Our racing weekend was supposed to begin on Thursday night at Lee County Speedway, but a late afternoon shower not only wiped out the MLRA late model special, but coupled with a forecasted weekend full of rain caused the entire three night mini tour to be cancelled. With Friday off, we were hoping for better news from Jacksonville,Il Speedway, where the UMP Big 10 late model series was set to kick off their schedule. The Ciltrak group held off as long as they could, but again rain and the forecast of more forced the event to be called off. We now set our sights on Saturday, and a look at the radar showed promising conditions to the north. A morning call to buddy Bob Litton confirmed that West Liberty Raceway looked like a go, so off we went for our second visit of 2015 to the big 1/2 mile.
While the grounds were dry, it was obvious the track had seem rain recently, and dust would not be an issue. There was a bit of a bump entering turn one, but otherwise the track seemed smooth and super fast. About 75 cars in five divisions checked in before a solid Mothers Day eve crowd.
Some top contenders had issues in the heat races, particularly in the IMCA stock car class. Nathan Wood was leading heat number one, when fire erupted underneath his # 52 machine as he came through turn four headed to the checkers. In heat number two, defending champion Davis Brandies had his chances come to an end with a puff of smoke on lap two. Both hot shoes were done for the night.
In the second IMCA late model heat, Colby Springsteen had a big lead on the final circuit when he suddenly slowed in turn four, coasting to a fourth place finish, and heading pitside behind the wrecker. Colby, however had repairs made by feature time.
The IMCA sport mod feature was first up, with 12 starters. The first caution waved on lap two, when Dan Keltner rolled to a stop on the backstretch after being hit by a dirt clod. Dan appeared to be okay after being checked out by ambulance personnel, but he called it a night at that point. On the restart, high school senior Brayton Carter grabbed the lead, moving from third to first, and taking Memphis,Mo driver Brandon Dale along.The caution flag waved again on lap six, bunching the field, and again on lap 11, as Dale and defending track champ Aric Becker dueled behind Carter. On the restart, Becker powered to second, and Cody Harris followed in third. The top four stayed the same to the checkers, with Carter taking the win over Becker,Harris, and Dale.
Next up was the 15 lap stock car main, with 12 of the 16 entrants coming to the grid. A lap one yellow forced a restart, with Chad Coyne taking the top spot ahead of Brandon Jay. Veteran Johnny Spaw was working his way through the pack, grabbing third on lap six, and the runnerup spot two laps later, just ahead of another yellow. When the green waved again, Spaw rocketed to the lead and quickly checked out. Shane Paris came on strong in the second half of the race, claiming second ahead of Coyne and Doug Sylvester.
Ryan Walker had the fastest hot rod among the 14 IMCA sport compacts, taking the lead on lap three of the ten lap feature, and cruising to an easy win as the race went non stop.
There was a star studded 20 car field of IMCA modifieds, with 18 taking the green for 20 laps of racing. A lap one yellow resulted in a lengthy delay, but when racing resumed, Andrew Schroeder pulled out to a big advantage. Dakota Hayden and Chris Zogg waged a tight battle for second, with Cayden Carter soon joining the fray. Zogg fell a bit off the pace, as Hayden and Carter raced side by side four times around the speedway before Carter took command on lap ten. A caution one lap later erased Schroeders big lead. On the Delaware restart, Larry Herring jumped to third, as Carter shadowed Schroeder lap after lap. Carter made his move to the front on lap 19, and the race ended under yellow, with a spinning car in turn four after the leaders had taken the white flag. The second generation racer Schroeder had to settle for second, trailed by Herring, Hayden, and Jerry Luloff
The headline event and final race of the night was the 25 lapper for the 13 IMCA late models.
Sam Halstead in his new Swartz chassis # 84 and Nick Marolf in his black # 33 sat on the front row.
Nick charged to the lead at the drop of the green, with Kevin Kile coming from row two to second, and Springsteen following in third from row three. The race stayed green, as row four starter Andy Eckrich advanced to fourth on lap 13, followed by row five starter Brian Harris to fifth. Kile began to close the gap as Marolf negotiated traffic on lap 14, but Nick cleared slower traffic and again began to pull away. Kile made one last challenge on lap 20, but could not get close enough to make a move as the race stayed green until the end. Springsteen held on to third, followed by Eckrich in fourth. Harris slowed on the final lap, rolling to a stop near the back pit entrance, and did not cross the finish line. Kyle Hinrichs, Jonathon Brauns, and Ron Boyse completed the lead lap finishers in fifth through seventh.
The final checkers waved about 10:00, ending a good night of racing.
Racing for tonight, Sunday,at Quincy Raceways is still on, with the late models having the night off and the UMP modifieds and IMCA sport mods racing for extra prize money with reduced price admission to the grandstand. There is threatening weather in the area, so call the track or check the website before leaving home. It will be a rare Sunday night off for me, as I will be attending the high school Baccalaureate service in advance of grandson Keagans graduation next week. Yep, I'm getting old!
Next Sunday Night, QR will feature UMP late models for $2,000 to win in a Big 10 shootout, the Scotty 41. Lets hope graduation does run too late!