Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Stats Blitz! Season statistics through July for Independence Motor Speedway

The following statistics are through nine weeks of racing at Independence Motor Speedway. Be sure to read through to the end as I've added a new section. If you thought the normal stuff I include isn't worth knowing, settle in.

Car Count
Division - Average - High - Low
Late Model - 25.0 - 28 - 23
Modified - 30.4 - 35 - 25
Stock Car - 18.4 - 22 - 17
SportMod - 27.4 - 31 - 24
Hobby Stock - 19.9 - 23 - 13
TOTAL - 121.2 - 131 - 109

* 193 drivers have earned points so far this season.
* Among those 193 drivers, 74 different hometowns are represented.
* Only three of five points leaders have won features: Darren Ackerman (Late Model), Darin Duffy (Modified) and Josh Irvine (Hobby Stock). Points leaders without victories include Phil Holtz (Stock Car) and Kyle Bentley (SportMod).
* While no driver has held the points lead every week through nine weeks, Darren Ackerman has led the Late Model points for the last four weeks and Darin Duffy (Modifieds) has been atop the points for the last eight weeks.
* 19 different drivers have held the points lead for at least one week this season: Four different drivers have led the Late Model points, two in Modifieds, six in Stock Cars, four in SportMods and three in Hobby Stocks.
* 22 drivers have remained in the top-10 in the points all nine weeks:
Late Model (3): Darren Ackerman, Jon Passick, Bryan Klein;
Modified (3): Darin Duffy, Troy Cordes, Max Corporon;
Stock Car (6): Shane Manson, Jason Hocken, Brian Irvine, Phil Holtz, Norman Chesmore, Jarod Weepie;
SportMod (4): Kyle Bentley, Kaleb Bentley, Drew Fish, Jim Buhlman;
Hobby Stock (6): Vince Buchholz, Josh Irvine, Quinton Miller, Justin Lichty, Wes Stanek, Jeremiah Wilson.
* 9 drivers have remained in the top-5 in the points all nine weeks:
Late Model (1): Darren Ackerman;
Modified (3): Darin Duffy, Troy Cordes, Max Corporon;
Stock Car (1): Jason Hocken;
SportMod (1): Kyle Bentley;
Hobby Stock (3): Quinton Miller, Vince Buchholz, Justin Lichty.

Feature Winners
* Among all five divisions, no starting position has produced more than three feature winners, however six different starting positions among all divisions have produced three feature winners. They are: Late Models (outside row 6), Modifieds (outside row 1 and outside row 5), Stock Cars (inside row 3), SportMod (outside row 2), Hobby Stock (outside row 4).
* Jason Snyder's Modified win on July 11 from inside the second row is the only inside row starting position to produce a Modified feature winner.
* Brian Irvine has won five Stock Car features this season. His career total wins in the division at Independence is 24.
* Every starting position in the first six rows of feature competition has produced at least one feature winner. No winners have come from deeper than the sixth row.

* 127 drivers have earned at least one top-10 finish this season.
* 3 drivers have earned top-10 finishes in all nine features:
Late Model (28 different drivers with at least one top-10 finish): None with all nine top-10s;
Modified (29): Darin Duffy;
Stock Car (22): Jason Hocken;
SportMod (25): None with all six top-10s;
Hobby Stock (23): Quinton Miller.

* 87 drivers have earned at least one top-5 finish this season:
Late Model (21 different drivers with at least one top-5 finish);
Modified (17);
Stock Car (14);
SportMod (21);
Hobby Stock (14).
* Only Darin Duffy (Modified) has earned top-5 finishes in all nine features.

* 70 drivers have earned at least one top-3 finish this season:
Late Model (169 drivers with at least one top-3 finish);
Modified (12);
Stock Car (11);
SportMod (16);
Hobby Stock (12).
* Darin Duffy (Modified) leads all drivers with seven top-3 finishes. Four drivers are tied for second with five top-3 finishes apiece. Among them... Troy Cordes (Modified) has a win, two seconds and two thirds; Brian Irvine (Stock Car) and Josh Irvine (Hobby Stock) each have five top-3s... all feature victories; Justin Temeyer (Stock Cars) has earned all five of his top-3 finishes in the last five weeks. Temeyer's streak of finishes over that time includes 1, 3, 3, 1, 3.

Feature Lap Leaders
* 56 drivers have led at least one lap of feature competition.
* Division lap leaders include:
Late Model (15 different lap leaders): Darren Ackerman (35 laps led), Dale Stolte (25), Chad Lerch, (25), Darin Burco (24);
Modified (11 different lap leaders): Darin Duffy (45 laps led), Don Erger (20), Cory Bauer (18), Jason Snyder (18);
Stock Car (8 different lap leaders): Justin Temeyer (71 laps led), Brian Irvine (61), Dan Trimble (35), Jarod Weepie (7);
SportMod (10 different lap leaders): Danny Dvorak (34 laps led), Chris Luloff (19), Lucas Lundry (19), Joel Rust (13);
Hobby Stock (12 different lap leaders): Josh Irvine (39 laps led), Wes Stanek (22), Matt Brown (21), Matt Burmeister (10).

Heat Races
* There have been 74 different heat race winners in 137 heat races.
* Justin Temeyer has won six consecutive heat races and seven overall to lead all drivers.
* 34 drivers have won multiple heat races.
Division leaders include:
Late Model (17 different heat winners): Jon Passick (4 wins); 8 drivers are tied with (2 each);
Modified (19 different heat winners): Max Corporon and Johnathan Thimmesch (4 wins each); Ronn Lauritzen (3);
Stock Car (8 different heat winners): Justin Temeyer (7 wins); Dan Trimble (4); Norman Chesmore (3), Shane Manson (2);
SportMod (16 different heat winners): Danny Dvorak, Jake Strayer (4 wins each); Chris Luloff, Josh Sherbon, Kurt Hogan (3 each);
Hobby Stock (14 different heat winners): Matt Brown (5 wins); Josh Irvine (4); Don Arnold, Vince Buchholz, Justin Lichty (2 each).

Efficiency Stats
* A total of 211 races have been run this season.
* A total of 2,070 green flag laps have been completed.
* A total of 229 caution flags have been thrown.
* The Stock Car division has had only 19 total caution flags through 29 races and 348 laps of competition.

Since the year 2000...
* 620 feature events have been completed in weekly competition.
* 149 different drivers have visited victory lane.
* A new face finds victory lane every 4.16 races.
* There have been:
31 different Late Model winners in 132 events;
29 Modified winners in 136 events;
23 Stock Car winners in 137 events;
44 Hobby Stock winners in 136 events;
22 SportMod/B Mod winners in 79 events.
* Division leaders include:
Late Model: Curt Martin (37 wins since 2000), Darren Ackerman (13), Greg Kastli (11);
Modified: Vern Jackson (26); Troy Cordes (23); Jerry Luloff and Darin Duffy (13 each);
Stock Car: Dan Trimble (32), Brian Irvine (24), Jarod Weepie (17), Justin Temeyer (16);
Hobby Stock: Brian Irvine (16), Chris Luloff (15), Josh Irvine (11), Patrick Stansbery (9); SportMod/B Mod: Joe Docekal (18); Brian Kunkle (8); Josh Sherbon and Danny Dvorak (6 each).

Qualifying Streaks
* The longest currently active feature qualifying streaks for weekly competition in each division include:
Late Model: Darren Ackerman has qualified for 40 consecutive features. His last miss was June 3, 2006. Others include, Travis Smock (32), Bryan Klein (18), Jon Passick (14);
Modified: Jerry Luloff has qualified for 178 consecutive features (July 5, 1997), Johnathan Thimmesch (22), Troy Cordes (19), Darin Duffy (11);
Stock Car: Jarod Weepie has has qualified for 117 consecutive features (June 9, 2001), Norman Chesmore (54), Brian Irvine (43), Jason Hocken (27);
Hobby Stock: Josh Irvine has qualified for 43 consecutive features (May 27, 2006), Jeremiah Wilson (32), Vince Buchholz (30), Matt Brown (26);
SportMod/B Mod: Mary Handberg has qualified for 47 consecutive features (August 27, 2005), Jim Buhlman (40), Kevin Robinson (19), Danny Dvorak and Kaleb Bentley (18 each).

Stuff Nobody Should Know...
* The last time there were no rain outs during a month with five Saturdays when track points were awarded was July of 2006. August 2009 has five Saturdays.
* There have been 45 features so far this season. Of the winners, 26 started on the outside and 19 started from the inside.
* Brian and Josh Irvine have each won five features. Three times this season they won on the same night. May 30 and June 6 are the only nights an Irvine has not been in victory lane. At least one of them has won during each of the last five weeks.
* Darin Duffy has won four features this season; twice from outside the fifth row and twice from outside the sixth row.
* Five drivers have won features leading flag-to-flag in races when the time limit did not take effect.
* Three of the nine Modified feature winners led from flag-to-flag. In two of those events, the time limit was enforced. In all of the other six Modified features, no winner led prior to lap six. For three weeks in a row (June 27, July 11, July 18), the eventual Modified winner took the lead exactly on lap six.
* Justin Temeyer has won two Stock Car features, but he has held the lead for at least one lap in seven of the division's nine features so far this season. The only two he didn't lead? 1) On opening night when he broke in the heat race and didn't start the feature, and 2) When Dan Trimble led flag-to-flag on May 30.
* For a three week stretch (June 6, 20 and 27), no Late Model feature winner took the lead until there were four laps or fewer reamining in the race. During that three-week span, the feature winners led for a total of only nine out of 75 laps.
* The Hobby Stock division is the only division not to produce a flag-to-flag winner this year.
* No Late Model driver has finished in the same top-10 feature position more than twice.
* Dan Trimble (Stock Car) and Jake Strayer (SportMod) lead all drivers with three second place feature finishes apiece.
* 129 different drivers have spent time in the top-10 in his/her division's point standings this season.
* Starting with the first lap of the May 30 Late Model feature through lap seven of the June 20 Late Model feature, a car with a letter in its number led every lap (57 consecutive laps). Dale Hackwell Jr. (#145) ended that streak by leading the next 14 laps. Rick Dralle took over the lead on lap 22 of that feature, and every lap leader through lap three of the July 18 Late Model feature drove a car with a letter in its number. You guessed it, that was also for 57 consecutive laps.
* Cars with odd numbers currently lead the points in all five divisions. I researched it to see the last time the track champions possessed either all odd or all even numbers. Couldn't find it. Chances are, something's gotta give... right?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ackerman goes back-to-back, Cordes gets first at Independence Motor Speedway

One hundred nine cars signed in for the ninth night of weekly points racing at Independence Motor Speedway. A trio of drivers made return trips to victory lane while a pair of others scored their first wins of the season.

In the 25-lap I.M.C.A. Late Model feature, 25 cars took the green flag. Pole-sitter Tom Struve set the early pace while Bryan Klein and fellow front row starter Joel Brasch settled in behind him. Darin Burco used the low groove to motor into second place after four laps and then went to work running down Struve, who distanced himself by a few car-lengths from the rest of the field.

The field was slowed for caution on lap eight, allowing Burco and Brian Hunter, who started fifth, to restart right behind him. The leaders remained unchanged until Burco spun on lap 12 to bring out the yellow flag. By the time the caution flag waved, Darren Ackerman moved into the third spot after starting 12th.

When racing resumed, Ackerman swept around his competitors and into the lead, driving away from the field until a lap 23 caution slowed the race one final time. Setting up a two-lap dash to the finish, Ackerman again drove away from his nearest challengers to score the victory, his second straight. Hunter crossed the line in second followed by Rick Wendling, who started 19th. Travis Smock came home fourth after a seventh row start. Tyler Bruening finished fifth.

Adam Johnson held the early lead in the 20-lap I.M.C.A. Modified feature. He paced the field while Jason Snyder and J.D. Auringer gave chase. Johnson held the top spot despite a quartet of cautions that littered the first half of the event. During that time, Troy Cordes worked his way into the mix at the front of the pack after starting outside of row five.

Johnson continued to lead until both Snyder and Cordes worked around the race leader with only five laps to go. Snyder led the field until the lapped car of Scott Strauss held him up on the low line of the speedway. Cordes motored around both cars on the high side en route to the win, his first of the season. Snyder ran second. Darin Duffy, Justin O'Brien and Ronn Lauritzen completed the top five.

Johnson, who crossed the line in third, refused a claim placed on his engine by Mike Krall. Auringer finished fourth, however he also refused a claim on his engine placed by Patrick Flannagan. Both drivers were disqualified from the event and lost all points earned this season.

In the I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature, Justin Temeyer quickly worked into the lead from his second row start. He led the field while Brian Irvine worked his way into a challenge for the top spot after starting fifth. Irvine moved to the outside of Temeyer and inched ahead at the line just prior to a lap seven caution.

On the restart, Irvine drove away to score the win, his fifth of the season. Jarod Weepie ran second, holding off Justin Temeyer and Dan Trimble who finished third and fourth, respectively. Points leader Phil Holtz finished fifth after starting 16th.

Lucas Lundry was looking to make it back-to-back wins in the I.M.C.A. SportMods. From a second row start, Lundry shot into the lead on the first lap and paced the field until Danny Dvorak inched ahead just before the caution flag waved on lap six. Following the restart, Dvorak ran away from the field to drive to his third win of the season. Jake Strayer raced from a 10th starting spot to take home runner-up honors ahead of Kevin Robinson. Points leader Kyle Bentley and Mary Handberg completed the top five.

Mark Butler led the first two laps of the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature until Matt Brown swept under him to take charge on lap three. Brown led the field until just past the midway point when August Bach motored into the lead. Bach survived a pair of late cautions to score the win, his first of the season. Brown, Marcus Wayne, Quinton Miller and Jeremiah Wilson completed the top five.

Race Night Notes:
Wagner Returns: It was good to see Dean Wagner back behind the wheel of a Late Model. Wagner piloted the Three-Wide Media car that served as the Legends car over the past few weeks. I understand Wagner will be behind the wheel of that machine (now the number 60) for the duration of the season unless Larry Moore is able to head north and spend a night in it. Moore was scheduled to compete in the car a few weeks ago, however a late scheduling snafu prevented his visit to northeast Iowa.

Right at home: August Bach drove to his first win of the season in the Hobby Stock division in a car that is no stranger to the winner's circle. Bach recently purchased the car formerly driven by past I.M.C.A. champion Bill Bonnett. In victory lane, Bach stated Bonnett currently sits at 147 feature wins.

Thanks for the loaner: Rick Paulson displayed good sportsmanship by allowing Jim Buhlman to drive his SportMod tonight. Buhlman, who entered the night second in the standings by just a couple of points to Kyle Bentley, suffered mechanical problems in hot laps. Paulson gave up his ride so Buhlman could keep his title hopes alive.

Back-to-back Ack: Darren Ackerman became just the second driver since the 2005 season to win back-to-back Late Model features. The last driver to do so was Rick Dralle last year. Dralle's wins came on July 26 and August 2.

Take two: Every feature winner on July 25 either won or finished second in their heat race.

Stats to Come: The monthly Stats Blitz will be making its return to positivelyracing.com later this week. This month's blitz will include a look back at the first nine weeks of racing as we head into the final month of action at Independence.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Dick Frye Memorial highlights Buchanan County Fair at Independence

A packed house enjoyed cool temperatures and a hot night of racing during the Dick Frye Memorial as part of the Buchanan County Fair at Independence Motor Speedway. One hundred twenty race teams signed in to compete on a night honoring the memory of the well-known community member and long-time fair board president.

The 20-lapper for the I.M.C.A. Stock Cars opened feature action. Front row starter Tony Schimmels set the early pace until the second lap when third row starter Justin Temeyer made his way around the race leader to steal the top spot. Temeyer held the point while Dan Trimble made his way up from the third row to settle into second place one lap later. Trimble attempted to reel in Temeyer when the leaders encountered lapped traffic just past the midway point.

A restart with only five laps to go eliminated the gap altogether setting up a shootout to the finish. Temeyer picked up where he left off prior to the caution period as he drove to the win, his second of the season. Trimble ran second. First-year driver Phil Holtz crossed the line in third, moving him into the points lead. Shane Manson and Tony Schimmels completed the top five.

First year I.M.C.A. SportMod driver Lucas Lundry took command on the second lap of that 15-lap feature to drive to his first win in the division. Lundry held off the late challenges from Joel Rust to score the win. Russell Hesse and Duane Van Deest ran third and fourth, respectively. Kyle Bentley, who finished fifth, took over sole possession of the division's points lead, breaking a three way tie entering the night with Drew Fish and Chris Luloff.

All 26 SportMods signed in were subject to a post-race inspection, resulting in the disqualification of four drivers, including Fish, John Van Wechel, Jason Doyle and Jeremy Wheeler. All four of those drivers received no points on the night for their DQs.

Josh Irvine continued his dominance in the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock division. From a sixth row start, Irvine blasted through the field using the low groove of the speedway and into the top six after just three laps. He motored into second just past the midway point of the 15-lapper.

On the 9th circuit, Irvine shot under leader Matt Burmeister on his way to his fourth straight win in the division and fifth overall. Wes Stanek made a strong run late in the event, but came up short at the line finishing second. Justin Hanson, Jeremiah Wilson and Burmeister completed the top five.

Much like Irvine, Darin Duffy continued to amaze in the I.M.C.A. Modified division. From a 12th starting spot, Duffy found the low groove to his liking as he maneuvered through the field and into fourth place just prior to a lap three caution. Three laps later, Duffy worked past Johnathan Thimmesch for the lead and never looked back on the way to his fourth win of the season. J.D. Auringer worked through the field to score runner-up honors ahead of Thimmesch, Jason Snyder and Cory Bauer.

The 25-lap I.M.C.A. Late model feature closed the evening. Following a pair of cautions on the second lap, Darren Ackerman drove under Scott Welsh on the third lap to take command. Ackerman left the field in his wake as he blasted to a huge early lead. Backmarkers couldn't slow the points leader as he masterfully weaved his way through lapped traffic starting at the midway point of the event. Ackerman eventually took the checkers by over a straightaway ahead of Travis Smock and Darin Burco. John Passick ran fourth and Tysus Pattee crossed the line in fifth.

It was a great night to celebrate the memory of Dick Frye. In addition to all cars being parked on the track prior to racing action, all of the drivers and crew members lined the high side of turns three and four as Frye's six-year-old grandson Carson amazed the crowd with the national anthem. It was truly a touching tribute and incredible way to start the festivities.

The Buchanan County Fair concludes Sunday with a combine demolition derby in the afternoon. Six more Saturdays remain on the schedule for the 2009 racing season.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Hanford sweeps, Theobald thumps the field in mid-season win at CJ Speedway

I returned to CJ Speedway on Friday night to see the completion of the Modified feature from two weeks ago, along with mid-season championship racing in all five divisions. The Modifieds, scheduled to be the program finale on July 3, fell victim to rain on that night to set up double features for the division.

The feature lineups were based straight-up on total points through five weeks, however in a unique move, heat races were not only run but drivers were awarded points to ensure competitive racing for the fans in the otherwise meaningless "qualifiers."

The make-up Modified feature was first to the track and Tim Sands set the early pace. He led the field for the first few circuits until caution slowed the event. When racing resumed, Todd Hansen shot to the inside of the leader as the green flag was displayed. Bruce Hanford made his way around Sands a short time later and quickly chased down the new leader. Hanford tried numerous times to sneak beneath Hansen's #21. Although Hansen was too strong from the higher groove, Hanford stayed close, eventually making his way past Hansen on the low side with only a few laps to go. Hanford drove away to the win, his second of the year, ahead of Hansen.

The mid-season feature wasn't quite as difficult for Hanford, the points leader, as he started from the pole for the 15-lapper. Hanford quickly assumed command and left the field in his dust, walking away to the win by more than a straightaway margin. Adam Bell, Steve Stewart, Hansen and Mark Winkel completed the top five.

Geoff Theobald entered the night 19th in 4-Cylinder points, but he didn't let his poor starting position discourage him. After just two laps, Theobald put the #33 into sixth place. Then, just two laps later, Theobald ducked under Bill Whalen for second just prior to the race's only caution. Following the restart, Theobald swept to the outside of race leader John Whalen and cruised to the victory in the 10-lapper. Tyler Whalen, John Whalen, points leader Bill Whalen and Darrin Smith completed the top five.

Points leader Justin Buchholz left little doubt that he was the man to beat in the Mod Lite 12-lapper. From his pole position start, Buchholz shot into the lead, leaving Scott Walker and Troy Philpot to give chase. Philpot made his way around Walker for second following a mid-race caution, but nobody was strong enough to catch Buchholz as he cruised to the win. Todd Hansen and Jeff Miller ran fourth and fifth.

Points leader Lane Kauffman led the way in the early stages of the 10-lap Hobby Stock feature. Running the low groove, Luke McLaughlin chased down the leader and the two engaged in a side-by-side battle for the lead midway through the event. McLaughlin changed lanes once he reeled in the leader and motored around the high side of Kauffman on lap six to snag away the lead. McLaughlin drove to the win, leaving Kauffman to take runner-up honors.

Trent Vrchoticky paced the field at the start of the 10-lap I.M.C.A. Stock Car main event. A number of cautions slowed the feature early, however Vrchoticky held the point as David Hemsted, Tad Payne and Aaron Summy applied pressure. The leaders made it a four-car breakaway from the field at various stages between caution flags, but Vrchoticky's competitors were never able to mount a serious challenge as he drove to the flag-to-flag win. Hemsted, Payne and Summy completed the top four while Les Blakey came home fifth, a straightaway behind the leaders.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Chris Simpson steals Corn Belt Clash victory at Independence

The DART Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series, presented by Cen-Pe-Co Lubricants, made its only appearance of the season at Independence Motor Speedway as part of the Buchanan County Fair on Thursday night. Twenty-four Late Models signed in to compete in the third of this season's five series events. After a few unexpected twists and turns unfolded during the feature event, Chris Simpson stood in victory lane celebrating his first series win.

At the start of the 40-lapper, pole-sitter Rick Wendling held the lead until Keith Foss took charge on lap two. Foss, the winner of the series opener earlier this spring, held the point and quickly pulled away from the field until a flat tire sidelined him just four laps into the event, bringing out the caution flag.

Jason Rauen restarted the event outside of the front row and quickly assumed command when racing resumed. Rauen distanced himself from his competitors while Chad Simpson worked through traffic from a fourth row start.

Running the low groove, Simpson powered into third just two laps later, then made his way under second-running Justin Mitchell at the 10-lap mark. By that time, Rauen held nearly a straightaway advantage as Simpson slowly chipped away at the lead.

On lap 15, the leaders encountered heavy lapped traffic at which time Simpson narrowed the margin. His deficit was completely erased when the caution flag waved on lap 18. On the restart, Rauen again rocketed ahead of the field as he and Simpson broke away from the field. A pivotal caution flag waved on lap 25, bunching the field once more.

On the restart, Simpson stayed close to Rauen working the bottom groove. He pulled even with the race leader on lap 31 and attempted to pass on the low side in turns one and two when he pushed high and into Rauen's ride, sending Rauen into a spin on the high side of turn two. After the yellow flag waved again, both cars were penalized for their involvement in the caution.

Chris Simpson realigned on the pole of the two-wide restart with Jason Utter alongside. Simpson shot into the lead leaving Utter to battle with Travis Smock for second. Smock made his way under Utter with only five laps to go and then quickly chased down Simpson.

Smock maneuvered under Simpson's ride in a challenge for the lead when the caution flag waved again with only four laps to go. Simpson restarted out front with Smock and Utter in tow. When the green flag waved, Simpson again took command, leaving Smock to do battle once more with Utter. Simpson pulled away to score the exciting win and Smock edged Utter at the line for runner-up honors. Curt Martin, who started the event in 12th but was involved in an early caution that forced him to restart at the rear, worked through traffic to an impressive fourth place finish. Chad Simpson was able to work through traffic following the lap 31 caution to secure an 11th place finish. By virtue of that finish, he will hold a slim two point lead over Martin entering the next event.

Corn Belt Clash Late Models (starting positions in parentheses)
1. (5) 32 Chris Simpson, Marion;
2. (10) 98 Travis Smock, Independence;
3. (11) 31X Jason Utter, Columbus Junction;
4. (12) 45 Curt Martin, Independence;
5. (17) 28C Terry Neal, Ely;
6. (2) 95 Keith Foss, Winona, Minn.;
7. (1) 78W Rick Wendling, Hazleton;
8. (6) 28X Justin Mitchell, Cedar Rapids;
9. (16) 77X Kurt Kile, Nichols;
10. (22) 35 Jerry Bloom, Rochester, Minn.;
11. (8) 25 Chad Simpson, Mount Vernon;
12. (3) 33 Kevin Kirkpatrick, Waterloo;
13. (24) 10 Gary Crawford, Independence;
14. (7) 88 Kevin Kile, West Liberty;
15. (23) 15C Curt Schroeder, Des Moines;
16. (21) 8 Randy Wheeler, Cedar Falls;
17. (15) 9 Bobby Hansen, Center Point;
18. (9) 25S Chris Smyser, Lancaster, Mo.;
19. (4) 98X Jason Rauen, Farley;
20. (20) 3C Chris Schroeder, Des Moines;
21. (13) C10 Darin Burco, Independence;
22. (14) 4D Rick Dralle, Waterloo;
23. (18) 1X Curt Hansen, Dike;
24. (19) 3T Jim Aschenbrenner, Aplington.

Series Standings (after 3 of 5 events)
1. 25 Chad Simpson, 154 points
2. 45 Curt Martin, 152
3. 77X Kurt Kile, 134
4. 98X Jason Rauen, 122
5. 88 Kevin Kile, 120
6. 77 Jeff Aikey, 116
T7. 95 Keith Foss, 110
T7. 32 Chris Simpson, 110
T9. 98 Travis Smock, 100
T9. 28C Terry Neal, 100

In the 25-lap I.M.C.A. Modified feature, pole-sitter Justin O'Brien enjoyed the early advantage. As O'Brien settled into the lead, eighth-starting Darin Duffy powered to the inside in the first set of turns on the initial lap and swept beneath his competitors. He entered turn three in third place, behind O'Brien and Johnathan Thimmesch. Duffy made his way into second just one lap later and set his sights on O'Brien.

Just six laps later, Duffy dropped to the inside of O'Brien to steal the lead until a lap 11 caution slowed the event. By that time, Joey Schaefer worked his way into second. On the restart, Schaefer attempted to work the low side of Duffy in the corners, but Duffy remained too strong for most of the event.

The lead pair battled back and forth for a number of laps, with Duffy holding the advantage until Schaefer worked past him with just three laps to go. Duffy rocketed back to the inside of Schaefer to regain the lead just prior to a lap 23 caution.

When racing resumed for the final time, Duffy closed the door on Schaefer, remaining glued to the low side of the speedway to score the thrilling win.

I.M.C.A. Modifieds (starting positions in parentheses)
1. (8) 19D Darin Duffy, Hazleton;
2. (6) 2 Joey Schaefer, Waterloo;
3. (10) 3C Max Corporon, Marion;
4. (11) 18 Jerry Luloff, Independence;
5. (4) 22 Cory Bauer, Monticello;
6. (13) 24R Adam Johnson, Independence;
7. (1) 12J Justin O'Brien, Volga;
8. (23) 30 Mark Massey, Worthington;
9. (16) 00 J.D. Auringer, Evansdale;
10. (5) 96 Ray Lundry, Maynard;
11. (14) 98 Jason Snyder, Dunkerton;
12. (18) 32 Chris Snyder, Readlyn;
13. (2) 64 Vern Jackson, Waterloo;
14. (15) 97 Shawn Ryan, Waterloo;
15. (19) 7L Landon Cassill, Fairfax;
16. (17) 17J Jason Seegmiller, Dubuque;
17. (9) T23 Tony Olson, Cedar Rapids;
18. (22) 10K Ronn Lauritzen, Jesup;
19. (12) 41P Keith Pittman, Waterloo;
20. (3) 85 Johnathan Thimmesch, Aurora;
21. (21) 71 Troy Cordes, Raymond;
22. (7) 111 Buster Pate, Hiawatha;
23. (20) 8S Andy Snyder, Readlyn.

Wheel-to-wheel action also highlighted the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature. Kurt Moeding and Chris Luloff engaged in a thrilling side-by-side battle throughout the first half of the event as the lead pair swapped the top spot numerous times. Luloff settled into the lead following a mid-race caution and held off the challenges of Kaleb Bentley to score the hard fought victory.

I.M.C.A. SportMod (starting positions in parentheses)
1. (3) 18 Chris Luloff, Independence;
2. (8) 10 Kaleb Bentley, Fairbank;
3. (6) 35 Kyle Bentley, Independence;
4. (4) 83 Russell Hesse, Waterloo;
5. (10) 86 Rod McDonald, Manchester;
6. (5) MR09 Kurt Hogan, Vinton;
7. (14) 26J Joel Rust, Grundy Center;
8. (2) 7M Kurt Moeding, Vinton;
9. (13) J2 Dave Schulze, Keystone;
10. (7) 54 Wayne Hesse, Waterloo;
11. (9) 22H Curt Hilmer, Dysart;
12. (16) 08 Bryan Rodman, Dysart;
13. (15) C45 Clint Chamberlain, Waterloo;
14. (17) 23 Jeremiah Boynton, Waterloo;
15. (11) 3D Drew Fish, Vinton;
16. (18) 40J Jason Doyle, Cedar Rapids;
17. (1) 87 Aric Becker, Cedar Rapids;
18. (12) 96K Brian Kunkle, Oelwein.

It was a fun night at the track as all three divisions provided close battles throughout the entirety of their events. It was also nice to see Curt Hansen back behind the wheel of a race car. When signing in, he stated it was his first race since the 2000 season when he piloted a Late Model at Farley and Dubuque.

While you never know what to expect at a draw-redraw event, a bit of irony worked itself into the starting lineups for a number of heat races. The father and son team of Russell and Wayne Hesse comprised the front row of their heat race while brothers Kyle and Kaleb Bentley started right behind them in row two. Brothers-in-law J.D. Auringer and Darin Duffy started next to each other at the back of their heat and even Curt Hansen drew the same heat as his son, Bobby. The senior member of the Hansen family spotted Bobby two rows on that start. While Chad and Chris Simpson didn't run in the same heat, the irony continued when Chad gave up the lead during the late race caution of the Late Model feature, allowing his brother to drive to victory.

Two events remain on the DART Corn Belt Clash schedule. The next stop is at Fayette County Raceway in West Union during the Fayette County Fair on Tuesday, July 28. The series wraps up in West Union for the series finale on Wednesday, August 12. The best four of five finishes for the Late Model drivers will account for the final series standings toward the series point fund.

The Buchanan County Fair continues this week at Independence. On Friday, July 17, the annual demolition derby will take place. A special demo car will be auctioned off by veteran Late Model driver Greg Kastli. Proceeds raised from the sale of that car will go to Wendy Irvine, the wife of I.M.C.A. Stock Car driver Brian Irvine, who is battling cancer. According to auction car organizer Jim Rasmussen, the machine is a must-see. On Saturday, July 18, weekly racing resumes at the speedway for the annual Dick Frye Memorial, honoring the memory of the long-time fairboard president.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Storylines abundant on exciting night at Independence

A number of could-be headlines made for an exciting night at Independence Motor Speedway as 123 cars were on-hand to do battle. Among those headlines...

Cousins Cruise to Pair of Wins
The first feature to make its way to the speedway was in the I.M.C.A. Stock Car division. At the on-set of the 20-lapper, outside pole-sitter Justin Temeyer took the lead. He paced the field until veteran Dan Trimble made his bid for the top spot just two laps into the event when Temeyer spun in turn four to bring out the race's first caution.

When racing resumed, Trimble settled into the lead while Norman Chesmore, Brian Irvine and Jarod Weepie pursued the race leader. An exciting batle out front ensued as the leaders ran two and three-wide before Irvine made his way into second place on lap nine.

Four laps later, Irvine made his way around Trimble as he drove to the win, his fourth of the season. Trimble ran second and Temeyer, who raced his way back through the field, finished third. Phil Holtz passed Chesmore late to snag fourth. Weepie ran sixth.

Not to be outdone by his cousin, I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock driver Josh Irvine looked to collect his fourth win of the season, as well. At the start of the 15-lapper, pole-sitter Matt Burmeister held the advantage until action was slowed for caution on lap two.

When racing resumed, Irvine and Jeremiah Wilson powered under Burmeister as that pair quickly pulled away from the field. Despite a late race caution, Irvine matched his cousin's earlier efforts to drive to his fourth win of the season. Wilson, Matt Brown, Quinton Miller and Justin Lichty completed the top five.

By virtue of their wins, both Irvines moved into the points lead in their respective divisions.

Snyder Sails to First Win in Three Years
In the I.M.C.A. Modified division, Ed Thomas held the early lead. Thomas held the top spot until Jason Snyder made his bid for the lead just prior to a lap six caution. On the restart, Thomas retired with mechanical problems, allowing Snyder to extend his lead while Troy Cordes and Kevin Pittman made their way through the field.

Snyder held off the challenges of his competitors and survived a pair of mid-race cautions to drive to an impresive win ahead of veterans Pittman and Cordes. Chasing the leaders to the checkers were Jerry Luloff, who started 15th after qualifying through a B feature, and Darin Duffy, who blew an engine in his heat race, but was able to get it changed in time to qualify through a B feature. Duffy started the event in 20th.

For Snyder, it was his first win in three years. That year, Snyder earned a pair of wins, including the opening night checkers, as well as the mid-season championship crown.

Pittman was later disqualified in the claiming area when he denied an engine claim placed on the 26P by Patrick Flannagan. It was Flannagan's third claim attempt this season. Flannagan, who sat 12th in points entering the night, has had only a couple of top-10 finishes this season. Pittman, meanwhile, returned to the track on a weekly basis this year after a many year absence. It was his first top-four finish this season; he entered the night fifth in points.

Rookie Lerch Leads Late Model Way
Twenty-eight I.M.C.A. Late Models signed in to compete for the 24 starting positions in the 25-lap feature event. With perhaps the strongest field in weekly competition present in the division this season, first-year driver Chad Lerch (pronounced Lair-ek) left little doubt who was the man to beat.

From his outside front row starting position, Lerch rocketed into the lead and quickly distanced himself from his competitors. Over a straightaway ahead of the field 10 laps into the event, Lerch encountered heavy lapped traffic. By this time, seventh-starting Rick Dralle moved into the second position and mounted his charge for the lead.

Lerch worked through the backmarkers, running both high and low, although it was evident he preferred the high groove. While he did a great job at maneuvering through traffic, Dralle closed in and removed all lapped cars between them on lap 21.

With just a couple of laps to go, Dralle pushed high exiting turn two, giving up precious ground to Lerch. Lerch drove to the win, the first of his career in the division, ahead of Dralle, Greg Kastli, points leader Darren Ackerman and Tyler Bruening.

Legend Kraft Wheels Late Model at Independence
The Three-Wide Media legends car was on-hand again this week. Behind the wheel was former great Willie Kraft of San Antonio, Texas. Kraft, formerly of Minnesota, also created a Modified chassis that has been very popular throughout the region. Kraft qualified for the 25-lapper through a B feature and crossed the line 15th in the main event.

15-Year Old Nabs First SportMod Victory
Closing out the night was the I.M.C.A. SportMod 15-lapper. Joel Rust took charge following a lap three caution and drove away from the field to score his first victory in impressive fashion. The 15-year old was chased to the checkers by Jim Buhlman, Drew Fish, Danny Dvorak and Jake Strayer.

Overall, it was a great night of racing despite the 3.5 inches of rain that fell in the area on Friday morning. The wind, heat and sun provided great drying conditions Saturday and officials actually watered the track during the day. Dust was still present, but the track stayed in good shape even though weather was less than cooperative late in the week.

Up next at the speedway is the Buchanan County Fair. The Corn Belt Clash for Late Models will headline fair action this Thursday, July 16. Racing starts at 7 p.m. The annual Dick Frye Memorial will highlight next Saturday's weekly racing program. As always, gates open at 4 p.m. with racing scheduled to begin right around 6:30.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Rain wins, Happy 4th!

With Independence rained out, along with many other tracks tonight, I decided to make it a non-racing holiday after three straight days of great racing action in eastern Iowa. Whether you're racing tonight or not, please have a safe and enjoyable Independence Day holiday!

Redmann rules as racing resumes at CJ Speedway

Their first season as promoters at CJ Speedway hasn't quite been what Don and Sharon Wood and Brian and Amanda Tipps expected. Following a week-to-week bout with Mother Nature throughout the first half of the season, a late June monsoon left the 4/10-mile oval in an all too familiar condition just prior to the scheduled mid-season championships a week ago.

Following a five inch deluge a couple weeks ago, the track was left under water as it had been during last spring's floods. "It was a mess," Sharon said as she showed me where two feet of water in the concession stands alone forced her and her staff to throw away a large amount of concessions and forced dusk-'til-dawn clean-up efforts. In fact, it took the four of them over three hours just to clean the grandstand area.

Nonetheless, the new promoters, dedicated and determined to provide the community with racing again this season, worked endless days to get the facility back into shape in time for the July 3 special.

According to Amanda, it wasn't even the surging river that flooded the track this time around. "It was the run off of the heavy rains from town that collected here," she explained.

Despite Mother Nature's mid-summer wrath the crew worked to get the place back into shape, missing only one night of racing in the process. Unfortunately for the July 3 special, another battle with the weather would unfold.

The July 3 race, which was highlighted by a 25-lap Firecracker special for the I.M.C.A. Stock Cars, started right on time. While it was known that rainy weather was in the area, the first handful of heats were completed with no problems. Then, the sprinkles got heavier and the show was halted at 8:10 as the rain passed through.

A number of track workers jumped in their pickups to save the track and I joined Jason Goble of 34 Raceway in his track's pace truck to make a tour around the track. Although it had been under water for days on end, it was in surprisingly good shape. We packed the track for an hour, along with around a dozen others, eventually joined by some 4-Cylinders, Mod Lites and some other competitors.

At 9:10, the packers cleared the track to make way for the pair of Modified heats who then finished the packing and tested the track with hot laps. Racing would resume on the night as the green flag waved again at 9:25.

Just prior to 10 p.m., the first feature made its way to the track as the Mod Lites took the green in their 10-lap event. A nice field of 18 cars were on-hand and it was Troy Philpot who jumped into the early lead. Philpot built up a straightaway advantage on the field with just four laps to go as hotshoe Justin Buchholz worked his way past Dan Keltner for second.

Running the high groove, Buchholz worked through traffic and attempted to chase down the leader, however Philpot's advantage was just too large as he took the win by just under half of a straightaway at the line. Buchholz, Keltner, Todd Hansen and Jeff Miller completed the top five.

Since the weather was still an uncertainty, the 23-car Stock Car field, originally slated to be the evening's finale, was moved up to second in the order of events. Brett Timmerman took the early lead in the 25-lap special while the field battled side-by-side behind him.

A pair of cautions on the fourth lap bunched the field and allowed Jim Redmann, who started mid-pack, a chance to close early. Running fifth when the caution flag flew, Redmann went to work on the high side of the speedway when racing resumed and found himself in second place just one lap later. He worked the low side of Timmerman to snag the lead away on lap six.

Redmann remained out front and held off the late challenges of David Hemsted and Trent Vrchoticky to score the exciting win. Rod Staats and Brian Holmes rounded out the top five and Timmerman crossed the line in sixth.

One caution flag slowed the 16-car 4-Cylinder feature and it was Tyler Whalen taking advantage of that yellow flag to drive to the win. Running second during the lap two yellow, Whalen got the jump on pace setter Travis Yakle to lead the field into the first set of turns when racing resumed. Whalen quickly extended his margin while T.J. Garrison and Geoff Theobald worked through the field.

Garrison and Theobald closed late, but could not reel in Whalen as he drove to the win in the 10-lapper. Garrison and Theobald ran second and third, respectively, while John Whalen and Darrin Smith completed the top five.

Just as the Modifieds made their way to the speedway to close the evening, the rains came once more. This time, it was too much as officials were forced to call the show early. While the Mods didn't get to run on this night, double features in that division are scheduled for next Friday's show. Fireworks did go on as scheduled to the delight of the fans.

Once again, the crew at CJ did a phenomenal job to get as much of tonight's show in as possible. Combined with their tireless efforts over the past couple of weeks, the hard work that went into getting tonight's show in proves once again how dedicated the staff at CJ Speedway is to provide racing in the area. My hat's off to the entire crew for a great night of racing!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Long, Mueller, Cook cap Liberty Cup wins at Lee County

I made my first-ever visit to Lee County Speedway on July 2 to take in the Liberty Cup special. The event paid $1,500 to the winner of the I.M.C.A. Modifieds, $1,000 to the I.M.C.A. Stock Car victor and $500 to the I.M.C.A. SportMod winner. A nice field of 87 cars signed in for the second annual event, including many travellers from throughout the region.

Nearly half, 43, of the cars signed in were in the Modified division. Four heats and 2 Bs were used to pare down the field to 24 feature starters. When that 25-lap feature went green, a trio of drivers tried to take the early reins. Wyatt Lantz, Troy Cordes and Shawn Fisher made it a three-wide battle on the first lap with Cordes nosing between his competitors to take the advantage.

Michael Long, who started in the third row, made his way through traffic and onto Cordes' heels on lap five. Long shot to the inside of Cordes to take the advantage. From that point it was all Long as he built up a straightaway lead on the 3/8-mile oval by the 10th lap. He was half of a track ahead of second place before he entered lapped traffic late in the event.

Long went on to score the win in impressive fashion ahead of hard-charging Josh Foster and Dusty Kraklio. Cordes ran fourth ahead of Nate Caruth.

Thirty-four I.M.C.A. Stock Cars were present. Following four heats and two features, 24 drivers made the starting call for the 20-lap feature. Missouri driver Rick Girard and division rookie Aaron Brocksieck exchanged the lead for the first five laps. While they battled, Jeff Mueller was working his way to the front running the low groove of the speedway.

Mueller shot to the inside of leader Brocksieck exiting turn two on the fifth lap and into the lead down the back straghtaway. Darin Thye and Mike Van Genderen entered into the battle out front.

Mueller mastered the low groove on his way to the exciting win ahead of Van Genderen, who made a late pass on Brocksieck for second. Brocksieck ran third ahead of defending event champion Abe Huls who qualified for the feature through a last-chance race. Thye ran fifth.

Jason Cook took the lead on the sixth lap of the 15-lap I.M.C.A. SportMod feature to drive to his first career win in the division. Jacob Smith and Rodger Dresden completed the top three.

My first visit to Donnellson was long overdue and it was a great way to kick off the holiday weekend. The car count, concessions and view from the stands in the pits provided for a great evening. Despite a small rough spot in turn four, the track was in excelent shape, as well.

Thanks to Jeff Broeg for inviting me down. I certainly won't wait quite so long before my next visit. I'm thinking either the next weekly show with late models following the holiday or Shiverfest later this fall. Maybe both!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Neal wins Deery, Irvine takes Stock Car Series win at Independence

The Deery Brothers Summer Series for I.M.C.A. Late Models made its annual Independence Day holiday visit to Independence Motor Speedway on Wednesday night as 40 series drivers signed in to compete on the 3/8-mile oval. In addition, 51 I.M.C.A. Stock Cars were on-hand for night number two of the three-race American Stock Car Series.

Fourteen of the top-20 in Late Model series points were on-hand to battle in four heat races and three B-features to earn qualifying positions for the feature event. At the on-set of the 50-lapper, outside front row starter Rob Toland took the early lead. Toland, who has seen much success over the years at Independence in both Deery Series events, the Indee Open Series and various weekly shows, extended his lead early and established himself as the man to beat.

As Toland paced the field, Terry Neal was making his way through traffic from a ninth starting position. Settling into second after only four circuits, Neal began chasing down the leader when the race's only caution flag was displayed on lap seven, removing the distance between Toland and the field.

On the restart, Ray Guss Jr., who started in the sixth position driving Hershel Roberts' car, realigned third ahead of Late Model rookie Chad Lerch and pole-sitter Jon Merfeld. After only two laps following the restart, Neal made his bid for the lead and he remained out front until the 20-lap mark when Toland powered back into the lead.

The leaders encountered heavy lapped traffic at which time Neal changed his groove as he was able to regain the point a few laps later. Neal went on to score the win ahead of Toland and Jason Frankel, who qualfied out of a B-feature and started in the 20th position. Guss and points leader Jeff Aikey completed the top five. Jay Johnson, Lerch, Joe Zrostlik, Merfeld and Curt Martin rounded out the top 10.

Neal's series win came on the heels of two wins in Independence this year in weekly points battles. A former Deery Series winner at the speedway, Neal has also taken victories in a number of weekly shows in recent years, along with multiple Indee Open Series victories during that series' run.

Late Model results - 1. Terry Neal, Ely; 2. Rob Toland, Davenport; 3. Jason Frankel, Quincy, Ill.; 4. Ray Guss Jr., Milan, Ill.; 5. Jeff Aikey, Waterloo; 6. Jay Johnson, West Burlington; 7. Chad Lerch, Arlington; . Joe Zrostlik, Long Grove; 9. Jon Merfeld, Peosta; 10. Curt Martin, Independence; 11. Tyler Bruening, Decorah; 12. Luke Goedert, Holy Cross; 13. Justin Kay, Wheatland; 14. Rick Dralle, Waterloo; 15. Bryan Klein, Cedar Rapids; 16. Boone McLaughlin, Mediapolis; 17. Travis Smock, Independence; 18. Jason Hahne, Webster City; 19. T.J. Criss, Oskaloosa; 20. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown; 21. Greg Kastli, Waterloo; 22. Mike Garland, Morrison, Ill.; 23. Darren Ackerman, Readlyn; 24. Jon Passick, Waterloo.

In the Stock Car division, it appeared that the 30-lapper was going to run caution-free until a lap 26 restart added some late drama to the already exciting event. At the drop of the initial green flag, pole-sitter Jarod Weepie assumed command and quickly put a handful of car-lengths on the field.

Former national champion Mike Nichols went to work on the high side of the speedway to chase down the leader and made his bid for the top spot on the 13th circuit. As Nichols made his way to the front, Brian Irvine was navigating the low groove from a third row starting position as he worked his way into a battle for the lead, as well. After a handful of wheel-to-wheel laps with Weepie, Irvine slipped past him for second at the midway point of the event.

Committed to the low groove, Irvine quickly chipped away at Nichols' advantage. He inched ahead on lap 18 and paced the field until the caution flag waved on lap 26. On the restart, Jeff Joldersma, Justin Temeyer and Jesse Colwell entered into a challenge with the leaders. Along with Irvine and Nichols, the multi-car battle made for an exciting finish.

Irvine remained out front for the duration of the event to score the thrilling win as Joldersma held off Temeyer for second. Colwell crossed the line in fourth, ahead of Nichols, who slid back to fifth.

Stock Car results - 1. Brian Irvine, Oelwein; 2. Jeff Joldersma, McClelland; 3. Justin Temeyer, Independence; 4. Jesse Colwell, Wrightstown, Wis.; 5. Mike Nichols, Harlan; 6. John Heinz, Green Bay, Wis.; 7. Jarod Weepie, Dunkerton; 8. Trent Murphy, Jefferson; 9. Chris Ullrich, Kiron; 10. Brian Blessington, Breda; 11. Dustin Smith, Lake City; 12. Doug Adamy, Columbus, Neb.; 13. Dustin Vis, LeGrand; 14. Tom McKenzie, Sioux City; 15. Damon Murty, Chelsea; 16. Shane Manson, Manchester; 17. Josh Steere, New Hartford; 18. Keith Knop, Shelby; 19. John Oliver Jr., Danville; 20. Steve Meyer, Grundy Center; 21. Mark Scheuenemann, Bowler Junction, Wis.; 22. Jamie Colwell, Kaukauna, Wis.; 23. Jason Hocken, Independence; 24. Ken Irvine, Oelwein.

Seven vintage cars were also on-hand to give the crowd an added bonus. In that 12-lap feature, Jim Clayton piloted a 1966 Cyclone to the victory ahead of John Schroyer's 1957 Chevy. Brad Huff, driving a Chevelle replica of Glen Martin's No. 44, came in third.

It was a great night of racing as 98 cars did battle in 19 events in under three hours. It was also nice to see long-time friends Jeff Broeg and Kevin Trittien, fellow writers on positivelyracing.com.

The track was fast, smooth and racy and, while there was some dust during the features, the show went off without a hitch. The two headlining features ran 80 laps with a total of two cautions. From green to checkers in those events, they only took 34 minutes to run.

I hope everyone has safe holiday travels this weekend and, if you're near a race track, take in some great holiday action!