“The One Night Stand For Fifteen Grand”, featuring the USAC non-wing sprint cars outran the nightly monsoon by a matter of minutes as Bud Kaeding took the checkered flag first in front of a large crowd. The fact that this event was even able to be run Tuesday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa is amazing given the torrential rains that fell here overnight both Sunday and Monday. But, with the hard work of all involved and headed up by promoter Terry McCarl, both Monday’s Front Row Challenge and Tuesday’s Ultimate Challenge were once again huge successes.
Twenty-seven cars were on hand tonight racing on a track that had no choice but to be heavy and it took its toll on drivers who pushed it beyond the limit. There were eight flips tonight involving seven cars and the majority of them came in turn one where a ridge developed on the approach to the cushion, so if a driver would set his right rear in this one wrong spot, he was either going to have to make a spectacular save or hang on for the ride. Fortunately in all eight flips the driver emerged unscathed.
The start of the thirty-lap feature saw both Bryan Clauson and Damion Gardner stumble on the entrance into turn one and, since they were starting on the first and second row respectively, their wheel hopping forced the rest of the field to scramble. Bill Rose and Chris Windom both went for the same piece of real estate and the two of them went for a tumble with Windom’s car shucking its tail tank in the process. As the safety crew took all proper precautions to remove the full tank of methanol from the racing surface, the crowd grew impatient as they could now see the air-to-ground lightning strokes to the north, the same direction that a now cooling wind had also increased from. On the restart it was Clauson who would move to the lead while Bud Kaeding, Sunday night’s winner at Knoxville, would move quickly from fourth to second. Kaeding was on a rail again tonight and applied the pressure on Clauson for several laps before completing the pass for the lead on lap eleven.
Clauson tried to keep pace in second, but he now had sixteen-year-old Kyle Larson closing in on him in third. At the mid-race point Larson looked like he was the fastest car on the track, but he hit the cushion in one and two too hard, bicycled and then went end-over-end a couple of times ending his night. Up until that point Larson had been undefeated as he won his heat race, his qualifying race and even the hula hoop contest during intermission edging out “The People’s Champ” Dave Darland. On the restart Clauson made a run on Kaeding and dove underneath him into turn one, but as the field went down the backstretch Robert Ballou went for a ride that thankfully involved more twirling than rolling. For Ballou it was his second rollover on the night as he also tipped over after running into a slowed Scotty Weir during his heat race.
On the next green flag Clauson again tried to mount a slider on Kaeding into turn one with no success as Bud opened up a big advantage heading down the backstretch. As the laps ticked away both Clauson and a now third running Levi Jones were able to make up ground on the leader, but there would be no catching Kaeding before the checkers waved. As the crowd started to scramble for their cars before the storm arrived, Kaeding did a couple of victory spins on the frontstretch and then climbed atop his car with the victory belt raised high in jubilation. Clauson and Jones would join Kaeding on the podium, Damion Gardner finished in the fourth spot while Darland passed Jerry Coons Jr. on the final lap to take fifth.
Osky UC Notes…..The night started with a tribute to the 2009 winner of this event Jesse Hockett. “The Rocket’s” father Jack brought his #77 car to the front stretch and several members of his family joined him as central Missouri based announcer Scotty Cook did a spectacular job of describing the life and the attitude of the fallen hero. It would have been tough to find a dry eye in the place….With Kaeding’s victory the Ultimate Challenge still does not have a two-time champion…..Besides Larson, another teenager from California caught our attention tonight as Keith Bloom Jr. was running strong before getting upside down in turn one during the third qualifying race. On the restart following Bloom’s mishap, one of the night’s favorites Jon Stanbrough was also bitten by the ridge in turn one…….Chris Morgan took perhaps the hardest ride of the night during the first qualifier, once again in turn one…..Henry Clarke will not look back fondly on his August trip to Iowa as mechanical problems once again ended his night before feature time just as they did at Knoxville on Sunday.
It all starts tonight! The 50th edition of the Knoxville Nationals sponsored this year by Goodyear. Check in here each day for random observations and news that we pick up as we once again have our block of tickets purchased in Section “I” and I will leave my notebook in the car so as not to have any adult beverages spilled upon it! You can always catch the full results as they happen on the Knoxville Raceway website and if you cannot attend in person, you can always listen live to our friends on Hoseheads Radio. Stay away rain, we’ve had enough!!!!