Saturday, July 1, 2017

Barnes Goes the "Extra Miles" at Donnellson

Friday was Military Appreciation Night at the Lee County Speedway, with a nice crowd on hand to witness five classes of racing action plus a fireworks display afterwards. A total of 67 drivers checked in, led by 20 IMCA sport mods. A new sport mod was the # 51 of Mike Benjamin, who many of you might remember as a pretty good late model driver from more than a few years ago! Following heat race action and intermission, the IMCA sport compact 15 lap feature came to the track. Eleven drivers had signed in, but Josh Barnes blew up his # 13B in his heat race. But there he was, starting in the back row of the main event in his "other" car. Brandon Lambert powered to the early lead, holding off a three car contingent battling on his back bumper. Meanwhile Barnes worked his way into the runner up spot, and the pair crossed the line side by side as lap 13 was scored. On the following circuit, Barnes took over the lead and held on for the win in the non stop event. Lambert settled for second ahead of Daniel Fellows, Kimberly Abbott, and the Reus, Brandon and Mike. It is not unusual for the big time late model and modified guys to roll a backup car out of the double decker hauler if they have trouble with their primary ride. But in victory lane, Barnes said his team loaded the crippled machine and drove home to Keokuk, about 20 miles, loaded up the other car and made it back by feature time! And that, my friends, is old school racing! The sport mod feature was up next. A lap one melee saw row four starter and top contender Brandon Lennox spin in turn one, sending him to the tail of the restart. Jason Reigel led the opening circuit, with Austen Becerra taking over on lap two. Meanwhile Tony Dunker charged to third, taking along Logan Anderson in fourth. On the fourth lap, the pair moved to second and third. Following the second caution of the race on about lap six, Anderson used the Delaware restart to move to second, while Brandon Dale entered the top four. Becerra opened a big lead as Anderson, running high and Dunker running low battled behind him. After a third and final caution with eight laps remaining, Dunker took back the second spot, and he also moved to the top side of the track while Anderson worked the inside groove. A nip and tuck battle for fourth developed between a pair of second generation hot shoes,Dale and Vance Wilson. But this night belonged to Becerra, who drove a flawless race, picking up the win. Dunker held off Anderson for second, and Wilson edged Dale for fourth. Lennox advanced back to seventh at the checkers. A dozen UMP Pro Crate late models checked in, but only eleven took the feature green after young Chase Frank smacked the turns one and two guardrail in his heat. The redraw found heat two winner Jeff Guengerich on the pole, and he paced the first lap ahead of Jay Johnson and fifth starting Denny Woodworth. Woodworth and Johnson swapped the runner up spot on lap three before Derek Liles looped his ride while running fourth on lap five. As the green flag waved for the restart, Todd Frank got into the back of Johnson, with the pair getting hooked together. After a lengthy delay, Johnson rejoined the field at the tail, while Frank retired to the pits. Guengerich again shot to the lead, with Woodworth, Sam Halstead and Tommy Elston now in a four car lead pack. After a pair of well executed slide jobs, Woodworth took command on lap eight, while Elston moved to third. As Elston set his sights on Guengerich, Woodworth opened a sizable lead. Lap 13 saw Elston take second, but with no more cautions, he could not run the down the racing attorney. At the checkers, it was Woodworth, Elston, Guengerich, Halstead, and Gunner Frank completing the top five. Clint Kirkham ran sixth in his first visit to LCS in 2017, Johnson was seventh, followed by heat one winner Matt Strasshein, Trent Grotz, and Liles. All 14 IMCA stock cars took the main event green flag, but a lap one restart slowed the action. The second try saw row two starter Abe Huls shoot to the lead ahead of Jason See. As the front pair battled with Huls on the low line and See pounding the cushion, a three car scrum took shape for third between Jeremy Pundt, Cory Strothman, and John Oliver Jr. Huls was able to lengthen his advantage with good runs off turn two, while See made up ground off the turn four cushion. Oliver won the battle for third on lap nine, as Huls began to put some distance between himself and See. Oliver tiried to run down See, but could not get the yellow flag he needed to close the gap. The final rundown was Huls, See, Oliver Jr., Pundt, and Strothman. The IMCA modifieds closed out the program on the ever slickening 3/8 mile oval. Michael Long used the high line to come from row two to the lead on the opening lap, with Dennis Laveine and Chris Zogg training. Jeff Waterman advanced to fourth on lap three as the yellow waved for Bill Roberts Jr and Dugan Thye, erasing an already commanding lead for Long. Zogg used the Delaware restart to claim second, but he had nothing for the #18L, as Long stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway. The race stayed green to the checkers, with Long cruising to the win. Zogg took second over Laveine, Waterman, and Jerod Fuller. The final checkers waved before 10:15. Next up for me will be the UMP late model Summernationls show at Quincy Raceways on Monday night, July 3. Along with the super late models racing for a $5,000 check, it will be the Summit UMP modified for a $1,000 top prize, and IMCA sport mods competing for a $500 payday. Hot laps around 6:30, I believe, with racing at 7:00. Hope to see you there!

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