On nearly a perfect night for racing the Cedar County Raceway, the Corn Belt Clash Late Models and two solid support divisions served up a near perfect night of racing Wednesday night in Tipton, Iowa. Maybe it was the fact that I hadn’t been to a racetrack in eleven days, or that it has been just over three weeks since I have been to a stock car race, but it sure was enjoyable watching the three divisions in action on a perfectly prepared surface in front of a beautiful blue and orange sunset on a crystal clear cool evening.
Twenty-four CBC Late Models were on hand and the storyline for their portion of the program started in hot laps when Chad Simpson, winner of eight of the Clash events so far in 2010, slowed to a stop on the front stretch. Chad got out of the car, looked at the rear end and then drove it back to the pits unassisted, but he was a no-show when it came time to run his heat race. Just before intermission though, Simpson came to the track and ran a couple of hot laps before returning to the pits for final preparations for the 35-lap main event that he would start from the rear. (For perhaps more details on the situation with Chad’s mechanical issues, check out “In Staging” as Ryan Clark had based himself in the pits for the evening while I, as always, prefer the comfort of the grandstands).
Two of the three Eckrich brothers in attendance, Denny and Dave lined up on the front row for the feature race and, after a couple of misfires due to spins in the back of the lineup, it was Denny who charged to the front at the third drop of the green. As the leader ran the very top of the quarter-mile oval, it was quickly obvious that Jeff Aikey had nailed the setup for the very bottom line of the speedway as he drove by Eckrich for the lead on lap four. With Aikey and Denny Eckrich starting to pull away from the field the crowd could now focus their attention on tight battles for position for third as well as throughout the field. Dave Eckrich, Jason Rauen and Kurt Kile were waging war for that third spot, with all three mostly hugging that bottom line, when all of sudden the #15K of Justin Kay hooked up on the cushion. Kay, one of six competitors who were taking advantage of the rules package that allows extra spoilers and the opportunity to run topless for the spec motors, started driving around competitors like they were standing still. By the time he was up to third there was a full straightaway between him and Eckrich, but Justin made up that ground in a matter of five laps as he moved into the second spot.
With just under ten laps remaining and with Aikey now riding behind the soon-to-be-lapped car of Wayne Hora who was also hugging the bottom, it looked as though Kay might just be able to reel in the leader as well. But with five laps to go a pair of lapped cars started to race each other just ahead of the challenger with one of them even moving up to the cushion. This forced Kay to abandon his lightning line around the speedway to get by the two of them and, at the same time, Aikey finally edged under Hora to put even more distance between the two front-runners and the race for the win was decided. It would be Jeff Aikey taking the $2,000 top-prize on this night with Justin Kay looking very impressive in second. Denny Eckrich would take home third-place money while Jason Rauen would finish fourth. And, as for fifth, coming all the way from the outside of row number twelve, it was Chad Simpson leaving us all to wonder what might have been if there had been a single caution and restart during the thirty-five-lap distance.
It is hard to consider the talent-laden field of thirty Modifieds as a “support” class this evening, especially when they presented such a clean and entertaining night of action during their portion of the program. Mark Schulte started from the pole and out-dragged outside row one starter Bill Butteris as the field took the green for their twenty-five-lap finale. A pair of cautions occurred on lap four when first Jake Bowman spun in turn two and when Davey Hammond got crossed up in nearly the same place on the restart. On the second restart Ryan Dolan made a run at the leader Schulte using the low line, but Schulte did not flinch and maintained his momentum up top to hold on to the advantage. A final caution on lap eleven for a track tire that had been punted out in turn two produced a restart that had the crowd on the edge of their seats for the next few laps. As the field went back to racing Dan Chapman dove low, Dolan used the middle and Schulte stayed up top through both sets of turns as the race for the lead went three-wide. As they came down the front stretch Mark actually dropped off the racing surface for a split second, but he retained his composure and again hit his mark perfectly into turn one. Dolan actually nosed ahead through turns one and two only to have Schulte again rocket by him on the high line down the back straightaway. Back out front, and with no additional cautions to slow his run, Mark Schulte went on to pick up the $700 winner’s check ahead of Dolan, Mike Burbridge, Chapman and Steve Stewart.
A solid count of nineteen Four Cylinders were also in action this evening with Steve Miedke pacing the first two circuits of their twelve-lap feature. Brad Chandler was on the move from his fourth starting spot driving around Miedke on lap three and then cruising to victory in a dominating fashion. Track point leader Jarrod McMichael came from the seventh starting spot to finish second, Brad’s brother Nathan Chandler moved from eighth to finish third, Chuck Hanson advanced to fourth after starting in row seven while Miedke held on to complete the top five.
CCR CBC Notes……I know, it sounds like the “Harlequin novel” side of me is coming out when I am describing a perfect night of racing while watching the sunset in front of me, but if you have ever been to a show at Tipton you probably know what I am talking about. The stands face directly to the west, which can be a bit of a pain when the sun is still up, but it becomes spectacular when that big orange globe sets and paints the twilight sky. With the track itself raised up (I was straight on eye level with the front stretch even though I was sitting midway up in the new bleachers) and a pretty good distance from the stands, it produces a different line of sight and sound than what you will find at most other tracks. I don’t feel like I am getting the full sense of the speed that the cars are carrying with this sight line, and it sure seems like they are all quieter than other tracks. Does sound rise???…..What else adds to a “perfect” night of racing? A lack of caution flags and we saw very few of them tonight. Both the Modified and Late Model heats ran caution free while one caution flew for debris in the two Four Cylinder heat races. The Modified B-Main, as can be expected, had three or four incidents that required restarts and all three features ran pretty clean. This all resulted in a final checkered flag waving at 9:34 p.m., perfect for a weeknight special event……I mentioned above that Justin Kay was one of six Late Models decked out with the spec motor body package with the other five being Colby Springsteen, Dale Stolte, Wayne Hora, Kevin Pittman and Brian Beaudry. Stolte has been absent from the Late Model scene for most of the 2010 season, but has posted a pair of top-five finishes here in late August. From the paint schemes it looks like his #78 and Hora’s #M2 are team cars and Hora is no stranger to Tipton as he has been a regular competitor here in the Street Stock division for several years. Pittman was behind the wheel of the #60 often driven by Dean Wagner……No WISSOTA cars on hand tonight, but the field did include Illinois drivers Mike Fryer and Russ Adams…..The Corn Belt Clash continues a three-races-in-three-nights swing with a show in Allison tonight and at Chateau Raceway in Lansing, Minnesota, on Friday……The Modified winner Mark Schulte is a two-time All Iowa Points champion (2006 and 2007) and he was being chased tonight by the current All Iowa Points leader in Ryan Dolan……This was my first chance to see Bruce Hanford back in action after mid-season back surgery and the #61 looked solid as always……Late Model driver Matt Ryan moonlighted tonight in a red #11M Modified…..One driver who is usually challenging for the Modified win here at Tipton had a night to forget as Brad Diercks pulled off the track just before the green flag for the second heat race, an event that he was going to start from the front row in, and he did the same thing later in the evening as he prepared to start the B-Main…..One of the cautions in the Modified B was for a multi-car scramble on a restart. Shaune Lewis ended up spinning off the track and when he showed his displeasure by driving into the side of Ben Traver’s car as it sat waiting for the realignment, Lewis was then sent to the pits…..Scot Fridley was impressive coming from the back of the twelve-car lineup to snare the fifth and final transfer position out of the B-Main after failing to start his heat race…..After only one caution in their heats, the Four Cylinders put on some good racing in their feature as well with only one yellow when Mitch Bielenberg stopped in turn two on lap number three…..A big thanks to promoters Al & Kathy Dlouhy for their hospitality and don’t forget that the Cedar County Raceway has three events remaining on their 2010 schedule. This Friday, August 27th will be Season Championship night and they will come back the following week September 3rd with a non-points event. Then on Saturday night September 11th they will close out the season in style with the Dlouhy/Devore Memorial that will pay $2,000-to-win for the Modifieds, $1,500-to-win for the Late Models and $400-to-win for the Four Cylinders. For more info you can click the ad at the top of this entry. I am hoping to make it to this show following the annual Iowa and Iowa State game in Iowa City.
Several tracks will be holding their Season Championship events this weekend. Make sure that you attend the track of your choice and we hope to see you there!