Saturday night was one of the " can't miss " events on our racing calendar, the annual Brent Slocum 50 at 34 Raceway in West Burlington. This is a family affair for us, as Brent was and his friends and family are very special to us. So six of us piled in my sons vehicle for the journey north, where we met buddy Fred, who had come from Davenport Speedways companion event the night before.
Though there was late model racing flooding the Midwest on this beautiful Saturday night, there were still 33 of the open engine cars checked in for the $10,555.00 top prize, with the MARS, Corn Belt Clash, and ALMS groups all co sanctioning the event. Not surprisingly, a huge crowd estimated at near 2500 in the grandstand alone was on hand to witness the action.
2014 winner Bobby Pierce, the second generation pilot from Oakwood,Il set quick qualifying time at 15.212 seconds to claim the first heat pole position. But it was the outside line with the advantage in the four heat races, as each was won by the outside row one starter. It was 2015 winner Ryan Unzicker besting Pierce, Justin Reed, and Justin Asplin in heat one. The second ten lapper went to Friday nights winner Jimmy Mars ahead of Spencer Diercks, Jason Utter, and Dave Eckrich. Heat three was captured by Jesse Stovall over Brian Shirley, Scott Schmitt and California driver Jason Papich. Chris Simpson scored the final heat win, topping Texan Rodney Sanders, Frank Heckenast,Jr, and Tony Jackson Jr.
One 15 lap B-main transferred four more to the finale, with again outside row one starter Jason Feger grabbing the checkers followed by Chad Simpson, Gordy Gundaker, and Nebraska driver Tad Pospisil. Four provisional filled out the 24 car starting grid, with what looked to be point provisionals going to Jeff Roth and Payton Looney, a track spot to Mark Burgtorf, and a Slocum 50 postion to local favorite Brian Birkhofer in the Kay racing entry.
The IMCA stock cars ran the first feature, 15 cars for 20 laps. As he had Friday night in Donnellson, Andrew Hustead led early, but John Oliver Jr was locked in, and took the lead from his row three starting slot after the only caution period of the race came on lap two. Jeff Mueller, who staged a dramatic last to first win on Friday, powered his way forward from row five, and put the heat on Oliver Jr. On this night, however, Johnny would prevail, picking up the win and the $750.00 check. Mueller crossed the line in second, with Hustead third.
The 305 sprint class, 20 strong on the night, was up next. Heat winner Dave Getchell jumped to the early lead and looked to be in command/ But soon it was Shane Quam up to challenge. Following a yellow on lap eleven, it soon became a three car battle, with Dustin Clark joining the fray. Clark shot the lead and the win, Quam prevailed in second and the veteran Getchell came home third.
The final race of the night was the 50 lap super late model feature. Following a four wide paraded lap and a missing man formation in honor of Brent, the green flag waved in front of a roaring crowd.
This time it was the polesitter taking the early advantage, with Unzicker charging to the lead ahead of Mars and Stovall. The caution waved at the completion of lap two as Eckrich came to a stop off turn four. Stovall gained the runner up spot on the Delaware style restart, but fifth starting Pierce mad a bold move through three and four, passing three cars to move to second. On the seventh circuit, Bobby moved to the lead and began to build a cushion. Lap 13 saw Gundaker slow on the front stretch with a flat tire, bringing out the caution. Back under green, Pierce was a rocket, lapping cars and building a nearly staraightaway lead at one point. 29 laps ticked off before a final caution came out after 41 circuits had been scored, when top five runners Stovall and Shirley made contact while dueling for fourth. It marked the end of a good run for the #00 of Stovall.
With the green flying one final time, Pierce again built a cushion, and at the checkers he became the first two time Slocum 50 winner in the third season it has been an unlimited engine event. Unzaicker took runnerup honors, followed by Shirley and Chris Simpson. Feger picked up the $500.00 hard charger bonus, as the " Highside Hustler" put on a show coming from row nine to nab fifth.Mars, Heckenast, Sanders, Utter,and Jackson completed the top ten.
The Slocum 50 spokes team of Jessi Mynatt and Brad Stevens announced that over $40,000 in scholarships in Brents mane have now been awarded, as this event continues to grow and thrive. Thanks to them, the Slocum family, and the owners and operators of 34 Raceway for making this a marquee race and tribute to Brent.
My three race weekend wraps up tonight at Quincy Raceways, with UMP late models and modifieds, joined by IMCA stock cars, sport mods and sport compacts. If you see me there, say " Hi."