What was a planned three race weekend turned in to one show and one false alarm this weekend. The Friday show at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson was cancelled early on due to wet conditions and a less than favorable forecast. So we eagerly anticipated a visit to the West Liberty, Iowa Raceway on Saturday for what would now be the lid lifter for the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series late models. With a trunk full of clothes, Darryl, Fred and I headed out to the fairgrounds half mile, fully aware that we were in for cold night. Arriving early at the speedway as is our custom, we were delighted to see cars stacked up on the street headed in to the track. Indeed, the five class program saw something around 120 cars signed in, headlined by 36 late models.
Jeff has a complete review of the nights action at his Backstretch site, and I will just add some random thoughts.
Only the first of the four late model heats saw a winner come from out of the front row, as defending series champ Justin Kay topped Jeff Aikey in the first ten lapper after starting in row two. Kays teammate, Scott Fitzpatrick came from row three to take the third and final transfer spot in heat four, passing John Emerson on the final lap. Tyler Bruening came out of row two to capture the second twelve lap B- main. The series has added a non qualifiers race in 2016 which will be contested any time there are 32 or more entries. Corey Zietner outdistanced Cayden Carter in the $300.00 to win ten lap event.
Kudos go out to Simmons Promotions and IMCA for skipping the Caseys General Stores front stretch redraw on such a chilly evening and moving straight to feature racing following the late model B-mains.
The IMCA sport mod 15 lap finale had only one caution period on lap eleven before Tyler Soppe edged row five starter Brett Lawry by half a car length for the win to lead off the main events.
Johnny Spaw started mod pack in the IMCA stock car 15 lapper and slipped past David Brandies on the ninth circuit for the win. It seems like every time we visit West Liberty, the stock car feature is a battle between these two.
Steve Struck nabbed the IMCA sport compact win over the largest field - 20 - of the 4 cylinder machines we have ever seen on the big half mile.
Defending track champ Kurt Kile charged to the lead at the start of the IMCA modified 20 lapper, but a lap one caution negated his pass. When racing resumed, Kile could not repeat his move, and as the race went on, he faded from contention. Kenny Kostenbader held the top spot until a lap eight yellow. Former hot shoe Matt Bodman, back after a six year hiatus, grabbed the lead on the restart, and held off Kostenbader for the win.
After the late model non qualifier race, it was time for the 40 lap main event. Veterans Denny Eckrich and Jeff Aikey sat on row one, and while they dueled up front, all eyes were on third starting Kay. As Aikey led early, Kay was challenging when a lap seven pile up eliminated four cars, including returning Rob Toland. On the restart, Kay slipped to third, but retook the runnerup spot from Eckrich on lap nine. Aikey ran a middle groove, while Kay challenged on the low side. Another stoppage came on lap 15, and back to green, Eckrich again took second. Lap 17 saw Aikey and Eckrich side by side, and on the next trip around, the Flyin' 50 of Eckrich was out front. From there, Denny began to build a commanding lead of nearly a straighaway. That advantage disappeared as the yellow wave on lap 33 when Nick Marolf, running in the top ten, was slow to exit the track on the backstretch. Back to green, however, Eckrich again built a lead as Kay pressured Aikey for second. Richie Gustin, who took the green in row seven, charged to fourth around eighth starting Matt Ryan, and the top five crossed the striped in that order. The second five was led by Tyler Bruening ahead of Ryan Dolan, Kevin Kile, 19th starting Jon Merfeld, and 18th starting Emerson.
It was a cold but happy group the headed to the car as the clock ticked close to 11:00 PM.
Today, Sunday, it rained most of the day here in Canton, Mo., but promoter Ken Dobson was holding out hope for a positive outcome at Quincy Raceways. There were 14 UMP late models in the pits at the track, as well as a nice group of UMP modifieds, IMCA stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts, but the persistent drizzle turned the pit area into a mud bog, and despite constant work, track conditions began to deteriorate, so about 5:30, the races were called off.
Again next weekend we will try for a triple header, beginning Friday at Donnellson, Saturday at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa for the much anticipated Slocum 50, then back to Quincy on Sunday. Come on, sunshine!