Sunday, October 12, 2014

Kay Makes a Clean Sweep at Liberty 100

Saturday night we ventured north for night number two of the revamped Liberty 100 at the West Liberty, Iowa Raceway. Around 100 cars signed in for the night, after the Friday night portion of the show had featured two rounds of heat races in the five classes  and the IMCA Deery Brothers Iron Man feature event. Night number two was set to include last chance races and a total of six features, but due to less than full fields in three of the " support " classes, only the IMCA modifieds and late models needed the B-main events. All but the late models would line up their main events by passing points, while the late models qualified the eight heat race winners from Friday, then took six from each of two last chance races Saturday, then filled the field with a hard charger and three provisional starters.
 Two last chance races from the 28 car IMCA modified  field ran first, followed by the two BH's for the lates. Mike Murphy Jr from Colona,Il, and Tiffin, Ia driver Denny Eckrich topped the two 12 lap events.
  The first feature of the night was a 15 lapper for the 16 car IMCA sport mod field. Bryan Brinker and second generation driver Shawn Cooney dueled up front until the caution waved on lap 11. On the restart, Cody Harris blasted to the lead and held on for his first ever feature win. Brinker and Cooney followed, while Friday nighrt heat winner and track champ Aric Becker settled for seventh. A special thanks to Kelly Underbakke Becker for updates from Friday nights show.
 The IMCA stock cars ran next for 18 laps. It is fascinating to me how much variance there is in car counts in the stock cars, and West Liberty is one of the tracks that struggles in this area. Twelve cars checked in, I am sure in no small part due to the two day show at Lee County Speedway.  Even with the low count, they had an unusually high number of cautions, and the 18 laps seemed to take forever. And I say this while admitting that the stock cars are one of my favorite classes. I am not positive, but I think track champ Davis Brandies was a no show on night one, signing in night two to tag the tail of the feature.  Veteran Johnny Spaw started in row two in the second night out in his # 00, taking the lead on  lap three. When the caution waved on lap six, Brandies was up to fifth. On the restart, the # 71 vaulted to third, and two laps later he powered to second on the big half mile. Following a lap 11 yellow, we suddenly had a back and forth three car scrum, with Spaw, Brandies, and Brandon Jay. Jay slipped to second on lap 16, and the battle between him and Brandies kept the focus off Spaw. At the checkers, it was Spaw, Brandies, and Jay in that order.
 The first 50 lap late model feature was up next, and this one would be the final Deery Brothers Summer Series event for 2014. By virtue of starting his heat race on Friday, Justin Kay from Wheatland, Iowa had clinched the series championship, so he would be racing for pride and dollars. The Casey General Stores pizza box redraw between the heat race winners found Ray Guss Jr and Todd Malmstrom on the front row. Guss crossed the stripe first on lap one, with Malmstrom taking over from there. Third starting Todd Beuseling passed Guss for second on lap four. His row two mate, Kay had fell back early, but moved to third on lap 13. As the leaders pulled away, Beuseling took the top spot one lap later.  On lap 16, Kay took over the runner up spot. The first caution waved on lap 21, and following the restart, Beuseling opened a big lead, while Kay had a comfortable margin over the third place car of Andy Eckrich. As the leaders hit slower traffic on lap 30, Kay closed in on the # 46. During the time, row four starter Brian Harris slammed into one of the tractor tires in turn two while taking third from Eckrich. following a lap 33 caution, Harris moved to second, but again Beuseling pulled away. With nine laps to go, Kay regained second, closing in on the leader. Two laps later, he grabbed the point. During a lap 44 yellow, Harris went to the trailer, giving up a third place run. It was though by announcer Jerry Mackey at this point that Kay had a flat left front tire, but a track by track officials determined that it was just very low, and he was allowed to continue. As the green waved, tenth starting Denny Eckrich took over second, but Kay pulled away for the win. At the checkers, it was Kay, D, Eckrich, Beuseling, Colby Springsteen, and series rookie of the year Ryan Dolan, who had started in a provisional starting spot in row 11. 20 cars finished the main event , all on the lead lap. The main reason was the format for the second 50 lapper. all cars finishing on the lead lap would be inverted for the start of feature two. Any lapped cars, of which there apparently were none(?), would line up next, and cars that dropped out - there were four of them - were replaced by non qualifiers from the 34 cars on hand. I should mention here that 38 late models has signed in on Friday, with four not returning.
  As temperatures began to drop, the IMCA sport compact 12 lap finale came to the track, with Shaun Slaughter topping the ten car field.
 Up next was the 25 lap IMCA modified shootout. 24 cars took the green, but a massive seven car pile up in turn one eliminated four cars, with Chris Zogg winding up upside down. Following a lenghthy
red flag period, 20 cars restarted, but two more dropped out after taking the green. Kelly Shryock in a # 44 and track regular Kurt Kile started on row one, with Kile leading lap one. Those two quickly separated from the pack until the third stoppage on lap 16 bunched the field. Scott Dickey and Bruce Hanford were racing hard for third when Dickey spun on lap 19. On the restart the fifth starting Hanford grabbed second, and began to work on Kile. Hanford had the lead as lap 321 was scored, but Kile was back in front on lap 22. The top three were glued together as the checkers waved, with Kile scoring the win, Shryock back in second, and Hanford third. Dickey came all the way back to fourth at the checkers.
  It was now time for the final race of 2014 at West Liberty, the second 50 lap $3,000 to win late model battle. Jeremy Grady and Nick Marolf held the front row.  Matt Ryan was one of the four cars added to this race after setting out the first. Matt had been victimized by a mishap in his B main, and was caught up in a multiple car pile up on lap one in this race, ending a frustrating night. As racing resumed. Grady grabbed the point with Marolf in tow. The two swapped the lead on lap four, the again on lap six. By lap 13, 22nd starting Kay was up to sixth, and when the caution flew on lap 15, he was fifth. As the Delaware restart took the green, he advanced to fourth. Lap 16 saw fifth starting Chad Holladay take the lead, with Kay moving to third. The flying # 15K took second on lap 17, and blew past Holladay two laps later. By the time the caution came out on lap 42, only five cars remained on the lead lap. Even with the field tightened up, Kay had no issues, cruising to his 31st  feature win of 2014, making a $6,000 Liberty 100 clean sweep in the process. Row eight starter Dolan had taken the runner up slot on the restart, adding a second to his fifth in the points feature. Denny Eckrich came from row nine, adding a third to his earlier second. Andy Eckrich followed his older brother, giving him a fourth to go with a ninth in feature one. Holladay was the final car on the lead lap in fifth.
 The long but entertaining night of racing ended around 11:15. Fans and drivers alike missed the info from the electronis scoreboard, which was vandalized since the last race, and could not be quickly repaired. Although no help to the racers, Mackey did his usual outstanding job of keeping the fans informed of the lap count, lapped cars, etc. Thanks, Jerry!
 With the sketchy weather this time of year, I am not sure if there will be more racing in 2014 for me, but there are still a couple of attractive options, including the two day show next weekend in Memphis,Mo., and Shiverfest the following weekend in Donnellson, Ia. Someday I hope to make it to the late November Turkey Classic in Springfield,Mo., maybe 2014 will be the year? So hopefully we will still meet up in 2014, Racin' Down the Road.

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