After a cold, wet, windy weekend that provided more rainouts than actual races, I traveled to Benton County Speedway in Vinton for their weekly show on Sunday night. An outstanding field of 111 cars signed in to do battle at one of few tracks in the region that saw racing this weekend.
Johnathan Thimmesch led a field of 18 I.M.C.A. Modifieds to the green flag in the 20-lap feature. Running the low groove, Thimmesch held off the challenges of fellow front row starter Patrick Flannagan throughout the early laps as Flannagan worked high. Like a rocket, Cordes shot to the inside from his third row start and settled into third after just one circuit while Scott Hogan, who started 11th, also made quick work of the field running the low groove. Problems on Flannagan's #F7 forced his night to an early end on lap three while also bringing out the first of the event's two stoppages.
On the restart, Thimmesch held the point with Cordes and Hogan in tow. Hogan continued to work the low side as Cordes attempted to dial in his #71 on the high side of the speedway. Hogan worked past Cordes for second two laps later. It took Hogan only one additional lap to squeeze beneath Thimmesch for the lead.
As Hogan paced the field, Cordes started getting settled into the high groove and, after a brief slide to the fourth position, found himself back in second just prior to the race's midway point. As Cordes reeled in the leader, Richie Gustin was also making some noise, working into the top four after starting the event 12th.
The top four remained unchanged until Thimmesch made contact with a tractor tire on the low side of turn four to bring out the other yellow with only eight laps to go. When racing resumed, Hogan remained committed to the low line as he drove to the victory, his second straight at the speedway. Meanwhile, Gustin put on a show running the high side of the speedway to gain ground on his competitors, then moving to the low line to advance positions on the 1/4-mile oval. He made his way around Cordes with a handful of laps remaining to come home second. Cordes, Ronn Lauritzen and Max Corporon completed the top five.
Paul Shepherd was the early leader in the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature. Running the low groove, Shepherd slowly pulled away from the pack as a five-car battle for position ensued behind him. Norman Chesmore, Curtis Roster, Justin Temeyer, Brett Mather and John Schaefer were fighting for position throughout much of the event while Bob Ahrendsen worked through the field and into the battle late after starting 12th.
A bobble by Shepherd with only a few laps to go closed the field and allowed Chesmore to pull onto the back bumper of the #31S. Chesmore then worked to the inside of Shepherd with three laps to go to take the lead on his way to victory ahead of Temeyer. Running the low groove, Ahrendesen made an impressive run through the field to come home third ahead of Roster and Schaefer.
Outside front row starter Max Leonard took the early lead in the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature. Leonard settled into the top spot while Rod Grother worked to the front from a fourth row starting spot. Grother settled into second just a lap before the race's first caution flag waved on lap six.
When racing resumed, Grother went to work on the low side of Leonard and came away with the lead three laps later. A terrific multi-car, multi-groove battle for position came to life midway through the race, which saw up to seven cars within striking distance of the lead.
A final caution with only four laps to go sorted out the chasers as Grother restarted out front. Scottie Pippert went to work on the high side and Matt Brown dropped to the bottom with the front-runners running three-wide for the lead as the white flag was displayed. Pippert inched ahead and drove to the victory a short distance ahead of Grother and Brown. Eric Stanton came home fourth ahead of August Bach.
With 36 I.M.C.A. SportMods in attendance, the field was broken down into four heats which qualified drivers into two separate A feature events. Kurt Moeding held the point for much of the first SportMod main while Chris Luloff worked the low side of the speedway from a fifth row start. Luloff challenged for the top spot and came away with the lead folllwing a lap nine restart. He led the remaining six laps to take the win ahead of a hard-charging Danny Dvorak, who started last after mechanical problems forced him to sit out his heat event. Drew Fish, Rod McDonald and Moeding completed the top five.
In the second SportMod feature, numerous caution flags sent the event to a time limit finish. Austin Kaplan assumed command on lap six as he worked by Jim Buhlman for the lead just prior to the race's eighth and final caution on lap eight. Buhlman, Joel Rust, Bryan Rodman and Jesse Belez rounded out the top five.
Nathan Chandler assumed command at the drop of the green flag and never looked back, leading all 12 laps to victory in the I.M.C.A. Sport Compact feature. Bill Whalen Jr. challenged early then settled into second place, nearly a straightaway behind the leader at the checkers. Brad Chandler, Gary Peiffer and Justin Wacha ran third through fifth, respectively.
BCS Notes: It was another great night of racing at BCS. Aside from the caution-filled SportMod features, there was a lot of great racing action throughout the evening. Mick Trier and race director Dana Benning announced that the dual SportMod features would be the norm every week that a minimum of 32 cars signed in to compete in the division. Logic would tell you that making two 16-18 car features will actually make for a better show than to run two B features and one 24-car feature in the division. Here's hoping that logic spills down to the drivers and that they display the ability to run consecutive laps without tearing up their equipment like they did tonight.
It was insult added to injury for Hobby Stock driver Wes Stanek Jr. Running near the front of the pack during his feature, Stanek's motor expired exiting turn four. The good sportsmanship he displayed by pulling to to the high side with his hand out the window went all for naught when one of the back-runners wasn't watching traffic ahead of him, sending that car hard into Stanek's ride, leaving Stanek with substantial damage and the other car virtually destroyed on its side in the middle of turn one.
Up next for me is a special mid-week show this Tuesday at Independence Motor Speedway when the Hawkeye Dirt Tour for I.M.C.A. Modifieds makes its first-ever appearance. Although Tuesday's forecast looks less than desirable, here's hoping the series will kick off on a strong note. Hope to see you there!