Darin Duffy knows his way around the Fayette County Speedway in West Union and he used that track knowledge to his advantage Tuesday night to win the IMCA Modified Hawkeye Dirt Tour Napa 30.
Two drivers who were likely making their first-ever visit to the banked 3/8-mile oval, Jeff Waterman and Nate Caruth started from the front row and they swapped the lead on the first circuit with Caruth officially leading lap one. A series of four cautions over the first six laps kept the race from setting any kind of rhythm, but when the green stayed out it was Duffy who was on the charge. Starting from inside row four the Hazelton driver charged to the front and on lap eleven, when Caruth slipped up the track off turn four, that was all the room that Duffy needed to power past and into the lead.
Duffy looked as though he would run away with it from there, but Mike Jergens stayed close and was actually looking to mount a challenge through traffic when the caution waved one last time on lap twenty-five for a Toby Hartman spin. On the restart Jergens took a look under Duffy into turn one, but Darin denied the challenge and drove off to the $1,000 victory on the fifth event for the JR Motorsports Hawkeye Dirt Tour. Jergens would settle for runner-up honors while Waterman passed Caruth late to finish third. Vern Jackson would come home fifth followed by Rich Smith, Richie Gustin and Justin O’Brien. Mike Burbridge was ninth and Mark Schulte rounded out the list of the top ten.
Stock Cars and Hobby Stocks were also on hand tonight running for track points and both divisions provided some entertaining feature races. In the Stock Cars Dan Trimble prevailed in a tight three-car battle with Danny Cole Jr. and Mitch Hovden. Cole held the advantage for the first ten laps with Hovden working him low and Trimble waiting for room on the outside. Hovden finished second while Lynn Panos nipped Cole late for third. Kevin Donlan rounded out the top five. The Hobby Stock main event also saw a three-car battle for the top spot featuring Steve Holthaus, Chris Hovden and Scott Spilde. Holthaus paced the first twelve laps, Hovden nosed ahead on lap thirteen only to have his stepfather Holthaus come back to lead again the following lap. On lap fifteen Hovden found the bite that he needed on the low groove and pulled ahead for good to take the win. Spilde also drove by Holthaus late to finish second while Dan Hovden and Troy Hovey completed the top five.
FCS HDT Notes……Twenty-seven IMCA Modifieds, seventeen Stock Cars and thirteen Hobby Stocks were on hand……The Hawkeye Dirt Tour was missing its point leader as Josh Foster is out with a non-racing related injury. I believe that Rich Smith will come out of this event as the new point leader with Mike Jergens close behind…..Tyler Glass suffered mechanical problems in hot laps and scratched for the evening……Riley Emmel added some international flavor to the HDT point list as he is from Estevan, Saskatchewan……The first two cautions in the main event came on lap two and lap three for debris, the next two came on laps five and six for incidents involving two or more cars. Following the fourth caution HDT rules call for a single-file restart rather than the Delaware-double-file formation. The race then ran nineteen straight laps under green. Coincidence? Maybe……..or maybe not……The next Hawkeye Dirt Tour event is Thursday July 29th at the beautiful Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah. The short little circle should provide quite a challenge for the Modified drivers and quite a show for the crowd……I took advantage of the intermission to visit with some great racing people. Todd Ihde is the co-promoter at FCS and at Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah and the former Modified driver told me that he is enjoying this role. Todd reports that car counts have been solid at both tracks and that the fan support in Decorah has been tremendous. West Union on the other hand has been a bit short on people in the stands. So there you have it West Union area race fans, if you want to keep racing at this nice fairgrounds facility you need to get some friends and neighbors out to the track on Friday nights!…..It was my first chance to shake the hand of Scott Tjabring of Action Track Photography. Scott is a great shooter and we really appreciate the fact that he allows us to use some of his shots in our blogs. I use his work whenever I go to Vinton and Ryan Clark includes Scott’s photos on many of his reports “In Staging”….I enjoyed catching up with former NKF Tour Hobby Stock champion Steve Holthaus and his stepson Chris Hovden. Steve always ran big blocks in the past and was dead set against going to 9:1 engines, but now he says that it has been the best thing that has happened to the Hobby Stock class in the area. Hopefully I can catch up with Steve this offseason and do a feature story with him on this subject. Steve also noted that he had seventeen second-place finishes two years ago, all of them to Chris. Tonight though he got third…..Mike VanGenderen pulled his Stock Car up from Newton for his first-ever look at the speedway and actually had the car loaded after the heat race. Holthaus, Hovden and I convinced him to pull it back out and run the feature where he started thirteenth and was up to eight before his left rear tire went flat.
Special thanks to HDT Director Bucky Doren for his hospitality and to announcer Ryan Clark for the PR.com plugs. And he didn’t even talk about himself! Check Ryan’s blog as well as the 4dFan Report and TapFan’s Tours for additional reports from West Union. Hope to see you tonight in Osky!