Monday, July 12, 2010

VanWormer Collects $5,000 as "Hell Tour" Stops at Quincy

Have you ever seen a Jeep fly? The large crowd that gathered at the Quincy Raceways did on Sunday night as the UMP Summer Nationals “Hell Tour” came to town. Tony Rhinaberger and his Quincy Raceways staff had the banked dirt oval perfectly manicured allowing the Super Late Models to circle the quarter-mile at amazing speeds in multiple grooves and after forty-laps it was Jeep VanWormer who stood in victory lane.

Brian Shirley, driving one of Tim Lance’s Digital Copy Systems sponsored #48 cars, started from the pole and fought off a first lap challenge from the third-starting VanWormer to hold the early lead. On lap six, with Van Wormer still applying the pressure, Shirley’s car faltered on the exit of turn two and as Jeep took evasive action to keep from plowing into the rear of Shirley I thought that I saw a yellow spring pop out from under Shirley’s car as he pulled to the infield. A caution for Brandon Sheppard on lap eleven bunched the field, but the leader again pulled away on the restart as the battle for positions behind him heated up.

Ryan Unzicker was doing his best to hold back Jason Feger and while that was interesting enough, the four-car battle for third featuring Doug Drown, Mark Burgtorf, Shannon Babb and Dennis Erb Jr. demanded attention. Babb, who started twelfth, was hooked up and haulin’ seemingly able to run anywhere on the track as he picked his way through the field. Feger made the move into second on lap nineteen and set his sights on trying to close the gap on VanWormer while Babb had cleared his pack and was now quickly reeling in Unzicker for third. Lapped cars of Bobby Pierce and Brandon Thirlby were racing each other side-by-side as Unzicker and Babb closed in behind them and on lap twenty-six Babb tried to make a move to the very low groove of the front straightaway to clear all three cars but the door closed and he hooked the left rear of Thirlby sending the two cars spinning to the infield. After taking a few minutes to pry the two cars apart, Babb would restart at the tail end of the cars on the lead lap in ninth with fourteen-laps remaining.

Feger tried to keep pace with VanWormer on the restart, but he could not mount a serious challenge as Jeep cruised the remaining distance to earn the $5,000 top prize. Feger will retain the Tour’s point lead with his runner-up finish, Unzicker was solid in third while Ohio’s Doug Drown held off the hometown favorite Mark Burgtorf for fourth. Babb was able to make his way back up to sixth ahead of defending Summer Nationals champion Dennis Erb Jr., Jack Sullivan nursed his smoking ride in for eighth while Denny Woodworth and Tim Lance completed the top ten.

Q Notes……Thirty-two cars attempted to make the twenty-one car starting field and eight of those were cars who were also competing in the track’s weekly IMCA Late Model division that requires a spec engine. Dustin Griffin was the only one of those who raced his way into the field. Justin Reed drove his own #1st in the IMCA division and drove Tony Dunker’s #4 in the UMP division. Reed was granted the track provisional to start last on the field…..VanWormer’s rig arrived after hot laps and just before qualifying as he had suffered a flat tire on the way to the track…..It was an interesting mix of cars on hand with Doug Drown dropping in from Ohio, Brandon Thirlby coming in from Traverse City, Michigan, and Craig Vosbergen on hand from Perth, Western Australia. Officially Vosbergen started the feature with a provisional, but he was being very aggressive trying to get qualified out of the B-Main as he came from deep in the pack to finish fourth…..At thirteen-years-old “The Short Cool One” Bobby Pierce is usually the youngest driver in the pits, but on this night he was like an old veteran to eleven-year-old UMP Modified driver Jake Griffin…..Billy Moyer Jr.’s night came to an early end when he appeared to have motor problems on lap four of the main event……A break for track maintenance between the heats and the B-Main really improved the racing action. A heavy cushion entering turn three was scraped away and an implement tire marking the infield in turn one was rolled back into the infield rather than out on the racing surface where it had spent the first half of the evening…..I was thrilled to see that “The Hell Tour” uses single-file restarts for all of their events. Just goes to show that my way of thinking is usually similar to those who have been banished to that dark place…..The Summer Nationals moves to the Spoon River Speedway south of Canton, Illinois, tonight (Monday) for an event that was rescheduled after being rained out last Wednesday……The checkered flag flew on the UMP feature at 9:35 p.m. and knowing that I wanted to follow the Tour again on Monday, I decided to skip out on the three remaining feature events. Click here full results and the story from track PR-specialist Jack Walbring.

Plenty of racing action to be had around the area this week, get out and enjoy it!

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