Monday, October 3, 2016
Elston Leads the Way at Memphis
Lets try this again, since last nights entry apparently wandered off in cyberspace. Saturday night I joined son Brent and his family for night number two of the Heavy Bottom Nationals at the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis,Mo. Although a light mist fell early in the evening, promoter Mike VanGenderen kept wheels on the track, and the delay, if any, was minimal. Then the 115 cars in the six classes proceeded to stage 14 heat races without one caution flag on the smooth, fast, well prepared surface. The passing points format made for plenty of action in the heats, although using a pill draw to set an invert for the features seemed a bit counter productive. The sport mods were the only class needing to eliminate cars from the feature grid with 31 entrants. So a pair of B-mains saw the yellow flag displayed only one time! A brief ten minute intermission followed, and then it was time to go feature racing. The sport compacts were up first, 13 cars for 14 laps, as Josh Barnes was unable to take his front row spot after losing an engine at the end of his heat race. Second half sensation Barry Taft jumped to the lead as the green flag waved, and it soon became a two car race as Brandon Reu stayed glued to Tafts bumper. Darin Smith joined the leaders as the laps clicked off quickly. The only caution of the race came as Taft got into the slower car of Jeffrey Delonjay as the white flag was displayed. But Taft stayed on the gas, and retained his spot at the front as the pack lined up Delaware style for a green, white, checkers restart. But no one had anything for Taft, as he led flag to flag for the win. Reu crossed the line in second, while Ron Kibbe got around Smith for third. Next up was the 20 lap stock car main event, with all but one of the 23 race teams taking the green. The caution waved for a four car pileup in turns one and two on the opening lap. When racing resumed, John Oliver Jr shot to the lead with row two starter Mike Hughes in second, and Jason Cook, Jim Mueller, and David Brandies in the top five. On the third lap, Cook moved to second, and Cayden Carter entered the top five. Oliver and Cook ran the inside line, while Hughes worked the high side. The caution waved on lap seven for Brandies, who restarted at the tail. On the restart, Hughes retook second, and went to the lower groove. Carter took third on the high side, but quickly fell back to fourth. The leaders all ran low until Hughes again jumped up top on lap 12. Lap 15 saw Hughes and Cook side by side, and when Hughes fended off the # 27, he again went to the low side. On lap 17, Hughes was able to get under Oliver and take the lead, and when Oliver tried to return the favor in turns three in four on the 18th circuit, contact between the two sent Hughes spinning. Both cars were sent to the tail, turning the lead over to Cook. With time running out, Carter took to the high side , and as the leaders came to the checkers, Cook moved up to block. Running on the bottom, Mueller nearly stole the win, but it was Cook at the line, edging Mueller and Carter. A nice field of 14 Lee County late models signed in, with heat winners Tommy Elston and Jeff Guengerich on the front row. Elston jumped to a big lead before the yellow waved on lap three, when Brandon Ruffcorn spun his #11R, collecting the teenage lady racer Tegan Evans, ending her run. Back under green, Sam Halstead grabbed second on the Delaware restart, but Elston again opened a commanding lead. About lap nine, Elston was attempting to lap the damaged Ruffcorn machine, and he made contact with the nose of his #45 machine. Fortunately for Tommy, he sustained no visible damage and kept his ride going forward. Elston then cruised to his ninth win of 2016, followed by Halstead, Guengerich, Derek Liles, and newcomer John Vandenberg in a sharp looking # 7M. The modified feature was up next, but with three races to go, my ride was heading for home. It had been too long since my last visit to Memphis, and despite the few shortcomings such as not being able to see the flagman, it is always a fun time at the historic fairgrounds. There is still plenty of racing in this month of October, so take advantage and head to the track while the good weather holds. I will be at Quincy Raceways this Sunday for their season finale. Where else, I am not sure.