Monday, May 31, 2010

Hogan takes SportMod thriller at Benton County Speedway

Before I get to this week's recap at Benton County Speedway, a number of "unidentified" individuals made their way to the infield to take in the five big features on the night. I offered a great promotional idea to promoter Mick Trier. With that, I offer you, the month of May for the 2011 "Implements of Benton County Speedway" calendar!


Ninety-four race teams signed in to compete on Memorial Day weekend at Benton County Speedway. Highlighting the holiday weekend action, Kurt Hogan dueled Austin Kaplan to the end to take an exciting win the I.M.C.A. SportMod division and Vince Buchholz drove Joe Sprague's #88S to victory lane in the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks.

At the start of the 15-lap SportMod main, pole-sitter Kyle Olson took command with fellow front row starter Colby Heishman in pursuit. The top two remained unchanged during the first seven laps of the event while Kaplan worked the high groove and Hogan worked the bottom from row four.

Kaplan, who was forced to qualify out of the B feature, masterfully worked the high groove after starting deep in the field in row eight. He was the first to disrupt the top two as he swept around the top side of Heishman on lap eight. One lap later, Kaplan worked around Olson for the lead while Hogan chased him through and into third place around Heishman.

As Kaplan and Olson dueled out front, Hogan reeled in the leaders and challenged for position with only two laps to go. Hogan worked beneath Olson as the flying green waved, then set his sights on Kaplan. The two leaders ran side-by-side over the final pair of laps before Hogan powered below Kaplan to beat him to the checkers to score the thrilling win. Kaplan crossed the line in second while Olson, Joel Cox and Danny Dvorak completed the top five. Kaplan broke the tie with Dvorak at the top of the division standings to take the points lead.

Adam Streeter took the early lead in the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature. From his second row starting spot, Streeter quickly worked past pole-sitter Mike Wilson at the drop of the green. Streeter paced the field for the first four laps while Vince Buchholz was making his way past his competitors from a fourth row start.

Running the high groove, Buchholz worked his way into the lead just five laps into the event and quickly separated himself from the field. Almost a straightaway ahead of the field, Buchholz drifted high on the front stretch as he completed lap 10 and made contact with the wall. Although this shortened his lead over the field, Buchholz continued on to drive to the victory. Kyle Parizek made his way into second just past the midway point of the event and held off Streeter for second at the line. Eric Stanton and Rod Grother completed the top five.

Buchholz was piloting the #88s of Joe Sprague, as he has done in recent weeks. He revealed in victory lane that he will be driving the Sprague ride for the remainder of the season.

Ten cars started the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature. Justin Temeyer quickly worked the low groove and into the lead from his third row start. Just two laps in, Temeyer worked to the inside of pole-sitter Curtis Roster to take charge. Phil Holtz settled into the second spot as all of the front-runners ran single-file in the low groove of the 1/4-mile oval.

Damon Murty, who was running third, attempted to squeeze the tractor tires to make his way past Holtz. He successfully made the pass on lap eight, then quickly ran down Temeyer. Murty made the same move on Temeyer on the following lap to take the lead as he drove to the victory. Temeyer ran second ahead of Holtz, Norman Chesmore and Scooter Dulin. By virtue of the finish, Temeyer regained the points lead over Dulin.

After pole-sitter Patrick Flannagan spun on the first lap of the I.M.C.A. Modified feature to bring out an early caution, Jerry Luloff inherited the point to lead lap one. Richie Gustin, who started alongside Luloff, worked the low groove and into the lead one lap later. He pulled away from the field while Max Corporon worked low and Scott Hogan worked the high side behind him.

Corporon, who started near the tail of the 16-car field, worked around Luloff into second after only three laps while Hogan, who started outside row five, followed him into third on lap five. While Gustin continued to extend his advantage, Corporon and Hogan engaged in an exciting battle for second.

Hogan and Corporon swapped the runner-up spot before Hogan finally made the pass and dropped to the low side. As the race reached its midway point, rain showers hit the area which forced a premature checkered flag on lap 16 with Gustin scoring the win. Hogan, Corporon, Luloff and J.D. Auringer completed the top five.

Points leader Nathan Chandler took over midway through the I.M.C.A. Sport Compact feature to drive to the win in a division that seems to display more hard feelings than Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien's war for the Tonight Show. Seriously, guys, it's racing, and nothing worth acting like a spoiled celebrity.

It was another great night of racing at BCS. Qualifying took just over an hour and the final checkered flag waved before 8:30! Next up for me will be the Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series this Thursday night as it pays a visit to the Howard County Fairgrounds to do battle at Cresco Speedway. Chad Simpson has gone three-for-three in the series so far this year. We'll see if he can continue his hot streak in Cresco. See you there!

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!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dripps dominates USMTS action at Highway 3 Raceway

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!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Irvine, Kaplan first repeat winners at Independence in 2010

Entering Saturday night, only one time in track history (1982) had the first three weeks of the season at Independence seen different drivers visit victory lane following every event. By night's end, Brian Irvine and Austin Kaplan ensured that record would stay in tact as each picked up his second win of the season during the third weekly points race of 2010.

The I.M.C.A. Stock Cars opened feature action and it was outside front row starter Dave Stricker setting the early pace in that 20-lapper. Stricker's lead was short-lived, however, as Dan Trimble moved quickly through the field from a fourth row start. Running the high side, Trimble swept past his competitors and into second place after just two circuits of the multi-groove oval. One lap later, Trimble made his bid for the lead.

While Trimble led, Brian Irvine was making his own way through traffic from a sixth row start. The points leader entering the night, Irvine made his way into third after just six laps as he powered past his competitors on the low side of the speedway. A caution just after Irvine made his way into third bunched the field for the restart.

When racing resumed, Irvine worked past both Stricker and Trimble, then proceeded to pull away from the field to score his second consecutive win. Trimble ran second at the line ahead of Stricker. Jason Hocken and Jarod Weepie completed the top five. For Irvine, it was his 30th career sanctioned Stock Car victory at Independence in weekly competition.

Kaplan followed suit in the next event as he made his second straight trip to the winner's circle in the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature. Pole-sitter Creston Williams led the first lap before first-year driver Matthew McCahen motored under him for the lead on lap two. While McCahen took the lead, Kaplan moved into third place after starting seventh. Kaplan then worked past Williams just prior to a lap four caution.

On the restart, Kaplan wasted little time in his quest for the lead, taking over the top spot just two laps later. With Kaplan out front, Josh Sherbon worked from a third row start and into the runner-up spot on lap seven. Despite a pair of caution periods during the second half of the event, Kaplan continued his strong run  to score the win ahead of Sherbon. Tyler Droste came home third ahead of Danny Dvorak and Joel Rust.

Dennis Betzer held the early lead in the 20-lap I.M.C.A. Modified feature. From his second row start, Betzer worked past pole-sitter Ed Thomas to secure the lead on lap two. While those two battled, Adam Johnson was working the bottom line to perfection from his third row starting spot. He made his way into the lead a couple laps later and paced the field through a handful of cautions over the next nine laps.

While Johnson led, points leader Troy Cordes was running the high groove around his foes, picking them off left and right after starting the event in 12th. Cordes passed second-running Ronn Lauritzen with only a lap to go, but was unable to reel in Johnson as Johnson drove to the win. Cordes, Lauritzen, Clint Wendel and Darin Duffy completed the top five.

Bad luck plagued Jeff Aikey through the first two weeks of the season. Although that misfortune left him near the bottom of the points sheet, it put him on the pole for the 25-lap I.M.C.A. Late Model feature. Aikey wasted little time and rocketed into the lead at the drop of the green. He built over a straightaway lead by the time the yellow flag waved on lap 12.

Despite the stoppage, Aikey dominated once more when the green flag replaced the yellow. He again built a lead of over a straightaway while Darren Ackerman and Tyler Bruening navigated their way through traffic from mid-pack starts. That pair of drivers worked the bottom groove into second and third place, respectively, by the time the final yellow flag waved with just six laps to go.

On the final restart, Ackerman applied pressure early, but Aikey pulled away in the end to score the victory. Ackerman and Bruening ran second and third at the checkers while Jason Rauen and Tom Struve rounded out the top five.

The final event of the evening was perhaps the most entertaining and closely contested as 26 I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks took the green flag. Early on it was pole-sitter Chris Wiltse at the front of the pack. He held the point throughout most of the event while Rod Grother and Jamie Whitaker made their way through the field.

From his third row start, Grother made his way into second after only two laps and set his sights on the race leader. Meanwhile, Whitaker came from a fifth row starting spot and made himself a factor during the late stages of the event.

Following a mid-race caution, Grother maintained heavy pressure on Wiltse until he made his bid for the lead with only a couple of laps remaining. As Grother made his move, Whitaker followed suit as he, too, passed Wiltse to set up a two-car shootout over the final laps. The lead pair raced door-to-door in the final stages of the race with Whitaker inching ahead at the line to steal the victory. Grother ran second and Wiltse crossed the line in third. Josh Irvine came home fourth to vault into the points lead and Eric Larson finished fifth.

Notes: It was a great night of racing at IMS. A nice field of 123 cars signed in to compete on a track that was not only smooth and fast, but provided multiple grooves... Although he came up a whisker short at the line, Grother was happy about his performance in the Hobby Stock feature. He was even more impressed with Wiltse's performance. In the pits afterwards, Grother wanted me to make sure I let everyone know it was only Wiltse's fourth night behind the wheel of a race car... Just as happy as Whitaker was of his Hobby Stock win, his mother, Fran, was also smiling ear-to-ear. When congratulated in the pits, Fran stated she was thrilled when he remembered to mention "mom" in the victory lane interview... Jason Rauen wheeled his own #98X Late Model on this night after filling in to drive Darin Burco's #27 a week ago... Scott Hogan, who normally competes at 34 Raceway in Burlington on Saturday nights, made the trip to Independence since racing was not scheduled at 34. He entered the night with four straight wins overall, however had that streak snapped tonight. He will, however, have a target on his back Sunday as he looks to win his fourth in-a-row in Sunday competition at Benton County Speedway in Vinton. A $100 bounty has been placed on him for tomorrow's event... A scary crash brought the action to a halt in the SportMod B feature. Mary Handberg and Jason Doyle's cars became hooked together on the back stretch during that event and the two launched off the back straightaway, hitting the retaining wall head-on at full speed. While Doyle walked away, Handberg was transported to the local hospital for precautionary measures. There were no additional reports on Handberg's condition by the end of the program. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery, Mary!

Assuming I finish up a story for Dirt Modified Magazine by early afternoon tomorrow, I hope to make the trip to 34 Raceway in Burlington for tomorrow night's Lucas Oil Late Model special. I was able to attend the last hour or so of the meet and greet at Casa Fiesta in Burlington last Thursday, but rain all day Thursday into Friday morning postponed that show to Sunday. Later this week, I'll be helping out with announcing duties at Highway 3 Raceway in Allison. USMTS Modifieds will be on-hand Thursday, May 27, and I'll be there to help call the action of the support classes. I hope to have reports from both of those shows later this week.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Foster earns historic win, bags first HDT Modified feature win

Josh Foster made the pass 10 laps into the 30-lap I.M.C.A. Modified feature to take the win in the JR Motorsports Dirt Modified Tour at Independence Motor Speedway on May 19. Foster topped an impressive field of 59 entries in the first-ever installment of the series.

At the drop of the green, outside front row starter Ryan Gustin settled into the lead. He held the point during a trio of early caution periods that slowed the first three laps of the event. This allowed third row starter Jay Noteboom to settle in behind the race leader for the next green flag run. Running the low side, Gustin held Noteboom at bay while Josh Foster worked through the field from a 10th place starting spot and into third place just prior to that third caution.

With the leaders glued to the bottom of the speedway, Foster nosed beneath Noteboom's #87 to secure second place seven laps into the event, then quickly ran down the leader. Three laps later, Foster again used the low line to advance. He gained the lead on the 10th circuit and quickly built half of a straightaway lead by the time he entered lapped traffic three laps later.

While Foster navigated the backmarkers, Gustin closed the gap and worked the low side of Foster. Foster, Gustin and Noteboom started to pull away from the field just prior to a lap 19 caution. On the restart, Foster denied all challenges of his pursuers to drive to the historic victory. Ryan Gustin came home second followed by Richie Gustin, Michael Long and Nate Caruth. Noteboom experienced mechanical problems exiting turn four on the fianl lap and limped to a seventh place finish. (complete results below)

Pole-sitter Kyle Anderson led throughout much of the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock main event. Anderson settled into the lead at the drop of the initial green and was chased out front by Vince Buchholz, who was piloting the #88S normally driven by Joe Sprague. As he was challenging for the lead, Buchholz broke in turns three and four to bring out the caution on the fifth lap.

On the restart, August Bach was moving through traffic from the middle of the pack. His progress was aided when second and third running Scott Pippert and Josh Irvine made contact with only three laps to go. Both drivers spun to bring out the final caution flag, leaving Bach on Anderson's rear bumper for the restart.

When racing resumed, Bach pulled to the inside of Anderson and the two raced side-by-side over the final three laps. Bach pushed high exiting turn four on the final lap and survived contact between the two cars to steal the win. Anderson edged Rod Grother for second while Brad Forbes and Quinton Miller ran fourth and fifth.

In the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature, Kurt Hogan rocketed from his fourth row starting spot into the lead just a couple of laps into that 15-lapper. He pulled away from the field to score the win, his first of the season at Independence. Kaleb Bentley crossed the line in second ahead of Austin Kaplan, who started 12th. Tyler Droste and Danny Dvorak completed the top five.

RESULTS
MODIFIED
First heat - 1. 71 Troy Cordes; 2. 27M Mark Schulte; 3. 57B Dennis Betzer; 4. 86 Jeff Morris; 5. 12K Andrew Kinser; 6. 45 Ron Pope; 7. 34 Scott Strauss; 8. 21 Brett Ladehoff; 9. 27 Jamie Johnson; DQ 12C Kent Croskey.
Second heat - 1. 77 Josh Foster; 2. 8 Rich Smith; 3. 19D Darin Duffy; 4. 71W Jeff Waterman; 5. 25T Duane Petersen; 6. 24R Adam Johnson; 7. 37 Mike Jergens; 8. 36 Jeff Connor; 9. 18 Jake Durbin; DNS 93 Cale Sponsler.
Third heat - 1. 11T Toby Hartman; 2. 01 Ed Thomas; 3. 10K Ronn Lauritzen; 4. 14 Tom Hanson; 5. 31 Corey Dripps; 6. 10 Jeremy Mills; 7. 8X Scott Olson; 8. 22 Cory Bauer; 9. 3C Max Corporon; 10. 57H Richard Hinz.
Fourth heat - 1. 18L Michael Long; 2. 3 Jeff Feaster; 3. 7C Nate Caruth; 4. 19 Jimmy Gustin; 5. 75 Clint Wendel; 6. 64 Vern Jackson; 7. 1X Dan Chapman; 8. 32X Chris Snyder; 9. 5R Bill Roberts; 10. 1XX Chris Abelson.
Fifth heat - 1. 87 Jay Noteboom; 2. 62 Greg Cox; 3. 12J Justin O'Brien; 4. 47S Brandon Savage; 5. 68 J.J. Wise; 6. 32 Rick Speck; 7. 17J Jason Seegmiller; 8. 83C Todd Conrad; 9. 58 Andy Krieger; 10. 15 Matt Stagman.
Sixth heat - 1. 19GX Ryan Gustin; 2. 98 Jason Snyder; 3. 19G Richie Gustin; 4. 41P Joey Schaefer; 5. 18J Jerry Luloff; 6. Z3 Mike Albertson; 7. 60 Kurt Krauskopf; 8. F7 Patrick Flannagan; 9. 12 Mark Elliott.
First B Feature - 1. Morris; 2. Jergens; 3. Waterman; 4. A. Johnson; 5. Croskey; 6. Petersen; 7. Strauss; 8. Kinser; 9. J. Johnson; 10. Pope; DNS Ladehoff, Connor, Durbin, Sponsler.
Second B feature - 1. J. Gustin; 2. Dripps; 3. Abelson; 4. Wendel; 5. Roberts; 6. Chapman; 7. C. Snyder; 8. Bauer; 9. Hanson; 10. Hinz; 11. Mills; 12. Jackson; DNS Olson, Corporon.
Third B feature - 1. Albertson; 2. Savage; 3. Krieger; 4. Schaefer; 5. Wise; 6. Flannagan; 7. Krauskopf; 8. Speck; 9. Seegmiller; DNS Luloff, Conrad, Elliott, Stagman.
A feature - 1. Foster; 2. Ryan Gustin; 3. Richie Gustin; 4. Long; 5. Caruth; 6. Schulte; 7. Jergens; 8. Noteboom; 9. Smith; 10. Duffy; 11. J. Gustin; 12. O'Brien; 13. Morris; 14. Lauritzen; 15. Cox; 16. Thomas; 17. Albertson; 18. Hartman; 19. Betzer; 20. J. Snyder; 21. Savage; 22. Luloff; 23. Dripps; 24. Feaster; 25. Cordes.

SPORTMOD
Feature - 1. MR09 Kurt Hogan; 2. 10 Kaleb Bentley; 3. 1 Austin Lucas; 4. 92 Tyler Droste; 5. 3R Danny Dvorak; 6. 00 Jim Buhlman; 7. 64 Brandon Leeman; 8. 7R Ryan Ashton; 9. 41Jeremy Embrey; 10. 7M Kurt Moeding; 11. 86 Rod McDonald; 12. 2 Ryan Coleman; 13. 34J Jerry Hinton; 14. 34 Mike Mitchell; 15. 83 Russell Hesse; 16. C45 Clint Chamberlain; 17. 26 Joel Cox; 18. 54 Wayne Hessel 19. 96 Lucas Lundry; 20. 12 Creston Williams (DNS)

HOBBY STOCK
Feature - 1. 19 August Bach; 2. 98 Kyle Anderson; 3. 77 Rod Grother; 4. 09 Brad Forbes; 5. 73 Quinton Miller; 6. 8 Dave Wheeler; 7. 33X Max Leonard; 8. 67 Justin Stander; 9. 35 Josh Irvine; 10. 16 Wes Stanek Jr.; 11. 4JR Russell Damme Jr.; 12. 47 Scott Pippert; 13. 88S Vince Buchholz; 14. 20B Matt Burmeister.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Photo finishes highlight action-packed night at Benton County Speedway

After completing my paperwork from Saturday's late night at Independence, I made the decision to head to Vinton to wrap up a three-day swing of racing over the weekend. The wild from Saturday carried over to an even wilder Sunday as the weekend contained a little bit of everything. A total of 103 race teams signed in to the pits in the five weekly divisions at Vinton to take part in a show that fans won't soon forget.

I included below a number of photos from track photographer Scott Tjabring of Action Track Photography. Not only is Scott a die hard race fan, but he is one of the absolute best track photographers around. Independence and Vinton are lucky to have Scott and his wife Donette at the track all season long. Thanks to both of you for your great work!

First out of the gate on Sunday night was the 15-lap feature for the I.M.C.A. Stock Cars. In perhaps the tamest race of the night, Phil Holtz took charge at the drop of the green flag after starting outside of the front row. Pole-sitter Paul Shepherd stayed close as his #31S remained on the rear bumper of the #7H Holtz machine throughout the early going.

Four laps into the event, Jeff Mueller, who charged into the third spot after starting eighth, stalled on the low side of turns three and four to bring out the caution flag. This allowed Damon Murty to settle into third place for the restart.

When racing resumed, Holtz held the point and continued to pace the field with Shepherd and Murty pressuring him. On the eighth circuit, Shepherd went up in smoke as he drifted off the high side of turns three and four to bring out the caution flag.

Murty restarted right on Holtz' bumper and went to work on the low side in attempt to gain the advantage. Holtz withstood Murty's pressure to lead every lap en route to victory lane. Murty ran second followed by Nathan Wood and Norman Chesmore. Scooter Dulin, racing in honor of his grandfather, Marion Cottrell, who passed away earlier in the week, finished fifth. More information on Cottrell appears below.

Phil Holtz led wire-to-wire to win the I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

While Holtz was the front-runner throughout the first feature, being in the lead seemed to be the last place anyone wanted to be for the remaining four features on this night. In all other divisions, cautions, mechanical problems or miscues cost every early race leader a trip to the winner's circle.

The first to experience such misfortune was Al Sweerin in the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks. Starting outside of the front row, Sweerin, much like Holtz, shot into the lead at the drop of the green. He held the point through a trio of early caution periods while Kyle Parizek, Russell Damme Jr. and Matt Brown gave chase.

Sweerin was frantically holding off pressure from his counterparts when he miscued in turns three and four on lap six, spinning his #11 and forcing a caution period. With Sweerin now relegated to the back of the pack, Parizek inherited the top spot with Brown and Damme hot on his heels for the restart.

When racing resumed, Parizek drove the high line while Brown worked the low side of the lightning fast oval. Brown took control on the back straightaway on lap 10. Ironically, Brown's run came to an end when Sweerin became lapped traffic to the leaders. Sweerin spun again, this time in turns one and two on the 12th lap, collecting Brown in the process. Since both Sweerin and Brown were stopped on the track when the caution flag waved, both were sent to the rear for the ensuing restart.

Parizek again benefitted from the misfortune of the lead car and restarted out fron with only three laps to go. He remained committed to the high groove while Damme, now in second, went to work on the low side. Damme ducked under Parizek's #17K on the back straightaway and the leaders entered a side-by-side battle over the final two circuits. Parizek inched ahead at the line as the checkers waved to score the improbable win. Damme ran second and Rod Grother, who started ninth, came home third. August Bach and Eric Stanton completed the top five.

Kyle Parizek found his way to the winner's circle of the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

While the Hobby Stocks saw leads lost due to driver error and being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the I.M.C.A. SportMods saw both of those things, plus mechanical problems sidelining its leaders in that 15-lapper.

Pole-sitter Kent Kasitsky took the lead at the drop of the green in that event. He quickly distanced himself from the field while Kyle Olson, Joel Rust and Jim Buhlman battled for position behind him. Following a lap three caution, the leaders went three-wide out front as they entered the first set of turns. Contact among the drivers launched Rust onto Olson's #K3 and into a rollover on the bottom of turn two. Along with the incident forcing an immediate end to Rust's and Olson's night, Buhlman and fourth-running Mike Hogencamp were involved in the mishap, sending them to the pits, as well. While many of their cars suffered substantial damage, all drivers walked away uninjured.

This apparently left Kasitsky out front and Jesse Belez, who was running sixth at the time of the caution, now in second. Unfortunately for Kasitsky, however, he pulled to the infield with mechanical problems just before the race was set to resume. This left Belez now at the point for the ensuing restart.

When the green flag waved again, Belez quickly went to work on the top side while Shane Ebaugh and Austin Kaplan ran second and third. Kurt Hogan, meanwhile, snuck beneath both of those drivers and settled into second place on the back stretch during the fifth lap.

Hogan quickly applied pressure to Belez and made his way past the leader only two laps later. While Hogan was leading, Kaplan was getting his #1 machine dialed in and he started to make a charge toward the front. Kaplan used a strong run on the top side of the speedway while Hogan hugged the tractor tires down low. Kaplan pulled even with Hogan exiting turn four on the final lap as the two drag raced to the start finish line where Hogan held on by a nose to score the thrilling win. Kaplan, Danny Dvorak, Rod McDonald and Belez rounded out the top five.
Kurt Hogan (MR09) battles Austin Kaplan (1) for the lead in the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature. Hogan won in a photo finish. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

The 12-lap I.M.C.A. Sport Compact feature began in horrific fashion as Jeremy Wheeler got turned upside in the high side of turn two. He went end-over-end and barrel rolled before finally coming to rest in the middle of the speedway. He was transported to the local hospital, however his condition was not made available by the end of the evening's program.
Above: Jeremy Wheeler gets airborn at the start of the I.M.C.A. Sport Compact feature. This shot was taken while Wheeler was on his way down during the nasty flip. Wheeler was actually off the ground higher than this during his wild ride. Below: Wheeler returning to the ground during the multi-car fiasco. (photos courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

When racing resumed, Dallas Chandler assumed command after originally starting the event in the second row. Chandler paced the field while his pursuers shuffled positions behind him. Among those pursuers was Brad Chandler, who was competing for a top five spot. He took it upon himself to remove the car driven by Gary Peiffer by intentionally knocking him off the high side of turn two, which resulted in a second caution period. Peiffer was knocked out of the event and Chandler was sent packing for having a total lack of common sense having just witnessed Wheeler's indicent in front of him.

On the restart, Dallas Chandler struggled to get his #3 in gear and slowed coming out of turn four. He collected the third place car of Bill Whalen Jr. in the process, however Chandler continued moving while Whalen sat idle to bring out another caution. Whalen was sent to the rear of the pack for bringing out the yellow while Chandler, who remained moving the entire time, kept his position out front.

Chandler again has trouble keeping up to speed on the following restart and quickly fell back in the pack. This allowed Brett Vanous to sneak past for the lead. Following him through were Nathan Chandler, Merv Chandler and Justin Wacha. Nathan Chandler was able to sneak below Vanous for the lead just prior to the final caution of the event. The time limit expired on the race and Nathan Chandler was awarded the victory. Vanous, Merv Chandler, Wacha and Dallas Chandler completed the top five.
Nathan Chandler is all smiles after his I.M.C.A. Sport Compact victory. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

The I.M.C.A. Modifeds provided the nightcap on the evening and they did not disappoint. Patrick Flannagan led the 17-car field to the green flag and he assumed command in short order. Moving to the high groove, Flannagan put a few car-lengths between himself and the field while Troy Cordes masterfully navigated the low groove. Cordes shot from an outside second row starting position to the inside of his competitors and into second place after just one circuit.

Cordes was attempting to reel in Flannagan when Flannagan made those efforts unnecessary. He spun on the high side of turn four on lap three to bring out the first of three caution flags in the event. Cordes took command on the restart and built a five car-length lead over Dennis Betzer and Joe Docekal when the yellow flag waved a second time just two laps later.

On the restart, most of the field ran the low groove while Jerry Luloff went to work on the high side. Luloff motored around Betzer on lap six and immediately went to work on Docekal. While those two battled, Scott Hogan was blistering his way through traffic. Running seventh on the lap five restart, Hogan followed Luloff on the high side and entered into the battle for second just past the midway point of the 20-lapper. Exiting turns three and four on the 11th lap, Hogan shot between Luloff and Docekal and inched ahead for the runner-up spot. He established himself in that position entering turn one and set his sights on Cordes, whose lead was now over half of a straightaway.
Scott Hogan (33D) battles Max Corporon (3C) in the early stages of the I.M.C.A. Modified feature. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)
Hogan was quickly making up ground on the race leader when the race's final yellow flag waved on lap 16. On the restart, Hogan went back to work on the high groove and sailed around Cordes one lap later. He remained untouched over the final four laps to take the exciting victory. Docekal made his way under Cordes to take second at the line. Cordes, Max Corporon and Luloff completed the top five
Scott Hogan and the rest of Team Hogan in I.M.C.A. Modified victory lane for the third straight week. (photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring/Action Track Photography, http://www.actiontrackphotos.com/)

Despite the wild rides and, at times, careless driving, there was terrific racing all night in Vinton. While it appeared Mother Nature may have had other things in store for the evening by providing a few pesky sprinkles jusdt prior to race time, she held off and allowed for a very entertaining night of racing.

Speaking to a number of people who were at both Independence and Vinton this weekend, the long, exciting, entertaining race nights became a popular topic of discussion. I think the lack of area racing in recent weeks had a lot to do with the thrills and spills over the weekend. Since race nights have been few and far between due to the unstable weather, a lot of drivers appeared to have spring fever this weekend and wanted to make up for lost time. In any event, let's hope those anxious moments were left behind this past weekend!

BCS Notes: Marion Cottrell, who I mentioned was the grandfather of Stock Car driver Scooter Dulin, was very involved in the racing community throughout the Vinton area. He was a longtime supporter of the speedway and racing, in general. He owned and operated Cottrell Radiator in Vinton and was well-known throughout the community. A special event in his honor will be held next Sunday at the speedway. The Stock Cars will be running a 20-lap feature with additional prize money awarded. While it will be a draw/redraw event for the division, track points will be awarded. It should be an excellent way to honor and remember Marion and all he meant to the community and local racing.

In addition to the special Stock Car feature, the I.M.C.A. Modifieds will be racing for an extra chunk of change next Sunday. Scott Hogan's win tonight was his third straight at the speedway, which means a $100 bounty will be placed on him. If anyone else wins next Sunday, they'll take home the extra prize. I believe Hogan will need to be running at the end of the event for anyone to be eligible to win the bounty.

In addition to his three straight wins at Vinton, Hogan also scored the victory Saturday night at 34 Raceway in Burlington. Those four races also marked Scott's last four nights of racing. I spoke to his wife, Jolyne, after tonight's program and she was humble in victory. Appreciating a good finish and just having fun at the speedway is what it's all about for their race team. It's nice to see folks who understand and appreciate the sport like they do have the success they've had the last few weeks. Jolyne did indicate the four-race winning streak was a first for their team. Four wins in four nights is a great accomplishment for any driver and well-deserved for Team Hogan as they appear dialed in for 2010.

While Austin Kaplan had a strong run in the SportMods tonight, it didn't appear he would even be able to make the call for his last chance race to sneak into the 24-car starting field. Kaplan was involved in a multi-car pileup in his heat that left him with severe rear-end damage and literally no sheet metal left on the passenger side of the car. His crew furiously worked to get the machine in running order for the B main. They did just that as Kaplan started the last chance qualifier toward the back and finished fourth. He started the feature 16th and put on a thrilling show all the way to a runner-up finish at the final checkered flag.

Up next for me is the first-ever Hawkeye Dirt Tour event for the I.M.C.A. Modifieds. Rescheduled from last Tuesday's rainout, that event will now be run this Wednesday, May 19, at Independence Motor Speedway. Along with a host of drivers already expected to be at this event, Independence has already had 38 different Modifieds visit the speedway in only two weekly points races this season. It's bound to be an exciting show as the Tour makes its inaugural visit to the Buchanan County Fairgrounds. Also competing will be I.M.C.A.-sanctioned SportMods and Hobby Stocks. Pit gates will open at 4 p.m. and grandstands at 5, with hot laps scheduled at 6:45 and racing to follow. For those interested in HDT T-shirts, Scott and Donette will have them available at the Action Track Photography stand below the grandstands! I hope to see you all there for the Modified Mayham, sponsored by Edgewood Locker!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hackwell, Irvine, Lichty among Independence winners

A strong field of 149 cars were on-hand for the second night of weekly points racing at Independence Motor Speedway. While a plethora of cautions slowed the feature events, a number of close battles were waged on the smooth, fast, 3/8-mile oval.

In the I.M.C.A. Late Model division, Dale Hackwell Jr. came out on top of the 27-car field leading all 25 laps of that feature. Hackwell settled into the lead from his pole position start and quickly put a few car-lengths between himself and the rest of the field as he ran the bottom groove of the speedway.

Fellow front row starter Jason Rauen dropped into second as Greg Kastli, Rick Dralle and Darren Ackerman gave chase. Following a pair of early yellows, Dralle worked below Rauen and set his sights on Hackwell. Able to pull onto Hackwell's rear bumper, Dralle attempted to move beneath the #145, but could not complete the pass.

While Dralle challenged, Ackerman pressured Kastli, eventually making his way into third on the 11th lap. With Hackwell now out front by a few car-lengths, Ackerman shot beneath Dralle on lap 19 and into second. Ackerman remained committed to the low groove as he attempted to run down the race leader.

Ackerman stayed on Hackwell's bumper and opted to try the high groove since Hackwell remained glued to the low side of the speedway. Ackerman pulled to the outside of the leader with one lap remaining, however his efforts came up short at the line as Hackwell drove to the win. Ackerman, Kastli, Dralle and Tyler Bruening completed the top five.

Dave Stricker held the early lead in the I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature. From his pole position start, Stricker took command at the drop of the green while Steve Meyer applied pressure in second. Dan Trimble quickly entered the battle at the front of the pack as the three leaders ran bumper-to-bumper and door-to-door throughout the first half of the 20-lapper.

At the race's midway point, Stricker spun exiting turn four and collected Trimble in the process, bringing out the yellow flag. Both drivers restarted at the tail, allowing Meyer to inherit the point on the restart. Brian Irvine, who started in the ninth row, worked his way into the lead pack just prior to the caution and restarted second. When racing resumed, Irvine swept past Meyer to drive to his first win of the year. Meyer ran second at the line while Sean Johnson, Norman Chesmore and Tony Schimmels completed the top five.

From his second row start, Justin Lichty worked the low line and into the lead right away in the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature. Lichty withstood a pair of cautions and the late challenges of Jamie Whitaker to take the victory. Whitaker, Justin Hanson, August Bach and Josh Irvine rounded out the top five.

Joe Docekal held the early lead in the I.M.C.A. Modified main event. As he led, Max Corporon worked into a challenge for the lead a handful of laps into the race. Running the low groove, Corporon reeled in the leader and made the pass for the lead following a mid-race caution. Corporon held off a hard-charging Troy Cordes to claim the victory. Docekal, Jason Snyder and Clint Wendel ran third through fifth.

Austin Kaplan scored the win in the I.M.C.A. SportMod feature. From his second row starting spot, Kaplan worked his way into the lead by the end of the first lap. Despite numerous cautions in the time-shortened event, Kaplan held on to take the win ahead of Joel Rust and Kurt Hogan. Tyler Droste ran fourth and Kaleb Bentley, who started last in the 24-car field, came home fifth.

It was a long night at the speedway. While qualifying events went at a steady clip, the features saw plenty of stoppages. Although the track was heavy down low after excessive watering, the surface was smooth and fast throughout the night.

Due to the late hour, for those of you who visit the track's web site during the early Sunday morning hours, that update will not be posted until late in the morning. It's bedtime at my house. I planned to go back to Vinton tomorrow, but we'll see how Saturday's results and stats come along during the day Sunday.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Foster cooks and Cook fosters a win on opening night at Donnellson

After three consecutive weeks of rainouts, Lee County Speedway was finally able to get its season points opener in the books as 128 race teams filed into the fairgrounds to take part in the festivities at Donnellson on May 14.

A strong field of 22 I.M.C.A. Modifieds started feature action and it was Lonnie Heap leading the way from his pole position start. Heap ran out front for just two laps when a car slowing on the high side exiting turn two allowed Jeff Foster to challenge for the lead. Mueller swept beneath the leader and lapped car to take over the top spot after starting from the second row.

As Foster pulled away from the field, Michael Long was blistering his way through traffic from a midpack start. Running the high groove, Long immediately found himself in the mix out front and into third place after just six laps. He made his way around Heap one lap later, then went to work on cutting into Foster's lead, which was more than half of a straightaway just past the midway point of the event. Foster's margin was cut significantly when the cautuion flew on lap 12, bunching the field.

Foster continued to maintain his lead without trouble through a pair of restarts until the race's final stoppage came on lap 16. When racing resumed that time, Long swept to the inside of the race leader as the top two engaged in a terrific side-by-side battle for the lead over the remaining laps.

As the leaders navigated through turns one and two on the final lap, however, Long hit a rut, throwing his car to the top and losing precious ground to the leader. Foster went on to score the exciting win while Brandon Rothzen, who started outside row six, made a strong charge through the field to sneak under Long at the line for second. Wyatt Lantz and Heap completed the top five.

The I.M.C.A. Stock Cars set the bar high for 2010 in their season opener as a thrilling photo finish decided the first feature of the year. At the start of the 15-lapper, John Oliver Jr. took command from his pole position start. He received heavy pressure, however, from a quartet of drivers as the top five runners broke away from the pack and engaged in a thrilling five-car battle out front. Oliver, Derek St. Clair, Jason Cook, Jeff Mueller and Jim Redmann shuffled positions and racing grooves at the front of the pack.

Mueller was the first to challenge Oliver for the lead as he dove to the inside of the leader to enter a door-to-door battle out front on lap four. Running the nigh side, Cook entered the mix one lap later to challenge the lead pair while Redmann went to work on the low side St. Clair for fourth, all within a matter of just a couple of car-lengths at the front of the pack.

Cook inched into the lead for a couple of laps, but Mueller powered back on the low side to regain the advantage. He built a five car-length lead by the time the yellow flag waved with just two laps to go. On the restart, Cook went back to work on the low side and found himself in another wheel-to-wheel battle for the lead with Mueller. The two raced in that fashion all the way to the checkers with Cook inching ahead by a bumper to score the thrilling win. Oliver ran third and Matt Greiner, who started in the fifth row, came home fourth. Abe Huls, who started alongside Greiner, finished fifth.

Mark Burgtorf continued his dominance at the Lee County oval as he scored the victory in the I.M.C.A. Late Model 25-lapper. After starting only a couple rows deep, Burgtorf moved into the lead shortly after the race went green and built a straightaway lead in just four laps. Rob Toland motored into second on lap eight and it appeared he might have something for the #7, however that never materialized as Burgtorf made quick work of the event, running away from his peers and hiding in lapped traffic to score the win. Toland ran second, Denny Woodworth third and pole-sitter Colby Springsteen came home fourth.

Derek Coleman drove his Dominator Chassis to the opening night win in the I.M.C.A. SportMods. He took charge following a mid-race caution and drove away from the pack to take top honors. Joe Bliven finished second and Roger Dresden made a last lap pass on A.J. Johnson to score the third place finish. Johnson, who led during the early stages of the event, finished fourth.

Jake Wenig led wire-to-wire to take the win in the Hobby Stock division. Jim Lynch, who pressured for the lead late in the event, came up short and finished second. Jeremy Pundt, Rob Wilsey and Ray Raker ran third through fifth.

The four-cylinder Wild Things rounded out the night's action. William Michel took over around midway through the event to drive to the win ahead of Chuck Fullenkamp. Mike Fisher, Jerry Ostby and Dakota Fenton completed the top five.

Despite all the rain in the area throughout the week, it was nice to see that the fairgrounds wasn't a muddy mess like many may have expected. Although the nice car count and opening night car registrations did delay the start of the show by around 20 minutes, qualifying ran at a pretty good clip.

Tough break for Tom Goble on the night. After suffering engine damage in his Late Model heat race which forced a premature end to his night, he did manage to find one of the muddy areas in the pits. His trip back home to Burlington was delayed as a wrecker crew on-hand had to help get him on his way.

It was also a tough start for Late Model driver Jeff Aikey. After "finding" his draw number after a lengthy debate, Aikey was scheduled to start in the middle of his heat instead of the back of the pack. Unfortunately, Aikey was late to staging after a missing neck brace prevented him from making the initial call, forcing him to start at the tail of his event. Aikey failed to qualify for the redraw in that event and started deep in the 26-car feature field.
Points night number two at Independence is on tap tonight. Not only is it Pepsi Night, but local TV station KWWL will be on-hand to shoot some promotional video. It should be a great night for racing. Hope to see you there.

Monday, May 10, 2010

To race or not to race? How we weather the storm

The miserable spring weather has created quite a stir on message boards recently; most notably after this past weekend. While this time of year has a certain level of unpredictability, it's not what anyone wants to be forced to deal with - racers, fans, promoters and the like.

Before I continue, let me be sure to say that I am far from a weatherman, soil expert, climatologist or independently wealthy, nor do I claim to be. I do, however, claim to have at least a minimal level of common sense when it comes to the conditions in which I want to watch a race. Along with that, I respect the business (more on that later) sense of any promoter who makes the tough call to cancel any race when there's less than a torrential downpour making its visit as the gates open.

I've read various opinions stating that weather is expected this time of year, if it doesn't actually rain on race day you shouldn't cancel, racers will race and people will come watch regardless of the temperatures, promoters are only in it for the money, etc. There are also those who ventured to one of the few tracks who actually did get their programs in over the weekend and, from what I've read, they were just as unhappy as those whose local track canceled.

I'll offer my response to many concerns that I've come across and, agree or disagree, many tracks didn't race over the weekend, accept it. Even more so, it will almost certainly happen again before the season is over, so be prepared to encounter an unfortunate cancellation again in 2010.

"Cold and windy weather is expected this time of year." - While this may be true, there are those "unseasonable" weather conditions that most people wish to leave behind once the calendar reads "Spring." Freezing temperatures following any amount of precipitation, combined with strong winds is nobody's ideal race night. Like it or not, that isn't racing weather. If that was the case, more often than not, the season would be scheduled to start in the middle of March at most Midwest tracks rather than the middle of April. Back in the day, you'd be hard-pressed to even see an event on a racing schedule that included the word "April." When that type of weather drifts into May, chances are, it'll be a great opportunity to sit at home and watch Betty White host Saturday Night Live. Quite frankly, as racer Bobby Hansen posted on one such message board, the races you are able to take in this time of year may actually be considered "bonus" races as, historically, the racing season never used to get into full swing until mid-May. For those die-hards, Frostbusters are held in April, not May. Even those events this year offered better weather conditions than recent weeks. It's a chance we take by scheduling such events and not always do we come away with what we initially desired. When we get them in, great. When we don't, that doesn't automatically make anyone to blame.

"If it doesn't rain on race day, you shouldn't cancel." - I'm not sure where this piece of mis-informed jargon came from, but it's almost as accurate as assuming Tiger Woods goes directly to the golf course when he says he's going to go "play a round." Weather on race day alone does not dictate the events on race night. Granted, there are numerous times when a Friday rain doesn't prevent a Saturday track from getting its program in the books, however there are three elements that often assist in making that a possibility. In no specific order, those three things are wind, sun and warmth. The 25mph winds that howled through the upper Midwest over the weekend did nothing but lower the wind chill and very little to aid in making race night happen. Yeah, thanks, but I'm going to catch a Forensic Files marathon right after I change my furnace filter and start this pot of chili.

"Racers and fans will come regardless of the weather." - While this is true for many, and I applaud those of you who make a valiant effort to attend your local track regardless of the conditions, it doesn't apply to a lot of folks. As one of our SportMod drivers at Independence, Mary Handberg, explains on the IMS facebook page, racing is a family event and if you're forced to leave the kids at home due to the weather, it no longer serves that purpose. So true, Mary! I understand that everyone wants to race. Heck, I want to go racing as much as anyone, but I also understand that there are certain elements that will prevent that from happening that are beyond my, or anyone else's, control. This third statement leads directly into the fourth one...

"Promoters only care about money." - I'm not sure how many race fans out there work for a living, but I assume those who are in the work force do so in order to earn a living and provide for their families. Why anyone would think a race promoter is any different is beyond me. To a point, yes, it is about money and I doubt any promoter would argue that point. To say it's only about money, however, even you know that isn't the case. Nobody would voluntarily subject themself to endless bashing and second-guessing of race fans and drivers to "hope" to make a profit for a couple dozen "chances" during the season. Promoters want to race as much as anyone else. It is their source of income and it allows them to provide for their families. Quite frankly, when a promoter cancels a race, they're already losing money. If they do so to cut their losses when the weather looks miserable, more power to them. I'd rather take this one gloomy night off from the track than watch my local speedway suffer a damaging loss of cash flow. At Independence, we've canceled two of three nights so far, the folks at 34 Raceway have canceled all three of their weekly shows and I believe Lee County Speedway has lost all of its weekly shows, as well. Could any of these tracks have attempted to race any of these past three weekends? Maybe, maybe not. To me, it honestly doesn't matter. It's a business decision and I'm perfectly fine with that. Does it disappoint me that another chunk of my 19-week season at Independence has been removed? Damn right it does, but that doesn't make it anyone's "fault."

In addition to the complaints of the people who didn't go racing over the weekend or were forced to find other tracks to attend, there were an equal number of complaints from fans who (go figure) went racing. "The track conditions were miserable," "the car count was low," "I froze my tail off," etc. were words spoken and typed in a rather large abundance over the weekend. Track conditions suffered at a number of tracks, and I'm not sure what else may have been expected. It's automatically falsely attributed to some lazy promoter who is "only in it for the money" and "should have canceled, but wanted to make a quick buck," and "doesn't care about the drivers and fans." I'm sure that's exactly what promoters think when they decide to offer a racing program to individuals when the alternative is to cancel and irritate everyone else who wanted to stay home. Consider Larry and Bob, co-promoters of Getaclue Raceway. Here is a conversation I'm sure many of the complainers imagine them having on race day...

Larry: "Bob, what say we jerk around the die-hards this week and race, but make sure we give them a crappy race track? Last week we played with the minds of the fair weather fans who had nothing else going on and canceled for no good reason. At least now we can blame it on the rain and send them Milli Vinilli's way to the complaint department."

Bob: "You know, Larry, I've been kinda thinkin' the same thing. All this money in the bank account and I don't know what to do with it. How about we not only lose our tails tonight and have to risk repossession of our fleet of Jaguars, but we also destroy the race track? I mean, it's early in the season. I still have most of my tail left and am in need of a good butt-chewin'. We can really do some damage to this thing and hope it takes us no less than a month to get the ruts and holes out of it."

I guess that's proof right there. There is indeed an underlying, unspoken commitment among all race promoters to go broke and upset everyone who helps them provide for their families. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. Funny thing is, there is no right or wrong answer, but there is certainly always someone ready to pass blame to ensure someone pays the price. In the end, everyone this weekend paid the price. Kudos to Mick Trier for running at Des Moines, Toby Kruse for going through with the program at Marshalltown and Bob Wagner for making it a go at Maquoketa. I'm sure you took it in the shorts and nobody who went was happy that you raced. Kudos to Cam and Jodi Granger for pulling the plug at Independence, to the Laues, Parishes and Bowlings at 34 Raceway for calling it early even though it was your third straight cancellation. I'm sure you took it in the shorts and nobody who stayed home was happy that you canceled. Heck, to every promoter who was forced to make that difficult call this weekend, either way, my hat is off to you. It's a thankless job and there are those who are more than willing to make sure it remains that way.

Now, I just need to figure out the fans who complain that this is Iowa and we should expect to race in rotten weather. Kind of makes me wonder why they don't call Miami their home in the spring and summer months if they expect to go racing year-round. Oh, that's right, many of them are too busy working for a living and trying to provide for their families...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Hogan, Chesmore, Pippert leave them standing at Benton County Speedway

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!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Racing dodges the rain for five exciting features at Benton County Speedway

About an hour before race cars were expected to hit the track, it looked as though Mother Nature was going to steal the victory Sunday night in Vinton. After a brief, pesky drizzle that brought with it insanely strong winds, she spared us her wrath and allowed race fans to be treated to an outstanding show on the 1/4-mile oval. In all, 109 race teams signed in to compete during the track's third weekly points program of the season.

First to the track for feature action were 21 I.M.C.A. Sport Compacts. Bill Whalen Jr., sporting a new four-cylinder ride, took advantage of his second row starting position to steal the lead at the drop of the green. Within the first five laps of the 12-lapper, Whalen built nearly a straightaway lead while Nathan and Brad Chandler worked their way through traffic behind him.

Nathan Chandler, who started outside the fourth row, made his way through the field and into second place on the sixth lap and attempted the tough task of reeling in veteran Whalen. Brad Chandler followed Nathan through the pack one lap later to settle into third as that duo went to work to cut into Whalen's huge advantage.

Despite encountering heavy lapped traffic late in the event, Whalen went on to score the win by nearly a straightaway margin. Nathan Chandler gained a little ground over the closing laps, but settled for second at the line. Brad Chandler finished third, a few car-lengths back, while Justin Wacha came home fourth.
Bill Whalen Jr. picked up the I.M.C.A. Sport Compact win - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

A field of 26 I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks was pared down to a 20-car starting field for that division's 15-lap headliner. Pole-sitter Joe Sprague took the point early while Rod Grother, who started outside row three, went to work on the bottom side of the speedway. Grother worked his way into second after just two laps and disposed of Sprague one lap later to take command of the event.

Grother continued to build on his lead, pulling away by nearly a straightaway over his nearest competitors, while Sprague attempted to hold off the challenges of Doug Laughridge and Nick Murty. Murty was eventually sidelined with mechanical problems, allowing Scottie Pippert and Eric Stanton to challenge for second. Laughridge appeared to be developing a push on his #25 and was unable to close in on Grother, however a late caution bunched the field for a two-lap dash to the finish.

When racing resumed, Grother maintained his strong run and took the checkers ahead of Laughridge, Stanton and Pippert. August Bach raced through the field from an eighth row start to finish fifth.
Rod Grother (77) drove to victory lane in the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stocks - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

A solid field of 30 I.M.C.A. SportMods were signed in for competition and it was outside front row starter Kyle Olson who set the early pace for the 24-car starting field in that 15-lap feature. As Olson led, Curt Hilmer worked the high side into second from his second row start, but was quickly pressured by veteran Jim Buhlman.

Buhlman snuck below the leaders and stole the top spot just prior to the race's first caution on lap five. Buhlman continued to pace the field for the following two laps until another caution was thrown for debris on the front straightaway. Unfortunately for Buhlman, that debris was a spring from the left rear of his car, forcing him to an early exit.

Danny Dvorak, who started outside of row six, had worked his way into second just before the lap seven caution and, thus, inherited the lead when the race returned to green. Dvorak led the remaining eight laps unchallenged to score the victory ahead of Olson and John Van Wechel. Austin Kaplan, who started alongside Dvorak in row six, finished fourth, and eighth row starter Rod McDonald ran fifth.
Danny Dvorak (3R) picked up the win in the I.M.C.A. SportMods - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

A rough driving penalty during his heat race did not deter I.M.C.A. Stock Car driver Justin Temeyer when the 15-lap feature field rolled onto the speedway. Temeyer, who started last in the 15-car event, raced through the field to score the exciting win.

At the drop of the green, it was pole-sitter Paul Shepherd leading the way. He held the point for six laps and survived a pair of caution periods that involved competitors Norman Chesmore, Brett Mather, John Schaefer and Curtis Roster, all of whom were challenging toward the front of the pack. Shepherd's good fortune came to an end when he spun on the low side of turns one and two on the sixth circuit, forcing him to an early exit.

Jason Deshaw inherited the lead with Scooter Dulin right on his tail for the lap six restart. By that time, Temeyer had worked his way through the pack and settled into the third position when racing resumed. On the restart, Dulin went to work on the low side of Deshaw as he stole the lead on lap nine. Deshaw faded at that point, which allowed Temeyer to slide into second, right on Dulin's rear bumper.

Temeyer pulled even with Dulin as the waving green was displayed and inched ahead a short time later. He held on for the thrilling win to complement his win the previous night in Independence. Ironically (or not?), prior to winning from the last starting spot in Vinton, Temeyer's win on Saturday came from the pole-position. Dulin chased Temeyer to the checkers while Damon Murty, Jeff Mueller and Abe Huls completed the top five.
Justin Temeyer passes Scooter Dulin on his way to the I.M.C.A. Stock Car win - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

In the evening's finale, 17 I.M.C.A. Modifieds made the starting call for that 20-lap feature. Front row starter Johnathan Thimmesch shot into the lead at the drop of the green while Patrick Flannagan and Troy Cordes gave chase. The bottom groove was the preferred line as the leaders remained glued to the tractor tires while only Robbie Schmuecker and Mark Schulte ventured high to try to gain ground on the field

Schmuecker was running fourth when he was sidelined with problems while Schulte, who started seventh, slowly gained on his competitors. While Schulte was working the high side in the middle of the pack, Scott Hogan masterfully worked the low groove from his fifth row starting spot and found himself in third place just prior to the race's first caution on lap three.

On the restart, Hogan swept beneath second-running Cordes to snag that position and then went to work on Thimmesch, taking away the top spot just one lap later. While Hogan extended his lead, Thimmesch started dropping back, allowing Cordes to move into second and Schulte, who was still running the high groove, to challenge in third.

While backmarkers started to slow Hogan's progress just past the midway point, Cordes and Schulte were battling for second with Max Corporon gaining ground in fourth. Corporon worked past Schulte on the low side as the race's final caution flag waved with only three laps reamining.

On the restart, Hogan maintained his lead while contact from Corporon sent Cordes into a spin entering the first set of turns. Corporon continued on while Cordes did a complete 360 in front of the field. While everyone dodged him, Cordes regrouped and the race stayed green. Untouched, Hogan ran away to the checkers to score the exciting win. Corporon finished second and Schulte, Tony Olson and Ronn Lauritzen completed the top five.
Scott Hogan drove to the I.M.C.A. Modified victory - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

It was a great night of racing in Vinton and, although weather delayed the show's start by a few minutes, the final checkered flag waved at 8:45. Once again, hats off to Mick Trier, Dana Benning and crew for running an entertaining and efficient show. I also need to give a shout out to my parents, Dwayne and Judy Burkey, for once again providing a smooth, fast racing surface! Although it was only my second visit back home this season, I understand the track has been in great shape all four nights the track has seen action this year. With all of the crazy spring weather we've had, that's no small accomplishment!

Smock, Gustin, Temeyer score opening night wins at Independence

Rumors were going around that the car count at Independence could be good this year. If opening night was any indication of things to come in 2010, it should be an exciting season as 152 cars signed in for opening night action on May 1.

In the I.M.C.A. Late Model division, Travis Smock earned his first career win in impressive fashion as he bested the field by more than a straightaway margin. At the start of the 25-lapper, pole-sitter Drew Johnson took the lead. He held the advantage for five laps throughout a trio of early cautions while Smock battled Tyler Bruening for second.

On a lap five restart, Smock shot to the inside of Johnson and never looked back, cruising to his first career win in the division. Bruening made his way around Johnson late in the race for second, but was unable to reel in Smock despite heavy lapped traffic in the waning laps. Johnson came home third ahead of Brian Hunter and Luke Pestka.
Travis Smock earned his first career I.M.C.A. Late Model victory - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

Pole-sitter Troy Cordes led the first lap of the 20-lap I.M.C.A. Modified feature until fellow front row starter Richie Gustin moved to the inside of Cordes to take command on lap two. Gustin held off persistent challenges from Darin Duffy and Cordes to score the win, his first-ever in weekly competition at Independence. Duffy ran second at the finish, while Cordes, Scott Hogan and Vern Jackson completed the top five.
Richie Gustin scored top honors in the I.M.C.A. Modified division - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

Justin Temeyer led all 20 laps of the I.M.C.A. Stock Car feature to take home the victory. Temeyer was pressured by Jarod Weepie and Dan Trimble early. Weepie continued to pester Temeyer at the front of the pack throughout the duration of the event while Trimble faded, but he could not make his way around the 56T as Temeyer drove to the win. Weepie ran second ahead of Brian Irvine, Norman Chesmore and Sean Johnson.
Justin Temeyer earned the win in the I.M.C.A. Stock Car division. His 17th career Stock Car win in weekly racing at Independence, Temeyer is now tied with Jarod Weepie for third on the all-time list - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

Rod McDonald held the early lead of the 15-lap I.M.C.A. SportMod main event. Austin Lucas, making his first-ever appearance at the speedway, worked his way into the lead just prior to a lap eight caution and never looked back on his way to victory lane. Eric Flander, also making his first visit to the track, came home second. Kurt Hogan, Danny Dvorak and Joel Rust rounded out the top five.
Austin Lucas made his first-ever visit to Independence pay off as he finished the night in I.M.C.A. SportMod victory lane - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

Josh Irvine led much of the 15-lap I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock feature, but August Bach squeezed beneath Irvine's #35 as the flying green waved to drive to the win. Irvine followed Bach to the checkers. Todd Reitzler ran third, Wes Stanek Jr. fourth and Rod Grother fifth.

August Bach (19) makes a late pass on Josh Irvine to steal the I.M.C.A. Hobby Stock win - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

Notes: A total of 26 Late Models, 34 Modifieds, 27 Stock Cars, 38 SportMods and 27 Hobby Stocks were on-hand for opening night action. In all, 30 events were run for the 152 cars in attendance in just over four hours. The first green flag waved at 6:36 with the final checkered flag falling at 10:46.

A handful of drivers made the trip north from southeast Iowa after 34 Raceway in Burlington was rained out. Among those making the two-plus hour pull included Late Models Rob Toland, Colby Springsteen and Sam Halstead. Stock Cars from the area who made the trip were Jeff Mueller, Jason Cook, Corey Strothman and Nathan Wood. Modified drivers Scott Hogan and Rich Smith, who normally compete at 34, were also on-hand.

It was nice to see the new number on the side of Tysus Pattee's Late Model. Pattee switched from his familiar #68 to #101 for the 2010 season in honor of friend and former crewmember Roy Sturtz, who passed away during the off-season. Sturtz owned and operated 101 Welding north of Vinton for many years.
Tysus Pattee sports a new number in honor of friend and former crewmember Roy Sturtz - photo courtesy of Action Track Photography/Scott Tjabring

The night got off to a rocky start when yours truly realized that, not only did he not have a national anthem singer, but was also without a copy of the national anthem to play before action started. Unfortunately, I was left to sing the nation's song, leaving most in attendance to chuckle. I made it through (after some very off notes and missing words), although Simon and Randy almost certainly would have called me out had I been auditioning for American Idol.

Short blog tonight, but I had many new names to enter into the track web site, along with 30 race results and it's approaching 4 a.m. On tap for me tomorrow is a trip south to Benton County Speedway in Vinton.