After making the trip up the week before only to have it rain out as the first heat race came to the track, I decided to return to the season opener at the Quad City Speedway on a beautiful Sunday evening, with Mom’s permission of course. A good-sized crowd settled in to watch eighty-five cars in five divisions do battle on the reshaped quarter-mile that is now being operated by the Rock Island County fair board.
The IMCA Late Models were running for a $1,000 top prize tonight and their twenty-car count topped the sign in sheets. Matt Ryan started from the pole and paced the field for the first ten laps that were scored in the thirty-five lap main event. Ray Guss Jr., who completely dominated his heat race earlier in the evening, moved quickly to second after starting on the inside of row four and after a lap nine restart he moved off the preferred inside groove and drove around Ryan for the lead. As Ryan spotted Guss going around him on the outside, he was then under attack from the inside as Rob Toland muscled by him a lap later to take over second. Toland had started twelfth and was able to keep pace with Guss as the two would drive away from the field after each restart and Toland stuck his nose under the leader once before Guss pulled away in the closing laps. It was the second win of the weekend for “The River City Hustler” as he pulled over to Des Moines on Friday after the show at Davenport was washed out. Toland would settle for runner-up honors, Ryan held on to third, Mike Muphy Jr. was fourth and Nate Beuseling, who started fourteenth, would complete the top five. The feature event was tarnished by eleven cautions, mostly for drivers spinning and, or colliding at the back of the pack.
Doug Crampton used the extreme low groove exiting turn four to move from the second row to the front on the first lap of the Pro Modified main event. He then fought off some high-side challenges from John Bull to go on to win the twenty-lap feature that was chopped up by seven separate caution periods. The action was fierce in the early going as drivers raced four-wide, and another two-wide just behind them off turn two and down the backstretch where you could have literally thrown a blanket over six cars as they entered turn three, but a caution flag for an incident well behind them greeted that group as they came past the flagstand. At the checkers it was Crampton, Bull, Chuck Hanna, Andy Werner and Craig Crawford in the top five.
The Street Stock feature was the first of the five main events on the evening following a seventeen-minute intermission and while it had the most drama, it also established the yellow fever that infected the Mods and Late Models as well. Greg Gill and Rick Schriner were racing hard for the lead when on lap five the two collided in turn three with leader Gill going for a spin. The caution waved and both drivers were sent to the rear of the fifteen-car field for the restart. Chris Lawrence picked up the point from there until lap eight when Rob Nylin moved past him for the lead. Gill was on the move and restarts for the fifteen-lap event’s seven cautions kept him close to the leaders. As the white flag waved Gill was able to pull even with Nylin on the inside going into turn one and the two cars made heavy contact. Both drivers were able to maintain control and Gill emerged as the leader heading down the backstretch and Nylin could not catch him as the checkers waved to a mixture of boos and cheers from the energized crowd. The crowd remained vocal during the victory lane presentation as Nylin parked his car about ten yards behind and to the right of Gill, stood on the drivers door and pumped his fists in the air while Gill had his picture taken with the checkered flag. Matt Werner finished in the third spot, Lawrence took fourth and Jimmy Simpson rounded out the top five. (Apparently Nylin's actions brought him a disqualification from the event as he is not listed in the official results that came out on Monday)
With the curfew looming just ahead the IMCA Modifieds and the Four Cylinders must have been inoculated for yellow fever while they prepared for their feature events as each of their races only had two cautions interrupt the racing action. In the Modifieds Jake Waterman charged from the inside of row four to take the lead from Rob Nylin on lap two and cruise to a convincing victory. Craig Crawford passed Andrew Burk late to take the second spot while Brad Tyler and Nylin completed the top five. Shane Kelly, a regular at Peoria Speedway on Saturday nights, stormed through the field after starting tenth to win the twelve-lap finale for the Four Cylinders. Jeremy Kingsley followed Kelly in for second, Chad Tucker was third with Matt Perrott and Chris Courson next in line. Early leader Scott Powell was forced to the pits when his right rear wheel folded under at about a forty-five degree angle, something that I had never seen before.
QCS Notes……It has been a couple of years since I have been at this quarter-mile oval and it appears that some of the banking has been taken out of each end of the speedway. I also don’t recall the infield tires, or corner markers being placed so far down especially in turns three and four. Heat race action had the drivers working several grooves and a nice cushion was there for use in turns three and four come feature time while in one and two it was now treacherously close to the wall. It looked to me that you could have fit at least six cars comfortably side-by-side between the infield tires and the cushion in three and four and there was another two car-widths between the cushion and the wall. My theory was that while there was a nice cushion up there available for use, it just made it too much further to go through the turn than it was on the bottom in order to make it work and that was why everybody was clamoring for the bottom groove. Mike Murphy Jr., who is a master at using the cushion, supported my theory when he tried to use the top line in three and four in his battle with Matt Ryan for third. While Murphy was fast up there he just gave up too much ground to the other competitors who were driving around the bottom and was actually passed by Nate Beuseling before returning to the low groove to regain fourth at the checkers. It will be interesting to see if those infield markers are placed a little bit further out when action resumes this Sunday night……Morning Sun’s Colby Springsteen looked good in the first Late Model heat as he challenged Rob Toland throughout the ten lap distance. He drew the sixth row along with Toland for the feature and suffered a flat tire on the first attempt at a start. While Springsteen was in the work area the second attempt at a start saw three cars at the back of the pack pile up in turn three, but the lap was scored and Springsteen was now a lap down to the field. He was notified of this after the next caution and he chose to put it on the trailer…...One of the things that I have always loved about East Moline is how vocal the crowd is. They have their favorites and they have their “villains” and they aren’t shy about letting you know who they are!…..The show started three minutes earlier than the six o’clock start time, the intermission included an on-track proposal involving two fans, and the final checkered flag waved at 9:54 p.m. She said “yes”, by the way……Racing action continues each and every Sunday night through the summer.