Sunday, May 30, 2010

To the Max - victories for Corporon and Leonard on Pink Night at Independence

A great showing of fans and drivers turned out Saturday night for a special Race for a Cure on what was dubbed "Pink Night" at Independence Motor Speedway. Money was raised during a special cancer awareness program at the speedway for which fans were asked to wear pink in support of the cause.

A full grandstand witnessed 119 cars do battle in 21 events in just under three-and-a-half hours. In the end, a pair of Maxes posted victories as Max Corporon took top honors in the Modifieds and Max Leonard led wire-to-wire in the Hobby Stocks.

At the drop of the green in the 26-car I.M.C.A. Modified main event, Brett Ladehoff took command. From his pole position start, Ladehoff took control while outside front row starter Todd Conrad went to work on the extreme high side of the 3/8-mile oval. Conrad motored around Ladehoff on lap two, however Ladehoff remained close and regained the top spot just three laps later.

Ladehoff continued to set the pace until a lap nine caution bunched the field. On the restart, Ladehoff again assumed command while Max Corporon was working through the field from a fourth row start. Sitting sixth when the green flag waved, Corporon went to work on the low side to power past his competitors and into the top three just two laps later.

Corporon wheeled beneath Conrad for second on lap 13 then went to work on Ladehoff. The leaders exchanged the point over the following five laps until the race's final caution slowed the event with Corporon in the lead.

On the restart, Corporon held onto the lead to drive to the win, his second of the season. Darin Duffy charged from a sixth row start to steal second in the waning laps, leaving Ladehoff to settle for third. Points leader Troy Cordes ran fourth at the line while Jerry Luloff completed the top five.

Max Corporon drove to his second I.M.C.A. Modified win. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography)

In the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock main event, 23 cars took the green flag with Leonard on the pole. He wasted little time moving to the front of the pack while Vince Buchholz settled into second following a lap two caution. As the leaders dueled, Rod Grother was making his way through traffic from a fourth row starting spot.

With a handful of laps to go, Grother made his way around Buchholz and quickly reeled in the race leader. Despite his attempts to work the low groove into the lead, Leonard denied all challenges as he led the event in its entirety to take the win. For Leonard, it was his first-ever Hobby Stock win at the speedway. Grother and Buchholz ran second and third while Justin Hanson came from the 17th starting spot to take fourth. Jamie Whitaker finished fifth and, in the process, took over the division's points lead after points leaders Josh Irvine and August Bach made contact late in the event to finish toward the back of the pack.

Max Leonard led all 15 laps of the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography)

Jeff Aikey made it two straight wins in the I.M.C.A. Late Model division. In the early going, it was pole-sitter Bobby Hansen leading the 23-car field. Hansen led the way while fellow front row starter Rick Wendling gave chase.

Wendling worked under the leader nine laps into the event and started to put some distance on the field while Aikey challenged Hansen for second. Aikey made his way around Hansen on lap 11, then swept beneath Wendling for the lead just one lap later.

Despite a restart with only five laps to go, Aikey pulled away from the field to score the victory. Wendling ran second ahead of points leader Tyler Bruening, who started in the sixth row. Curt Martin and Darren Ackerman completed the top five.

Jeff Aikey piloted to his second straight I.M.C.A. Late Model victory. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography)

Brian Irvine made it three straight wins in the I.M.C.A. Stock Car division. Irvine took command when he snuck below Dan Trimble for the lead on lap 13 of the 20-lapper. Sean Johnson crossed the line in second and Jarod Weepie snuck past Trimble at the line for third. Steve Meyer rebounded from an early caution to take fifth.

Brian Irvine made it three straight wins in the I.M.C.A. Stock Car division. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography)

Jeramia Boynton led through the early stages of the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature. He held the top spot until Josh Sherbon took command on lap seven of the scheduled 15-lapper. Numerous cautions slowed the event, which ultimately timed out on a lap 12 caution. Sherbon took the win ahead of Drew Fish and Austin Kaplan. Points leader Joel Rust came home fourth and Boynton rounded out the top five.

Josh Sherbon took his first win of the year in the I.M.C.A. SportMods (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography)

Pink Night Notes: The evening got off to a swift pace when all 15 qualifying heat races went green to checkers without a single caution... A number of drivers were piloting borrowed machines on the night, and many did quite well. Following mechanical problems on Dan Trimble's Stock Car during hot laps, Justin Temeyer's car owner, Nick Wroten, let Trimble pilot Temeyer's #56T to a fourth place finish. Temeyer was taking the night off after a late night at Chateau Raceway in Lansing, Minn., on Friday and instead elected to partake in adult beverages in the grandstands Saturday night... Vince Buchholz drove to his third place Hobby Stock finish behind the wheel of the #88S normally driven by Joe Sprague. Buchholz also tried out the Sprague machine during the HDT event at the speedway on May 19 and was challenging for the lead when mechanical problems took him out of that event. The biggest loaner of the night belonged to Jeff Aikey. Aikey piloted the car normally driven by Rick Dralle while Dralle was trying out a new car on the evening. Coincidentally, Dralle machines are no stranger to victory lane on May 29. On this date exactly 39 years ago (May 29, 1971), Rick's dad, Red Dralle, scored his first-ever Independence victory... One driver from each division volunteered to help support the fight against cancer as Curt Martin (Late Model), Darin Duffy (Modified), Shane Manson (Stock Car), Kevin Robinson (SportMod) and Rod Grother (Hobby Stock) all helped pass the helmet in the grandstands during intermission. In just 15 minutes, the five drivers collected $1,042 for the American Cancer Society. Relay for Life members were also on hand, as were Andy and Jessica Miller from Karsyn's Krusaders, to help raise money. It was a fantastic night of racing and many turned out to support Pink Night Festivites!

While my original plans for Sunday were to head to 34 Raceway for the vintage racers reunion, my plans may take a detour for a return to Benton County Speedway in Vinton. Those plans have yet to be confirmed so check back early in the week to see an update. Also making its return sometime this week will be the Stats Blitz. When time allows, I'll crunch numbers, assemble statistics and re-load a review of the month of May at Independence. Until then, have a great extended holiday weekend!

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