In only his second series start of the year, Corey Dripps made the most of his pole position start to destroy the field in the 30-lap USMTS Modified feature at Highway 3 Raceway.
A stout field of 36 Modifieds signed in to do battle on the half-mile track, which was pared down to 24 for the start of the headline event. At the drop of the green, Dripps pulled away from fellow front row starter Johnny Scott of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He extended his advantage to over a straightaway margin while Scott, Al Hejna and Kelly Shryock battled behind him.
Running the high side, Shryock entered into a challenge with Scott after starting in the third row. While they battled, Hejna worked low and Tommy Myer, who started alongside Shryock, worked the low side and into contention.
After starting in the middle of the pack, Ryan Gustin, the series winner the night before at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, ran the high groove and into a top-five battle around the midway point of the event.
While Dripps was lengthening his lead, he entered turn one a little too hard and clipped the outside wall. Although he continued without further problems, his lead was cut nearly in half in the process. That lead completely disappeared when the yellow flag waved on lap 26.
On the restart, Dripps again quickly separated himself from his competitors while Shryock, who restarted third, worked past Scott for second. Gustin followed him into the third spot, but nobody could reel in the leader as Dripps led the event in its entirety en route to the win. Shryock came home second, followed by Gustin, Myer and Hejna.
In Stock Car action, Dan Trimble also found himself in the lead after starting that 20-lapper from the pole position. While Trimble led, fellow front row starter Larry Portis gave chase, As the two leaders started to pull away from the field, a number of drivers challenged for third. Jim Mitchell, Nathan Wood, Dan Christopher and Steve Jackson all battled for position while Mike VanGenderen, who started 18th in the 19-car field, was running the high side through traffic.
Just prior to a late race caution, Van Genderen worked into the top three and restarted from outside the second row with only two laps to go. On the restart, VanGenderen eased around Portis, then swept past Trimble in the final lap to drive to the thrilling win. Trimble and Portis ran second and third while Jackson finished fourth. Todd Staley of USMTS also piloted a Stock Car on the night and drove to a fifth place finish.
Matt Lettow led the distance in the 12-lap B Mod feature to score the win. Although numerous cautions slowed the event, Lettow held on for the victory ahead of a hard charging Caydon Carter. Brandon Hare came home third after starting in the fourth row with Rocky Candle and Brandon Leeman completing the top five.
Scott Spilde took charge early in the 10-lap Hobby Stock feature to drive to the win. He held off persistent challenges from Dan Sacquinte to earn the victory. Doug McCollough, Kyle Anderson and Dan Hovden completed the top five.
H3R Notes: While Ryan Gustin made an impressive run through the field in the feature by advancing 10 positions, Mark Schulte was the big mover on the night. After starting last in the 24-car field, Schulte picked up 11 spots to finish 13th. Gustin, coincidentally, won his heat race, however he was disqualified from that event for having an aluminum heim on his shock.
Hometown favorite Shane Barnett took a wild ride in his Hobby Stock. Just a couple of laps into his heat event, Barnett rolled his #6B when traffic in front of him got crossed up. He did get out of the car and walk away uninjured.
Special thanks to Butler County Fair Secretary Art Krull for inviting me last week to help announce tonight. Since USMTS was going to provide an announcer for the Modifieds and Stock Cars, I was set to help out with the B Mods and Hobby Stocks. Todd Narveson, the scheduled announcer, unexpectedly fell ill prior to race time, so I ended up calling all of the races. I hope I was a capable fill-in and I also hope you're feeling better, Todd!
Along with Art, special thanks also to board president Larry Blickenderfer and treasurer Dennis Lindeman for their hospitality. Having never met them prior to tonight, they were terrific hosts. It's great to see the H3R team put an emphasis on racing on the 1/2-mile oval. It was also nice to chat with fellow message board peruser Warren Busse and his wife, and to look back through old photos from the "old days" of racing!
Up next for me will be the weekly show at Independence on Saturday (unless some other track finds its way onto my schedule tomorrow night), then the vintage racers reunion at 34 Raceway in Burlington on Sunday. Have a great holiday weekend!