Saturday, July 29, 2017

Repeat Winners at Donnellson

After two weeks off, racing resumed at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Friday night. 64 race teams signed in, lead by 19 IMCA sport mods. The track presented a clinic in running a race program, ten heat races and five features on a multi groove track with the first green flag promptly at 7:30 and the final checkers at 9:27. Those ten heat races clicked off with only one caution flag, that coming in the final heat when IMCA modified rookie Shawn Millmier tagged the turn one guardrail, ending his night. Following a ten minute intermission, the IMCA sport compacts came to the track for their 15 lap feature. As the green waved, Josh Barnes shot to the front from his row three starting slot to grab the lead. Kimberly Abbott charged to the second spot from row four, and the duo soon put distance on the field. Meanwhile Brandon Lambert and Brandon Reu battled side by side, lap after lap for third., with Reu finally taking the spot at the halfway mark. As Barry Taft moved ahead of Lambert with six laps remaining, the caution waved for Mike Hornung Jr as he had a wheel come off his car. The wheel cleared the turn four fence and Hornung pulled to the infield, but the yellow had already waved. Abbott elected the high line on the Delaware restart, and as racing resumed, Abbott, Reu, and Taft battled three wide for the runner up spot. Reu nosed ahead of the other pair, with Barnes still well out front. But coming out of turn four to the white flag, Barnes suddenly slowed and pulled off the track. Taft then challenged Reu, with the two coming to the checkers side by side. But it was Reu first at the line, as he celebrated birthday #24 a day early. Taft was second, followed by Abbott, Mike Reu, and Lambert. All 19 sport mods took the feature green, but the caution waved on the opening lap for a spinning Daniel Fellows. Following a complete restart, John Oliver Jr. took the top spot, with fifth starting Brandon Dale in second. Five laps in, it was Dale,Kyle Hill and Austen Becerra battling for second, with row five starter Jim Gillenwater and eighth starting Tony Dunker soon joining the fray. The seventh circuit saw Gillenwater move all the way to second, as the front six ran in a tight breakaway pack. Two laps later, Dale looped his ride, bringing out the second caution. Back to racing, Gillenwater used his trademark low line to claim the lead, opening a sizable lead. With six circuits to go, Becerra grabbed second, and one lap laterDunker moved to fourth. While Gillenwater had a healty lead over Becerra, there was also a gap between him and Oliver. Two laps from the checkers, Dunker grabbed third, and the checkers flew for Gillenwater over Becerra, Dunker, Oliver Jr., and Carter Vandenberg. Four first timers were a part of the 13 car UMP Pro late model field, including Illinois drivers Brad Denney and Mavrick Piller, Iowa rookie Eric Knapp, and Russ Schoonover, who makes a visit home to western Illinois from I believe England during the summer and hauls his #59 to the track. But it is veteran sTommy Elston and Denny Woodworth who have dominated the division, and with each winning a heat race, Elston drew the third starting spot for the 20 lap feature, with Woodworth starting fifth. Polesitter Todd Frank paced the first two laps running for him an unusual inside line, but lap three saw Elston pound the cushion to grab the top spot. On the same circuit, Woodworth charged to third, taking Sam Halstead along in fourth. As Elston stretched his margin, Woodworth moved around Frank for second on lap eight. Halstead eased past Frank for third on lap ten, but Todd quickly reclaimed the position. Woodworth was able to cut into Elstons lead somewhat, but with the race going caution free, Tommy stayed in command to pick up the win. Woodworth settled for the runner up finish, followed by Frank, Halstead, and Jeff Guengerich. Gunner Frank finished his night the week prior at Bloomfield upside down, but he came out in a different car and ran sixth ahead of Chris Richard, Derek Liles, Denney, and Piller. Chase Frank rounded out the cars running at the finish. Only ten IMCA stock cars checked in, with all taking the feature green. Jeremy Pundt came from row two to lead lap one, while Oliver Jr. powered from row three to second. Oliver took command on the second trip past the flag stand, with Corey Strothman and Jason Cook joining the front pair. Cook worked his way to second, and by lap five, he was bidding for the lead. For the next several laps,he ran side by side with Oliver, Cook on the bottom, Oliver on top. Pundt had fallen to fourth, but he cleared Strothman on lap nine. Cook had a slight advantage at the flagstand with seven circuits remaining, and going in to turn one, Oliver smacked the guardrail, bringing out the caution. Apparently John had been running without power steering since lap two, and he retired to the pits during the caution. As racing resumed, Cook opened a big lead, with Pundt also putting distance on Strothman. The yellow waved again with two laps remaining, as Scott Jordon spun in turn four. Pundt stayed close for the closing laps, but Cook held on for the win. Strothmon, Derek Kirkland, and Chad Krogmeier completed the top five. The IMCA modifieds came trackside for the final event of the night. Dakota Simmons paced the early laps, with Jerad Fuller taking over on lap five. But row three starter Michael Long, who had been searching for an opening behind side by side racing, pull a breathtaking power move, jumping from fourth to first coming out of turn two on the very top of the track. Michael continued to pound the cushion, opening a nearly straightaway lead. Meanwhile row four starter Jeff Waterman moved to third on lap six and took the runner up spot on lap eight. The final caution of the night came with five laps remaining for debris, wiping out Longs lead. But he quickly pulled away as the green waved, cruising to the win. Waterman topped Dennis Laveine, Fuller, and Bill Roberts Jr to round out the top five. Sunday night Quincy Raceways will get back to racing, with UMP Pro late models and UMP modifieds joined by sport mods, stock cars ans sport compacts. No track points will be awarded, as this was originally a scheduled night off. The UMP classes will be running for national points. Lee County Speedway will be in action both Thursday and Friday next week for Summerfest. Extra money and extra classes will be featured, so mcheck the website for details. See you at the track!

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