Some random notes here on what Bob Bruce refers to as the worst day of the week....
If you read my entry from our trip to Haubstadt, Indiana, last week you may have noticed that we were unsure of where we might end up on Sunday night, if anywhere. We did stop at Shepp's Speedway just west of Springfield, Illinois, to take a look, but when we found out that they were going to start an hour later than normal due to the heat, we decided to head for home since Mo had to be up for work at 5 a.m. the following day. It definitely looked like a great little bullring that would offer up plenty of action, so I am hoping that I can get back down there before the end of the season. Perhaps on a Sunday night in September.
This past weekend I thought that I was going to be away from the sport as we headed nown to northwest Missouri to visit with some friends at a home that they recently purchased on Lake Viking, but when I discovered that I-35 Speedway was only six miles from their house I planted the seed about checking the place out. Somehow the track avoided the line of storms that built up during the afternoon and marched to the south and east and by the time we were able to get the ladies to be more interested in their wine than us, we arrived just in time for the five feature races. The SportMods were up first and had a tough time stringing some green flag laps together early on and I was hoping they would get their act together since this was only my friend's second-ever visit to a dirt track. Finally the race stayed green with south central Iowa driver Shay Woods moving to the front. But when Woods unexpectedly looped his car mid-race, that gave the lead back to John Fugett who then went on to take his first-ever feature win. The Hobby Stocks were up next and it was veteran driver Brad Whitney who took the win driving one of Greg Kuehn's #7 cars. Whitney has had success here in both the Modifieds and Stock Cars in the past (and again tonight) and in this Hobby Stock A-Main he fought off the challenges of Eric Stanton who make the 120+ mile trip down from Hartford, Iowa, every Saturday night.
The Grand Nationals, similar to the old Pro Stock division that used to race around this area, provided the best battle for the lead on the night as Gene Claxton and Travis Walker ran the majority of the event side-by-side without more than a rub here and there prompting my friend to ask, "can those other divisions race like that as well?" Claxton, who won the NKF Tour Modified event here on my only other visit to the facility in 2001, went on to win while Walker faded out of the top five over the final laps. The Stock Car feature started out with a bang when Bennie Turner got tagged in the right rear exiting turn four on the first lap turning him nose first into the front stretch and sending him into a couple of rollovers. This happened right in front of where we were seated, so now my buddy was really on the edge of his seat, especially after he saw Turner climb out uninjured. Once back to green it was Brad Whitney who drove his own #X9 to victory, his second of the night. The IMCA Modifieds were ready to wrap up the night and it was Bud Wilson who went flag-to-flag in a race that had more cautions than you would like to see when you are trying to introduce a new fan to the sport. But, once we returned to the house the first thing that he told his wife was that he knew what would fit nicely in that empty space in the garage, an IMCA Hobby Stock. She had not consumed enough wine yet to agree.
If we get invited back to the lake, I'll look forward to spending another Saturday evening at I-35 Speedway near Winston, Missouri!
It was a rough weekend weather-wise around the area and Ryan Clark did a nice job describing his weekend of uncertainty. Here's hoping that all who were effected by the flooding can make a quick recovery with a minimal loss.
Those of you who follow this blog know that I am not a big fan of double-file restarts and Kevin Trittien points out another reason to support my stance in his latest entry. The third-place car had been realigned on the oustide of the first double row, but when he coasted to a stop before the green flag waved, the outside row was just moved forward rather than taking the time to cross everybody over. This meant that the car that was being scored in fifth prior to the caution was now going to restart in third AHEAD of the fourth-place car, the seventh-place car was now starting ahead of the sixth-place car, etc., etc. I don't blame the track crew for doing this, after all one of my biggest gripes with the double-file restart is the extra caution laps and time that it takes to get the field into the correct positions, so they were just trying to save time. There are a couple of crews who have mastered the art of getting the field doubled up, but even they run an extra lap under caution than what they would have if it were just a single-file restart. I know that I may be in the minority on this one, but give me a single-file restart any day.
I was not a bit surprised to see all of the empty seats at the Brickyard on Sunday. When I went about six years ago I had seats one row from the top on the short stretch between turns one and two. I could see the cars for about twelve seconds and then they were gone for another half minute or more. Honestly, I had to keep myself from falling asleep on a couple of occasions. Yes, it is a big race for NASCAR, but if I would have been anywhere around Indianapolis this weekend, I would have spent my money watching USAC Sprint Cars fling the dirt at Lincoln Park Speedway Saturday night and DVR'd the Brickyard for later viewing.....maybe.
Here's hoping the weather cooperates for a couple of Late Model specials in the area mid-week as the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models along with the IMCA Sport Mods will fill out the card for the rescheduled night number two of the Harris Clash at Knoxville on Wednesday night. Then, on Thursday, the Corn Belt Clash pays a visit to the CJ Speedway in Columbus Junction. There are other Fair races, weekly shows and special events on the card as well so get out and have some fun this week!