Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Late Models From Around The USA....

Let's take a look at how the Late Model points stack up around some of the other states as we close out June....

1 Chad Mahder Eau Claire 30
Nick Anvelink Navarino 30
Pat Doar New Richmond 30
4 Rick Scheffler Waukesha 26
5 Jake Redetzke Eau Claire 25
6 Terry Anvelink Navarino 24
7 Cory Mahder Elk Mound 20
8 Russ Scheffler Waukesha 19
9 Troy Springborn Shawano 18
10 Adam Hensel Barron 17

1 Jeff Walston Paducah KY 50
2 David Gentry Lewisburg 34
3 Todd Morrow Oldfort 32
4 Eric Hickerson Linden 26
5 Ray McElhiney Pulaski 26

West Virginia
1 Butch McGill West Union 26
2 Chris Garnes 25
3 Robbie Scott Shinnston 20
4 Jared Hawkins Fairmont 17
5 Jake Hawkins Fairmont 13
6 Todd Smith 13

South Dakota
1 Brian Diede Huron 38
2 Kent Arment Aberdeen 36
3 Chad Williamson Watertown 24
4 Chad Becker Aberdeen 22
5 Curt Gelling Aberdeen 22
6 David McDonald Huron 22

1 Jeff Rine Danville 58
2 Dave Hess Jr. Waterford 46
3 Jared Miley South Park 43
4 Sam Stile Charleroi 38
5 Scott Haus 35

1 Rusty Schlenk Jackson MI 64
2 Cody Parker 35
3 Chris Garnes 31
4 Doug Drown Wooster 31
5 Shane McLoughlin 30

1 Craig Preble Omaha 69
2 Bob Milander 42
3 Bill Leighton Jr. Omaha 39
4 Matt Buller 28
5 Kyle Berck Marquette 24
6 Robert Osborne 23
7 Dave Cook 22
8 Justin Gregg Grand Island 21
9 Kevin Safranek 19
10 Mark Lueken 17

1 Jeff Wildung Nassau 70
2 Ricky Weiss Winnipeg MAN 47
3 Jeff Provinzino Hibbing 37
4 Zach Johnson Kensington 35
5 Harry Hanson Eleveth 31
6 Corey Nelson 25
7 Kyle Peterlin Hibbing 24
8 Jeremy Keller Mandan ND 23
9 Lance Matthees Winona 21
10 Doug Herrick West Concord 16

1 Alan Vochaska South Haven 54
2 Rich Neiser Fruitport 33
3 Kevin Nelson Jr. Muskegon 32
4 Dona Marcoullier Houghton Lake 26
5 Eric Spangler Lake City 23

1 Justin Ratliff Campbellsville 36
2 David Webb Nicholasville 32
3 Dustin Neat Dunville 32
4 Derek Fisher 31
5 Mike Jewell Scottsburg IN 28

1 Chad Zobrist Highland 48
2 Jason Feger Bloomington 38
3 Brian Harris Davenport IA 36
4 Frankie Martin DuQuoin 34
5 Ray Guss Jr. Milan 32
6 Eric Smith Shirley 30
7 Ryan Unzicker El Paso 29
8 Dennis Erb Jr. Carpentersville 27
9 Mark Faust Breese 27
10 Mark Voigt Marine 27
11 Michael Kloos Trenton 27
12 Shannon Babb Mowequa 26
13 John Provenzano 24
14 Todd Bennett Peoria 24
15 Brandon Sheppard New Berlin 23
16 Denny Woodworth Mendon 23
17 Mike Provenzano 22
18 Craig Smith Godfrey 21
19 Mike Mullvain Peoria 21
20 Jeep VanWormer Pinconning MI 19

1 Bill Frye Greenbriar 18
2 Kyle Beard Trumann 17
3 Billy Moyer Jr. Batesville 10
4 David Ashley Zachary LA 10
5 Dane Dacus Lakeland TN 7
6 Jeff Floyd Walnut Ridge 7
7 Jon Mitchell Nash TX 7

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Irvine Remains Perfect at Marshalltown, Collects $1,000 Stock Car Shootout Victory

Put night number one of the IMCA Great American Stock Car Shootout in the books and, when you do, you will note that there were no real surprises at the top of chart in Marshalltown Monday night. Ninety-eight cars pulled to central Iowa on an absolutely beautiful night for racing that saw plenty of action not only in the Stock Cars, but in the Sport Mods and Hobby Stocks as well.

It took six heat races and three B-Mains to whittle the 52-car field down to 24 starters for the IMCA Stock Car main event with David Smith and Abe Huls drawing the front row start. Huls out of Carthage, Illinois, likely had some of the central Iowa fans wondering just who the heck he was as he jumped to the lead and started to put a little room between himself and Smith before the thirty-lap event’s one and only caution flag waved on lap six. On the restart Brian Irvine found the bite off the bottom of turn two and slipped by Huls for the lead down the backstretch. Irvine had made two trips to Marshalltown Speedway so far in 2010 and on both of them he had ended the night in victory lane and he had every intention of making it three in a row here this evening.

Not that Irvine needed the help, but with potential contenders locked in battle two and three-wide just behind him nobody was able to ever mount a true challenge on him as Brian cruised to the $1,000 victory. Dustin Smith, Huls and Damon Murty went three-wide for second on laps seventeen and eighteen with Smith emerging from that battle to take the runner-up honors. Murty would take home third-place money while Donavon Smith slipped by Huls late to finish fourth. Trent Murphy was sixth, Kyle Frederick came from row seven to finish seventh and David Smith wound up eighth.

Brian Irvine working the low line to perfection at Marshalltown - Barry Johnson photo

Twenty-three IMCA Sport Mods kicked off the evening with an entertaining twenty-lap money chase with the young lady Jenae Gustin pacing the field through the early laps. Fourteen-year-old Cayden Carter had started next to Gustin on the front row and on lap five he was finally able to make his way into the lead and he never looked back as he cruised to another win at the high-banked quarter-mile. Kyle Brown worked his way forward from row four to pass Dylan Book for second on the final lap while Book, in a last ditch effort to regain that second spot, drove over the top of turn three and never made it to the checkers. This moved Scott Davis up to third, Fred Leytham would finish fourth and Gustin rounded out the top five.

Jenae Gustin (19J) and Cayden Carter lead the field to the green in the IMCA Sport Mod main event - Barry Johnson photo

The IMCA Hobby Stock finale came to a grinding halt on lap four went Jacob Thompson went for a wild ride off the top of turn one rolling his car and winding up in and around some of the track prep equipment. Thompson got out of his car, but the EMT’s thought that it would be wise to transport him to make sure that all was well. After the delay Todd Reitzler in the Two Old Bags Purse Parties Special picked up where he left off leading all twenty-laps on his way to a second straight victory here at Marshalltown. It was not an easy one though as Scott Logrosso applied the pressure on Reitzler through most of the race and in the closing laps it was Jason Kohl who stuck his nose in under the leader, but both of those drivers would be involved in a wild five-car battle for second at the end. They were racing four-wide for second coming to the white flag and the scorer’s had to have a sharp eye and nimble fingers at the checkers as not much more than three car-lengths separated second through sixth. Michael Murphy, who had started tenth, would wind up second just ahead of Josh Irvine who came from dead last, twenty-second to finish third. Curt Ganoe would nip Logrosso at the line for fourth. Ganoe did this after restarting from the rear after changing a flat tire early in the race and Jason Kohl, who two laps earlier actually nosed into the lead briefly through turns one and two, would be shuffled back to sixth.

Jason Kohl (27) noses ahead of Todd Reitzler with three lap remaining in the Hobby Stock feature - Barry Johnson photo

M-town Notes…..If you did the research after the races you would have found that the Stock Car field had drivers from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Kansas on hand…..When you have a show like this every lap of every race counts as only the top two from the heats and the top four from the B-Mains would make the feature while the remaining twenty-eight drivers would load ‘em up and watch……Steve Meyer swept past Kyle Frederick on the high side of turn four on the final lap to take second in the first heat. Meyer would later retire early from the feature while Frederick would win a B and advance through the feature field to finish seventh…..Jay Schmidt started shotgun on the nine-car field in the second heat and sped through to victory…..Mike VanGenderen made a final lap move on Trevor Titus to finish second in the fifth heat…..Dustin Smith started eighth in the sixth heat before winning ahead of Garden City, Kansas, driver Rod Wadel. This race featured plenty of four-wide action at the front of the field…..The 2009 Shootout Series point champion Jeff Joldersma came up one spot shy from qualifying out of the second B-Main……The series moves to “The Beaver” tonight (Tuesday) then on to the Independence Motor Speedway on Wednesday and wraps up at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Thursday night……Don’t worry Chad, none of the embedded links will get you into trouble at work!

A big thanks to promoter Toby Kruse and his entire crew for putting a spectacular Monday night show that saw the final checkered flag wave right at ten o’clock.

For those of you that use Facebook, be sure to check out the page there where you will find more of Barry's photos from Marshalltown as well as archived photos, plus if you add us as a friend you'll know when each blogger has a new entry.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Clausen and Jones Reign as USAC Visits 34 Raceway

Race fans in the tri-state area were given an opportunity to see something different Saturday night as The USAC Sprints and Midgets rolled into 34 Raceway near West Burlington. There could have been more. More fans and more cars would have guaranteed a return visit in 2010, but I am pretty confident that the good number of fans that did attend will tell you that they enjoyed every lap that the seventeen midgets and twenty non-wing sprints turned on the 3/8-mile oval. Plus, the roster of sixteen IMCA Stock Cars showed the died-in-the-wool open wheel fans that the "taxi cabs" can put on some pretty darn good racing as well!

Danny Stratton and Zach Daum started from the front row of the thirty-lap midget feature and, along with the fourth-starting Levi Jones, the battle was three-wide for the first two circuits. Stratton would be credited with leading lap one before Jones took over on lap two. Bryan Clausen quickly caught the lead trio and was ready to make it a four-car tussle for the top, but he caught the one and only ripple on the otherwise perfectly prepared racetrack and bounced his way through turn one on lap five temporarily losing touch with the leaders. Jones pulled away a bit while Clausen recovered and around mid-race when Bryan slipped past Daum for second he now had a full straightaway between himself and the leader.

That gap was noticeably shrinking each lap and on lap twenty Clausen was ready to make a run on Jones. Just as Clausen made the pass in turn one it became evident as to why the lead had disappeared so quickly as the left rear tire on the Tony Stewart Racing #21 of Jones had now gone flat and he slowed going down the back stretch bringing out the caution. On the restart Daum tried to keep pace with Clausen while the battle to watch was for third where Dave Darland, Brad Kuhn and Tracy Hines were swapping the position out lap after lap. As the white flag waved though Darland slowed and would never see the checkers that waved over Clausen, Daum, Kuhn, Hines and Henry Clarke.

Midget Notes…..Clausen started sixth on the grid……Kuhn came from row six to third……Sprint Car driver Kyle Robbins started Clausen’s back-up car in the main event, but pulled in after one slow lap…..Darland was the fastest qualifier at 15.726…..Heat race winners were Kuhn and Kellen Conover…..Kurt Mayhew was a scratch for the night.

Nineteen USAC Sprint Cars thundered to the green, but on lap two a pair of non-related incidents would bring out the red. Casey Riggs caught the rough spot in turn one and put his car over on its top, then seconds later I caught the car of Tracy Hines out of the corner of my eye going end-over-end at the end of the backstretch. Both drivers climbed out uninjured and in fact when the caution waved on the first attempt at a restart, Riggs was able to rejoin the field after his crew made some quick repairs. Dave Darland looked to be the man to beat in this one early on until Levi Jones picked his way toward the front. Jones began to work on Darland on lap fifteen and the next five laps definitely gave the crowd their money’s worth as the two veterans raced each other side-by-side and through traffic for the race lead. Jones completed the pass on lap twenty-one and he pulled away from the pack as once again Darland was forced to retire to the pits late with mechanical issues. With Jones well on his way to victory the fans focused on another entertaining battle for second and third featuring point leader Damion Gardner, Shane Hmiel and Chris Windom. Windom, from nearby Canton, Illinois, had a large cheering section on hand and they were waving their hands with delight as he found some late race speed to charge past both Hmiel and Gardner over the final five laps to claim the runner-up spot behind Levi Jones. Hmiel nipped Gardner for third on the final lap while Terry Babb rounded out the top five.

Sprint Notes…..Jones started fifth while Windom came from row number five……With all of the big USAC names on hand it was a bit of a surprise when veteran driver Terry Babb went out late and set quick time in qualifying with a lap of 14.905. Babb is the current point leader in the 410 winged sprint division at the Jacksonville (Illinois) Speedway on Friday nights…..Sixteen-year-old Blake Nimee took a hard tumble in turn one during the third heat race and climbed out unharmed…..Area announcer Jake Croxton loves to head east to watch the non-wing sprints run and his knowledge of this segment of the sport shined tonight. If you wouldn’t have known that he is one of the regular announcers at 34 Raceway you would have thought that USAC brought him along with them……This event should be well documented from a visual standpoint as we counted fifteen photographers in the infield during qualifying and heat race action. I’m betting that the "Photo Daddy" Dennis Krieger clicked off some great shots.

The IMCA Stock Cars were on hand for a track points race tonight as well and they seemed to find the tacky track with a cushion to their liking with minimal caution flags and plenty of two and three-wide action. David Schrier, Sky Griffith and Abe Huls raced three-wide for the lead in the early laps of the twenty-lap main event. Huls, who started eighth, snared the lead on lap three and pulled away while the rest of the field waged war behind him. The only caution of the race flew on lap ten when John Brockway and Brett Timmerman tangled in turn two, and it didn’t take long for Jeff Mueller to get to second after the restart. With the laps winding down Mueller was closing in on Huls and it looked like we would be treated to a battle between these two fine Stock Car pilots. But with three laps to go something broke on the left front suspension of Mueller'’ #77 and he could no longer stay with Huls who cruised through the final three laps for the win. Mueller was able to nurse his ride in for second just ahead of Sky Griffith, while Kirk Kinsley and Chris Webb, who had started eleventh, completed the top five.

A big thanks to promoters Jeff and Amy Laue and their entire crew for taking the chance on bringing in such a unique event and, again a big pat on the back for just the right type of track preparation for the USAC competitors. I never felt a spec of dust on me all night long and the drivers could find a bite from top to bottom and back again from the first set of hot laps until the final checkered flag. Here’s hoping that this event returns in 2011 and hopefully on a night when the POWRi midgets aren’t running as well just three hours down the road.

Plenty of racing action in the week ahead. Make sure that you check the Schedule at so that you don’t miss out on a big event near you!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Too Many Choices Tonight? - Danica, Take A Breath and Start Another Sentence!

Sprint Car/Open Wheel fans here in the upper Midwest (Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Nebraska) definitely have plenty of options tonight and, while that may seem like a good thing at first, it might actually make most shows suffer a bit due to spreading the talent too thin.

The ASCS National Series is at Lake Ozark, the World of Outlaws are at Lakeside (Kansas City), Knoxville, St. Francois and Eagle have their weekly shows, the POWRi Midgets are at Belleville (Illinois) and USAC Sprints and Midgets are at 34 Raceway (Burlington). Every one of these shows are within a reasonable five hour drive or less from my front door and I am making the 20 minute jaunt down to Burlington, but just how many cars will we see tonight?

The ASCS National series averages over fifty cars an event and tonight should be no different, especially since this event will also serve as a Memorial for Jesse Hockett and his former crew chief Daniel McMillin. The Outlaws only had 25 cars at McCool Junction last night and three of them (Brian Brown, Bronson Maeschen and Chad Humston) will likely be at Knoxville tonight instead of Lakeside. Will three or more take their place and keep the car count above 25 tonight at Lakeside? Knoxville's 410 count has already flirted with having less than 20 on a couple of occasions this season and if there are any defections for Lakeside, tonight could be the night they go below that full feature field number. Knoxville's 360 count might even pick up a car or two tonight though since Jackson, Minnesota, has cancelled due to wet grounds.

As for the USAC show at 34 tonight, Morgan and I were originally hoping to see 20 Sprints and 30 Midgets, but that was before we realized that the POWRi midgets were running a two-day show at Belleville this weekend. There were 34 midgets there last night with Brad Loyet taking the win. Loyet is currently tenth in the USAC Midget points, but we are betting that he will stay close to home tonight and try to make a clean sweep. We are now hoping for 16 in each to give us two good heats and a solid feature in both divisions. Either way it will be a unique opportunity to see something different on the high-banks of 34 Raceway.

I waited to write this late in the day to make sure that nobody could think that I was trying to discourage people from going to the track of their choice tonight. Hopefully all of them will have great shows no matter what the car count is.

Finally, I just caught the end of the Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire and of course they had to interview Danica after her 30th-place finish. Watching an unscripted Danica interview can be very painful as through the extreme usage of "and ummm", "ya know" and "so" she can make one sentence last for at least a minute, or two, or three. You would think that her publicist would drag her to a Dale Carnegie class sometime and try to polish her act a bit. By the way, Danica made sure that Morgan Shepard knew that she didn't like that he spun her out on lap seven by bumping him on pit road at the end of the race. Take that old man!!!

I hope that you aren't reading this until you get home from the track tonight or early on Sunday!
Be Positive, Support The Sport!

As a postscript to this I wanted to give you the actual car counts for some of the events mentioned above. As you will see in my June 27th post the USAC event at 34 Raceway drew 20 Sprints and 17 Midgets. The World of Outlaws at Lakeside had only 20 cars. Knoxville drew 24 410's and 28 360's and, as expected, the big car count of the night was at Lake Ozark where 52 cars were on hand to compete.

Friday, June 25, 2010

It's Anderson Again at Moberly

The wide high-banked big 3/8th/short ½-mile oval at 24 Raceway near Moberly is one of my favorite tracks in the area to catch some high-speed, foot-to-the-floor, high-flying racing action and so when the MLRA Late Models were booked in there for a rare (in Missouri) Thursday night show I just had to make the trip.

Twenty-six Late Models were in attendance on an absolutely beautiful night for racing and, when the first heat took to the track, by lap four I was seeing what I wanted as John Anderson, Alan Vaughn and Evan Hubert were racing three-wide for the lead. After some more good action in the rest of the qualifying events a twenty-car field was set for the thirty-lap feature with Anderson, who started seventh in that first heat before winning, earning the pole position through passing points. The last time that the MLRA visited 24 in July of ’09 Anderson snared the lead on lap three and then drove away from the field for a convincing win. Tonight, with this starting spot, there would be no need to wait until lap three for John to start the butt-kickin’.

As Al Purkey tried to keep pace Anderson raced away at the drop of the green, but there was plenty of racing action for the fans to watch mid-pack. The two Andy’s Frozen Custard cars of Jeremy Payne and Terry Phillips always seemed to be locked in battle with two or three other cars. Evan Hubert, Denny Woodworth, Chris Spieker and Dave Eckrich all engaged the Custard crew at one time or another with three-wide racing through the corners lap after lap. Both Woodworth and Eckrich found the bottom groove to their liking as they steadily marched forward from their respective fifth and sixth row starts.

A mid-race caution for Spieker, who slowed with a flat tire, erased Anderson’s near half-lap lead, but on the restart he again pulled away from Purkey and appeared headed for a certain victory. As Purkey came to the stripe with two laps to go, and with the leader already exiting turn two ahead of him, Al slowed and pulled to inside groove with apparent mechanical issues. He was out of the racing groove and appeared to have plenty of momentum to carry him to the pit entrance on the backstretch, but the caution waved anyway to bunch up the field for a green-white-checkered finish. Eckrich was now up to second and his preferred groove was different than what Anderson had been running, so when the green waved again Eckrich pulled even with Anderson in turn one. The leader shook off that challenge, but after taking the white-flag Eckrich again drove hard to the inside of turn one and actually nosed ahead of Anderson for a split-second. But the high-side momentum launched Anderson back to the lead off of turn two and he denied one last effort by Eckrich in turn four to take the victory. Woodworth had an impressive run in third, Phillips who had started tenth finished in fourth while current series point leader Brad Looney came home fifth.

MLRA Notes…..That three-wide battle in the first heat that I mentioned above ended after a couple of laps when Hubert and Vaughn got together sending Vaughn for a spin. He drove alongside the youngster Hubert during the caution laps and then retired to the pits after a couple of laps of racing. Despite pulling in, Vaughn earned enough passing points to start the feature on row eight, but he was never a factor…..Larry D. Clawson and Zack Simmons also dropped from that first heat race with issues that kept them from racing the remainder of the evening…..The B-Main had its share of drama as eight cars were racing for the final four transfer positions. Chris Smyser had a big lead before something broke on his ride and he pulled to the pits. From there it was all Ricky Frankel out front until he took the white flag and his right rear tire blew out. This allowed Denny Eckrich, who sounded like he was nursing a sick motor, to take the win ahead of Bill Koons and Sonny Findling. The fourth and final transfer would go to twenty-one-year-old Ashlee Lancaster who had a crate engine under the hood of her #16……Frankel would earn a provisional and start last on the grid that only had twenty cars rather than the twenty-two that was announced earlier in the evening. Bryon Allison finished second in his heat and Eric Turner was third in his, but neither driver reported to the staging area for the feature. And I’m not sure if John Farmer, who was still running at the end of the B-Main, was invited to the party or not……The MLRA Late Models will hit the big half-mile in Sedalia tonight (Friday) and then move down to the racy quarter-mile in Springfield on Saturday with this three-race swing definitely showing the versatility of the drivers on this series……One of the Racin’ Boys, Trenton Barry handled the announcing duties for the Late Models and did a terrific job!

24 Raceway’s Sportsman and Hobby Stock divisions had a track points race in support with eight cars on hand in the Hobby class and eleven in the Sportsman field. The Hobby division took a hit when Tim Dawson broke an axle while battling Clayton Crump for the lead in the second heat race and when Blake Hultz loaded up and left after finishing third in the first qualifier. Pole-sitter Jamie Bevill blew a right rear tire as the green flag waved on the main event and Clayton Crump went unchallenged to the win over Tom Creed and Justin Bevill.

The Agee family had an interesting night in the Sportsman class. On the first lap of the second heat race Cody Agee lead the five-car field into turn three on the first lap and spun collecting the entire field. Derrick Agee’s #14 suffered the worst damage and was towed to the pits while the #111 of Butch Bailey sat and waited in turn three for the wrecker to return. After checking out their damage, three drivers returned to the track with Agee taking the win over Wes Mayfield and Rick Girard. During the Late Model heats Derrick Agee worked a deal with the Rindom Racing crew to borrow their car for the feature and he prepared for action knowing that he would start last (ninth) for the twelve-lap finale. As the field raced off turn four of the first lap contact between Cody Agee and Mayfield sent the field scrambling with the car of Lucas Galland ending up in a tangle with Cody Agee’s #25 in front of the flagstand. It took the wrecker, a push truck and seven safety crew workers several minutes to pry the two cars apart, and only Galland was able to restart. Once back to action it was Chad Walter who was setting the pace with Andrew Page in hot pursuit. Derrick Agee was getting the feel for his borrowed ride and was getting faster every lap. With two laps remaining Agee, Page and Walter raced three-wide off of turn two and it was Agee going from third to first down the back straightway. Derrick then held off one last bid from Page to take the unlikely victory in the borrowed car. Walter had to settle for third while Galland drove his damaged car in for fourth. William Dahl drove his sharp looking #40 car in for a fifth-place check at the pay window.

As I have come to expect, the racing action was once again spectacular at 24 Raceway, but the show could have been even better with some minor changes. Hot laps were scheduled for 6:15 with racing set to start at 7 o’clock. The hot laps actually started about ten after 7 and the forty-five cars were split into eight different hot lap sessions. The first heat race took the green at 7:40 with the Hobby Stocks and Sportsman heats being run first prior to the four Late Model heat races. This order of events then necessitated a thirty-minute intermission before the start of the Late Model B-Main. The final checkers still waved at a respectable time of 10:17 p.m., but it could have been as much as an hour earlier, which would have been ideal on a Thursday night.

A big thanks to track announcer Doug Mealy for the plug as he spotted us in the grandstand. Doug has one of the smoothest voices that you will find at a speedway and during the break I was trying to come up with a good nickname for Doug and I thought that some variation of the “Velvet Fog” would be a good fit. But I guess if Mel Torme didn’t like it, neither would Doug, so if any of you have suggestions just let me know.

USAC Sprints and Midgets at 34 Raceway are next up for me. Enjoy your racing weekend!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Somebody Should Have Been Shooting This Night For a Discovery Channel Show!

My first-ever visit to the half-mile oval version of the Mineral City Speedway will be remembered for three distinct reasons:

1. A Hobby Stock feature that was decided on the final turn with the margin of victory being no more than a foot.

2. A USMTS Modified feature that was decided on the final turn coming to the checkers with a new phenom taking his fifth-straight series victory, and

3. Numbers 1 and 2 above all taking place while lightning flashed in the skies nearby and a funnel cloud was sighted less than twenty-miles away BEFORE the green flag waved for the final event of the night.

Yes indeed, all three of these things had my heart pumping and I can guarantee you that this will not be my last trip to Fort Dodge for fabulous racing action!

The Stock Car feature was up first taking the green flag at a few minutes before nine o’clock. Mark Elliott, who came to the track late after having to get out of his Modified and into his Stock Car, started on the front row alongside his brother Greg and the two went at it pretty good for the first couple of laps. Mark soon established himself as the superior Elliott on this night and then cruised on to the victory with Greg in second. Jeremy Crimmins prevailed in a tight battle with Nathan Wood for the third spot while Mike VanGenderen rounded out the top five. Steve Jackson came into the night as the Dart Ironman Challenge point leader and he finished sixth while Jason Minnehan came all the way from the ninth row to take seventh.

Mark Elliott on cruise control in the Dart Ironman Challenge Stock Car A-Main - Barry Johnson photo

With the skies growing ever more threatening, as soon at the Stock Cars pulled off the track the Hobby Stocks were on it and their twelve-lap feature took the green. But things came to a grinding halt in turn four on lap one when contact between front row starters Brett Smith and Todd Hillman sent Hillman for a spin and as the field stacked up behind him, Robert See was sent for a tumble that pretty much destroyed his racecar. Fortunately See climbed out uninjured, the track was cleared quickly and we went back to racing. Brett Smith would lead the first lap only to then yield to current All Iowa Points leader Devin Smith. Brad Ratcliff soon moved to second and took up the chase of Devin Smith and even nosed ahead of him to lead lap four only to have Smith come right back on the following circuit. Justin Nehring had started the race in eighth and was now getting the feel of the fast half-mile moving quickly toward the front and reeling in the leaders. As Smith took the white flag Nehring was within striking distance and as they raced into turns three and four for the final time Nehring drove to the inside of Smith pulling even with him as they exited turn four. The two cars were literally door-handle-to-door-handle coming to the checkers rubbing on each other all the way and as they crossed the line it was Nehring’s bumper that made it there first to take the thrilling victory. Stac Schroeder cam from row five to pick up the third spot while Ratcliff and Merle Bass completed the top five.

Justin Nehring (20N) had to pick his way through the field before his last lap heroics - Barry Johnson photo

Once again as soon as one race was completed the next one rolled to the track as the USMTS Modifieds took the green for their twenty-five-lap finale with a few sprinkles in the air. Al Hejna grabbed the lead from his pole position only to have Colt Mather drive around him on the outside of turn two the following lap. The one and only caution of the event flew on lap three when Hejna slowed with a flat right rear tire and on the restart Mather was a rocket opening up a solid lead over his pursuers. By mid-race though both Jason Krohn and Ryan Gustin were beginning to chip away at Mather’s advantage and when lapped traffic came into play Krohn was able to make his move and take the lead on lap eighteen. Gustin actually lost some ground a lap later when he got pinned behind the lapper, but the third-generation driver (on both sides of the family!) quickly recovered and slipped by Mather two laps later.
Colt Mather would set a blistering pace in the early going of the Modified main event - Barry Johnson photo
Kelly Shryock (3) would start 15th and finish 5th. Here he is racing with the always entertaining Kenny Wallace - Barry Johnson photo

The chase was definitely on now and with the wind starting to blow harder and the storm clouds closing in it felt like one huge scripted crescendo! But it wasn’t scripted, it was just some fantastic dirt track racing on a summer night in Iowa, something that we all need to take a step back and appreciate a little more often. Gustin was looking for his fifth straight series win and he wasn’t about to just follow Krohn around in the leader’s preferred groove. Over the final three laps Gustin looked low, he looked high, and he even ran some corners using a bit of both grooves and as the leaders headed into turns three and four for the final time a lapped car running the low line that Krohn preferred may have been just close enough to make a difference. Gustin kept his foot to the floor of his #19R and swept around the high side of Krohn to swipe the lead and the victory as the crowd cheered their approval. Mather held on for an impressive third-place finish ahead of Ryan Ruter and Kelly Shryock. Brad Williams was sixth, Kevin Pittman took seventh followed by Corey Dripps, Bumper Jones and Kenny Wallace.

Ryan Gustin (19R) looks to the high side of Jason Krohn (7K) in turn one on the final lap - Barry Johnson photo

As soon as the checkers flew the crowd tried to catch their breath and then quickly made their way to their cars as several people were seen on their cell phones getting reports that funnel clouds had been sighted very close to the speedway. I have never seen a crowd disperse so fast after a thrilling feature race in all of my years of attending races!

Mineral City Notes…..Despite a twenty minute break that felt like it was taking forever between the heats and the Modified B-Mains, the final checkers waved at 9:30 p.m……Shryock was the event’s hard charger coming to fifth from fifteenth….Mark Elliott’s delayed appearance on the starting grid for the Stock Car feature was due to the fact that he had just passed Dan Fetters on the final lap of the second Modified B-Main to secure the sixth and final transfer spot. Elliott found himself in that B-Main after he retired to pits with mechanical issues while leading the fourth heat race…..Tommy Weder Jr. looked like he had the first eat race win in hand before his motor let go on the final lap. He was unable to return for a B……Kenny Wallace was very entertaining early in the evening as he took on a role similar to carnival barker while encouraging early arriving fans to come and get his autograph and purchase some of his merchandise….I know that there are some readers who just could not imagine themselves going to a special event where the Modifieds are the headliner, but if you have never attended a USMTS event, you don’t know what you are missing. The speed, the competition and the ability of these drivers to make saves out of tough situations amazed me tonight proving once again that a road trip to a USMTS event is always worth the effort.

As I mentioned before this was my first visit ever to the Mineral City Speedway and I came away very impressed. This is a high-speed half-mile with plenty of racing room and drivers tonight were competitive from top to bottom. My only regret is that I never did track down promoter Kit Hovey who used to be a good supporter as a Hobby Stock driver on the old NKF Tour and who is now a supporter of our efforts here at PositivelyRacing. This place truly is “a gem in the heartland” and I look forward to returning soon!

With this visit I can once again claim that of all of the tracks in the state of Iowa that run a weekly racing programs, I have been to at least one race at them all!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Cook, Gillenwater and Foster Beat The Rain At Lee County Speedway

With my six-day grounds pass to Burlington’s Steamboat Days Music Festival in hand and with storms on the radar marching east across Iowa, I had a decision to make at seven o’clock on this Friday evening. It was obvious that the rain was going to hit Burlington and Donnellson, where the Lee County Speedway was in action tonight, by about 9:30 so the question was this. Would I rather be standing in a crowd of eight to ten thousand people watching the rock band Theory of a Deadman with my car fifteen or twenty blocks away when the storms hit? Or would I rather be in the grandstands at the racetrack with my car just outside in the parking lot? That was a no-brainer so I turned to the south and headed for Donnellson arriving just in time to hear the National Anthem as I parked my car in a strategic location.

With nearly all of the tracks in Iowa rained out today due to the first round of storms that pushed through the state I thought that I might see some different cars at Lee County tonight and that was definitely the case. But not all of the new drivers came from rained out tracks, some were just making their first appearance for 2010. In the Stock Cars you had Nathan Wood and Devon Timmerman who are track regulars at CJ Raceway, while Quincy regular Terry Houston and Memphis, Missouri, driver Josh Robinson pulled in as well. John Whalen, Bill Whalen Jr. and Corey Sheetz brought their four-cylinders to Donnellson after CJ cancelled and Jason Doyle made the long pull down from Cedar Rapids for the first time with his Sport Mod. With Davenport not racing tonight anyway with a non-racing event at the fairgrounds, IMCA Modified drivers Jacob Waterman, Jerry Pratt and Andrew Burk were all in attendance tonight as well while in the Hobby Stocks CJ regular Alex Buffington and Quincy’s Bobby Anders beefed up the talent in that division.

With lightning flashing to the north the feature racing started around 8:40 with the IMCA Stock Cars and it turned out to be a dandy. Corey Strothman, racing with the confidence from a feature win here last Friday night, opened up a big lead while the rest of the pack sorted themselves out behind him. A caution for Josh Robinson’s spin in turn four with only four laps remaining was exactly what Strothman did not want to see as that wiped out his advantage and placed Jason Cook right on his tail for the restart. Cook had started eighth and was now ready to put the pressure on Strothman, but Corey fought him off until the final circuit. Cook pulled even with Strothman as they raced down the backstretch and he then drove hard to the low-side in turn three. Cook then drifted up the track and slammed the door on Strothman to complete the pass as the checkers waved. Pole-sitter Jim Redmann followed the duo in for third, John Oliver Jr. was fourth and unofficially I had Abe Huls ahead of a pack of four cars to round out the top five.

Current Stock Car point leader Jeff Mueller had a tough night as he slowed with a smoking motor in his heat race, changed motors before the feature, and then dropped out again with mechanical issues midway through the main event. Last Friday night, after finishing second to Strothman in the make-up feature Mueller’s crew swapped motors and he was able to go from back to front to take the win in the regularly scheduled event. Bot not so tonight.

After a quick picture in victory lane Cook ran to his IMCA Sport Mod that was waiting for him in the infield and strapped in just in time to start eighth on the grid for that feature race. A couple of laps into this one the wind shifted and strengthened and the temperature dropped about ten degrees as Jim Gillenwater came from row three to pass Rick Barlow Jr. for the lead. On lap eight a pack of cars racing for position in the top ten encountered the lapped car of Sarah Tweedy and when the cars in front of him parted Joe Bliven found himself with nowhere to go and drove up and over the left side of Tweedy’s car. Bliven was obviously upset with the circumstances as he had come into the night in a three-way tie for the points lead with A.J. Johnson and Derek Coleman.

It was déjà vu all over again on the restart as the leader Gillenwater now had Jason Cook just behind him and, just like in the Stock Car feature minutes before, Cook went to work on the leader using the low groove. The two cars crossed the stripe in a virtual dead-heat as Ryan Bergeson waved the white flag, but Gillenwater kept his cool and did not bobble on the cushion over the final lap to take the win by two car-lengths. Barlow would pick up the third spot followed by Thad Gaylord and A.J. Johnson who will now likely emerge as the point leader.

The wind actually calmed a bit as the IMCA Modifieds pulled to the track, but the lightning was getting more intense especially to the west of the speedway. When the green flag waved the winds howled again as outside front row starter James Leffew jumped to the point. Again on a lap three restart Leffew looked like he would drive away from everybody tonight, but on lap seven he bobbled in turn two and had to race through the infield to recover. That was all that Josh Foster needed as Leffew’s lead was now erased and Foster drove under him on lap eight to knock him back to second. As Foster, who had started ninth, pulled away for the win, Leffew regained his composure and cruised in for second. Rich Smith came from eighth to finish third, current point leader Brandon Rothzen was fourth and Adam Birck would tally a fifth-place finish for the night.

I moved down to the front row of the grandstands prior to the start of the next feature, but when Don DeMint spun in turn two on the first lap for the "Wild Things" it was obvious that the rain was just a moment away. My sprint to the car allowed me to hop in just before the first raindrops fell and by the time I was on the road at 9:40 p.m. I could barely see ten feet in front of me due to the heavy downpour. Track announcer Dewain Hulett had told me earlier that Steamboat Days had cancelled around nine o’clock, likely to get all of those people out of there before the storms hit, so yes I definitely made the right call on this Friday night.

The Wild Things and Hobby Stock features will be made up, perhaps on next Friday night’s Mid-Season Championship night at the Lee County Speedway. It should be noted that the track will line up their races by average points inverted for the mid-season event rather than straight up by points like some tracks do. And mark your calendar for Thursday night July 1st for the 3rd Annual Liberty Cup at the Lee County Speedway this year featuring the JR Motorsports Hawkeye Dirt Tour for the IMCA Modifieds and night number four for the Great America Shootout for the IMCA Stock Cars. This should be a great night of racing with a strong field of cars in each division, plus the Hobby Stocks will be on hand as well. For more details check out the Lee County Speedway website.

With all of this rain today it will be interesting to see who, along with Boone and Algona, will be able to race on Saturday night. Me? I have a wedding to go to otherwise I’d have to choose between 34 Raceway and Buckcherry. Get out to the races this weekend if you can and remember, be Positive and Support the Sport!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Wood and Some New Faces In Victory Lane at Oskaloosa

Despite a short field of cars in the two top divisions the racing was definitely worth the price of admission Wednesday night at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa as some new faces appeared in victory lane.

Seven evenly matched USRA Stock Cars went to battle for 15-laps with newcomer Damon Murty gaining the early advantage. Shane Weller applied the pressure working the low side of the leader during the early laps while the third-place car of Nathan Wood searched out the prospects on the high line through the corners. The trio went three-wide on lap five entering turn three and when they came off of four it was Wood who now had the advantage. As the new leader put some distance on the field, Weller continued to work on Murty until he finally made the pass with just four laps to go. Weller was then able to cut into Wood’s lead, but he could not quite catch him before the checkers waved for the driver who currently ranks second in the Stock Car All Iowa Points. Murty chased Wood and Weller in for third, Mike VanGenderen looked to make it a four-car battle for the front early before settling for fourth and Rich Vogt came home fifth. It was good to see Brian Sterling back in action tonight along with Kyle Harwood.

The USRA Modified field started with eight, but we lost Josh Truman when he shucked a rear end during hot laps. Ron VerBeek and Scott Dickey put on a good show for the bulk of the twenty-lap feature for the division as VerBeek led early before Dickey applied a nifty high-to-low move exiting turn two on lap four. Not to be denied “RVB” charged right back by Dickey two laps later in turn one and then the two actually swapped the lead in turns three and four on lap seven. During that exchange Dickey had to check up a bit and VerBeek opened up about a ten-car-length advantage that he was able to maintain for the rest of the race on his way to victory. Dickey would settle for the runner-up honors with Steven Blattler a distant third. Brandon Banks, Greg Cox and John Fellman were a lap down in fourth, fifth and sixth respectively while David Ott retired early with a flat tire and would finish seventh.

There was no shortage of USRA Hobby Stocks as twenty-four cars were in action tonight and there were two more cars, I believe that it was Justin and Jamie Bevill from Bethel, Missouri, sitting on their trailers out in the parking lot behind the grandstands. I never did find out what the deal was there, but those Hobby Stocks that were racing did so in exciting fashion going two and three-wide near the front for the entire fifteen-lap feature. “The Ladies’ Man” Andrew Hustead was at the point of the pack for the first two laps before Dale Porter took over on lap three. With the field racing wildly just behind him it looked as though Porter would be able to hold on for the win, but his race came to an end three laps shy of the finish when his engine expired in turn three. Steve Allen would inherit the advantage for the restart and when Matt Messamaker and Kris Walker made contact while racing for second that was all that Allen needed to earn his first-ever victory after six years of racing on his hometown track. Danny Thrasher started eighth and finished second, Messamaker recovered to finish third ahead of Todd Reitzler, Derek Kirkland and Walker.

A few notes from the Hobby Stocks….Donovan Nunnikhoven was running third, but pulled to the infield just prior to the final restart…..Messamaker started twelfth…..Dustin Griffiths appeared to have finished third in his heat race, but something must have been amiss in the tech area as he tagged the back of the field for the feature. Dustin had worked his way well toward the front of the field before his motor let go on lap seven…..I’m always on the lookout for interesting sponsors (such as Larry Herring’s classic “Kurt’s Used Caskets”) and on the side of Todd Reitzler’s car is “Two Old Bags”. I couldn’t read what was under it from the top of the grandstand, but the possibilities of what kind of a business this could be are endless. If somebody could get back to me with details I would appreciate it!…..It was good to see the ol’ orange and white #558 back in action with Jim Hughes behind the wheel.

Twenty USRA B-Mods took the green for fifteen-laps to close out the evening with Bill Gibson moving to the lead from his outside row one starting spot. Kent Kositzky of Cedar Rapids was making the most of his first-ever visit to Osky putting the heat on Gibson during the early laps looking to back up his heat race victory earlier in the night with a feature win as well. Gibson kept Kositzky at bay and then the newcomer had to deal with defending track champion Tyler Groenendyk who was now looking for that second spot. It took several laps for Groenendyk to complete the pass of Kositzky and that was exactly what Gibson needed to complete the non-stop event with a trophy in hand. Groenendyk was in striking distance at the end in second, Kositzky had a very impressive debut in third, Cayden Carter came from tenth to finish fourth and Mike Shelton filled out the list of the top five.

Even after some track maintenance to keep the track racy after receiving nearly eight inches of rain in the past week, the final checkered flag fell at 9:53 p.m. sending drivers, crews and fans home for a decent night of sleep before a Thursday workday. Is the Southern Iowa Speedway in a bit of a down cycle right now in regard to car counts? In a couple of classes, yes, but you still can’t beat having the option to attend a quality weekly Wednesday night race program. I hope to see you there sometime soon!

And a big thanks to announcer Tony Paris for the plug!!!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Really Pete?

Former University of Southern California football coach Pete Carroll is upset with the NCAA for the sanctions that have been levied against the school's football program for a lack of institutional control during his tenure at USC. The key word in that first sentence is "former". Yes, Pete Carroll joins the list of several college coaches (football, basketball, etc.) who all of a sudden get the urge to move on to greener pastures just before the NCAA sanctions axe falls upon the school that they are leaving. Really Pete? You didn't realize that your star running backs parents all of sudden had an incredible upgrade in living arrangements? After all those other years of fielding national championship contenders/winners, did no NFL teams come to you with an offer that would provide you with the "challenge" that you claim drove you to taking the job with the Seattle Seahawks?

The timing of Pete's job change wreaks of coincidence. He knew that the Trojans' athletic program was under investigation and the fact that he took the NFL job would suggest that he knew what the result of the investigation would be. So once again a coach skips town scot-free while the school and the athletes he left behind pays the price. Good luck in the NFL Pete, just remember they all get paid to play there!

Hey! It's a sunny and dry day here in the state of Iowa and two of's best supporters, the United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) and "The Beaver" (Buena Vista Raceway) come together in Alta tonight for a big night of racing! If I didn't have to work Thursday morning I'd be making the five hour trip to the northwest portion of the state to catch the action, but hopefully you can make it there tonight. The USMTS makes a stop at another of our supporters next Tuesday night June 22nd when they roll into the Mineral City Speedway in Fort Dodge. If I'm able to make that trip it will allow me to once again say that I have been to every oval track in the state of Iowa that runs a weekly program.

Does anybody really care anymore that Sports Center originates from Los Angeles?

Billy Currington put on a fantastic show at Steamboat Days Tuesday night.

Why do so many AWP's take shots at Simmons Promotions on internet forums?

Enjoy your "hump day"

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday Thoughts.....

With my two options for tonight, the Hawkeye Dirt Tour at West Union and a Tornado Tuesday at Farley, both rained out it looks like I'll be headed to Steamboat Days to watch Billy Currington instead. Not too bad of a consolation prize.

Brian Neal is now all caught up in "Midwest Racing News" at and it is only fitting that he has changed the background of his blog to a rainy scene!

Sue should be updating the All Iowa Points again soon and when they are posted you will find the following. Ray Guss Jr. has a solid 28-point advantage in the Late Model division with Craig Preble in second. Preble has definitely been the man to beat out in eastern Nebraska this year already posting seven feature wins at AIP tracks, primarily I-80 Speedway. Richie Gustin has burst from the pack in the Modifieds and is 19 points ahead of two drivers, Michael Long and Jimmy Cole, who we haven't seen this high up on the list in mid-June before. Dustin Smith looks like a good bet to post his third straight All Iowa Points title in the Stock Cars as he has a 25-point bulge over Nathan Wood right now with Chad Palmer just a point behind Wood in third.

The Limited Modified division is pretty tight right now with Austin Kaplan on top while Jesse Sobbing and Tad Reutzel are not far behind. In the Hobby Stocks Shannon Anderson is going to have to erase the 17-point lead that Devin Smith holds right now if he is going to pick up his third straight championship and both Chad Gentz and Dustin Larson are solidly in contention as well. The Four Cylinder division is completely up for grabs as only twenty points separate the top eighteen drivers in the standings. Defending champion Nate Coopman returned to the top of the list for the first time this week with a bunch of drivers close behind.

The three Sprint Car divisions have seen a lot of scheduled events fall by the wayside due to weather this year so the point totals are still pretty low and several drivers are in contention. Transplanted Aussie Lynton Jeffrey leads the way in the 410's, Jack Dover has a 12-point lead over defending champ Mike Boston in the 360's and it is still anybody's race in the 305's with Casey Friedrichsen leading the way at this point.

As hard as it has been for many tracks in Iowa to get a show in this year, the rain has plagued the All Missouri Points tracks even more in 2010. Jack Simmons, Jesse Stovall, Colt Cheevers, Randy Martin and Brandon Imhoff lead their respective divisions at this point of the season as Missouri drivers and fans hope that they can get some conecutive weeks of action in during the remainder of the summer.

For a full rundown of both the All Iowa Points and the All Missouri Points go the home page at and click on the Points tab.

The lack of racing from this past weekend due to the weather allowed me to get caught up on the Late Model state points around the country as well and here are how a few of those look through June 12th:

1 Chad Mahder Eau Claire 25
2 Pat Doar New Richmond 23
3 Jake Redetzke Eau Claire 20
4 Terry Anvelink Navarino 19
5 Troy Springborn Shawano 18

1 Jeff Walston Paducah KY 50
2 Todd Morrow Oldfort 29
3 David Gentry Lewisburg 28
4 Eric Hickerson Linden 26
5 Randy Weaver Crossville 22

1 Jeff Rine Danville 51
2 Dave Hess Jr. Waterford 37
3 Sam Stile Charleroi 37
4 Jared Miley South Park 33
5 Gregg Satterlee Rochester Mills 28
(One of the great "names" in racing Clate Copeman is currently sixth)

1 Rusty Schlenk Jackson MI 55
2 Cody Parker 30
3 Doug Drown Wooster 26
4 Jason Jameson Lawrenceburg IN 26
5 Chris Garnes 23

1 Craig Preble Omaha 62
2 Bob Milander 41
3 Bill Leighton Jr. Omaha 31
4 Matt Buller 25
5 Kyle Berck Marquette 23
6 Justin Gregg Grand Island 21
7 Robert Osborne 20
8 Dave Cook 15
9 Les Seibert York 15
10 Kevin Safranek 14

1 Rick Rickman Columbus 29
2 Jason Cliburn Star 25
3 David Breazeale Four Corners 24
4 Chad Thrash Meridian 17
5 Anthony Burroughs Athens AL 16

1 Jeff Wildung Nassau 53
2 Ricky Weiss Winnipeg MAN 35
3 Zach Johnson Kensington 34
4 Jeff Provinzino Hibbing 26
5 Harry Hanson Eleveth 20
6 Jeremy Keller Mandan ND 20
7 Lance Matthees Winona 16
8 Kyle Peterlin Hibbing 13
9 Corey Nelson 12
10 Darrell Nelson Hermanton 12

1 Alan Vochaska South Haven 39
2 Rich Neiser Fruitport 22
3 Dona Marcoullier Houghton Lake 20
4 Eric Spangler Lake City 15
5 Jeep Van Wormer Piconning 15
6 Phil Ausra Dowagiac 15

1 Dustin Neat Dunville 31
2 David Webb Nicholasville 26
3 Derek Fisher 26
4 Jason Jameson Lawrenceburg IN 22
5 Todd Coffman 21

1 Terry Phillips Springfield MO 14
2 Eddie Kirchoff Gillette WY 13
3 Eric Turner Hermitage MO 10
4 Delbert Smith Wichita 9
5 John Anderson Omaha NE 7

1 Chad Zobrist Highland 39
2 Frankie Martin DuQuoin 33
3 Brian Harris Davenport IA 32
4 Jason Feger Bloomington 29
5 Michael Kloos Trenton 24
6 Ray Guss Jr. Milan 23
7 Brandon Sheppard New Berlin 22
8 Ryan Unzicker El Paso 22
9 Mark Voigt Marine 21
10 Eric Smith Shirley 20

1 Brent Dixon Elberton 25
2 Frank Ingram Woodstock 23
3 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga TN 21
4 Derek Ellis Chatsworth 20
5 Ethan Hunter Tiger 20

1 Mike Kirby Torrance 34
2 Mike Johnson Lompoc 25
3 Jeff Decker Morgan Hill 24
4 Clay Daly Watsonville 23
5 Steve Drake San Luis Obispo 23

1 Tim Busha Boaz 35
2 Mark Mears Decatur 30
3 Stacy Holmes Munford 30
4 Bradley Price Hamilton 27
5 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga TN 22

That's all for now, let's dry up and get some racing in!!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Did They Build a Dome Over Boone and Algona?

Another rainy weekend with several tracks losing shows both on Saturday and Sunday, but once again both Algona and Boone were able to get their shows in. Good for them! What I want to know is what kind of deal have Joe Ringsdorf and Robert Lawton made with the weather Gods this season?

Want a comparison? Both of these tracks and 34 Raceway have had events on the schedule for every Saturday night beginning on April 3rd. 34 Raceway in Burlington has been able to run five Saturday night shows this season.....five out of eleven for a success rate of 45.5%. On the other hand, both Boone and Algona have been able to run on all eleven Saturday nights. Seriously? No rainy season woes at these two facilities and I would have thought that Dick and Joyce or Kevin would have told us if they have erected some sort of big tent or a dome over these two tracks.

Now I'm sure that if they get rained out this coming week the "Back Stretch" will somehow get blamed for it, but I just had to point out one of the most unbelievable statistics of the 2010 season so far.

Check out the updated All Iowa Points on the "Points" tab at and don't be surprised if you see drivers that race at Boone and Algona near the top of their divisions! And for you Missouri readers you can find the Show Me state points there as well.

Here's hoping for dry Saturday nights, or let's make that a wish for dry "race nights" for all of our area tracks going forward. And when your favorite track is in action get out there and support the sport!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Gharst Dominates Sprint Invaders, Pundt Wins His First and Lynch Is Ahead Of The Action Wednesday Night at Lee County

The Sprint Invaders returned to the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson Wednesday night as the headliner for Budweiser Night at the races. Golden Eagle Distributing of Burlington throws this party each year at the Speedway where they invite their retailers in for an evening of fun, food, racing and of course, adult beverages all within a fenced off “beer tent” in the pit area. The retailers are given tickets that they then provide to their best customers and the result was over five hundred people having quite a good time from the moment that the pit gates opened. Then, after the races are over, they open it up to everybody who is of legal drinking age to join in as well. My good friend Tony Fedler who owns the Pep Stop (located on East Washington Street in Mount Pleasant, stop in a say “hi” sometime) invited me to join his group in the tent and we filled up on some great food. I washed mine down with a few Bud Light Limes, and yes I like it in the can so after watching the heat races from the tent, I then headed over to the grandstand side to join Christine and Morgan for the feature events.

The Modifieds were up first for their twenty-lap main event and while Jim Lynch of Bloomfield walked away with the win, the action behind him was intense. Lynch blew past Brandon Rothzen on lap two to take the lead and, as Lynch pulled away, Josh Foster began to challenge Rothzen for second. The caution waved on lap five when Michael Long spun in turn two. Earlier in the evening Long was running away with his heat race before he slowed suddenly and pulled to the infield, so he had started scratch on the seventeen-car field and he would now return there after causing the caution. Once back to green Lynch again pulled away while Rothzen and Foster provided the crowd with a thrilling display of crossover moves and slide jobs lap after lap that would see Foster move ahead of Brandon in turn three only to have Rothzen shoot right back to the bottom off turn four to pass Josh and to hold the second position at the line. By lap seventeen Michael Long had picked his way through the field and was now set to make it a three-car battle for second until the caution waved once again.

On the restart Foster got sideways exiting turn four and had to use the infield to gather it back up losing several spots and leaving Long to now battle it out with Rothzen for second. Two laps later Long completed the pass with a slider of his own but he could not mount a challenge on the leader as the checkers waved with Lynch taking the victory ahead of Long, Rothzen, Wyatt Lantz and Adam Birck. However, later that night after all the races had been completed, I learned that I had missed out on some additional activities that took place right after the race. Rothzen did not appreciate the manner with which he had been passed by Long so he had given Michael a shove from behind during the cool down lap and when the two drivers made their way to the scales and the claim area they needed to be separated by an official to keep the peace. At the same time another driver had pulled to the claim area with the intent of claiming Rothzen’s engine, but since the bump on the track after the checkers had already earned Brandon a disqualification, the prospective claimer was denied. After all, only the top four finishers are eligible to be claimed and Rothzen was not in the top four. So, after taking part in what had to be an extremely fun race to drive with all of the position swapping, Brandon Rothzen was going to close it out in an unhappy manner one way or another, either being disqualified or by having his motor claimed. From a financial perspective alone, the way things ended up was probably the best for him!

It was great to see the veteran Jim Lynch from Bloomfield in victory lane once again and, with the disqualification, Foster was credited with the fifth spot at the pay window.

The Hobby Stock feature ran second on the card and in the early laps it was Jeremy Pundt and Jake Wenig swapping the lead back and forth. Pundt gained control on lap three as he set out once again to win his first-ever feature race. You’ll recall that just a few weeks back Pundt appeared to have that first feature well in hand only to lose it in the final half of a lap when a part broke steering him hard left into the infield Tonight it looked as if it would be former track champion Dean Kratzer who would keep Pundt wondering what it would be like to stand in victory lane as pulled even with the leader coming off of turn four with just six laps remaining. “Racing Luck” has a way of evening things out though as on the next lap Kratzer’s right rear tire went flat and his challenge ended. As Pundt became very careful over the final laps Dane Fenton closed in on him and as they came off turn four for the checkers Fenton had a shot, but he came up a car-length short as Pundt scored the victory. Jeremy’s jubilation in victory lane was evident as with tears in his eyes he thanked his family, friends and all of the fans who had come out on a Wednesday night to witness his accomplishment.

Fenton was impressive in second and you can look for him in victory lane soon as well, Jake Wenig settled for third while Ray Raker and Tanner Thomann completed the top five.

The Sprint Invaders drew a solid field of thirty cars tonight, but one driver was notably absent as current point leader Jerrod Hull was not in attendance. The field was stout even without him and it was Kaley Gharst and Josh Higday who would start the twenty-five-lap finale from the font row. Higday was in the Dale Oaks owned car #41 that Wayne Johnson had driven to victory eleven days ago at 34 Raceway, but there was no keeping pace with Gharst as he stormed away at the drop of the green. Young Tasker Phillips was impressive attacking the high-side to move into the second spot and it appeared like he was even gaining ground on Gharst as the two worked lapped traffic. Cautions on lap nine and lap eleven cleared the way for Gharst again and he would put ten car-lengths on Phillips at each drop of the green. As the groove went lower and lower off turn four the drivers were flirting with one of the infield implement tires and with three laps remaining Jon Agan clipped it and went end-over-end down the front stretch. With one last shot at the leader Phillips could not mount a challenge over the final three laps as Gharst would take the win in a dominating fashion. Phillips would post his best career Invaders finish in second, Jim Moughan Jr. tallied the third spot, Mark Shirshekan moved from row six to finish fourth while Russ Hall rounded out the top five. Higday finished in the fifth spot and Bobby Mincer made a nice drive to seventh after starting sixteenth.

The Ideal Ready Mix Sprint Invaders return to the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Friday night June 9th during the annual Lee County Fair.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Reed, Long, Tomlinson and Anders Grace Quincy Victory Lane

Rains through the week left the quarter-mile oval a bit on the soft side Sunday night at the Quincy Raceways, but four drivers found the track conditions to be just right for them as Justin Reed, Michael Long, Kevin Tomlinson and Bobby Anders visited victory lane on a beautiful evening.

Nick Ingalls took off from the front row and opened a solid lead early in the thirty-lap eighteen-car IMCA Late Model main event. Behind him through the action was furious as drivers ran two and three wide looking for the line that worked the best for their setup. A caution on lap seven bunched the field up again and Lonnie Bailey applied the pressure to Ingalls on the restart. Justin Reed had started tenth and was coming to the front using the high line around the speedway, soon making it a three car battle for the lead. As the crossed flags appeared marking the mid-point of the race Reed drove around both Bailey and Ingalls to grab the lead and while Bailey stayed close for the next several laps there would be no catching the young driver from Quincy as Reed picked up the victory. Bailey ran a strong second, Denny Wood worth started eighth and finished third, Ingalls faded to fourth and last week’s winner Jason Perry came from row six to finish fifth.

The twenty-four-car UMP Modified field had a tough time getting things started for their twenty-five lap finale. On the first attempt at a start the second row of Steven DeLonjay and Wyatt Lantz tangled coming to the green sending Lantz hard into the front stretch retaining wall. While Lantz was towed to the pits, DeLonjay was sent to the rear for the second attempt at a start. That one was negated when Jerry Lierly spun in turn three before a lap could be scored. The third try saw the field complete lap one, but barely as front runner Ryan Meyer slowed in turn one and as the back of the field crossed the stripe the cars of Lierly and Joe Kindhart got together with Kindhart ending up on his roof. Once the track was cleared the race was restarted only to see the caution wave again two laps later when Bill Parks popped a tire and slid off the top of turn two. After that the field settled down and went to racing with pole-sitter Michael Long being chased by fellow front row starter Jared Schlipman. As the two started working traffic Schlipman, who had won the last two Modified features here at Quincy, was able to pull up to Long’s back bumper once before Michael was able to pull away. One last caution waved on lap sixteen and on the restart David Wietholder got the jump on Schlipman to take over second. As Long drove on to victory the race to watch was for second as Schlipman regained the spot two laps later and held it at the checkers. Wietholder would wind up third, Reed doing double-duty raced his way up to fourth while Troy, Missouri, driver Terry Cox completed the top five.

Ten IMCA Stock Cars raced twenty-laps for the feature purse and it was pole-sitter Kevin Tmlinson who lead all the way from start-to-finish for the win. Abe Huls applied some pressure mid-race and then had to hold off a late charge from Steve Steinkuhler to finish second. Terry Houston was fourth and Jim Redmann made the one hundred mile drive down from Lockridge, Iowa, to complete the top five.

The Hobby Stock feature was a good one as Steve Carlin passed Nathan Anders for the lead with eight laps remaining, but Carlin could not fight off the challenge from Bobby Anders who took the lead with four laps to go for the victory. Carlin, Nathan Anders, Jake Powers and Larry Powell completed the top five.

QR Notes……The Late Model first heat ended in spectacular fashion as Dustin Griffin and Justin Jennings exited turn four side-by-side coming to the checkers. Jennings got sideways on the high side, bounced off Griffin and then went nose first into the wall just past the flagstand tearing the front end off of his car. The second-place finish in the heat actually earned the youngster from Hannibal the pole position for the Late Model feature, but with the damage he elected to start from the back instead and only make a couple of laps before pulling to the infield. Jennings won his first feature event this past Friday night driving his ASA Late Model on the pavement at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids…..Keith Pratt was running strong third and looking for more before something broke on his #33 with ten laps remaining in the Late Model feature…..Nine cars finished with seven on the lead lap……Steven DeLonjay was putting on a show after being sent to the back of the field in the Modified feature. The second-generation shoe was all the way up to seventh before a puff of smoke billowed from his #35 sending him pitside on lap eight…..Aaron Brocksieck was looking good running in the top five in the Stock Car main event before the drive train let go leaving the driveshaft in two pieces on the front stretch……The show started at 6:08, track work after the preliminaries took fifty minutes and the final checkers still waved just before 9:30 p.m……. Titan Wheel and Tire sponsors the appearance of the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models next Sunday night June 13th at Quincy Raceways. The "Boys of Summer" will be racing for a little more than usual that night with $3,000 going to the winner and $300 just to start the main event. Modifieds, Stock Cars and Hobby Stocks will also be in action.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Back and Ready for Some Racing!

For those of you who check in here from time to time to see if there is anything new on the Back Stretch you have probably been wondering where I have been, especially with no reports over the big Memorial Day weekend. Well, my wife Christine and I joined her parents for a ten-day cruise and tour of Alaska and, while I missed the races, from the few photos below you will see that it was well worth it!

Just so this entry does have a little "racing" in it, on our first day of the land tour portion we stopped for ice cream at a roadside stop and I noticed a Street Stock parked out back. I asked one of the locals about the car and he stated that it would be a big weekend of racing coming up that Saturday and Sunday at Capital Speedway just up the road. As our tour bus passed the speedway I was the only one craning my neck to get a view of the two sprint cars that were sitting outside. So if you are ever looking for some racing in Alaska, here you go

We had three straight clear days in and around Denali National Park giving us a spectacular view of Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America.

On our whale watching excursion at Icy Strait Point we were treated to two humpbacks who swam on their backs in unison and then would both breach as if they were challenging each other. It was an incredible experience!

This is a zoomed view of one of the two whales. In the original version of the photo, the tail or fluke of the second whale is also visible just to the left.

We had a great trip, but it is good to be back and I am ready to get back out to the tracks. Thanks for stopping by and check back again soon. Now if I can figure out where Barry has been......