Thursday, July 29, 2010

Guss and Timmerman Earn Feature Wins On Night Two Of The Harris Clash

After a three week delay due to weather, night number two of the 2010 Harris Clash unfolded at the Knoxville Raceway with just over one hundred cars in the pit area between the Deery Brothers IMCA Late Models and the IMCA Sport Mods. In the Late Models it would be another Ray Guss Jr. cakewalk, while Jared Timmerman fought off the challenges of Cayden Carter to take the big win in the Sport Mods.

Thirty-three Late Models checked in and thirty-two raced in four heats and two B-Mains to determine the twenty-four-car starting field that would run thirty-five laps around the prestigious half-mile oval. (One sentence, seven hyphens) Tyler Bruening and Jay Stewart would start from the font row and it was the Nebraska driver Stewart who would be scored as the leader of the first lap, but only after the first two attempts at a start were wiped out due to single car spins. The race was halted again on lap two when T.J. Criss spun in turn three and was then drilled by former IMCA Late Model National Champ Kevin Blum. It took several minutes for wrecker crews to survey the damage before they proceeded to remove the battered machines from the racing surface.
Jay Stewart of Blair, Nebraska, ran up front early at Knoxville - photo by Barry Johnson

When the green flag returned it stayed out for a while and the racing was good. Both up front, where Jeff Guengerich drove by Stewart for the lead on lap three, and in the back moving forward as Brian Harris, Jeff Aikey and Jeremiah Hurst were making big strides. Harris had started fourteenth and was up to fifth by lap four, Aikey started in the tenth row and was up to sixth by lap seven and Hurst, who restarted at the rear after being one of the lap-one spinners, was on the march forward as well. Ray Guss Jr. had the best seat in the house in third as he watched Guengerich drive by Stewart and on lap ten Guss made his own move for the lead. With Guengerich glued to the bottom, Guss drove into turn three one line higher, moved past the leader and then shut the door on him by steering back down to the bottom in turn four. As Guss started to pull away the top six cars really got strung out before the caution waved again on lap seventeen when contact between Craig Roberts and Robby Warner sent Warner for a spin down the back stretch.
Ray Guss Jr. (58) stalks leader Jeff Guengerich (15) during the first ten laps of the Late Model main event - photo by Barry Johnson

As the field settled into the Delaware-style two abreast restart formation it looked like we might have us quite a race with Guss out front and drivers like Darren Miller, Aikey, Harris, Andy Eckrich and Hurst now close behind. As the field rumbled into turn one Charlie McKenna went too low and caught the berm sending his #22 into a series of at least four snap rolls. It was the second Wednesday in a row that McKenna’s night would end in a devastatingly spectacular fashion and we were once again pleased to seem him climb out of the car under his own power. Once back to green it became obvious that nobody had anything for Ray Guss Jr. as he powered away from his talented challengers to pad his series point lead even more with the $2,000 victory. Darren Miller, in what I believe to be his 2010 debut, scored a runner-up finish with Jeff Aikey third, Jeremiah Hurst fourth and Brian Harris fifth.
Jeff Aikey (77) and Brian Harris (21H) both made strong runs to finish in the top five - photo by Barry Johnson (For more of Barry's photos from Knoxville visit the page on Facebook)

Bob Harris put out the general invitation and Seventy-one Sport Mods accepted with eight heat races and four B-Mains paring the field down to twenty-four cars for twenty laps. Jared Timmerman started from the pole position and lead the field around for lap one before Doug Smith and Robert Weber collided in turn one on lap two. The scramble resulted in about six cars being involved causing a red flag and while most of them drove away under their own power, it still took several minutes to get the track cleared and ready again for action.

On the restart, while most of the field used the bottom and middle grooves through the corners, young Cayden Carter went way upstairs where Fonzie used to live (credit to World of Outlaws announcer Johnny Gibson) and drove past six cars in one lap to move up to second behind Timmerman. The chase was on and, with smoke starting to belch from his car in the corners, Carter used that same high groove to take the lead from Timmerman on lap six. I don’t carry a stopwatch with me and Warren Busse was nowhere to be found, so I don’t know if Carter’s lap times were increasing as the smoke worsened, but Timmerman came back to regain the lead four laps later at the mid-point of the event. With the laps winding down and with lapped traffic now coming into play, Carter was again reeling in Timmerman looking to make one more challenge and on the final lap Carter spun his car sideways in turn three. The caution waved, but with drivers still racing side-by-side for position, Adam Ackerman found himself with no place to go and he slammed into the side of Carter’s #10. Both drivers walked away uninjured, but it was an expensive turn of events for both as they were less than a quarter of a mile from the checkers.

I can only imagine how Timmerman must have felt when he saw the yellow waving instead of the checkers as he came off of turn four, but he retained his composure and ran the green-white-checker “overtime” laps flawlessly to take the win ahead of Dylan Book and Nate Chodur. Jeremy Embrey made a big run up from twenty-first to fourth and Jim Gillenwater edged out Carter VanDenBerg by half a car-length for fifth.
Jared Timmerman picked up the top prize for the IMCA Sport Mod portion of the 2010 Harris Clash - photo by Barry Johnson

Harris Clash Part Two Notes…..“The Ironman” Darrell DeFrance checked in for the evening and collected his twenty show up points for the series, but did not compete as he reportedly had some procedures done this week to help him remain “The Ironman” for some time to come. Here’s hoping for a quick return to the track Double-D!……Darren Miller didn’t show any signs of rust as he returned to action in fine fashion behind the wheel of the Steve Diercks owened car. Usually it is Brad Diercks behind the wheel of the #29D, but tonight they had it lettered up with Miller’s traditional #32D. “The Thriller” told our own Barry Johnson that he plans on running the $10,000-to-win Pepsi USA Nationals at 34 Raceway in September, but otherwise his schedule is unknown…..Brian Harris hot lapped a plain jet black car and then applied red 21H decals to each side for racing action. He was definitely fun to watch as he attacked the cushion on both ends often pulling the front left wheel up in the air for that magical moment when the throttle goes back down and the chassis responds…..Jeff Guengerich was behind the wheel of the Richard Realty and Auction car #15, the same ride that won this event last year with Tommy Elston at the controls and it looked for a bit that Guengerich would be able to keep the trophy in Richard’s shop. The Washington, Iowa, driver who had not raced for a couple of season before stepping into the ride in May finished seventh behind Andy Eckrich….As the Late Model field was preparing for the four-wide parade lap a track official pulled over Kelly Tapper to remove a clipboard from the back of his car…..Ryan Giles was running second in the fourth heat race before he pulled to the infield on the final lap with mechanical issues. Giles would earn a provisional start in the feature, but only made it around the track once before the parade lap before returning to his trailer….Jeff Aikey did not finish his heat and then had to pass Cory Goldbeck on the final lap for the last transfer spot out of the first B-Main. With his run from nineteenth to third in the feature, obviously his crew repaired whatever the issue was in the heat race…..Goldbeck would join Giles, Robby Warner and Craig Roberts as provisional starters….It was my first time this season to see Nebraska drivers Jay Stewart, Al Zeitner and Dave Jorgenson in action…..While the car count of thirty-three was solid it was below what many would have expected at Knoxville, especially given that only twelve of the top twenty in Deery Series points were in attendance. Jason Rauen was winning the Fair race in Dubuque and he was likely joined there by Joel Callahan and Rob Toland. Mark Burgtorf popped his spec engine at Osky last week and will be on the sidelines for a bit despite being second in points. I saw a message board post stating the Jay Johnson is out on RAGBRAI this week, something that didn’t conflict with the Deery schedule until rain pushed this event back from July 7th, and that may have been a similar story for Boone McLaughlin, Tom Goble and others……The Deery Series returns to action next Tuesday night August 3rd at the Farley Speedway…..It was interesting that the eight Sport Mod heats advanced the winner only while the four B-Mains took four cars out of each…..The Sport Mod field included drivers from Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota and Kansas…..Racing action started at 7:30 and the last flag waved at 11:17…..I always enjoy being the taxi cab geek for Bill W. and Bob Wilson and it was nice to get to talk to announcers Blake Anderson and Tony Bokhoven, and Paymaster Dave Schrader during my pre-race visit to the booth….Another big thanks to Bob Harris who again extended his hospitality to the entire Positively Racing crew and we look forward to two straight nights of action, free of any weather issues for the 2011 Harris Clash at Knoxville. We hope that you will mark it on your racing schedule as well.

Tonight the Corn Belt Clash makes its farthest trip south so far with an appearance at the CJ Speedway in Columbus Junction. Hope to see you there!

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