Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Wednesday Notebook: May 23, 2018

It is another beautiful Wednesday night for racing at the Southern Iowa Speedway and I am looking forward to being on the microphone again filling in for Tony Paris who will be busy guiding a talented group of phenoms in a baseball game in Ottumwa. While I do enjoy the chance to do some announcing I must say that on Wednesdays I might prefer to sit up in the stands with all of my racing friends that gather mid-week in Oskaloosa, especially when the number of opportunities to do so are fewer in 2018. Either way I do hope that if you are within driving distance that you make your way out to the track tonight!

So let's get to some notes that I have compiled as I was going through the results from this past weekend and I will admit that I still have several states to get through so if you know of something noteworthy that I missed, feel free to comment on the Facebook post where I have shared the link.

I loved seeing a couple of names in victory lane this past weekend. Steve Holthaus a former NKF Tour Hobby Stock champion is still winning races twenty years later as he took the Hobby Stock victory in Decorah Saturday night and central Iowa transplant Jeff Mueller was the Stock Car feature winner at Boone Saturday night. I have literally watched Jeff grow up and fans of Marshalltown and Boone, if you haven't figured it out yet, if there is any traction to be found on the bottom line you can bet that Mueller will be challenging for the win.

There were a couple of nice paying IMCA Modified shows in eastern Iowa last weekend. On Friday night Cayden Carter took the $2,000 top prize at the Davenport Speedway relegating Justin Kay to second. Two nights earlier Carter took a drive in his brother Brayton's Sport Mod to end Curtis Van Der Wal's eleven race winning streak at Oskaloosa so the young redhead was something of a giant slayer last week. On Saturday night it was Bryce Garnhart picking up $1,000 for the win at the Maquoketa Speedway and in case you didn't notice, the driver from Shannon, Illinois, is the early leader in the Modified All Iowa Points. Now granted two of these drivers list Arizona as their home state and are basing themselves out of Iowa, but only two drivers from the current top ten are from Iowa. The Modified division has been tabulated since 1979 and only one driver with an out of state address has ever won the All Iowa Points, that being Rick Wages from Moline, Illinois, in 1993 and 1994.

Another driver that I noted in the results from Maquoketa was Todd Reitzler who towed his IMCA Stock Car over to finish fourth in a division that combined Stock Cars and the Quad City area Street Stocks that some folks refer to as "Voodoo Wagons". The Darkside promotional team called them Outlaw Super Bombers, but I like Voodoo Wagons better.

Kyle Peterson won his first career Sprint Car feature at 34 Raceway Saturday night while a couple of other southeast Iowa Sprint Car drivers made the trip north for the weekend. John Schulz and Brayden Gaylord ran with the UMSS series in Princeton, Minnesota, on Friday night and at Cedar Lake Speedway in Wisconsin on Saturday.  Both drivers will race much closer to home this coming weekend as the Sprint Invaders return to action on Friday night at the Pepsi Lee County Speedway in Donnellson and then at 34 Raceway west of Burlington on Sunday night. That's right, the oval track racing will take place on Sunday this weekend at 34 Raceway because on Saturday night they will be hosting the Freedom Figure 8 event with some wild action right in front of the grandstand.

Wyatt Block of Tigerton, Wisconsin, was the best of a thirty car field of IMCA Modifieds at the Shawano Speedway Saturday night. I love it when a driver moves out of the Sport Mods and into the Modifieds and finds success.

Kile Motorsports has announced that they will be promoting a race on Saturday night July 14th at the West Liberty Raceway. Good to see that the legendary track will not sit completely idle in 2018.

The storm is rolling in from the west last Saturday at Lucas Oil Speedway
In this week's "Yes, Social Media Actually Helps Racing" update we salute Landon Little who used Facebook to post the following after the Lucas Oil Speedway in Missouri had to cancel after being hit by a heavy thunderstorm just before race time. "Should pay for are gas for wasted trip". Thanks Landon! You our a true race fan and you have are complete support, keep up the great work with the constructive criticism as it truly can only make racing better!

Hopefully the weather will be nice for three full nights action as the Show Me 100 kicks off this Thursday night at the Lucas Oil Speedway.

It took me a minute or two to figure out what the Park Jefferson Speedway meant to say when they posted the following to Facebook on Saturday:

"Due to amount of rain and antiseptic rain we have cancel races for this week"

Did spell check really change the word "anticipated" to "antiseptic"???

Now I know that spell check was not to blame when somebody had a post on a race forum last week that used the phrase "any buddy" rather than the word "anybody". My mistake.....spell check was not to blame when sum buddy had a post on a race forum last week......

Okay that's enough from me for now. Hope to see you tonight at Osky, Friday in Donnellson and Sunday at 34. I am lobbying to get the wife to go drink beer and watch the Figure 8's on Saturday and then on Monday I hope to slip away in time to make it to Vinton for the Dirt Knights event at the Benton County Speedway.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend and be sure to take some time to recognize the true meaning of the Holiday. See you on the Back Stretch!

Oh yes, and in case I forget to say it tonight Happy Anniversary to Deb and Ron Haines!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Wednesday Notebook: May 16, 2018

Happy 52nd Birthday to my "little" brother Kurtis! He probably doesn't read the Back Stretch, but I know that a few of you readers know him so when you see him, wish him a happy birthday and tell him that you read it on the internet. It will mess with his mind....

The Super Modified Weekend at the Farley Speedway is the big news maker from this past weekend and not for the reasons that the promotional group was looking for, It was to be the second running of the big money show for Modifieds and Sport Mods and with Late Model stars Scott Bloomquist and Tim McCreadie on the entry list for the Mods they were hoping to pack the place both Friday and Saturday. The problem though is that Mother Nature had other plans as a pesky stationery front setup shop and wavered just to the south of the northeast Iowa track meaning that while I was announcing in dry and warm conditions at Donnellson Friday night, the opening night of the Farley event just over two hours to the north was plagued by misty rain and a temperature in the mid-40's.

From all reports the conditions were miserable and while they were able to complete both sets of heat races for the 32 Sport Mods on hand, the 76 Modifieds appear to have completed their first set of heats plus one from the second round before it became too wet to race any further. The weather was not any better on Saturday and I am told that the plug was pulled around noon giving drivers time to scatter out and get to other tracks in the region where the weather was more favorable for racing.

The debate now of course on social media is about how this situation should all be handled with most of it based upon people saying "I heard this", or "this is what is going to happen" even though there has been no official announcement as of yet from Farley Speedway Promotions. For those drivers, fans, pay-per-view purchasers and others who just want to stoke the flames I ask that you go back and read this entry that I wrote in July of 2017 and if you take only one thing away from it, I hope that it is this:

"put yourself in the shoes of the decision maker(s) and think about the big picture rather than just how it effects you"

Before you go and complain about the about you wait for the actual decision? Then if you still don't like it, well then have at it and we will see if these gentlemen decide if it is all worth the risk and aggravation to schedule this event again in 2019.

Twenty IMCA Stock Cars were at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson Friday night and wow, did they ever put on a show for a nice crowd in attendance! Lead changes, three and four wide action, a little bumping and banging leading to some momentary hard feelings, but when it was all said and done I would have to think that every driver in that race, in the front, middle or back, would have to be proud of that one. At a time when there is a concern about the future of weekly racing it was a great event to witness and, even better, I haven't seen a single bit of video on it circulating the internet this week! Yes, I know that many of you think that is a bad thing but I disagree. If you want to see another great race at Donnellson you have to actually go there this Friday night, and perhaps again next Friday May 25th when the Sprint Invaders join the card and see it for yourself. And don't watch it through your phone so that somebody at home can see some poor quality video of the lead pack only on Facebook Live. Instead leave your phone in your pocket, scan the full field and let your focus move back and forth to catch all of the great racing action. Then later when your friends ask why you weren't live streaming tell them that they should just join you at the track instead and make it "Facebook Dead".

I was also encouraged to see the Lee County Late Model car count grow to eleven on Friday night. Veteran driver Ron Boyse was back for the second time this season while Aric Becker, Brandon Queen and Darin Weisinger Jr. all made their debut. Becker raced at Shiverfest to close out 2017 and so this was his second time out here with his Late Model. Queen who is the son of former Sportsman driver Alan Queen ran a couple of IMCA sanctioned events a year or two ago and the seventeen-year-old Weisinger has been racing a Sport Compact the past two seasons. Look for Boyse to snag a win in the near future and all three of the newbies showed some promise on Friday night. Hopefully the track will continue to add to the car count in the division that is now in its third season.

Twelve-time All Iowa Points Champion Terry McCarl was involved in a terrible accident at the start of the 410 Sprint Car feature at the Knoxville Raceway Saturday night and thank goodness that he was able to walk away slowly, but under his own power. The safety equipment did its job as the veteran driver escaped serious injury. You can stay up to date on T-Mac and his sons Austin and Carson through their websites and if you check out the author of those releases you will notice why I am the proud father.

The First Lady of Sprint Car racing at Knoxville McKenna Haase did it again Saturday night as she notched her first career feature win in the 360 division. "Sassy" is the only female driver to win a feature at the historic track and has done it in the 305 class as well. We hope to see her back with the Sprint Invaders at both Donnellson on May 25th and at 34 Raceway on Sunday May 27th as she has registered with the series and is the leader in the Rookie-of-the-Year race after one event.

I had some other notes to share, but time has run out on me as I need to load up and head to Oskaloosa for racing tonight at the Southern Iowa Speedway. The weather is perfect on this Wednesday night so I hope to see you there!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Six Pack of Stocks Steal Show at Donnellson

With a stationary front draped across the state of Iowa from east to west you had to go as far south as possible to find some reasonably warm racing Friday night and the Lee County Speedway is the southern most track in the state tucked into southeast corner. Six divisions were in action with five of them sporting double figure car counts topped by the Stock Cars at twenty strong and what a race they had to highlight the evening.

Jeremy Pundt and John Oliver Jr. would bring the field to green and they raced side-by-side to cross the stripe in a virtual dead heat for lap one. With the caution waving after that lap it would be Pundt who would lead the field back to green only to have a second caution wave after lap two. Okay, so now they were ready to race and boy oh boy did it get interesting.

Hugging the bottom Pundt would maintain the lead until lap ten when Oliver was able to get enough of a run off the top of turn four to take the lead. Jason Cook was digging on the inside as well waiting for Pundt to leave an opening and both David Brandies and Todd Reitzler were now in the mix as well. Six cars were racing for the lead with no more than four car-lengths from the front to the back of the six pack with drivers going three and nearly four wide at times. Brandies appeared to have a run at the top of turn three on lap thirteen, but when that four wide pack ran out of room some contact nearly sent him spinning and that allowed Abe Huls to emerge from the bottom take the lead. Reitzler would take the point on the following lap only to have Huls charge back on the bottom with five to go.

Reitzler was searching out lines over those final laps trying to find something that would propel him back to the front, but Huls was too stout and he would take the win in this thriller. Reiztler was right there in second followed closely by Oliver Jr., Pundt, Cook and Brandies.

It looked as if there would be a first time winner in the Steffes Late Model division tonight as Todd Frank shook off the early challenges of his son Gunnar and then opened up a comfortable lead in the twenty lap main event. It would all go by the wayside though with six laps remaining when the motor let go on the leader's car dropping a big oil streak down the front straightaway. After the cleanup Gunnar tried to keep the win in the family, but he could not hold off Sam Halstead who charged by on the restart to take the win. Jay Johnson finished second, Ron Boyse edged out the younger Frank at the line for third and Tommy Elston completed the top five. Three drivers making their first appearance of 2108 Aric Becker, Brandon Queen and Darin Weisinger all looked good in their debut.

After some tough luck during the first two point races Austen Becerra, Brandon Dale and Brandon Lennox lined up one, two and three in the average point format for the feature and they would be the class of the field over the 18 lap distance. Becerra would lead the first four circuits before Dale took over for two laps and then Lennox powered by on the outside of turn to take the lead and eventually the win. Dale would fight off a late slider by Becerra to finish second, Sean Wyett was fourth and point leader Dakota Sapp finished fifth.

Blake Woodruff and Craig Spegal were early leaders in the IMCA Modified feature, but after Jeff Waterman took the lead on lap five he would walk away from the field over the remaining fifteen circuits to win in dominating fashion. Waterman had started seventh on the grid. Spegal had his best run at LCS as the runner-up, Bill Roberts Jr. recovered from mechanical issues in hot laps to finish third, Woodruff was fourth and Dakota Simmons filled out the top five.

Defending All Iowa Points champion Barry Taft took the lead from Mike Reu on lap five and then held off a late challenge from Kimberly Abbott to win the 14-lap Sport Compact headliner. Abbot was half a car length back at the checkers in second, Brandon Reu finished ahead of his father Mike in third while Chuck Fullenkamp was fifth.

Five Hobby Stocks started the feature. One pulled to the infield with handling problems and two of them Broc Hopwood and Nathan Ballard fell out with flat tires, Ballard while leading. Aaron Martin was there to clean up by taking the win while Gene Nicklas was second.

As always there were a bunch of great sponsors supporting the show at Lee County, plus the track's scorekeeper and our colleague here at Positively Racing Brian Neal put up an extra $350 that was collected by four of the night's winners. There was a good crowd on hand and the track was smooth, wide and racy. Back to normal at Donnellson!

After three straight nights at the track it is on to some Mother's Day weekend traditions for me with my next racing action scheduled for Wednesday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. Here's hoping that you can get out to a show or two at the track of your choice this weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Bergman Runs Down Smoke For KC Classic Win at Lakeside

Tony Stewart appeared to have the race well in hand until a red flag with eleven laps remaining changed the story at the McCarthy Auto Group KC Classic Thursday night. It was the annual NASCAR race weekend special featuring the Lucas Oil ASCS National Series at Lakeside Speedway just a few miles north of the Kansas Speedway.

Stewart started the twenty-five lap main event from the third position, but he moved to the front on lap two when he flew around pole-sitter Jack Dover. From there the former NASCAR Cup champion would open up a nice lead until lapped traffic came into play and on lap nine when Harli White slowed in turns one and two the caution waved giving the leader a clear track once again. On the restart Paul Nienheiser tangled with the lapped car of Robbie Price at the entrance of turn one and with both drivers spinning it sent the rest of the field scrambling. Nienheiser was able to keep his car running though so he would return to his fifth position for the next go at a green.

After dropping a position on the first lap, Nienheiser then went on a tear passing two cars to move to fourth until lap twelve when he slowed and hit an infield track tire as he drove to the infield. Stewart now had a full straightaway lead over Dover and Seth Bergman, but that would be wiped away when Jamie Ball and Chris Martin got together on the back stretch with Martin taking a tumble on lap fourteen.

After the cleanup "Smoke" would bring the field back to green and he would again pull out to a solid lead as Bergman shuffled Dover back to third. With the laps counting down Bergman started searching for a different line and when he found one a little lower than the leader the gap closed quickly. With just five laps remaining Bergman would put the slider on Stewart into turn one to take the lead and he would then pull away for the victory. Brian Brown also made a late pass of Tony Stewart to finish second while Dover and Sam Hafertepe Jr. completed the top five.

Bergman had started fourth and Brown came from eleventh while the rest of the top five started one, two and three.

E-Mods and B-Mods ran as support classes in front of a large crowd. In the E-Mod feature the defending track champion and current point leader Billy Spillman took advantage of the front row starters Eddie Ingram and Trevor Hand banging wheels in turn three on the opening lap to take the lead and he would survive a couple of early cautions to go the distance for the win. Ben Stockton mounted a challenge after the final restart though he would have to settle for second, Matt Dorsam came from the fifth row to finish third, Hand was fourth and Jessie Mulich took fifth.

The B-Mod field was stacked with talent as pole-sitter Tim Powell grabbed the early lead. The winner here the past two Friday nights looked to be in command until Brad Smith found the high line to his liking, especially in turns three and four and on lap ten of the twenty-lap event Smith would nose ahead at the stripe. Powell was still faster on the bottom in one and two so he would lead down the back stretch only to see Smith again sweep past him up top off of four. This time after again taking the lead off turn two Powell moved up the track in three and four to take away Smith's line as well as the lead and that would be how they would race for the next six laps.

Coming to the white flag Powell had stretched it out a bit so Andy Bryant had room to throw a slider on Smith and it would stick for second but the 2016 USRA National Champion could not run down Powell who captured his third straight win at Lakeside. Bryant and Smith were next in line while J.C. Morton and Jim Moody competed the top five.

It was a warm and windy evening on the northwest side of Kansas City with thirty 360 Sprint Cars signed in for action. Racing started right on time at 7:30 and with a couple of lengthy breaks the final checkers flew right around 10:30.

I will make it three nights in a row for the first time this season with Friday night action at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Van Der Wal Repeats; Wood, Stanton and Housley Find Victory Lane At Osky

The Southern Iowa Speedway put race night number two in the books on a sunny, but windy Wednesday evening in Oskaloosa. Another respectable car count was on hand and the crowd was good with several groups of young people in attendance as both high school and college students were admitted free of charge for the evening. This was great to see and perhaps something that can be done more often here and at other tracks to hopefully expose the teens and young adults to the sport.

Sport Compacts were first up come feature time with Billy Cain leading the way on lap one. Brandon Housley was on the move quickly though from his fifth starting spot and he would take the point on the second circuit. Kyle Boyd who started sixth also charged to the front of the field and he would chase, but could not catch Housley who picked up the win in the ten lap affair. Boyd was second with his teammate Cody Phillips in third, pole-sitter Brandon Allison was fourth and Cain crossed the line for fifth just before his motor let go in a big cloud of smoke.

The sixteen lap Stock Car main event was the race of the night with Dustin Griffiths racing out to the early lead. Mike Hughes and Cayden Carter both started from the fifth row and by lap four Hughes was up to challenge for the lead. Hughes would take the lead on lap five only to have Griffith battle back and as they raced hard for the lead both Nathan Wood and Carter closed in to make it a four car battle. The four raced two-by-two nose-to-tail into turns three and four on lap nine, but with contact between those first two Hughes suffered a flat tire and dropped out of the race.

The scramble allowed Wood to steal the lead as Carter followed him to second and over the final seven lap Cayden would search for a line that would be faster than the new leader. After taking the white flag Carter went in a bit higher in turn one and appeared to have a run on Wood down the back stretch, but Nathan closed the door down low entering turn three and the defending All Iowa Points champion in the Stock Cars would earn his first win of 2018. Carter was a close second followed by Griffiths in third, Michael Petersen was right there in fourth and Derrick Agee completed the top five.

The Sport Mod feature got off to a scary start when Cory Van Zante got too high exiting turn two, clipped one the new implement tires on the outside and rolled his car hard. Fortunately the driver escaped injury, but it was the second incident of the night involving those new track tires as they also claimed Dan Banker's new Sport Mod during hot laps. Perhaps the need for these and how they "protect" the pit entrance road off the back stretch will be re-evaluated after these incidents.

Once under green Jason McDaniel opened up a big lead, half a straightaway over Brayton Carter and a full straightaway over Curtis Van Der Wal, but when Jarrett Vandenberg got upside down in turn three the red flag waved with seven laps remaining. On the restart Van Der Wal quickly moved to second and on the following lap he drove hard to the inside of McDaniel in turn one to take the lead and eventually another win. McDaniel and Carter were second and third, Blaine Webster finished fourth and Logan Anderson aboard the #53 car tonight was fifth.

Twenty-three Hobby Stock drivers signed in tonight and they would all be chasing Eric Stanton who took the lead on a lap one restart and never looked back on his way to victory. Griffiths made the podium in two classes tonight taking the runner-up honors in this one, Jamie Songer was third Aaron Martin was fourth and Mike Kincaid came from the eighth row to finish fifth.

Racing resumes in Oskaloosa next Wednesday night for Budweiser Memorial Night where fans and racers can donate any amount of money they want, from five dollars on up, to the purse in memory of anybody they choose. Should be another great Wednesday night for racing and we hope to see you there!

Next in the plans for me are the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour Sprint Cars at Lakeside Speedway on Thursday night, then on Friday I look forward to filling in on the microphone for the baseball Dad Tony Paris at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson.