6th Annual Slocum 50

6th Annual Slocum 50
Saturday, April 19th at 34 Raceway

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Nearly A Swindell Sweep Saturday at Knoxville

Kevin Swindell made a late pass to pick up a win in the USAC Midget main event and his father Sammy nearly did the same in the 410 c.i. Sprint Car feature Saturday night at the Knoxville Raceway.

This was night number two of the Pepsi/Mountain Dew Knoxville Midget Nationals and the driver who swept the event in 2008, Brad Sweet, jumped to the early lead from the outside of the front row. The track was much racier tonight as drivers ran both high and low and, with Sweet up on the top side, Jerry Coons Jr. made the pass for the lead using the rail on lap number three. Kevin Swindell had started his Bullet chassis in row four and he was on the move primarily using the low groove to move up to the second spot. With no cautions in the event, by the time Swindell picked up the chase of Coons he was a full straightaway behind with less than ten laps remaining.

I could sense that the lead was shrinking a bit, but not enough that he could make a challenge so my attention was pulled further back in the field where drivers were racing in groups of four or five swapping lines, and positions, in each corner. This was exactly the type of action that has been seen in the past when the Midgets have made their appearance at the big half-mile. With three laps to go I took a peek back to the front to see that Swindell was now within striking distance of the lead coming out of turn four and as they went through turns one and two and down the back straightaway it was evident who the faster car was now. Going into turn three Coons appeared to miss his mark and slipped just off the bottom enough that Kevin was able to slide under him for the lead coming to the white flag. Over the final five laps Swindell had been using a higher line in one and two so Coons charged back to the bottom and nosed ahead again, but only for a split second as Swindell's momentum off the top side rocketed him to the front off turn two and he claimed the victory much to the approval of the solid crowd on hand. Sweet and fellow Californian Darren Hagen swaped the third spot back and forth several times over the last ten laps and at the checkers it was Sweet who prevailed for the position with defending USAC Midget points champion Cole Whitt rounding out the top five.

As Kevin climbed from his car in victory lane his mother Amy looked around and asked "where's Sammy", but the youngster had to celebrate without his father as Sammy was strapping himself into Ricky Logan's car #10 in preparation for the twenty-lap Sprint Car main event that was up next. Logan had some family commitments that he needed to tend to and with Swindell in town to run, and win the Master's Classic the night before (driving Clint Garner's #40) who better to fill in for the evening? For the second week in a row, the right qualifying time and the proper draw of the invert pill by the fastest qualifier landed point leader Johnny Herrera on the front row of the starting grid and he wasted no time establishing a solid lead. Terry McCarl moved quickly from eighth to second and when the caution waved for Joey Moughan who had stopped in turn one, the crowd was energized as McCarl pulled alongside Herrera under caution to let him know who was second and then Swindell pulled alongside McCarl as if to say, "hey don't forget that you have me back here".

Herrera again opened a bit of a lead, but it shrunk quickly as the lead trio quickly approached traffic with eight laps to go. The leader was able to put a few cars between himself and his challengers and Swindell drove past McCarl for the second spot. With two to go, the two lapped cars between Herrera and Swindell slipped out of the groove and Swindell stormed by quickly closing in on the leader. On the final lap Herrera slipped just a bit off of turn two and Swindell made a run at him trying to squeeze past on the bottom, but Herrera pinched him down entering three to stop the charge and pick up another 2009 win at Knoxville. McCarl finished in third with quick qualifier Dusty Zomer fourth and pole-sitter Skip Jackson was fifth.

K-ville Notes....Brady Bacon was running fifth late in the Midget main after starting eleventh, but he dropped out of the event late in the race....Hall of Fame inductee Fred Rahmer came up one position short of qualifying for the Sprint Car feature as Josh Schneiderman held him off over the final laps of the B-Main......Joey Moughan was impressive in winning his heat race tonight before having mechanical issues in the feature.....Both Brian Brown and Terry McCarl donated their purse money tonight to the family of Chad McDaniel who lost his life the night before in a two car crash during the Midget feature.....There was plenty of speculation, but no cold hard reason that I could report on in regard to the disappointing car count for the USAC Midgets. But I will say that the eighteen cars that started tonight's feature put on one heck of a show!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tragic Night at Knoxville

I have been writing about racing for thirty-one years now and for the first twenty-four of those I never witnessed a fatality at the track and therefore I never had to write about one. In the seven years before last night, I was in the stands when terrible accidents took the lives of Keith Hutton and Steve King, and in both instances I chose not to write a column for Hawkeye Racing News on the event. I felt the same way this morning after learning of the passing of Kansas Midget driver Chad McDaniel after a crash late in the feature race at the Knoxville Raceway. I am not a journalist, I don't write articles with researched information and facts. My columns are my thoughts and observations from my location in the grandstands, and that is it, and when I see someone lose their life in a racing accident, I feel like the rest of what went on that night, good, bad or in between, doesn't really matter. I still feel that way today and while I did start to write a blog this morning to talk about the win of Sammy Swindell in the Masters Classic and the fact that no other driver will likely ever pull off the Chili Bowl/Masters double in the same season, and that Tracy Hines was the eventual winner in the Midget feature, it just didn't feel right. So with that, please know that my thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family of Chad McDaniel and, like the too many other drivers who have passed before him, we will assume that he would have wanted racing to carry on just like it will tonight at the Knoxville Raceway.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Iowa and Missouri Points Updated through Memorial Day

It has been another wet spring and while some tracks have been able to get several shows in (ten at West Plains and eight each at Burlington and Boone) some tracks still only have two or three shows in the books through the Memorial Day weekend. Here's hoping that the rain stops falling on race night!

In the All Iowa Points Quincy drivers Mark Burgtorf and Jason Frankel continue to lead the Late Model standings with Kevin Blum on the move up to the third spot one point ahead of Jeff Aikey. Jeremy Mills continues to pace the Modified class while Adam Larson has made the big move up to second ahead of Ryan Dolan. Jay Noteboom and defending champion Todd Shute are tied for fourth.

It remains a tight four horse race in the Limited Mods as Austin Kaplan and Jesse Sobbing are tied at the top just two points ahead of both Kevin Sather and Luke Wanninger. Shannon Anderson appears to be headed toward his second straight All Iowa Points Hobby Stock title as he enjoys a twenty-five point, or a five feature win equivalent advantage over Devin Smith. Dustin Larson and Kevin Schmauss have cracked the top five along with Chris Hovden. Gary Peiffer puts on the miles in his Des Moines to Webster City to Vinton weekend schedule and his points are adding up as well. He leads Jeremy Campbell, Nathan Chandler and Nate Coopman in the latest update.

Terry McCarl was the man to beat before the All Iowa Points went on hiatus in 1998 and with his return to weekly racing at Knoxville and Husets he may be the standard bearer again. Johnny Herrera has three wins to sit in second with Lynton Jeffrey and Brian Brown next in line. Jody Rosenboom has returned to the top in the 360 division, the class that he has dominated over the past two years. Eagle Raceway regulars Jack Dover, Mike Boston and Billy Alley are next in line. Bobby Mincer showed that he can win on the 1/2-miles as well by traveling up to Webster City this past weekend. The 34 Raceway regular leads the 305 Sprint points over Kevin Hetrick and Jaysin Dittsworth.

In the All Missouri Points the rain-out weary drivers head into the summer months as follows. In the Late Model ranks Randy Korte sits on top with Tim Manville and Terry Phillips next in line. Kyle Berry of Poplar Bluff leads the Limited Late Model contingent with Darin Walker and Shawn Rayfield close behind. Vance Wilson has jumped over two West Plains competitors, Shawn Walsh and Brandon Ball, to now lead the Modified division. Billy Smith, David Shepard, Jason Russell and defending champion Tim Setzer are in a four-way tie for fourth.

This is the first year for tabulating points in the Limited Modified division in Missouri and the race is a close one early on with Brad Smith and Dan Bimson currently tied for the lead. Colt Cheevers sits in third with Blake David and Brian Ziegler next in line. The Sprint Car points are tight as well with Jerrod Hull enjoying a one point advantage over young Josh Fisher. Jesse Hockett, Randy Martin and Joey Montgomery are next in line.

Check out the full point standings for all divisions on the Points page at www.positivelyracing.com

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Herrera Holds Back McCarl, Dobesh Also Wins at Knoxville

Johnny Herrera fought off a slide job by Terry McCarl on the final lap to win the 410 Sprint feature at the Knoxville Raceway Saturday night, while Bryan Dobesh dominated the field in the 360 c.i. Sprints.

Young Josh Schneiderman blew by pole sitter Mark Dobmeier and quickly opened a sizable lead in the twenty-lap finale for the 410 division. A caution for a spinning Pete Crall on lap three wiped out that advantage though and on the restart Johnny Herrera drove by Schneiderman for the lead in turn one. With Herrera now comfortably up front, the show was mid-pack as Terry McCarl was steadily picking off cars after starting in the twelfth position. With five laps remaining McCarl slipped by Lynton Jeffrey for second, but he was still a full straightaway behind Herrera. The race changed dramatically two laps later though when the hub broke on the right front wheel of the car of Billy Alley bringing out the caution and setting up a three-lap showdown. Alley was running fourth at the time of his misfortune.

On the restart Herrera went low into turn one to block McCarl's first attempt and again in turns three and four he entered low and then drifted to the cushion. Herrera drove the same line in both sets of turns the next lap and it looked like McCarl would not even be able to make a bid for the win. As the leaders took the white flag though Herrera stayed up on the cushion going into turn one and "T-Mac" took his shot with the slider. As McCarl drifted up the track Herrera had to give just a bit of ground to keep the two from making contact, but he maintained his momentum and the lead down the backstretch. McCarl made one last run at him off the low side of turn four heading for the checkers and Herrera won it by a little more than a car length at the stripe. Jeffrey followed the duo in for third with Brian Brown fourth and Kerry Madsen fifth.

Bryan Dobesh left little doubt as to who would win the 360 main event starting outside of row one and dominating the entire fifteen-lap distance. Last week's winner Ryan Roberts started next to Dobesh and had to fight off a mid-race challenge from Jonathan Cornell to hold on for the runner-up finish. Point leader Clint Garner put on a show coming from sixteenth to take third with Cornell and Matt Moro completing the top five.

Knoxville Knotes.....Madsen started next to McCarl on row six of the feature and was still in eighth for the final restart. He passed three cars in the final three laps to crack the top five.....Mark Dobmeier changed motors after qualifying and then won the third heat in dominating fashion. In the feature though his pole position start resulted in just a sixth-place finish.....After setting quick time Terry McCarl noted that he is just having fun this season and not chasing points anywhere. He said that a #24 car would be at Knoxville the rest of the year and, if it wasn't him in the seat, it would be Lynton Jeffrey in the backup car.....Chad Humston followed up an ASCS Midwest Region win on Thursday night at the I-80 Speedway in Nebraska with a sixth-place run in tonight's 360 main event.....The two upside down incidents of the night came during the first two attempts at starting the 360 B-Main. Chad Heimbaugh got into the turn one fence and ended up on his side while Travis Porter also took a bit of a tumble in turn one. Neither driver was injured.....Jon Corbin dropped out of the B-Main with three laps remaining while running second allowing infrequent Knoxville visitor Ryan Bickett to pick up the final transfer position.....the USAC Midget Nationals take center stage at the Knoxville Raceway next weekend. On Friday night the mighty midgets will be joined by the annual Masters Classic and on Saturday night the 410's will be on hand.

Morgan and I spent Friday and Saturday in Des Moines watching the human races on the blue oval at Drake Stadium for the Iowa High School co-ed track meet and we were originally set to be in Burlington Saturday night for the World of Outlaw Late Model show. A quick check of the radar though showed some heavy rain around southeast Iowa so we hung around Pella until we heard the news that the show at 34 had been rained out. The World of Outlaws are looking for a possible make-up date for that event so keep an eye out for that announcement. Also, the West Liberty Raceway was rained out on Saturday so they will now run a full program on Memorial Day Monday night with extra money on the line in the NASCAR Late Models.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No Marshalltown Miscue for Tesch; Takes First Ever Appearance by USMTS

After letting one slip away the night before, South Dakota driver Jon Tesch was flawless on Wednesday night leading all forty laps to win the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) main event at the Marshalltown Speedway. It was the first ever appearance for the group at the high-banked quarter-mile after being rained out in their scheduled debut here in 2008.

A field of forty-two Modifieds filled the pits at Marshalltown and it was the same two drivers up front at the end of the night that were deciding the outcome the night before in Oskaloosa. The main event got off to a rough start as second row starters, and potential contenders, Tommy Myer and Ryan Dolan made contact coming out of turn four to complete the first lap. The field went scrambling behind them with several other cars sustaining damage. Both Myer and Dolan were towed away to the pits while the third row of Rodney Sanders and Scott Drake were also eliminated. Pole-starter Kelly Shryock had the jump on that first start, but on the restart it was fellow front row man Jon Tesch who picked up the lead. Shryock, the many time USMTS National Champion, picked up the chase in second until the fourth circuit when he went too high in turn two and slipped over the banking. Shryock recovered, but lost seven positions due to the miscue.

This put Oklahoma driver Jason Hughes back in the role that he played the night before in chasing Tesch. While the field raced three and sometimes four wide behind them, Tesch and Hughes would pull away making it obvious that the race would be decided between the two of them. With the laps winding down Tesch developed a bit of a push in turn four giving Hughes the opportunity to get a wheel under him, but on this night there were no mistakes by Tesch as he held on for victory. Zack VanderBeek came from the outside of row eight to finish in the third position with young Ryan Gustin thrilling his hometown fans by taking fourth after starting in row seven. Shryock had worked his way back into the top five only to be passed on the final lap by Corey Dripps who had started next to VanderBeek as the third, fourth and fifth place finishers showed just how racy this track was by feature time.

In support class action David Atcher made his first appearance at the Speedway in 2009 and went flag-to-flag to win the Stock Car main event. It was the first victory for Atcher here since 2005. Tom Schmitt made quite a run at Atcher over the final two laps, but came up just short in second with Curt Hook, Mike VanGenderen and Clayton Deppe next in line. Thirty-four Sport Mods/B-Modifieds from all over the state were on hand tonight and when the checkers flew it was a very familiar face in victory lane. Kevin Sather has won every feature race in 2009 at Marshalltown in this division thus far, so when he drew a front row starting spot for the main event it was a pretty good bet that the win would be his. Kyle Brown stayed close though and was even able to pull alongside in the corners on a few occasions before settling for second. Luke Wanninger edged out Scott Davis for the third spot while A.J. Johnson made the most of his first Marshalltown appearance by coming from row ten to take fifth. And in the Hobby Stock portion of the card Todd Reitzler shook off an early challenge from Nathan Wood and then cruised to victory. The race saw three attempts at a green-white-checkers restart and on the final one Kenny Hansen was able slip by Wood out of turn four to steal the runner-up position. Chad Koch finished fourth with Dustin Elliott fifth.

M-Town Notes.....Kenny Wallace and Kenny Schrader were on hand again tonight and both of them raced their way into the feature with Wallace finishing ninth and Schrader twelfth. Unlike the night before at Osky, both NASCAR veterans were brought out to the frontstretch during the evening to be interviewed by announcer Denny Grabenbauer and both were very entertaining. I have had the pleasure on several occasions to interview these two characters and I have learned to ask them a basic question and then just let them roll and that is exactly what Denny did. In a pre-race interview Wallace had the capacity crowd whooping and hollering and then did a pretty good Ric Flair championship belt strut, something that he probably saw a few times this past week when the professional wrestling icon was part of the marketing campaign for the Sprint Cup All-Star event at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Schrader's interview was at intermission after he had finished second to Mike O'Lear in the third heat race. When asked if he would know his way to the Aaron's Victory Lane at the Marshalltown Speedway Schrader's response was "yea, and when I get there I won't be doing no backflips or anything like that. I'll just sit on the tire and drink a Bud Light". We'll look forward to seeing Schrader compete with the World of Outlaw Late Models at 34 Raceway this Saturday night May 23rd.....Geoff Olson had a top five run go by the wayside in the SportMod feature when he popped a driveshaft with just a few laps to go.....The warm and windy conditions dried out the track quickly tonight and in the second SportMod heat six of the eight starters spun out at least once during the race. But, with the spin-your-in rule in effect, they all kept racing making for an interesting eight laps. By feature time though the track had taken rubber and drivers could run well from top to bottom. In fact as the Stock Car field came out of turn four to complete the first lap they were five-wide!....For the second straight night USMTS rookie contender Tim Shields of Kansas City drew the pole of the first heat race. Last night at Osky he didn't make it to staging in time and had to then start at the rear. He was on time tonight.....There are some things that I just never thought I would hear such as "the Tampa Bay Rays, American League champions" or "Brett Favre stays retired" (guess I still haven't heard that one for sure yet), but I really never thought that I would hear "and now here's your lineup for the IMCA USRA Hobby Stock main event". Maybe now Favre will stay retired.....I always know that when I go to see a Toby Kruse promoted show, or a USMTS-run event by Todd Staley and his family, I am going to see a well-presented program. The combination of the two was a sure thing and it lived up to expectations.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hughes Spoils Tesch's Night; Wood Wins Two at Osky

One slight miscue by Jon Tesch made all the difference in the outcome of the thirty lap feature for the USMTS Modifieds as Jason Hughes picked up the $2,000 top prize on a beautiful Tuesday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. Nathan Wood will remember it as a great night as well as he topped the field in two of the support divisions while Tyler Groenendyk won his first career feature in the B-Modifieds.

Tesch started the Modified main outside of young Ryan Gustin on row one and jumped to the lead at the drop of the green. The Watertown South Dakota speedster then opened up nearly a straightaway advantage as Jason Hughes moved by Gustin for the second position. A mid-race caution wiped away that lead and on the restart Hughes made a bid for the point using the low groove in turns one and two. Tesch was able to brush off that challenge and put a few car lengths between himself and Hughes looking as if he would be hard to beat in the final ten laps. As the leader approach some backmarkers with seven laps remaining, he got just a bit too high in turn two and made enough contact with the guardrail that it knocked down about a foot of his spoiler on the right rear. It was hard to tell if it was the damage to Tesch's car or the adrenaline rush that Hughes experienced seeing it happen just ahead of him, perhaps a combination of both, but the five car length difference between the two disappeared almost immediately.

Tesch and Hughes put on a great show over the next three laps as they ran side-by-side often, even while putting a couple of cars a lap down and with just three laps remaining Hughes put himself into the lead for good. Tesch tried one last time to regain the advantage using a different line through the corners, but he had to settle for second as Hughes pulled away over the final two laps. Ryan Gustin held off the persistent challenges of Brad Pinkerton to finish in the third spot while Zack VanderBeek completed the top five. VanderBeek moved quickly from his row six starting spot up to sixth in the early laps only to see his advancement slow from there. Al Hejna came from thirteenth to finish sixth and Dean Mahlsedt, who started next to VanderBeek in row six, came home seventh.

Leroy Groenendyk started from the pole position of the fifteen-lap B-Modified feature with his son Tyler right behind him in row two. The kid blew by his father off of turn two on the the first lap and never looked back taking his first career feature win by a full straightaway with Leroy holding on for second. Rookie driver Drew Lawson held his ground to finish in the third spot followed by Cory Brown and Andrew Schroeder. Of the top five only Brown started outside of it in seventh. A.J. Johnson won the first heat race of the night, but then appeared to not make weight afterwards as he started twentieth in the feature. A rookie in the division for 2009 Johnson was on the move and up to tenth before breaking the left front tie rod causing him to fade to 16th at the finish. (Note: The race story the following day stated that Leroy Groenendyk had been disqualified in post-race tech)

Front row starters Nathan Wood and Kyle Harwood swapped the lead a couple of times over the course of the fifteen-lap Stock Car feature with Wood regaining the lead on lap nine. From there Harwood's teammate Brian Mitrisin picked up the challenge and gave Wood all that he wanted over the final six laps only to come up short as Nathan Wood earned the victory. Zack Vanderbeek, who last week had wins in both the Modifieds and the Stock Cars here, would follow it up this week with a still impressive "top five" double as he finished in the third spot. Zack was forced to start ninth on the grid after dropping from his heat race with a flat right rear tire. Matt Greiner finished fourth with Harwood completing the top five.

After a quick victory lane interview with Tony Paris, Wood climbed aboard his Hobby Stock ride and started next to Pete Hutzell on the front row. Tony Teninty challenged Wood in the early laps and late in the race both Bobby Greene and Chris Hovden were within striking distance, but there was no stopping Wood from taking his second win in a fifteen minute time span. Greene, the winner of last Thursday's season opener, started tenth and finished second while Hovden who already has three wins this season up in the northeast corner of the state finished in third. Kris Walker and Dale Porter filled out the top five.

It must be noted that the three support class features raced for a total of forty-five green flag laps with just one caution, that coming on lap two of the Hobby Stock feature. Car counts were solid in three of the four divisions with 41 Modifieds, 20 Hobby Stocks, 20 B-Mods and 13 Stock Cars. The Stock Cars included a couple of drivers from out of the area as Kurt Krauskopf came down from Decorah and Jeff Zehr pulled in from Manson.

The USMTS Modifieds move to the Marshalltown Speedway tonight (Wednesday May 20th) and I believe that four of the five http://www.positivelyracing.com/ bloggers will be there to cover it. And Ryan Clark will have news from the Deery Brothers event from Allison "In Staging" so take some time to explore our site!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Kyle Busch Dominates at Iowa Speedway

The past two years when the Iowa Speedway contracted a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to compete in the Camping World Series East vs. West event, that driver came to Newton the day after winning the All Star race at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. First it was Kevin Harvick and then Kasey Kahne, so with Kyle Busch on the roster for this weekend it seemed like a pretty good chance that string would continue. Well, it didn't as Tony Stewart captured the one million dollar top prize at Lowe's on Saturday night so Kyle came to town and did what neither Harvick or Kahne were able to do. Win the race at Iowa Speedway.

Rain just before the scheduled start time was about the only thing that slowed Kyle Busch on this day.

Busch started his day off in Iowa in fine fashion setting a new track record for this division with a speed of 135.484 mph in his Toyota of Des Moines sponsored ride putting him on the pole next to California driver David Mayhew who also went below the previous track record during qualifying. A pesky light rain just before driver introductions delayed the start of the race for about an hour and when the green flag flew Busch and Mayhew left the rest of the 37-car field far behind. A caution on lap seventy brought most of the field down pit road while Claremont, California, driver Chris Johnson remained on the speedway to inherit the lead. Having qualified 34th on the starting grid at a speed that was over seven miles per hour slower than Busch it was pretty much expected that Johnson's time at the front would be short-lived. That was not the case though as he quickly opened up a ten car length advantage when the race went back to green.

Busch was around the twelfth spot on the restart and he seemed to pick off a car a lap and when he made it up to the second spot it took him several laps to reel in the leader. One lap past the halfway mark, lap 101, Johnson slid up the race track off of turn two allowing Busch to make a run at him down the backstretch to regain the lead. Johnson pitted a lap later under green and lost a couple of laps to the field and would no longer be a factor, but he was certainly impressive for the nearly thirty laps that he ran out front. As Busch pulled away from the pack the battle for second heated up as four cars, including local standout Brett Moffitt, bunched together nose-to-tail in traffic on lap 145. A sixteen-year-old sophomore in high school from Grimes, Moffitt moved by Jason Bowles to take the third spot during that battle and was giving Brian Ickler quite a challenge for second when the caution came out on lap 177 with Ryan Truex riding along the wall in turns one and two.

There would be just sixteen laps remaining for the restart and although nobody had shown that they could mount a serious challenge on Busch, both Mayhew and Ickler had proven that they could keep pace with him. With the return of the green Ickler made a bold move to the inside of Busch coming out of turn two putting his nose under the Cup star, but Busch was able to fight off the challenge down the back straightaway to maintain the advantage. There would be no chance for Ickler to think about the lead over the final laps as Mayhew pulled to his inside and the two raced wheel to wheel for all but the final two laps as Ickler prevailed in the battle to be the runner-up to Kyle Busch. Moffitt was fourth on that final restart only to have Paulie Harraka go by him with seven laps remaining and Jeffrey Earnhardt, the son of Kerry Earnhardt and grandson of Dale, passed him two laps later. Earnhardt nipped Harraka by a nose at the checkers to finish in the fourth spot while Moffitt brought his Karl Chevrolet sponsored ride in fourth sixth. Idaho driver Brett Thompson finsihed in the seventh spot followed by Jesus Hernandez, Bowles and Johnny Borneman.
Sixteen-year-old Brett Moffitt and nineteen-year-old Jeffrey Earnhardt chat before introductions. Both drivers would end up finishing in the top six.


There is no doubt that "Rowdy" Busch would have preferred to continue the tradition of winning the big money in Charlotte the night before, but it was also obvious from his victory celebration on the front straightaway that he was very happy to start a new tradition of the Cup star taking the win here at the Iowa Speedway.

Jimmie Johnson's younger brother Jarit is greeted by Richard Petty during pre-race ceremonies. Johnson was running ninth with twenty-seven laps remaining when he pitted with a smoking racecar.

Newton Notes and Observations......Our day started off with a brief press conference featuring Richard Petty who was making his first trip ever to the Iowa Speedway. The King was very entertaining to listen to as he spoke of how racing has changed so much from his first Cup championship in 1964 and noted that while the youth movement of today is impressive, these kids have likely been racing something since the age of five. Back in his day you had to be twenty-one or so just to scrape together enough junk to get out there to compete. Petty also stated that the drivers of today must not only be talented behind the wheel, but they also must be able to be good public speakers and represent their sponsors in the right manner. Forty or fifty years ago he likened some of the best drivers as somebody that you would let out of a cage, have them drive the race and then make sure that you put them back in the cage. My favorite part of the King's press conference though came when Kirk Elliott from http://www.racinboys.com/ asked him to comment on the recent ground breaking for the Victory Junction camp in Kansas City. It was very obvious that Richard and the entire Petty family and organization take great pride in the camp and what it has meant to the lives of the kids who attend. I thought I could hear his voice waiver a couple of times as he described with passion the activities that the children with special needs participate in and the confidence that it gives to these kids when they return to their everyday world.....My partner here at PR.com, Barry Johnson works in the media relations department at the Speedway and he was a bit down on himself after the event. Seems that as he was delivering the winner's trophy to victory lane it came apart on him. Kyle Busch though made light of the situation and stated that he would fix it himself as loves collecting trophies. After the winner's press conference the Speedway staff offered to have the trophy fixed and shipped to Busch and Kyle once again said "no problem, I can fix this!".....My father-in-law Bob Shores joined me today and one of his friends Leon Emmons added to our enjoyment as he showed us around some of the places that we would have never seen without him. Leon's business Mr. Executive is a long time sponsor of Des Moines IMCA Stock Car star Steve Jackson......Due to commitments at other races, tickets to college football games, family events, etc., etc., I had yet to make it out to the Iowa Speedway until today. Several people have told me what a fantastic facility this is, but their glowing accounts still did not do this place justice. This facility is first class from top to bottom for the drivers, their crews, the media and most importantly for the fans. An extensive lineup of food and drink options and at very affordable prices just add to the great sight lines that the grandstand area provides and the configuration of the track offers up the two main things that race fans are looking for; speed and competition. Yes, I am and always will be a dyed in the wool dirt track fan, but as a race fan and as a native Iowan I felt a great sense of pride now knowing that we have this gem right here in our midst. Those of you who have been there already know this, and for those of you who perhaps like me, just haven't put forth the effort to check this place out yet, please do so. You won't be disappointed! Click on their website right now at http://www.iowaspeedway.com/ to purchase your tickets. I look forward to returning soon.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

A "Cool" Night at West Liberty

After having everything within a four four drive of me washed out on Friday, and with Saturday greeting us with strong northwest winds and much cooler temperatures, I made the decision to head on up the road to the West Liberty Raceway for my Saturday night destination. This is where I spent most every Saturday night back in the 1970's and into the early 80's, and I just don't get there much anymore even though it is less than an hour from my home base. Knowing that the covered grandstands faced east providing a nice block to the wind I figured that the weather would be less of a factor there than some of my other choices tonight, plus I just had to go back to hear my old friend Jerry Mackey on the microphone. Jerry and his wife Marnee have returned to Iowa after being in California the past several years and it is great to have him paired up with the always entertaining Mike Becker at the SPI tracks. And yes, I would have written the same nice things about the two of you even if you hadn't given the website such a great plug!!

Hats off to Keith Simmons and his entire crew for even being able to race tonight as the track picked up over three inches of rain over the past three days. Their efforts definitely paid off for the fans who braved the chilly conditions tonight as drivers were able to run from top to bottom on the big half-mile with only a couple bumps developing from the over abundance of moisture.

On to the racing, the first main event of the night was the B-Modified feature where Jarrett Franzen moved quickly from his third row starting spot to grab the lead on lap one. By lap five Franzen had plenty of company as Zach Less oved to the lowside and Jason Speers went to the top to make it a three-wide race for the lead in turn three. Less emreged with the lead off turn four and never looked back over the final ten laps as he picked up the feature win. Speers and Franzen were second and third followed by Mark Winkel and Nick Hixson. Hixson looked as though he might challenge for the lead mid-race only to fall off the pace over the final five circuits.

Stock Cars were up next and it was pole starter Jamie Figg leading the first three laps before yielding to David Brandies. From the way he ran the rest of the race I was surprised to hear Brandies state that this was his first win here in the Stock Car division after seven years of trying as he outran many time winner Greg Gill over the final ten laps. Scotty Pratt, who failed to answer the bell for his heat race earlier in the evening, started from the rear of the sixteen-car field and made a nice run up to third whil Brad Tyler and Figg completed the top five.

The "Flyer" field was stacked with talent as four of the top six drivers in the All Iowa Four Cylinder Points were on hand and the whole field really got around the half-mile in high speed fashion. Jordan Walker was the lap one leader, but young Tyler Kelly, who started seventh went flying by on lap number two. Brad and Nathan Chandler tried to keep pace, but that would be the best they could do as Kelly rolled to his second win of the season at West Liberty. Brad prevailed over Nathan for second as the two went side-by-side on the final lap with Jarrod McMichael, Jeff Miller and Jeremy Campbell next in line. Tyler Kelly and his father Tim actually live on the same lane as my brother Kurtis does in the Williamsburg suburb of Parnell and the Kelly's had a little extra help, if needed, in the pits tonight as 2008 All Iowa Points champion Brannon Bechen was on hand after being rained out at Maquoketa.

The Modifieds featured the highest car count of the night with twenty-one and nearly all of them were capable of grabbing the trophy in their twenty-lap feature. Todd Hansen was able to hold off the challenges of Steve Stewart for the first two laps before Stewart snared the lead on lap three. A caution flag one lap later slowed the field and on the restart Ryan Dolan went storming past to grab the lead. Bruce Hanford followed him through into second and looked like he might have something for the new leader, but Dolan shook him off and then drove away to the win in the Jamison Racing #7. Hanford held off a late charge from Steve Boley who had his best night since returning to the Modified division finishing third. Former All Iowa Points champion Mark Schulte passed Stewart late to take fourth while Brad Diercks and Larry Herring came home sixth and seventh. During the lap four caution Diercks ducked into the pit area and returned just in time to restart from 19th and Herring, who had spun out on the final lap of his heat race, started the race on the outside of row ten. And yes, I did confirm that Larry still has "Kurt's Used Caskets" as one of the "sponsors" on his #96.

Eighteen NASCAR Late Models took the green in the evening's finale and it looked like Matt "Bones" Bodman might just be the man to beat. After all he had walked away from a strong field in the first heat race of the night and he was starting the feature from the pole position. Bodman started strong leading the race from the drop of the green with Denny Eckrich in hot pursuit. On lap number four Denny made the pass for the lead only to have the caution flag come out before the entire lap was scored. Following the restart, again Eckrich made the pass of Bodman only to again have to give it back when a second caution flag waved. Finally on lap seven Denny made the pass that would stick as he then went unchallenged the remainder of the distance to pick up the win. Chad Simpson started in row number nine and gradually made his way to the front to claim the runner-up title with Dave Eckrich and Andy Eckrich next in line. Kevin Kile slipped past Bodman on the final lap to finish fifth. Kurt Kile was supposed to start from the outside of turn one, but when he was forced to scratch his #77 he climbed aboard Dakota Hayden's #12 and was passing some cars before he slowed with a wisp of smoke.

The racing action got underway right at the advertised starting time of 7 p.m. and was completed by 9:50. My theory on the weather and the covered grandstand played out perfectly as I never did have to add any layers to my t-shirt and hooded sweatshirt, but man was it cold as I left the grandstands and headed for the car! Two special events that we will be adding to our Calendar at http://www.positivelyracing.com/ are coming up at the Farley Speedway as Simmons Promotions will host two "Tornado Tuesdays" featuring $10,000-to-win Late Models and $1,000-to-win Modifieds. Mark those dates of Tuesday June 16th and Tuesday July 7th and we'll hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

VanderBeek Doubles Up at Osky Opener

I wish I would have started counting a couple of years ago just how many times that Zack VanderBeek wins both the Stock Car and the Modified features on the same night at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa. I'm pretty sure that I have been there to witness it at least three times now and I only make it up to Osky four a five times a season. Apparently Zack has accomplished this feat enough now that it doesn't even really get much of a response like I'm sure that it did the first time that it happened. On this night it almost seemed like a double feature win was expected.

Delayed one night by rain, the 2009 season opener at the fast half-mile featured a nice field of cars in the four divisions and a solid crowd for a Thursday night. The B-Mod division had the highest car count with nineteen and their feature was up first with Kevin Fee and Jason McDaniel starting on the front row. McDaniel, the 2008 track champion and USRA National Champion in the Hobby Stocks, put his new B-Mod ride out front and looked like he just might run away from the rest of the field. On lap seven though, the race changed quickly as the right front tire went down on McDaniel's ride going into turn one causing him to slide off the track, bounce off the guardrail and sit precariously in the middle of the racing groove. Luckily everybody was able to miss him and on the restart the lead was handed over to Andrew Schroeder. That did not last long though as Schroeder slowed with mechanical problems two laps later giving the lead back to the original pole-sitter Kevin Fee. Josh Modde, who has also jumped from the Hobby Stock ranks into the B-Mods, stayed close but could not mount a challenge and settled for second as Fee closed out the opening night victory. Cayden Carter finished in the third spot, but was later disqualified in the tech area as he did not have a working rev limiter box. This moved Tyler Groenendyk to third and Mike Shelton to fourth in the final rundown.

VanderBeek drew the pole for the Stock Car main and from the drop of the green there was no doubt who was going to win this one. The race for second was intense though as Matt Greiner and Mike VanGenderen swapped the spot back and forth several times over the fifteen-lap distance with VanGenderen taking the runner-up spot at the checkers. Greiner was third with Brian Mitrisin and Nathan Wood next in line.

Rookie driver Dan Dyer paced the first lap of the Hobby Stock main before Dale Porter took control. Two years ago Porter was unstoppable in the area winning sixteen features in the four cylinder division and for the next eight laps it looked like he was ready to start adding Hobby Stock trophies to his mantle, but Bobby Greene had a different plan. Starting from the inside of row four Greene gradually made his way to the front and with four laps remaining he completed the pass for the lead. Porter fought back and was able to stick his nose back under the new leader a lap later, but Greene pulled away over the final three laps for the win. Porter held on for second ahead of a fast closing T.J. Henderson who started the race from row five. Andy Coleman and Kris Walker completed the top five.

The USRA Modifieds closed out the evening with their lightning quick twenty-lap finale. Brad Pinkerton started from the pole and rocketed to the lead only to have second row starter Zack VanderBeek right on his tail. On lap five "the Z-man" slid by Pinkerton on the inside to take the lead and he opened up a straightaway advantage before the caution flag appeared with just four laps remaining. Despite the fact that the field was bunched up two-wide behind him, nobody had anything for VanderBeek as he pulled away for his second feature win of the night. On that late restart drivers raced three-wide into turn one for the second spot as Pinkerton fought back Richie Gustin and Scott Dickey over the final laps to finish second and Missouri's David Holder passed Steve Stewart late to round out the top five.

Osky Notes.....Promoter Todd Staley and his crew are well known for their ability to run off an efficient race program and tonight, along with full cooperation from the sixty-eight drivers on hand, they outdid themselves. Racing started right on time at 7:30, the heat races were completed at 8:10 and, even with about a fifteen minute intermission, the final checkers waved at 9:27. Now if that doesn't bring you back for another weeknight show here, I don't know what will.....Bobby Greene executed a perfect backflip (Carl Edwards style) in victory lane after his Hobby Stock win, but then told track announcer Tony Paris that he was getting too old for that.....Speaking of Mr. Paris, he did a great job as usual entertaining and informing the crowd as you always now who every driver is and what their hometown is when Tony is on the mic. Plus we want to thank him for giving PositivelyRacing.com a nice plug......The pit gate for the speedway has been moved from its traditional position outside of turn two to a new location just outside of turn four and for one driver the change has doubled the distance of his tow for each and every race night. Corey Stout lives right across the street from the race track just outside of turn one, so he now must tow his Stock Car twice as far to get into the pits. Good thing for Corey that the price of gas is traditionally low in Oskaloosa!.....For a rookie Hobby Stock driver I was impressed with Dan Dyer who kept his cool while running at the front of the feature early on. Dyer was racing in the third spot late in the race only to spin out in turn two. He kept the car fired up and recovered to finish in the tenth spot. Look for him to start posting some top five finishes very soon.....Nathan Wood, who was also competing in the Stock Car division tonight, showed up in staging for the first Hobby Stock heat race only to find that it had already completed a lap under green so he was sent back to the pits. This put him in the seventeenth starting position for the Hobby Stock main event and after just three laps he had advanced to the seventh spot. His charge to the front ended there though as he shucked the driveshaft heading into turn one on lap number four......Race night will be on Tuesday night (May 19th) next week at Oskaloosa as the USMTS Modifieds, including NASCAR drivers Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace, will be in action along with the Stock Cars, B-Mods and Hobby Stocks.

Points Through May 10th Now Posted

The updated All Missouri and All Iowa Points are now posted on the Points page at http://www.positivelyracing.com/.

On the strength of four feature wins and five runner-up finishes Jeremy Mills sits atop the All Iowa Modified standings. Mills finished third in 2008. Six wins and a second-place run has vaulted Michael Long up to the second spot with Ryan Dolan in third. Cedar Rapids driver Max Corporan is the early surprise sitting in the fourth spot as he finished well down the list last year in 234th.



Max Corporan - photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring, Action Track Photography


With 2008 Late Model champion Brian Harris not running a regular schedule in the state the door is wide open for a new All Iowa Points champion in that division. Quincy drivers Mark Burgtorf and Jason Frankel sit one-two in the standings right now with another out-of-state driver Keith Foss in third.

Dustin Smith dominated the Stock Car division in '08 and he returns to the top spot in this week's update knocking early leader Kevin Opheim back to second. Opheim also paced the field early last year before finishing in a tie for third with another Smith brother, Donavon. Southeast Iowa competitors Abe Huls and Jason Cook are currently third and tied for fourth respectively. Cook is tied with Trent Murphy.

Kevin Sather, Austin Kaplan and Luke Wanninger were far ahead of the rest of the state's Limited Modifieds in 2008 and those three are once again at the top of the current standings. Although this year it looks like Sport Mod rookie Jesse Sobbing and some others may be able to keep pace with the lead trio.


Austin Kaplan - photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring, Action Track Photography
Defending Hobby Stock champion Shannon Anderson already enjoys a fourteen point advantage over Devin Smith. Alan Van Gorp, Dustin Larson and Kenny Hansen are all tied for third while sixteen-year-old Derek St. Clair is now tied with Michael Murphy for sixth after picking up his first two career victories in the past two weeks.

Gary Peiffer, Jeremy Campbell and Nathan Chandler are threatening to make it a three-car breakaway in the Four Cylinder division. Pfeiffer's 45 points on the strength of six feature wins are the most of any driver in any division so far in 2009.



Gary Peiffer - photo courtesy of Scott Tjabring, Action Track Photography




The Sprint Car divisions are just getting their season started as Johnny Herrera's two wins last weekend (34 Raceway and Knoxville) have him in first in the 410's, Billy Alley and Jack Dover are tied atop the 360 points and Bobby Mincer looks to be the man to beat this year in the 305 division.

In the All Missouri Points drivers have been racing Mother Nature this spring perhaps even more than they have been racing each other. In the Late Models Randy Korte has a one point advantage over Terry Phillips who has a one point cushion over his teammate Jeremy Payne. 2008 champion Jack Simmons is currently fourth.

The West Plains Motor Speedway has been able to complete eight nights of racing so far in 2009, twice as many as any other Missouri track and that has helped Shawn Walsh and Brandon Ball establish themselves at the top of the Modified rankings. Vance Wilson is not far behind in third and Jamie Ragland, who finished third in the 2008 final rundown, currently sits fourth.

This is the first year that the Limited Mods have been included in the All Missouri Points and Dan Bimson is the early leader over Mike Floyd and Adam Hemby. Kyle Berry enjoys a one-point advantage over Darin Walker in the Limited/Spec/Crate Late Models and Jerrod Hull enjoys a four point edge over 2008 champ Tommy Worley Jr. in the Sprint car standings.

Check out where your favorites currently rank!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A Second "Diamond" For Birkhofer

Brian Birkhofer and Shannon Babb, the two former winners of the Diamond of the Dirt Nationals, swapped the lead back and forth during the early laps of the third annual event Saturday night. And when Babb was sidelined on lap eight with front end damage, Birkhofer was never seriously challenged the rest of the way for the $30,000 win at the immaculate Lucas Oil Speedway.

Babb and Birkhofer started the seventy-five lap main event on the inside of rows one and two respectively with Babb holding the lead for the first three laps. With Babb working the high line and Birkhofer down low, the two ran the next four laps in a fashion where Babb would have the momentum to take the lead down the backstretch while Birkhofer would pull even, or even lead by inches at the start-finish line. The third-place car of Brad Neat was maintaining the pace of the lead duo and when Birkhofer established himself as the leader on lap seven, Neat tried to put a slider on Babb coming out of turn number two for second. The two cars made contact causing significant damage to the left front of Babb’s ride and while he tried to continue after dropping several spots, he slowed a lap later bringing out the second caution of the event.

With the entertaining battle up front the lap eight caution gave the large crowd a chance to catch their breath and notice the impressive early charges by several drivers. Bart Hartman had moved from twentieth to ninth, Brian Shirley had come from twenty-second to twelfth, Scott Bloomquist had started twenty-fifth and was now thirteenth and Billy Moyer had moved to fifteenth after starting on the inside of row fourteen. Obviously the 3/8th-mile oval was in fantastic condition with drivers finding racing grooves from top to bottom.

On this restart, and on each of the remaining three restarts, Birkhofer ran off from the field as the battle behind him raged. Another driver on the charge was Dale McDowell who is the 2009 driver for Clint Bowyer’s dirt model team. McDowell changed cars after winning the first B-Main so he also started from near the back of the twenty-nine-car field and he was adapting quickly in his first appearance at the track. Over the final laps McDowell emerged from the rest of the hard chargers to take over the second spot and for the first time since Babb’s exit it looked like a driver was actually cutting into the advantage of the leader. Birkhofer worked lapped traffic like a master over the closing laps and still had a comfortable advantage at the checkers to complete a dominating victory over one of the most impressive field of Late Model drivers that you will find outside of Florida and Eldora. McDowell had to be happy with his second place run, Moyer showed that he is still at the top of his game by coming from deep in the field to finish third, Jimmy Mars came from row six to take fourth and second row starter Steve Casebolt Jr. completed the top five.

With seventy-six Late Models on hand, just making the main event was an accomplishment and all six heat races, plus the two B-Mains, were like mini-feature events. Scott Bloomquist did not appear as scheduled when the first heat hit the track possibly due to a tire issue in staging. Series announcer James Essex referred to a couple of drivers having such issues in staging, but I did not hear if he gave any specific names. Kelly Boen also did not take his scheduled front row starting spot in the fourth heat and never showed up for a B-Main either. Back to the first heat, it was quickly obvious that the fans were going to be treated to some great racing tonight as drivers ran three and four wide during the early laps. Shannon Babb prevailed over fastest qualifier Will Vaught to take the win while John Blankenship, who went to a backup car after hurting a motor in qualifying, started thirteenth and passed Ray Moore in the final laps for the third and final transfer.

Heat number two was decided in thrilling fashion down the backstretch on lap one when Birkhofer split the middle of front row starters James Ward and Matt Miller to grab the lead and then walked away in convincing fashion. The third heat saw a first lap caution when the event’s only Canadian entrant Ricky Weiss spun on lap one. Brad Neat looked to have this race firmly in hand until he made contact with a lapped car with five laps to go allowing Kevin Cole to take the lead. Neat recovered quickly and ran down Cole in impressive fashion to regain the lead three laps later and take the win. The fourth heat showed evidence that the one rough spot in the track was starting to be a concern. This event was originally scheduled for two nights, but when heavy thunderstorms and high winds rolled through the area on Friday morning the entire show was moved to Saturday night. The rains contributed to the great condition of the track tonight as it has been awhile since I have seen this track develop a cushion, but on the bottom groove in turn one the extra moisture had caused a pretty steep ridge to develop. Mike Collins proved just how steep it had become when he bicycled his car on lap one showing all of his underside to the crowd before settling back down on all four wheels. A late caution for local favorite Eric Turner allowed Wendell Wallace to make one last run on David Breazeale who held on for the win earning him the outside row one starting spot for the main event. Turner would return in his teammate Steve Rushin’s car to use one of the MLRA provisionals to start the feature.

Steve Casebolt, Freddy Smith and Brian Shirley raced three-wide for the lead for a couple of laps in the fifth heat race with eighth starting Earl Pearson Jr. looking for racing room behind them. As Casebolt established himself as the leader, Pearson made an impressive move going from fourth to second on lap eight, but he could not chase down the leader. The sixth and final heat race looked like it was going to be an all-Wisconsin transfer trio as Terry Casey, Jimmy Mars and Dan Schlieper separated themselves from the field. Jimmy Owens had something else in mind as he recovered from a near spin early that dropped him back to eighth and charged back to complete a pass of Schlieper coming off of turn four on the final lap.

The two B-Main events were relatively mellow compared to the six heat races although both had a couple of interesting items to note. Young second generation Wisconsin driver Chad Mahder made a name for himself as he settled in behind Dale McDowell and Ray Moore to claim the third and final transfer position holding off World of Outlaws regular Clint Smith. It was noteworthy that Terry Phillips started third and faded to ninth and that Billy Moyer was only able to advance one position to seventh at the finish. Scott Bloomquist started the race at the rear and stayed there in order to use a Lucas Oil Series provisional while Moyer would use one as well. Bart Hartman came from the third row to win the second B-Main with Brian Shirley and Alan Vaughn close behind. With Al Purkey joining Turner as the MLRA provisionals, and with Scott James using an “emergency” Lucas Oil provisional the twenty-nine-car field was set. Whatever this emergency provisional was, James looked like he was going to make the most of it as he had cracked the top ten just prior to dropping out of the main event.

The cameras of the SPEED Channel were on hand to record this event and I definitely recommend that you tune in on June 20th to catch the two-hour recap of this great racing program. I’ll be interested to see if they do some creative editing as far as a crowd shot is concerned at the start of the feature race. As the field was entering turns three and four preparing to take the green, one of the camera men stood up in the middle of the crowd (likely blocking the view of at least a few ticket buying fans) and frantically tried to get the crowd around him to stand up for the start of the race. While a few people waved at him only one young lady who must have thought that she was at a NASCAR race stood up while the rest of the section, like good dirt track race fans remained seated so that everybody, young and old, short and tall could enjoy the thrilling opening laps of the event.

A stout field of forty-five Modifieds provided exciting support class action using a unique qualifying format that worked out very well. The Modifieds were given one lap of qualifying with the top sixteen locking themselves into the feature and the rest of the field being split into two B-Mains. David Hendrix came out late in the qualifying order and set quick time putting him on the front row of the main event along with Jason Meadors. Meadors held the advantage on lap one only to give it up to Hendrix on lap two. Jesse Stovall was giving chase in second until his left rear tire went flat at the mid-race point and on the restart Hendrix pulled away from the field for the victory. Just like the Late Model finale the racing behind the leader was intense with Tate Cole coming from the eighth starting spot to finish second with Justin Folk coming home in third. Rex Merritt picked up the fourth spot while Cole’s teammate Chad Wheeler came from the eighth row to complete the top five.

The Lucas Oil Speedway staff did a masterful job of running off this monster show in an efficient manner and may have even started a debate as to whether or not it should just be scheduled as a one-day program in the future. They even split the two Modified B-Mains by running the first one right after the Late Model heats and holding the second one until after the Late Model B’s were completed. Even with about a half hour delay to improve the track conditions on the inside of turn one, an effort that was very successful, the final checkered flag of the night flew at five minutes before midnight. Late Models fans here in the Midwest should definitely put this event on their “wish list” for 2010!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Notes from Friday Night Racing....

There were so many rainouts at our PR.com coverage area tracks on Friday night that it gives me a little bit of time to make a few observations since I am not compiling points this morning.

34 Raceway near Burlington survived a rain delay during their IRA 410 Sprint show that saw a great field of 42 cars on hand. Reports show that Johnny Herrera dominated the main event by lapping all the way up to the third place car of Brian Brown. Jesse Hockett was the runner-up in that one. Jayson Dittworth put the Olson Brothers Custom Shop special in victory lane by making a thrilling last lap move in the 305 feature. Don't forget that 34 Raceway comes right back again tonight (Saturday) with their 2009 Hall of Fame Induction program featuring IMCA Modifieds, IMCA Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks and Four Cylinders.

The Lee County Speedway in Donnellson also completed their program Friday night after waiting out a two hour rain delay as it was night number two of the Ideal Ready Mix/Pilot Grove Savings Bank "Drive for Five" for the IMCA Late Models. All five of the track's regular divisions were on hand as well. Mark Burgtorf bounced back from a recent string of mechanical issues to make it two straight wins in the Late Models at Lee County. Tommy Elston came home second with 2008 Deery Series champion Boone McLaughlin third. There were twenty-eight Late Models in attendance on Friday night and the division is back once again next Friday May 15th. A big congratulations to Rodger Dresden who picked up his first career SportMod feature win. It seems like the "Tall Thin One" from Keokuk has had nothing but bad luck the past two years so hopefully he now has the monkey off of his back. Jason Cook made it two in a row at Donnellson in the Stock Car division and also drove Donnie Fenton's #3D SportMod to a fifth-place finish. Sixteen-year-old Derek St. Clair picked up his first career feature win last Saturday night by winning the Hobby Stock main event at 34 Raceway. It only took him six days to get career win number two by topping the field at Donnellson. And in the four cylinder "Wild Things" young Jacob Darbyshire, son of Late Model driver Tom Darbyshire, notched his first-ever feature win over a field of seventeen.

Another track in the southeast corner of Iowa, the Bloomfield Speedway, was also able to get a full show in as it sounds like they completely dodged the raindrops. Go back to the homepage at www.PositivelyRacing.com and check in with Kevin Trittien's TapFan Tours for more details. We also want to welcome our newest blogger Ryan Clark to the roster! Ryan will be giving you details on all of the racing action at the Independence Motor Speedway where he is the track announcer for 2009, plus he will get out and about to several other tracks around the region as well.

We are looking for a blogger or two to help us cover the state of Missouri. If you are interested drop us a note at news@positivelyracing.com and have a couple of samples of your work ready. In the meantime I am down here in the soggy Show Me state ready for what should be a great night of action for the Diamond of the Dirt Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway.

Thanks for checking in and we invite you to visit www.PositivelyRacing.com often to see where our bloggers have been, to learn where the races are on both our Special Events Calendar and our Weekly Racing page, and to stay up-to-date on both the All Iowa and All Missouri Points.

Now get out to the track of your choice tonight!!!

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Couple of Adjustments to this Weekend"s Racing Schedule in Missouri

Heavy rain, high winds and a few tornados ripped through Missouri on Friday morning forcing just about every Friday night track in the Show-Me state to cancel their racing for the evening.

One of those Friday night tracks, Callaway Raceway in Fulton will give it another shot on Sunday evening with hot laps getting underway at 5 p.m.

Opening night of the Diamond of the Dirt Nationals at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland was washed away as well so the event will now be run as a one-day show on Saturday night with hot laps taking the green at 5 o'clock. More than forty Late Models, including just about all of the big names of the sport, were at the track Thursday night for practice.

Here's hoping that things dry out for the remainder of the weekend so that you can take Mom out to the races.

Love ya Momma!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Frankel, Reed, Huls and Powell Take Wins On a Beautiful Night for Racing at Quincy

One of the things that we as race fans here in the Midwest take for granted is the wide variety of racing action that is within an easy travel distance from our respective home bases. This was evidenced by my weekend travels that took me from a premier sprint car show on the big half-mile of Knoxville on Saturday night to a first class weekly show with four divisions of stock cars on the quick quarter of Quincy on Sunday.The weather could not have been more perfect with temperatures in the mid-seventies and while race fans in other parts of the country, where Saturday night is race night and that’s it, might have played golf, did yardwork, or any number of other things, I went racing! And so did many more race fans here at Quincy Raceway!

Jason Frankel and Justin Reed left of the rest of the field far behind in the Late Model feature as Frankel went flag-to-flag for the victory. Reed was able to stick a nose under him on two occasions late in the thirty-lapper, but had to settle for second. Robby Warner came home a distant third with Billy Genenbacher and Ron Elbe next in line.

The Modified feature had some intrigue as Michael Long, who has dominated the division here the past two years, was forced to qualify out of the B-Main after spinning out in his heat race and having to pitside with the "spin you’re in" rule. Long started sixteenth and was picking off a car a lap as he was in ninth when the caution flew on lap seven, but during that caution he pulled to the infield with mechanical issues. Former track champion Robbie Reed continued to lead on the restart while Vance Wilson was the man on the move coming the tenth starting spot to take second with less than ten laps remaining. Wilson put the heat on Reed and even tried a couple of aggressive slidejobs that came up short. A caution flag with four laps remaining was exactly what Reed needed as it gave him a clear track ahead of him and put Wilson behind him rather than beside him allowing Reed to complete the flag-to-flag victory. Justin Reed followed Wilson in for third with Tony Dunker and David Wietholder completing the top five.

It was family affair in both the Stock Cars and Hobby Stocks. Abe Huls slipped by Andrew Griffin on lap seven and then held off Doug Huls to win his second IMCA Stock Car feature of the weekend. And in the Hobby Stock headliner Jim Powell muscled past Larry W. Powell mid-race to win his third straight feature at the Bullring on Broadway.

Q Notes…..For the third race night in a row here a Late Model jumped the cushion and got upside down. Keith Pratt did it during the Thursday night Deery show, Terry Gallaher went over hard the next Sunday night and tonight it was Dustin Neese. Dustin was able to make repairs to come back and start the feature. ….The Late Model field also took a hit from.mechanical issues as Terry Schlipman scratched after hot laps and Mark Burgtorf called it a night after dropping from his heat race. For Burgtorf this was the third straight night of mechanical gremlins that followed three straight victories....The six car Modified dash was fun to watch as there was never more than a six car length spread from first to last during the six lap race. Dave Wietholder picked up the win…...Terry Houston was running second in the Stock Car main before a flat tire put him on the sidelines just past the mid-race point.

Weekly racing action continues on Sunday nights here and open wheel fans have a couple of treats coming up at Quincy as the Midwest All Stars 410 Sprint Cars will be here on May 24th and the POWRi Midgets come calling on June 7th.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

He May Not Be "The King", But Schatz Rules Knoxville

Donny Schatz has reached a dubious point in his racing career, one that I have only really witnessed first-hand twice in my over forty years of attending races. As Schatz pulled into victory lane on Saturday night at the Knoxville Raceway, following one of the most entertaining feature races that I have seen in sometime, the large crowd greeted him with a resounding chorus of boos. Not because of the manner in which he won, as he had worked his way cleanly to the front after starting on the inside of row four, but because of the simple fact that he had won once again at the Knoxville Raceway. For me that puts him in the same company as two of the legends of the sport, Dale Earnhardt and Steve Kinser, drivers who became so dominant for a time that the fans just wanted to see someone else take a win and every time that they didn't see someone else in victory lane, they would let the driver know it. As the three time defending champion of the Knoxville Nationals, Donny Schatz is now in that elite category.

It was a family reunion on the front row for the twenty-five-lap main event as Brian Brown and his uncle Danny Lasoski earned the top spots by finishing one-two in the Dash. Brown grabbed the early lead with Terry McCarl taking up the chase in second and, in just three laps, Schatz moved from seventh to third. An early yellow for a slowing Tony Bruce Jr. bunched the field for a restart and the crowd came to life as both Brown and McCarl were able to fight off a challenge from Schatz. With leaders working lapped traffic on lap fifteen Brown jumped the cushion in turn four just enough to allow McCarl to slip by for the lead with ten remaining. And as Brown tried to regain his momentum Schatz flew by him into second just a few car-lengths behind the new leader.

The surface of the half-mile oval tonight was wide and fast and drivers could run anywhere from top to bottom, but as the laps wound down the fastest groove appeared to be right in the middle and that was exactly where Dusty Zomer was running as the lead trio closed in on him. As McCarl tried to pick his way around Zomer without making too drastic of a move, Schatz made a couple of runs on McCarl as well with Brown right there behind them waiting for a mistake. When McCarl shook off the first slider from Schatz, the crowd moved to the edge of their seats, and when he held him off once again with six laps to go they rose to their feet in anticipation that the local driver-turned-Outlaw, who by the way has heard his share of boos after winning a bunch of features here not so long ago, just might be able to hold off Schatz. It was not going to happen though as on the next lap, with McCarl still following Zomer through the middle, Schatz went to the cushion and hit it perfectly allowing him to rocket into the lead off of turn four with just four laps remaining.

Schatz quickly built a full straightaway advantage and was coming off turn four to take the win when instead of the checkers he saw the caution flag fly as Tony Bruce Jr. had once again stopped on the track. World of Outlaws rules state that the race must end under two consecutive laps of green flag racing so the partisan crowd, if you could call a crowd pulling for "anybody but Schatz" partisan, was abuzz as McCarl, Brown and Steve Kinser lined up directly behind the leader for a two-lap shootout. McCarl was set to try a slide job in turn one on the restart only to have Schatz pinch him off by running a lower groove as well and that was the race as the now man to beat at Knoxville earned the victory. McCarl was the runner-up with Kinser slipping by Brown for third on the restart. Jac Haudenschild drove a steady race starting fourth and finishing fifth. And, as pitside announcer Mike Roberts welcomed him back to the podium at Knoxville, the chorus of boos had to be music to the ears of Donny Schatz, a tune that he would love to hear once again here in mid-August.

The story in the 360 c.i. division was completely different as many in the crowd were probably wondering who that driver was that absolutely dominated the stout 57-car field by running away with both his heat race and the feature. Matt Covington out of Glenpool, Oklahoma, plans to run the Lucas Oil ASCS National Tour in 2009, but with an open night on that schedule he pulled into Knoxville with the goal of getting more experience on the fabled oval. Covington started on the pole of his heat race and went unchallenged to the win landing him on the outside of row two for the fifteen-lap main event. As the field came off turn four for the start Covington moved up on the speedway to get a run and then darted down low going into turn one to fly by the front row of Matt Sutton and Gregg Bakker. That start was wiped out buy a first lap caution, but on the second try he did the exact same move with the same result.

By lap ten Covington had nearly a half lap advantage as Clint Garner, who had started tenth, emerged from the pack in second. With the help of a couple of lapped cars Garner closed the gap quickly and as Covington took the white flag Garner was still about ten car lengths back, but within striking distance. With a clear track ahead of him Covington did not flinch as he picked up his first career sprint car feature win at, of all places Knoxville. Garner showed that he could be a top contender for the 360 track title with his impressive second place run, Bakker held on for third followed by Ryan Roberts and Jon Agan.

Knoxville Notes.....There were forty-seven 410's on hand to make it a very full pit area with a total of 104 racecars. While the 410 roster didn't have any surprises the 360's seemed to come from just about everywhere with drivers from Washington to Colorado to Texas up to Ohio and of course Florida where track regular R.J. Johnson still lists as a home state......Craig Dollansky was a big mover in the Outlaw A-Main. After winning the B feature Dollansky started in row eleven and by lap nine he was already up to tenth. His progress pretty much stopped from there though as he picked up one more spot in the final laps to finish in the ninth position.....In that Outlaw B-Main Kerry Madsen broke while leading, but came back to run the feature using a World of Outlaw provisional and Sammy Swindell's night came to an early end when his motor went up in smoke as he was closing in on the final transfer spot.....Lucas Wolfe missed qualifying as he was busying changing engines. He started twelfth in his heat and just missed a transfer spot when he couldn't get past Sam Hafertepe Jr. landing Wolfe at the back of the C-Main. In that race Wolfe missed the transfer to the B by just one spot and it looked like his night was over. With Swindell's blown motor though, Wolfe was now in line to use a provisional and he salvaged a 20th-place finish on the night......North Dakota driver Lee Grosz was the hard charger in the 360 Main event and he almost didn't have the opportunity. On the final lap of the 360 B-Main Jesse Gianetto had a run on Grosz off turn two and the two cars made contact midway down the back stretch racing for the fourth and final transfer spot. Both drivers stayed in the gas and they raced side-by-side into the final turns with Grosz up high and Gianetto down low. To Jesse's misfortune though there was a slower car working that bottom groove and when he had to climb the inside berm off turn four to get around that car it allowed Grosz to earn the 24th and final position on the grid for the A-Main. Grosz made the most of it as he charged through the field to finish ninth in the feature.....Another hard charger was the B-Main winner Brady Bacon who started 20th and finished 11th in the A.....There was only one incident in the 360 A-Main and that came on lap two when Ohio driver Darren Long got too high coming off of turn four and as he recovered he made contact with Jon Corbin sending Long for quite a tumble down the frontstretch. Others including Dan Thornburg, Johnny Anderson, Eric Baldaccini and Seth Brahmer had a wing bender during the evening and all of them, including Long, were uninjured.....There were two youngsters with very recognizable names in the sport making their Knoxville debut tonight. In the 410's Austin McCarl started his rookie campaign here with a fifth-place run in the C-Main against the stacked field of Outlaws. And in the 360's Robby Wolfgang drew the worst number possible coming through the gate fighting an uphill battle all night ending it with an eighth-place finish in the C-Main.....While Outlaws announcer Johnny Gibson and veteran Knoxville announcer Tony Bokhoven did their usual fantastic job of informing and entertaining, young Blake Anderson sounded very smooth as well in his first night behind the mic at Knoxville. Just what us old announcers love to see, new young talent coming along to take all of our gigs! And yes Tony, I still consider you to be a "young" announcer.

Knoxville's race schedule really does not include many if any "regular" race nights as this coming Saturday the IRA Sprint Cars come to town to take on the local heroes.