Friday, June 4, 2010

Simpson gets fourth straight Corn Belt win at Cresco

Although it remained in question throughout much of the 35-lapper, Chad Simpson took advantage of a late caution to keep his perfect record umblemished in the Dart Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series presented by Cen-Pe-Co Lubricants and WIX Filters. Simpson passed race-long leader Jake Meier with 10 laps to go to drive away to his fourth straight series win as the tour visited Cresco Speedway.

After a trio of cautions slowed the start of the event, pole-sitter Meier grabbed the lead. Meier paced the field while Jeff Aikey, who started right behind Meier, and Jason Rauen gave chase. Following another stoppage on lap two, Rauen raced past Aikey on the double-file restart and settled into second.

The trio ran nose-to-tail and started to put a little distance on the field while Simpson moved into fourth and started to reel in the lead pack. He caught the tail of that group around 10 laps into the event as the four ran in single file formation, bumper-to-bumper, as Lance Matthees joined the leaders a few laps later.

The top five remained unchanged until Rauen spun on the high side of turns three and four to bring out a pivotal caution on lap 22. On the restart, Simpson started alongside Aikey with Meier out front. Simpson quickly disposed of Aikey one lap later, then went to work on the low side to pressure Meier.

Exiting turn four on the 25th circuit, Simpson wheeled beneath Meier's #20 and powered into the lead. Simpson survived two late-race cautions to score the victory, his fourth in as many series events this season. Aikey made his way around Meier following a lap 26 restart to come home second ahead of Meier. Chris Simpson made a good run by finishing fourth after starting 17th.

Corn Belt Clash Late Models
1. 25 Chad Simpson (6)
2. 77 Jeff Aikey (3)
3. 20 Jake Meier (1)
4. 32 Chris Simpson (17)
5. 90 Lance Matthees (4)
6. 85 John Kaanta (8)
7. 50 Denny Eckrich (11)
8. 16 Tyler Bruening (7)
9. 45 Kurt Kile (23)
10. 05 Jake Hartung (13)
11. 33 Joe Ludemann (16)
12. 7 Dennis Hillson (2)
13. 21A Kelly Meyer (19)
14. 30 Shane Wehrs (21)
15. 98 Jason Rauen (5)
16. 88 Roger Torgerson (24)
17. 15K Justin Kay (26)
18. 22 Jill George (18)
19. 95 Keith Foss (9)
20. 1M Rob Moss (12)
21. 2 Lucas Peterson (25)
22. 61 Jon Rogers (14)
23. 31 Jason Utter (22)
24. 88K Kevin Kile (10)
25. 90X Eric Pember (20)
26. 58 Dave Eckrich (15)

Official points for the 15-race series will be based on each driver's 13 best finishes at season's end. This will offer drivers the opportunity to discard their two worst showings or allow them to entirely miss one or two shows during the course of the season. The updated points through four events are listed below. These standings reflect each driver's two worst finishes to-date being removed from their point totals.

Current Series Points
1. 25 Chad Simpson, 120 points
2. 58 Dave Eckrich, 112
3. 32 Chris Simpson, 110
T4. 95 Keith Foss, 102
T4. 77 Jeff Aikey, 102
T4. 20 Jake Meier, 102
T4. 50 Denny Eckrich, 102
T4. 3 Kevin Sather, 102
9. 27 Jake Redetzke, 100
10. 31 Jason Utter, 98
11. 98X Jason Rauen, 96
T12. 90 Lance Matthees, 84
T12. 15K Justin Kay, 84
14. 77K Kurt Kile, 82
15. 44 Adam Hensel, 80
16. 90X Eric Pember, 76
17. 88 Kevin Kile, 72
18. 85 John Kaanta, 66
19. 28X Justin Mitchell, 66
20. 55C Chad Mahder, 58

You'll notice, despite his dominance through the first portion of the season, Chad Simpson's lead is only eight points. While he has won four times, only two of those victories would officially count toward the series standings after you remove the other two. Dave Eckrich, meanwhile, has had fourth and second place showings early in the year while his 26th place finish tonight and his seventh place finish at Mississippi Thunder Speedway on May 14 would be removed. Granted, Simpson has those two wins in his back pocket that will eventually count, however, anything can happen over the course of the season to keep the points battle tight. With 11 races left on the schedule, those two "insurance" wins are good to have, but will provide no guarantees as the series moves forward.

In other action at Cresco, second row starter Jason Schlangen pulled to the inside of pole-sitter Jimmy Broszeit to challenge for the early lead of the B Mod main event. Schlangen pulled even at the start-finish line at the end of the first lap then took charge and quickly separated himself from the field.

As Schlangen pulled to nearly half of a straightaway ahead of his competitors, Ben Moudry motored into the second spot while Brandon Hare raced through traffic from a fourth row start. Following a lap five yellow, Hare made his way into the top three, then worked into second following a second stoppage on lap eight.

When racing resumed, Hare quickly pressured the leader as Schlangen finally gave way just past the midway point of the 20-lapper. Hare pulled away from the field to drive to the impressive victory. Schlangen came home second, a half of a straightaway out of the lead, while Moudry came home third, a full straightaway behind the winner. Broszeit and Brian Mahlstedt completed the top five. After causing the lap five yellow, Brian Schrage made an impressive run back through the field to come home sixth.

B Mods
1. 56H Brandon Hare (8)
2. 27 Jason Schlangen (3)
3. 85 Ben Moudry (2)
4. 88X Jimmy Broszeit (1)
5. 14M Brian Mahlstedt (6)
6. 14 Brian Schrage (5)
7. S16 Kip Siems (7)
8. 58 Shane Panos (10)
9. 7 Brian Freilinger (16)
10. 21 Chris Weigert (12)
11. 63 Matthew McCahen (13)
12. 4J Jeremy Geisler (4)
13. 28 Parker Hale (14)
14. 35C Cole Konkel (11)
15. 80 Jamey Ayers (9)
16. 17C Chad Halverson (15)
DNS 82 Em Fretheim

Pole-sitter Danny Sacquinte appeared to have the car to beat in the Hobby Stock feature. Sacquinte took the lead early and pulled away from the field while Steve Holthaus was making his way around his competitors. A lap 11 caution bunched the field with Scott Spilde in second and Holthaus in third.

When racing resumed, the three leaders engaged in a thrilling three-car battle out front before Holthaus finally inched ahead in the waning laps to score the exciting win. Spilde ran second ahead of Sacquinte.

Hobby Stocks
1. 70 Steve Holthaus (4)
2. 18 Scott Spilde (3)
3. 6 Danny Sacquinte (1)
4. 98 Kyle Anderson (5)
5. 16 Dan Hovden (8)
6. 24 Randy Banks (6)
7. 60 Denise Krauskopf (7)
8. 21 Joel Anderson (2)
9. 7K Andy Stinson (10)
10. 70C Chris Hovden (9)
11. 37X Casey Colsch (11)

Mitch Hovden led all 18 laps of the Stock Car feature to take the victory in the caution-free event. Hovden held off the challenges of Mike Bergan and Lynn Panos to score the win.

Stock Car
1. 15 Mitch Hovden (1)
2. 5 Mike Bergan (3)
3. 97 Lynn Panos (5)
4. 23 Brian Gjere (2)
5. 33 Kevin Donlan (10)
6. 67 Kyle Falck (7)
7. 42 Dan Christopher (11)
8. 37 Pete Solum (9)
9. 121G Arlen Hoy (13)
10. 62 Kevin Bidne (12)
11. 48 Casey Sebastion (14)
12. 27 Shawn Peter (6)
13. 11X Shay Curtin (4)
DNS 40 Austin Curtin

While it was my first trip back to Cresco in a few years, the racing was as good as it's always been on the smooth 4/10-mile oval. While I generally don't prefer more than three divisions for a mid-week show, the evening was very smooth and the program efficient. The first green flag waved at 7:30 and the final checkers were in the air before 10:30.

Thanks to Tom Barnes and the rest of the Howard County Fair crew for running a great program. For a season-opening event, the crew seemed to be in mid-season form and, judging by the nice crowd in the stands, it should be a successful year for the folks in Cresco.

The Corn Belt Clash Series has a quick turn-around as series action is set to resume tomorrow (tonight) at Farley Speedway in an event that was rescheduled from a rainout earlier this spring. It doesn't look as though Mother Nature is looking to cooperate this time around, either, as the chance of rain in Farley on Friday stands at 60%. While I don't plan to be in Farley tomorrow, I do plan to hit the next two series dates which are next week. On Wednesday, June 9, the series moves to Fayette County Speedway in West Union followed by a Thursday night show at Highway 3 Raceway in Allison. Hopefully, your local track dodges the rainy weather this weekend!

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