shoe Tim Manville, and Jason Feger. Not coincidentally, all four won from the pole position. Tammy Gundaker had stated at the drivers meeting that they would try to run the show with no intermission due to the car count and low temps, but following the heats the decision was made to start changing the program around. The late model dash was scrapped, and a reworking of the 3/8 mile oval began. We were able to duck inside one of the on site rooms and watch the end of the Cardinal game while track work was going on. Following the track prep, it was B-main time for the mods, the it was the two late model B's up next. At this point track conditions were much improved, and Jared Landers came from row three to take the first 12 lapper over Jim Schereck and Don Hammer. Ryan Gustin led the distance in the final preliminary ahead of Randy Korte and Mark Burgtorf. Burgtorf barely edged out ninth starting Brandon Sheppard in the non stop race, as B Shep seemed to totally miss the set up in his heat. Unfortunately, he would be watching the 50 lap showdown from the trailer. Two local provisionals were added to the field, Scott Henseler from Tri City, and Paul Schrempf from I- 55, and the 24 car field was set. Next up was a pair of C-mains for the B-mods, and with the clock ticking it had been decided to push the B-mod B main, and mod feature back in the program and bring the late models out next, much to the delight of the nice sized crowd. Manville shot to the early lead from his pole position followed by Moyers, Jr and Sr. Brian Birkhofer found a seam and powered form outside row four the fourth in the opening lap. Birky then slipped past Moyer for third on the next circuit. By lap nine the leaders hit slower traffic, but by now Manville held a nice lead over Moyer Jr, who had a good margin over Birkhofer, and he the same ahead of Moyer. By lap 15, however, the margin between those four had dwindled, and two laps later Moyer Jr was hounding the leader in heavy traffic. Luck was on Manville side, as the yellow waved one lap later, as Henseler spun in turn four. On the Delaware style restart, Birkhofer jumped to second, and Feger shot around Moyer for fourth. A three car accident in turn two on lap 23 brought out the second caution, and when racing resumed, Moyer Jr. found a bite in the now slickening surface and powered to the lead. One lap later Shannon Babb suddenly slowed, and Jack Sullivan and Billy Laycock stacked up behind him, again bringing out the caution. As racing resumed, Birkhofer also cleared Manville to move to the runner up spot, and national UMP point leader Bobby Pierce was shuffled from eighth back to 11th position. With the race staying green, Moyer Jr opened up a lead, while Birky put distance between himself and Manville, who held a comfortable margin over the next tightly bunched pack of cars. With ten circuits remaining, Birkhofer made his move, closing in on Jr., and when the # 21JR had trouble getting around a lapped car on lap 42, Birkhofer was in position to overtake both cars. However Moyer Jr found an opening, and was then able to hold off the # 15B to the checkers. Manville completed his strong run in third, while a smoking Feger held off Moyer for fourth. Brian Shirley led the second five, besting Dennis Erb,Jr, B main winner Gustin, Korte, and Schereck. Pierce and Gordy Gundaker were next in line, with Laycck completing the group of cars running at the checkers. Two interesting things happened in this race for me, as it was the first time I have seen Moyer Jr in victory lane, and likely the last time I will see the retiring Korte on the track. Best wishes to both going forward. The modified A -main had originally been scheduled to run first, and with Quincy hot shoe Michael Long set to roll off from row three, we were anticipating a good race, but with a B-mod B-main coming to the track next, Darryl with a 6:00 wake up call, and the clocking very close to midnite, we headed for the van. Congrats to Danny Eams on his win in the mods over Rick Conoyer, Steve Picou, Mike Harrison, and Long, and to Ryan Eilers over brother Robbie in the B-mod finale. And thanks to the Gundakers, gracious and friendly as always, for all the hard work to make this show happen. Tonight I will be working my church hog roast and thinking about Pevely - tomorrow night is scheduled to be season championship night in all five classes at Quincy Raceways if " Lake Quincy " has subsided! Where has the season gone?

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