Saturday, April 30, 2011

Saturday Morning Notebook April 30 2011

Looking through race stories and comments on the forums it appears that several Friday night tracks in the area had yellow fever last evening. I think we forget just how much a strong and persistent wind effects tracks conditions......410 Sprints are alive and well in west central Illinois. Twenty-five cars at Jacksonville's opener last night with the veteran Jim Moughan taking the win......Billy Moyer returned to his native state to earn ten grand at Farley last night and he will look to double that tonight in West Liberty. Seven-time All Iowa Points champ Ron Barker won the IMCA Modified main event.....New Mexico's Johnny Scott topped a field of 53 USMTS Modifieds at Outlaw Motor Speedway in Muskogee, Oklahoma.....Jill George used a provisional and finished 20th in the World of Outlaw Late Model show won by Darrell Lanigan in Hartford, Michigan. George is currently 17th in series points......short notebook today, several area tracks hosting their openers tonight and others holding their second, third, fourth or in the case of Boone, fifth race of the season. While I'm celebrating the 50th birthday of a friend tonight I hope that you are able to take in some action at the speedway of your choice. Enjoy!

Guss and Foster Among Winners At Lee County Opener

Following two straight weeks of putting too much moisture into the track Mother Nature switched course and did everything she could to take it out of the Lee County Speedway during the 2011 season opener in Donnellson Friday night. A stiff east wind continued after sunset keeping the surface dry and dusty for the huge field of 130 cars in six divisions and several drivers struggled with the conditions. A couple of well-timed watering sessions by promoter Terry Hoenig made for multi-grooved action though and the racing was good between the cautions.

The Sport Mod feature was the first on the list and they did not set a good tone for the evening with four cautions in the first three-laps for the twenty-two car starting field. When they were racing eventual front row starters Jeff Mueller and Dylan Book did battle for the lead with Book taking the win after the checkered flag waved following the sixth caution and eight completed laps. The young driver told the crowd from victory lane that he planned to make the long trip down from Adel to compete here every Friday night and for Mueller it was an impressive debut in the 3D roofing ride that Jason Cook drove to a track championship here last year. Dean Kratzer finished in the third spot, Mike Shelton was fourth and Rick Barlow Jr. took fifth.

Dan Wenig started from the inside of row three for the Hobby Stock feature and when the drivers in front of him slipped up the track in turns one and two on the opening lap the veteran driver said "thanks guys" and drove to the lead down the back stretch. Four cautions would keep the field bunched together and the last of those occurred when a three-wide battle for second between Dane Fenton, Rob Wilsey and Matt Gavin went bad with Gavin and Wilsey smacking the guardrail in turn one as Gavin tried to split the other two and ran out of room. On the restart Fenton applied some pressure over the final laps, but he could not keep Wenig from taking the win on opening night. Jim Lynch came from row five to finish third followed by Nick Fenton and Ray Raker. Nathan Anders who was the cause of the first caution, restarted seventeenth and came back to finish sixth.

The IMCA Late Models were making a special appearance tonight with 24 drivers on hand looking for the $1,000 top prize and with Mark Burgtorf and Ray Guss Jr. drawing the front row for the twenty-five-lap feature it was a pretty good bet that your winner would be one of those two. This race went green to checkers with Burgtorf chasing Guss and on a couple of occasions Mark was able to stick his nose under the leader, but there was no stopping the defending champion of everything in the IMCA Late Model division as Guss took the win. Burgtorf had to fight off a few challenges from Jason Perry as well to finish second, Perry was third followed by Justin Reed while Jeff Aikey took fifth. Charlie McKenna, Rob Toland, Jason Frankel, Boone McLaughlin and Tom Bowling Jr. filled out the top ten.

A solid field of thirty IMCA Modifieds were on hand for opening night and that included three or four drivers who will normally race at the Davenport Speedway, a track that had another type of event going on this Friday night. One of those visitors, Kevin Goben raced to the early lead in the twenty-lap finale only to have former track champion Josh Foster go blasting by on lap five. Foster had started seventh and appeared to be the class of the field only to have Dennis LaVeine mount a challenge late in the event. LaVeine was able to pull up to Foster's rear bumper a couple of times, but could not find a way around him as Josh earned the opening night trophy. Brandon Rothzen nearly stole second away from LaVeine at the checkers as he finished third followed by Tyler Cale and Jim Roach. Jeff Waterman had to win the B-Main to start this one from row nine and he raced his way up to sixth.

The IMCA Stock Cars were up next and after celebrating the birth of his first child this past week, it seemed unlikely that the rest of the field would be able to keep Jeff Mueller from going to victory lane tonight. Mueller started on the inside of row two and blew past Jeremy Pundt and Jason Cook on the opening lap. He then walked away from the competition and won going away putting that first trophy in his little girl's nursery. Jim Redman and Kevin Tomlinson were racing door-to-door for second on the final lap until contact in turn two saw Tomlinson hop a wheel and slap the guardrail losing several positions. Redman started eighth and finished second, Jason Cook settled in for third, Matt Greiner moved from tenth to fourth and Cale Samberg wound up fifth.

With Christine scheduled to work early on Saturday we headed for the car as the four cylinder Wild Things came on the track for the final feature of the night and I was amazed that the wind was still blowing strong at a sustained twenty miles per hour or more at this time of night. Thank goodness it was blowing from the east, from turn one to turn three, as it kept the grandstand and likely most of the pit area dust free but it sure did create challenging conditions for all involved on this night. Expect the track to be back to its normal sticky self, weather-willing, as action continues next Friday night at the Lee County Speedway.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Lasoski, Darbyshire, Mueller, MOWA, 34 Raceway.....Everybody Finally Beats Mother Nature!

They had to fight the weather every step of the way but with the long-term legwork of Kenny Dobson and partners Joey Moughan and Jeremy Standridge, and the short-term persistence of Jeff and Amy Laue and their crew, the inaugural event for the Monster Energy Drink Midwest Open Wheel Association (MOWA) 410 Sprint series at 34 Raceway was a big success Saturday night. The pre-race promotion and recruitment of the drivers by the series resulted in a potential entrants list that had everyone excited and it was likely due to that pre-race anticipation that the folks at 34 Raceway decided to put in the yeoman effort to fight off another full week of rain just to get the facility ready to race. And, after all that work, with a full pit area and a darn near full grandstand, they sure weren’t going to let a series of random sprinkles during the actual races wash away their efforts.

MOWA had estimated around thirty-five entrants for the event, but with a few surprises such as Danny Lasoski, Kerry Madsen and Craig Dollansky following an early morning rainout of the World of Outlaws in Oklahoma, the count ended up at thirty-nine. And with this also being the opening night for track points in the Late Model and Stock Car division, there were twenty-six cars in each partially due to the fact Boone was the only other track in the region able to race tonight.

Lasoski drew the outside pole for the MOWA thirty-lap main event and darted to the early lead. Dollansky moved quickly from sixth up to second and when the leader started to deal with lapped traffic on lap four the gap closed quickly. Third-starting Kerry Madsen was also on the charge and when Dollansky was held up by a slower car on the low side of turn four on lap six Madsen made his move to the outside. Dollansky moved up the track on the front stretch and the space between the car he was passing and the wall closed quickly for Madsen. The two contenders made contact breaking the front end on Dollansky’s #7 and causing Madsen’s #92 to smack the wall with his right rear tire. As Dollansky helplessly turned down the track Robbie Standridge had nowhere to go and tipped his car over bringing out the red. The Big Game Treestands crew tried to make repairs to the #7 car during the break, but they were not able to restart.

Once back to green, Lasoski again opened up a large lead only to have Madsen reel him in quickly and pass him on lap eleven. The time at the front for Madsen was short though as a lap later his right rear tire went flat, likely from damage during his earlier incident with Dollansky. With his two primary challengers now on the shelf it looked as though Lasoski would have an easy drive for the win. Joey Moughan and Kaley Gharst had a different plan though. Moughan had held off Lasoski earlier in a heat race and he was closing in on Lasoski as the laps wound down and just behind him you had Gharst who had started from row nine after winning the second B-Main. When Moughan nearly drove off the top side of turn two with five laps to go, Gharst drove under him for second and he now had to make up a full straightaway to catch “The Dude”.

Much of the crowd were on their feet and waving their arms trying to give the chaser any help that they could and when the white flag flew Kaley was within striking distance. He drove hard to the inside of turn one pulling almost even with the rim-riding Lasoski, but when he could not hold his line and drifted up the track in turn two the wily veteran pulled away down the backstretch and negotiated turns three and four flawlessly to claim the $2,500 victory. Lasoski was the winner, but Gharst was the “hero” on this night coming from eighteenth to second. Moughan was impressive in the third spot, Brandon Wimmer finished fourth and Jerrod Hull completed the top five.

This was an impressive debut for the MOWA organization as not only did they prove that they could get drivers (Hurley, Faucon, Bruns, Charron, Vandervere, etc.) who in the past never would have even thought of pulling over to Burlington for a 410 show, but they showed that they have the respect of the Knoxville regulars and even the Outlaws to compete with them when they are given the opportunity. The next event on the MOWA schedule is Friday May 13th at Jacksonville, Illinois, and they return to 34 Raceway on September 24th. You can find both of these events and much more on the Specials calendar at Positively

The IMCA Late Model feature had a bit of drama mid-race involving Rob Toland and Tom Darbyshire. Keith Pratt was the early leader on a track that was lightning fast, but had the drivers looking for a smooth line due to the week-long precipitation. Toland had started sixth and moved into challenge Pratt taking the point on lap eight. Darbyshire was keeping pace with the new leader and on lap fourteen when Toland quickly closed on a slower car entering turn one on the high line he turned hard left looking for the bottom groove. Darbyshire was already there and was not about to lift so the two cars slapped doors hard with Darbyshire holding the advantage off of turn two. Toland was right on his bumper though, literally, and from the contact both cars got sideways down the back stretch. Darbyshire slid to the infield but kept going driving back onto the track in turn three while Toland slid sideways to a halt just before entering turn three bringing out the caution. Rather than starting at the rear Toland headed to the pits while Darbyshire would restart from the front having crossed the line in second on the last fully completed lap. Denny Woodworth kept the pressure on over the final laps, but would have to settle for second as Darbyshire held on for the victory. Tom Goble moved from a fifth row start to finish third, Jason Frankel came from the seventh row to take fourth and Jason Perry rounded out the top five.

The IMCA Stock Car feature was the first of the night and the large field ran a clean and entertaining twenty laps that saw just one caution period. Jeff Mueller passed John Oliver Jr. on lap seven and drove on to the win with Oliver taking second. Corey Strothman came from ninth to finish third, Matt Greiner moved from row eight up to fourth and Derek St. Clair was fifth after starting in the seventh row. Two drivers saw top-five runs come to an end late as Abe Huls dropped out while running fourth with four laps remaining and Brett Timmerman went by the wayside while third with just two laps to go.

A big thumbs up to everybody at 34 Raceway for putting in the extra effort to make this show even happen as it was exactly what the doctor ordered for a lot of race-starved fans and drivers. Despite at least three rain delays the final checkered flag still waved at 11:35 p.m. My night started off on a yummy note on the way to the track as I stopped in for a double cheeseburger and fries at the Finish Line restaurant in New London. You can find their ad on the homepage of Positively Racing so stop in sometime whether you are on your way to race or just traveling through southeast Iowa.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Late Model Points From Other States....

With all of the rainouts here in Iowa these are the only points that I have been able to compile here in April.


1 Stacy Holmes Munford 14
2 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga TN 11
3 Dillon Crim Talladega 9
4 Mark Mears Decatur 9
5 Brandon King Decatur 8
6 Jason Wilson Margaret 7
7 William Thomas Phenix City 7
8 Bradley Price Hamilton 6
9 Kelly Hanvey Cullman 6
10 Clint Smith Senoia GA 5
11 Jamie Flannagan Tuscumbia 5
12 Shane Clanton Locust Grove GA 5
13 Terry Smith Anniston 5
14 Tim Busha Boaz 5

1 Scott Bloomquist Mooresburg TN 31
2 Billy Moyer Batesville AR 23
3 Don O'Neal Martinsville IN 20
4 Bryan Bernhardt Clearwater 15
5 Jimmy Owens Newport TN 14
6 Jimmy Mars Elk Mound WI 13
7 Brady Smith Solon Springs WI 11
8 Josh Richards Shinnston WV 11
9 Austin Hubbard Seaford DE 10
10 David Schmauss Tampa 10

1 Ronnie Johnson Chattanooga TN 15
2 Steve Shaver Vienna WV 10
3 Chip Brindle Chatsworth 9
4 Jonathan Davenport Blairsville 6
5 Derek Ellis Chatsworth 5
6 John Henderson Aiken SC 5
7 Michael Page 5
8 Billy Ogle Jr. Knoxville TN 4
9 Chris Madden Gray Court SC 4
10 Chris Brown Houston TX 4
11 Lamar Haygood 4
12 Ray Cook Brasstown NC 4
13 Riley Hickman Ooltewah TN 4
14 Steve Francis Ashland KY 4

1 Michael Kloos Trenton 18
2 Ryan Unzicker El Paso 17
3 Mike Spatola Manhattan 11
4 Randy Korte Highland 9
5 Brian Shirley Chatham 8
6 Mark Burgtorf Quincy 8
7 Mike Schulte Summerfield 7
8 Brandon Sheppard New Berlin 6
9 Cory Daugherty Blue Mound 5
10 Frankie Martin DuQuoin 5
11 Jason Perry Payson 5
12 Mark Voigt Marine 5
13 Matt Bailey Quincy 5
14 Mike Hammerle St. Charles MO 5
15 Paul Bailey Pocahontas 5

1 Ray Moore Shreveport 13
2 Morgan Bagley Longview TX 8
3 Kenny Merchant West Monroe 7
4 Allen Tippen Minden 5
5 Chris Wall Holden 5
6 Gary Christian Broken Bow OK 5
7 Bub McCool Vicksburg MS 4
8 Chris Holley Dayton TX 4
9 Nicholas Brown 4
10 Timothy Culp West Monroe 4

1 Klint Byars Carrollton 14
2 Jimmy Cliburn Star 9
3 Jason Cliburn Star 8
4 David Breazeale Four Corners 6
5 George Paul 6
6 Rodney Wing Meridian 6
7 Steve Bryan Collinsville 6
8 Darrell Lanigan Union KY 5
9 Brooks Strength Byram 5
10 Greg Fore Greenville 5
11 Jay Burchfield 5
12 Neil Baggett Shannon 5

1 Nick Lyons Centralia IL 10
2 Larry Jones Eldorado Springs 9
3 Justin Wells Aurora 7
4 Terry Phillips Springfield 6
5 Brandon Imhoff Lake Ozark 5
6 Chad Simpson Marion IA 5
7 Dewayne Kiefer 5
8 Ken Essary Galena 5
9 Rylan Long Greenfield 5
10 Tony Jackson Jr. Lebanon 5

North Carolina
1 Luke Roffers Concord 13
2 Danny Ledford Warne 10
3 Mike Gault Gaffney SC 7
4 Chris Ferguson Gastonia 5
5 Jonathan Davenport Blairsville GA 5
6 Austin Dillon Lewisville 4
7 David Payne Murphy 4
8 Dustin Mitchell Pine Level 4
9 Johnny Chastain 4
10 Johnny Pursley Clover SC 4

1 Lamar Scoggins Cleveland 20
2 Eric Hickerson Linden 18
3 Jimmy Owens Newport 16
4 Terry English Benton KY 16
5 Jeff Walston Paducah KY 14
6 John Owenby 13
7 Carnell Parker III Clarksville 12
8 Tanner English Benton KY 11
9 Ray Cook Brasstown NC 10
10 Tony Morris Murfreesboro 10

Monday, April 18, 2011

Weather Stops Sunday Short-Track Daily Double

Mother Nature stopped me from pulling off something that I haven’t done for more than twenty-five years yesterday, seeing two full short track racing programs in the same day at different tracks. It is not too hard to go to a NASCAR event during the day and then on to a short track that night (Talladega and Talladega Short Track, Daytona and New Smyrna or Volusia, etc.), but the opportunity to do it with two short tracks just does not come along very often. The last time that I can remember doing this was when I announced an afternoon IMCA Modified show at DeSoto Speedway in Bradenton, Florida, and then hurried up the road to East Bay Raceway for races that same night in Gibsonton.

My combo for Sunday would be the 34th Annual Spring Classic at the Rockford Speedway followed by the Deery Brothers Summer Series stop at the Quad City Speedway in East Moline. With an hour and forty-five minute drive between the two tracks I would need to have the Rockford show run off efficiently and perhaps have the East Moline show start just a few minutes late in order to see two “full” shows and, as it worked out, the timing could not have been any better.

One of the things that I love about asphalt tracks is that as long as it has not just rained, or is raining, there is no reason to start late and the Rockford show started right on time at one o’clock. It has probably been about twenty years since I was last here and I was amazed at how the neighborhood around the Speedway has changed. The historic track was once nestled into a wooded area well north of the population base of the second largest city in Illinois, but now there is a huge Menard’s and a strip mall across the road to the north, a new-looking hospital just to the east and a very large housing addition was in clear view looking from the grandstand over turn three. The Spring Opener was kicking off the 64th year of continuous operation at the Rockford Speedway and here’s hoping that the new neighbors always remember who was there first.

The Big 8 Late Model series served as the headliner for the afternoon while the Mid-American Stock Cars were the undercard and following the preliminary events the Stock Car fifty-lapper was up first. Pole-sitter Ryan Gutknecht was loose early as he drifted back to seventh in the first two laps with defending series champ Lyle Nowak stuck behind him and fading as well. Veteran driver Bill Prietzel, who was supposed to start fourth but moved up a row when Jake Finney failed to make the call, assumed the lead with James Swan in hot pursuit. The lead duo pulled away from the field and they looked like they would decide it amongst themselves until the first caution of the event waved on lap twenty-six when Chris Storey spun in turn two. With a complete double-file restart Swan started even with Prietzel and the two touched in turn four causing the rest of the field to stack up behind them. Scotty Null was the primary victim as he coasted to a halt when the battery dropped out of his car that had been running fifth prior to the caution.

Once back to action Nowak emerged as a third contender for the lead looking for racing room around Prietzel and Swan, but with just ten laps remaining Nowak drove it too deep into turn three and spun to bring out the final caution. With ten or fewer laps remaining the series uses a single-file restart and Swan went right back to work on Prietzel with the wave of the green. Swan was able to stick a nose under Prietzel on a couple of occasions over the final laps and on his final bid the two touched in turn three coming to the checkers. The two veterans, who between them have won seven of the series’ championships, recovered nicely with Prietzel holding on to take the victory over Swan. Fast qualifier Travis Rodewald advanced from an outside row four start to take third, Jeremy Spoonmore finished fourth and Brian Back was fifth.

The Big 8 Late Models were scheduled to go 108 laps, but first they had to get one in the books as incidents on the first two attempts at a start kept that from happening. One of Rockford’s best, seven-time track champ Bobby Wilberg was involved in both and after changing a right rear tire he would now start the event from the 24th position. Young Zach Riddle would pace the first nine laps of racing before Dale Nottestad muscled his way to the front on lap ten. The caution waved again a lap later this time for fast qualifier Steve Rubeck who had spun in turn two while running fifth. For the restart I was thrilled to see that the Big 8 series uses the “pick and choose” method of lining up with the leader out front and the rest of the field having to drive either below or above a cone on the frontstretch to form up double-file behind him. The process alone adds a bit of a thrill to the event as “The Hammer” Eric Huenefeld made the call over the p.a. system. With the top-side being the preferred groove here at Rockford the second-place driver always picked the high side and I believe that the third-place driver went high every time as well. This meant that the fourth-place driver then had to make a split second decision to either start on the inside of the first double row or on the outside of the third double row and so on. Wilberg, who had been working his way back toward the front using the low-line anyway, always seemed to move up several track positions during the restarts as he would opt for the low side of that cone on each restart. The fact that I had just blogged about this type of restart the day before (see the Saturday Notebook April 16th, 2011) made me enjoy this even more!

Back to racing, Nottestad was in command with the battle for second between Ryan Carlson and defending series champion Jeremy Miller entertaining the sun-soaked and wind-chilled crowd until Miller slowed suddenly on lap 32 ending his day. Matt Berger, the 2010 Sportsman champ here at Rockford, was another driver who was using the low-line on the restarts and he had moved from row six into the top five before he dropped out on lap 78. Nottestad, the Late Model champion at the Madison Speedway, just kept getting stronger as the race wore on and it became obvious that nobody was going to touch him on this day as he left only the top five cars on the lead lap when he took the checkers for the victory. Carlson appeared to have second locked up until his motor soured with fifteen-laps remaining allowing Rubeck to pick up the runner-up honors in an impressive run back to the front after his early spin. Carlson nursed his #55 in for third, Wilberg also came from the back to take fourth while Kyle Shear advanced from row eleven to take fifth.

My return trip to the Rockford Speedway was now completed at 4:05 p.m. and as I sprinted (more like lumbered) back to the car I made a promise to myself to not wait another twenty years to return to one of racing’s gems here in the upper Midwest.

Driving no more than five miles per hour over the speed limit I arrived at the Quad City Speedway just in time for the A-Modified heat race that was kicking off the night of racing on what was now an overcast and chilly evening in East Moline. Making my way into the stands it was obvious that new track manager Shane Davis and his staff had worked incredibly hard to get the track into a condition that would allow for racing this night as the infield was a muddy mess. Following the rains and cold temperatures of the last three days, the track was fast but rough producing some wild action during the four heat races for the Deery Brothers Summer Series Late Models. Local favorite Shawn Mulvaney held off Mark Burgtorf to win the first heat while Rob Toland muscled his way past T.J. Criss in the final laps to take the third and final transfer spot. Heat two saw last week’s winner of the “Slocum 50” Matt Ryan take the win ahead of Jason Perry while Colby Springsteen slipped by Tom Goble on the final lap for third. In heat race number three Series newcomer Travis Denning of Sterling, Illinois, was impressive holding off an aggressive challenge from Dan Shelliam to lead until the caution waved with three laps remaining. On the restart Denning was now under fire from Shelliam, Brian Harris and Mike Murphy Jr. and on the final lap the top four exited turn four using four different lines in what had to be the second most thrilling finish in racing that day (have you seen the finish at Talladega??). Shelliam took the win, Harris was second, Murphy was credited with third while Denning would end up one spot out of qualifying in fourth. Many in the crowd, including me, thought that Denning had actually crossed the line ahead of Murphy, but I’ll trust that the guys sitting ten feet behind the flagstand had a much better view of it than I did. In the fourth and final heat series point leader Terry Neal appeared to have things well in hand until he had suspension problems in the left front during a mid-race caution. Neal stayed on the track and would have still won the qualifier if not for the high-side charge from Ray Guss Jr. who swept by for the victory. Neal held on for second while Eric Gustaf qualified in third.

A check of the radar as the first of two IMCA Modified heats came to the track showed a narrow line of showers approaching from the southwest and it became obvious that this show would soon be in trouble. Burlington’s Bill Roberts Jr. won the first heat and the second was under caution with two laps to go when the rain started to fall. It didn’t rain hard, but it did rain for at least twenty minutes and with a track that was already holding more than its fair share of moisture the announcement was made that the remainder of the show would be scrubbed. After putting in a gallant effort just to have a chance to race, this scenario could not have been any more frustrating for Davis, but he showed his cool as fans approached him about the decision with the sea of mud and a greasy track just behind him. It was a tough opening night experience, so if Shane can weather this one there are definitely brighter days ahead.

A big thanks to Davis and to Lisa Sanders for their hospitality and I look forward to returning to East Moline for some Sunday night action later this season. Officially I did not pull off the short-track Daily Double due to the rainout, but I did see plenty of laps of racing on an April Sunday both on pavement and dirt! Boone and Stuart were the only two All Iowa Points paying tracks that completed a full show this weekend and if the forecast for the week ahead holds true, getting a race night in may again be a challenge this coming weekend. Hopefully that will change.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Saturday Notebook April 16th 2011

It is not unusual for one of these big spring storms to wipe out a couple of nights of racing during April and that may be the case this weekend. Everything in our area was cancelled on Friday night and Saturday night promoters will be faced with a tough decision as they are probably looking at wet grounds this morning and when faced with a cool and windy forecast for the evening, pulling the plug would likely be the best business decision. It will be interesting to see who does race tonight and we hope that whoever does gets a hearty bunch of fans bundled up in the stands to enjoy the action. Sunday's weather looks a little better, although I now see that they have put in a slight chance of rain in the afternoon and evening, but hopefully we can all salvage at least one racing event this weekend. I'm looking at the possibility of heading up to Rockford for their Spring Classic that gets the green at 1 p.m. and then heading back down to the Quad City Speedway where the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models will take the green at 5:30 p.m......Speaking of the Deery Series, last night's show at Davenport has been rescheduled for September 9th and will be run on the half-mile oval and tonight's race at Maquoketa has been washed out with no rescheduling as of yet. Hopefully the Series can get one race in this weekend at East Moline. After the first three events the point standings are very tight with Terry Neal leading Mark Burgtorf by just three points, but keep in mind that Burgtorf does not plan on following the entire schedule. Young Tyler Bruening is just five points behind Neal with Tom Darbyshire another point back in fourth and Justin Reed is fifth. Andy Eckrich, Colby Springsteen, Matt Strassheim and defending champion Ray Guss Jr. are next in line while Mike Murphy Jr. and Jason Perry are tied for tenth......The hottest topic from around the Midwest from last weekend was the disqualification of David Turner after he appeared to have finished second behind Chad Simpson at the MLRA show at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri. Turner was involved in a couple of on track incidents during the feature, first when he "roughed up" the lapped car of Bill Koons Jr., but the one that apparently was his downfall came during a late restart when he and Brad Looney got together while trying to get to the favored bottom groove. Turner thought that he would have to restart from the rear, but officials waved him back up to second and that was where he took the checkered flag. Then, following the race, MLRA officials made the decision to penalize Turner for rough driving and scored him 24th in the final rundown. The Racin' Boys were there and have video of the incident, plus their forum board has a lively discussion on the scenario as well. After watching the video of the incident I'll stay away from the discussion of "should he have been disqualified or not" and instead chalk this up as another example of why I do not like double-file restarts. The track had locked down and was one groove around the bottom. Starting outside of the first double row Turner knew that he had to get to the bottom as soon as possible or he stood the risk of falling back even further since he, as the third-place car, was being forced to start outside of the favored groove while the fourth-place car was given the opportunity to start just behind him but in the favored groove. If you insist on having double-file restarts then do it like they have been at some southern tracks, where one-grooved tracks seem to be more common, where they put a cone out on the track while the caution is out and the drivers choose whether they want to start on the inside or outside. The leader still starts out front by himself, but the second-place, third-place and fourth-place car may all choose to start on the inside if the track is locked down on the bottom, while the fifth-place driver may then say "I'll take a chance on the outside" and can pull up to start side-by-side with the second-place car. Will it stop incidents like the one at Wheatland from happening? No, because that fifth-place guy now starting on the outside of that first double row will do everything he can to cram his way down to that bottom groove as soon as that green flag waves, but at least in this scenario he made the choice to start up there in the first place. I had two other races that I witnessed last weekend that would back up my theory that double-file restarts stink. The 305 Sprint Car feature at Burlington was running along just fine until a mid-race caution put the field into the Delaware style double-file restart alignment. The first attempt to restart saw the second-place car bobble in turn one, drive up the track and collect the field sending two of the top five competitors for a tumble. The second attempt saw a driver who was restarting at the rear after changing a tire during the red-flag try to go three-wide off of four coming to the start and in turn one he ran out of room and went for a flip. For the next start track officials decided to go single-file and the race went green-to-checkers from there. On Sunday night the UMP Modifieds at Quincy were using full double-file restarts, where the second-place car starts next to the leader, and after nine caution flags and eighteen racing laps the checkered flag flew. Were the double-file restarts to blame for all the cautions? Well, I guess I can't prove it since they never tried to go single-file. I know that I am in the minority on this one as we all love double-file restarts when they go well and do not just breed more cautions, but it is my belief that the negatives ( more time to get the field realigned, leads to more cautions, unfair to 50% of the drivers on a one-grooved track) outweigh the positives. Watch it from that standpoint the next time that you are at the track and see if you agree.

Have to go looking pretty far to get some notes on race results from last night. Veteran driver Jeff Swindell proved that he is regaining his old form by winning the preliminary night of the ASCS Spring Nationals at I-30 Speedway in Little Rock, Arkansas. Swindell led all 30-laps on the way to victory ahead of Shane Stewart, Gary Wright, Sam Hafertepe Jr. and Seth Bergman. Stewart leads the National Tour points right now followed by the old guys, Johnny Herrera and Swindell......Jason Feger set quick time and Brian Birkhofer was second fastest during qualifying for the World of Outlaws Late Model Commonwealth 100 at Virginia Motor Speedway. After the heats and B's it will be Chris Madden and Steve Francis starting from the front row for tonight's feature.....Did you know that you could have been watching live ARCA racing from Talladega at 8 a.m. this morning? I hope that my DVR is doing its job as I plan to zip through it after closing the notebook......The Modified Smackdown at the Lee County Speedway has been rescheduled for May 27th......the USMTS show that was rained out at Valley Speedway last night will be run tomorrow (Sunday) starting at 5 p.m.......Racing will always be the main topic here on the Back Stretch, but I'll throw in some other stuff once in awhile as well. This past week I heard a promo for the Mike and Mike show on ESPN Radio where they were discussing the NCAA Basketball tournament and one of them said that it was not the best way to determine a national champion since it makes the regular season irrelevant. I was shocked! I sure hope that these two are big supporters of the BCS system for football then, because if not they are about as hypocritical as you can be!......Here's hoping that we can get some racing in tonight and Sunday!

Monday, April 11, 2011

First Deery Win for Matt Bailey Comes At His Hometown Track

The Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models moved south to the Quincy Raceway on Sunday night for race number three on the 2011 schedule. The field was solid with thirty-five drivers on hand to do battle on the reconfigured quarter-mile oval although there were some notable absences including former champion Jeff Aikey and the first two race winners of 2011 Brian Harris and Matt Ryan.

Mark Burgtorf has been the man to beat in the Late Model division at the Quincy Raceway for the past decade or more and when he drew the pole position for the forty-lap feature it was thought to now be a race for second. But a couple of youngsters had other ideas. Tyler Bruening had impressed the crowd earlier in the night by passing defending series champ Ray Guss Jr. to win the second heat race and he picked up the early challenge on Burgtorf for the lead. When the only caution of the race waved on lap ten for Jason Frankel who had pulled off the top side of turn two, the field was realigned two-wide behind the leader. With the return of the green it was Matt Bailey who found the bite off the bottom of turn four as he drove past Bruening for second and then set his sights on Burgtorf. When the leader slipped up the track a bit off four Bailey shot to the inside and picked up the lead on lap twelve, but Burgtorf was not about to let him just drive away.

Running one groove higher than Bailey, Mark was able to pull even with him in the corners only to have Matt edge ahead on the straightaways. The battle continued this way for several laps with the two crossing the stripe in a virtual dead heat on lap sixteen before Bailey established himself as the true leader. And, just a few laps later, when Bailey was able to drive under Mike Garland and Boone McLaughlin who were racing side-by-side without skipping a beat, it allowed him to put a nice cushion between himself and Burgtorf. It was a cushion that Bailey would hold all the way to the checkers to record his first career victory on the Summer Series while Burgtorf would have to settle for second on this night. Terry Neal started in the seventh row and passed Justin Reed on the final lap to finish third while Bruening rounded out the top five finishers.

Deery Series Q Notes…..It was decided that the 2010 season at Quincy saw too much one-grooved racing around the top side so track owners have put in the extra hours during the offseason in an effort to make this a two, or even a three grooved surface once again. The first heat race of the night showed the fruits of their effort as, while Matt Strassheim ran away from the field, the race for second was a thrilling race-long three-wide affair featuring Denny Woodworth, Mark Burgtorf and Terry Neal. Woodworth prevailed as the runner-up with Burgtorf taking the third and final qualifying spot allowing him to later redraw the pole position for the feature. Neal was the odd man out and had to win the first B-Main to get qualified showing just how much the outcome of the night may have changed if that first heat race had ended just a bit differently…..Joey Gower who was disqualified from a transfer spot in the B-Main the night before in Burlington for missing a chip came back strong tonight by winning the third heat race…..Tom Darbyshire won heat race number four and during the redraw he told front stretch announcer Dwain Hulett the main reason that he has Matt Strassheim driving his other car is that more girls come to the trailer after the races. You see, not only is Strassheim a pretty good racecar driver, but apparently the ladies find him incredibly attractive. The girl who works where I get my hair cut confirmed that fact so I am keeping my wife away from him as I don’t want her expectation level being elevated…..Sam Halstead fought off Lonnie Bailey for the fourth and final qualifying spot in the first B-Main. This actually may have ended up being a good thing as Lonnie was then able to “coach” his son Matt with a bright yellow sign from the top of the pit bleachers. And, during the lap ten caution, Lonnie was giving some other hand and arm signals to Matt that I couldn’t decipher, but obviously Matt did and it just might have been the advice that produced a victory…..Mike Garland passed Billy Tuckwell on the final lap to take the last transfer out of the second B-Main…..The Deery Series has a tripleheader scheduled for this coming weekend at Davenport, Maquoketa and East Moline….The UMP Modifieds had one of those events where the racing upfront was fantastic, but it kept being interrupted by cautions in the back. On the ninth caution, and with nineteen laps in the scorebook, the checker flag was waved with Jared Schlipman taking the win over David Wietholder, Vance Wilson, Tony Dunker and Steven DeLonjay. This is definitely not the norm for the Mods at Quincy…..Bobby Anders dominated the Hobby Stock feature that was run just prior to the Late Model main event…...It looked like a lot of people stayed home due to a weather forecast that called for a 60% chance of thunderstorms with some possibly severe as the crowd was nowhere near as big as it should have been for this show. The weather did develop, but the first cell passed north of the track and a heavier one passed by only ten miles to the south during the Late Model main event. When the checkers fell on that race at 9:10 p.m. I decided to hit the road for home with the Stock Car and Hornet mains yet to be run….A big thanks to everybody at Quincy for their hospitality, it is always a pleasure to see the lovely ladies at the pit gate and I hope to be back often in 2011.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday Notebook April 10th, 2011

With most of the rest of the Positively Racing crew on hand last night at 34 Raceway I will let them provide the details since I had a microphone in my hand rather than a notebook, but I will make a few observations. Brad Stephens and his folks do a great job in lining up sponsors and support for the annual Slocum 50 and their efforts were rewarded last night as the event drew a large crowd and more than $2,000 was raised for the scholarship fund in memory of the personable driver who lost his life in a pit accident here six years ago. The racing was exciting in all three classes, especially in the features with all three going right down to the final laps before being decided. Yes, the track became rough and for the drivers it was a handful. Nearly an inch of rain overnight on Thursday and cloudy and cool conditions all day Friday, coupled with the fact that it was the second Saturday in April did not help that. Drivers hate a rough track and the fans know that, but sometimes the racing is just so good on a rough track that as a fan you can feel a bit guilty about it, at least that is how I feel today thinking back. The Late Model feature had a dozen or more twists and turns, none more important than when Brian Harris and Ray Guss Jr. made contact in turn two while racing for fourth leaving Harris sideways and Guss headed to the pits with a flat. From there you had nobody at the front that was "expected" to win. Matt Ryan was fast all night winning the first heat race with ease and then driving to the front in the main event, but as the laps wound down he made some bobbles in the turns that he wasn't making before allowing Boone McLaughlin to close back in and make one last run. Knowing how much both of these guys loved Brent Slocum made the battle even more intriguing and the fans were on their feet for the final lap. And that is when you know that it has been a hell of a show! Matt clenched his eyes shut tight to fight back the tears as he and Brad Stephens bear-hugged each other in victory lane. I'm glad that they had that moment as it gave the winner the time that he needed to gain his composure before somebody stuck a mic in front of him. After the hug he started to take off the top of his driving suit and IMCA Marketing Director Kevin Yoder suggested that he leave it on for the photos. Ryan wasn't about to do that though as he wanted to show off the ratty old t-shirt with a couple of golf ball sized holes in it that he had on underneath, as on this night and in this place that old Brent Slocum t-shirt looked perfect.

Jayson Dittworth put on quite a show in the 305 Sprint Car feature as an early bobble left him right near the back of the seventeen-car field, but by lap fourteen he was all the way up to fourth. The race had been clean until a spin on lap fourteen and two attempts at a double-file restart produced two accidents where cars got upside down. The decision was then made to restart single-file and the race was clean the rest of the way with Dittsworth taking the win. I know that a majority of people disagree with me, but I am not a fan of double-file restarts, especially in a weekly sprint car division. The World of Outlaws might be able to pull it off, but even they struggle with it at times. Dittsworth drives the Olson Brothers Custom Shop car and when I saw Conrad Olson afterwards he said that they don't know what to do now since they usually crash it or blow it up on opening night!.....The Four Cylinders featured a three-car battle for the lead over the final half of the race involving Darin Smith, Nick Wilkerson and Wayne Noble. Noble, who is in his mid-seventies, was holding off the youngsters until the final turn when Wilkerson nosed ahead for the victory......The track did a great job in honoring a local military unit that will be deployed in the next two weeks and as well as remembering Slocum the large crowd kept Late Model driver and former track owner Johnny Johnson in their hearts during an entertaining night of racing.

Two-time All Iowa Points Hobby Stock champion Shannon Anderson slipped down to I-35 Speedway in Winston, Missouri, last night and picked up the win. Jordan Grabouski pulled over from Beatrice, Nebraska, and ran 11th in the IMCA Modified division in an event won by Todd Wilson. Jared Timmerman of Norwalk, the defending champion of the Sport Mod division at the Harris Clash, won that division's feature at I-35 last night......The notes from I-35 shows one of the things that I love about sanctioned race tracks, a driver can go from one track to another and know that he is legal under one common set of rules. Now before everybody starts choosing up sides here (why do you do that?) I am talking about all sanctions whether it be IMCA, UMP, WISSOTA, USRA, etc........Canadian Tyler Turnbull ran sixth in the Modified feature at Fairmont Friday night and in yesterday's notebook I noted the cheeseheads at Marshalltown. At Boone last night Green Bay's Troy Jerovetz finished third and Tracy Wassenberg was 10th in a field of 45 Sport Mods.....Damon Murty is the early man to beat in the All Iowa Points Stock Car division as he posted his second runner-up finish of the year last night at Boone to go along with two victories here in the first two weeks......Last season Eric Stanton pulled his Hobby Stock down to Winston, Missouri, from his home in Hartford where he won quite a few times. Last night he was in Boone and finished third.....Ryan Unzicker won again at Peoria last night with Late Model rookie Mike Spatola in second. Teenager Bobby Pierce was fourth......Fifty-five MLRA Late Models filled the pits at the Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, last night with Iowa's Chad Simpson taking the win over Jesse Stovall and Brandon McCormick. The Andy's Frozen Custard duo of Jeremy Payne and Terry Phillips completed the top five. Alabama's Ronny Lee Hollingsworth was a surprise entrant and finished 14th.....Brian Birkhofer ran fourth behind Bllomquist, O'Neal and Pearson at Brownstown's Indiana Icebreaker last night.....The old Winged Outlaw Warrior organization kicked off their new relationship with ASCS in grand fashion last night with 41 cars at LA Raceway in La Monte, Missouri. Danny Lasoski took the win ahead of Mark Shirshekan while Midget star Brad Loyet finished third.......Not too far up the road the ASCS Midwest Region had 39 cars at I-80 Speedway in Greenwood, Nebraska, where the top five consisted of Brian Brown, Wayne Johnson, Jack Dover, Don Droud Jr. and last night's winner Seth Bergman. Looks like Sprint Car racing, at least in the 360 division, is alive and well in this area......Sixteen-year-old Austin Rettig edged out Billy Moyer Jr. for the Late Model win at Riverside Speedway in Arkansas last night. Seven years ago Rettig lost his then thirteen-year-old brother Nathan, who was a young Late Model phenom at the time, in a four-wheeler accident.....Nick Lyons earned his second UMP Late Model victory of the young season at I-55 Raceway in Pevely edging out another hot driver Michael Kloos. Quincy's Rickey Frankel was third.....Iowa native Danny Breuer, who now calls North Carolina home, won the NeSmith Crate Late Model event at Greenville, Mississippi last night extending his point lead in the series......Who would have ever thought that my 19-year-old Willy Kraft t-shirt would have sparked so many comments yesterday!.....As of 2:45 the radar is still clean so if you are heading to Quincy tonight I hope to see you there.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Lee County Speedway Car Show Pics

Jim Lynch

Josh Foster

Tanner Thomann

Jason Cook
These and seventeen more pics from Saturday's show in the West Point town square can be found on the page on Facebook.

Saturday Morning Notebook: April 9, 2011

Wisconsin drivers made the trip to Marshalltown on Friday night for weekly IMCA racing with Mike Wedelstadt posting the best showing of the bunch finishing second to Jon Snyder in the Modified feature……Todd Reitzler has moved from the Hobby Stocks to the Stock Cars in 2011 and he posted his first top-five finish running fifth at Marshalltown……Brad Looney made it two wins in a row on the MLRA Late Model tour with his victory at Heartland Park Topeka Friday night. Forty-one Late Models filled the pits including eastern Iowa drivers Denny Eckrich (8th), Nick Marolf (11th), Dave Eckrich (14th), Chris Simpson (19th), Chad Simpson (22nd) and Matt Furman (24th). Kurt Kile finished fourth in a B-Main. The MLRA runs at Lucas Oil Speedway in Wheatland, Missouri, tonight April 9th……I spoke with USMTS head man Todd Staley on Friday and he noted that even with the warmer than expected conditions in southeast Minnesota this week, the Queensland family said that the Deer Creek Speedway would not have been ready to host the World Dirt Track Modified Championship as originally scheduled this week. The big show has been pushed back to the end of July…..No shortage of 360 Sprints at the ASCS Midwest Region opener at I-80 Speedway Friday night as Washington traveler Seth Bergman topped a stellar field of 45……It doesn’t happen often, I’ve witnessed it once during the Knoxville Nationals of all places, but having fog put an early end to the racing has to be one of the most frustrating things that race fans can have happen to them. It happened last night during the USAC Sprint show at Eldora Speedway in Ohio. The remainder of the program will be run tonight…..Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Illinois, is making a splash during the early portion of his rookie campaign in a UMP Late Model. A graduate of the Modified ranks Spatola ran second to Ryan Unzicker in the Don Bohlander Tribute at Peoria last Sunday night and last night he finished third behind Brian Shirley and Frank Heckenast Jr. in the season opener at Farmer City Raceway. The event drew 33 Late Models and 26 Modifieds to the eastern Illinois track that shut down early last year……In western Missouri it was announced this week that the Butler Speedway will run a weekly Sunday night program in 2011……After sitting out for a year with back problems, Randy Korte picked up his first feature win Friday night at the Belle-Clair bullring. Michael Kloos continued his strong start to 2011 by finishing second…..Every promoter would LOVE to have someone like Steve Eighinger covering the action at their track. Known to the folks around Quincy as “Stevie Dirt”, reading his blog makes you want to be in the stands every race night at the Bullring so if you are headed to Quincy Raceway this Sunday for the Deery Brothers Summer Series, or if you’d like to be convinced to do so, check out his work here …….Things had to be pretty wet around the edges as the Cedar County Raceway in Tipton held their lid lifter last night with a solid car count across the board. Brad Diercks came from the sixth row to win the A-Mod feature with defending All Iowa Points champion Ryan Dolan in second and two-time AIP champ Mark Schulte was third. Nate Caruth was a surprise visitor finishing 16th in the 19-car field. Dan Chapman won the B-Mod feature as he was reportedly shaking down the car that his son will drive this season…..The season opener at the Iowa State Fairgrounds in Des Moines fell to wet grounds. Mick Trier and the crew will try again next Friday night…..The Lee County Speedway Car Show will be held today (Saturday April 9th) at the square in West Point from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. followed by a party at the 4th Street Bar at 7 p.m. Check back in here later today as hopefully we’ll post some pictures from that event……With Rich Adams not arriving until later and with Jake Croxton moving to the flagstand this year, I’ll be grabbing the microphone for the 3rd Annual Brent Slocum Memorial at 34 Raceway near Burlington. The second stop on the 2011 Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models will take the green at 7:15 tonight and should draw a huge field of cars……You may have to travel a bit tonight to find a race, but get out and support the sport if you are able to!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Wisconsin Driver Collects Big Money At Vinton's Frostbuster

After sitting out Friday and Saturday night while spending some time with my lovely bride in St. Louis, I was able to catch the final night of the IMCA Frostbuster weekend at the Benton County Speedway in Vinton. Given the weather forecast going into the weekend I did not even think that there would be a shot of racing Sunday night, but the storms developed just to the south and east of Vinton and the first Sunday of April felt more like mid-June with temperatures in the high seventies throughout the evening.

The Modifieds were the headliner tonight with a solid field of thirty-six on hand from Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin and Canada. Originally scheduled to run last on the program, officials moved the Mod feature to fourth on the list as the radar started to light up around 6:30 and by then the low groove of the quarter-mile had chopped out quite a bit. Pole-sitter Ryan Dolan shucked a driveshaft coming off turn two on the first lap and pulled to the infield with fourth-starting Dan Ratajczak jumping to the lead on lap one of twenty. Scott Hogan, who started behind Ratajczak in sixth, settled in behind him and went to work on the driver from Frog Station, Wisconsin. Troy Cordes found the middle groove smoother and more to his liking as he moved toward the front after starting from row five and when he caught the lead duo, the battle was on. Cordes slipped into second with just a handful of laps remaining and with two to go he made his move to the outside of turns one and two. Cordes cleared Ratajczak by a car-length down the back straightaway, but the Wisconsin driver hit his marks perfectly in three and four to regain the lead at the white flag. Once again Cordes was able to pull even with the leader off of turn two and the two ran wheel-to-wheel down the backstretch. When Ratajczak pushed his challenger up the track entering turn three, Cordes kicked it off the cushion and tried a high-to-low move off of four that came up a half a car length short as Ratajczak took the $1,000 victory. Hogan settled for the third spot, J.D. Auringer started fifteenth and finished fourth while Shawn Fisher completed the top five.

Dan Ratajczak (73) and Troy Cordes battle it out over the final laps - Scott Tjabring, Action Track Photography
The Stock Car division was the first feature on the card tonight with only ten cars taking the green. Damon Murty outran fellow front row starter Paul Shepard at the drop of the green for the race lead while Jeff Mueller was the man on the move after starting sixth. Mueller slipped by Shepard into second with four laps to go, but he could never reel in Murty who went flag-to-flag for the win in the non-stop event. Behind Murty, Mueller and Shepard it was Scooter Dulin and Bob Ahrendson in fourth and fifth.

The Sport Compacts also went flag-to-flag in their twelve lap finale with Brad Chandler moving past Brett Vanous on lap eight for the lead. Chandler’s brother Nathan was behind the wheel of Bill Whalen Jr.s #00W tonight and he moved into second over the final laps to make it a one-two finish for the drivers from Cedar Rapids. Vanous collected third-place money followed by Duayne Herb in fourth with the head of the Chandler family, Merv completing the top five.

I’m not sure if it was the track that tore up the Sport Mod feature, or if it was the Sport Mod feature that tore up the track as after eight caution periods they were finally able to complete fifteen green flag laps. As usual in events like this, the racing up front was pretty good when the light was green while the guys in the back were…….well you know. Andy Tiernan started third and jetted to the lead on lap one only to lose it a lap later to sixth starting Austin Kaplan. His tenure at the front was just as short though with Danny Dvorak coming from the inside of row five to take the lead on lap three, a lead that he would not give up the rest of the way to victory. Kaplan was the runner-up, Kurt Hogan finished third with Tiernan and Jim Buhlman next in line.

The Hobby Stocks closed out the night and it looked like they had all learned their lesson after watching the two Modified classes when they all ran the first couple of laps on the smoother upper two grooves of the speedway. Brad Forbes was leading with Nathan Ballard giving chase when a third-running Justin Stander decided to give the low groove a try. It worked for a moment as he quickly pulled even with the leader on lap four, but when he bounced through turn two the next lap Stander could not maintain control and spun on the back stretch. Scott Pippert made the move of the night avoiding the spinning Stander, and then on the restart it was Pippert who took over the lead from Forbes on lap eight and moved to a big advantage over the final seven circuits. It was a good thing that Pippert enjoyed that lead though as he needed all of it when his right rear tire blew entering turn three on the final lap and he nursed his #47 in for the victory ahead of Forbes and Ballard. Justin Lichty took the fourth spot while Kyle Perizek was fifth.

Scott Pippert (47) slips by Brad Forbes for the lead in the Hobby Stock feature - Scott Tjabring, Action Track Photography
BCS Frostbuster Notes…..Richie Gustin was running fifth in the Modified main when he dropped out on lap four…...Quincy, Illinois, driver Jeff Waterman was in fourth when his rear end let go with five laps remaining…..Canada was well represented by the Turnbull family tonight as Ed, Ty and Adam all made the feature event. The other visitors from the Great White North did not fare so well as Derrick and Mason Big Eagle collided with each other in the first heat and Joey Galloway left the track on a hook during his heat…..J.D. Auringer had to come from ninth to fourth in the third heat just to transfer to the A where he then passed eleven cars to run fourth definitely making him the night’s hard charger…..Joe Docekal and Josh Most were notable non-qualifiers in the Modifieds…..Justin Temeyer failed to make the call for the Stock Car heat and then started the feature from the fifth row. He moved quickly up to fourth before retiring in a cloud of smoke with three laps to go…..Jeremy Schaufenbuhl appeared to be a contender in the Sport Mods as he was leading the second heat before contact with Andy Tiernan sent him out into the bean field off the back stretch. Then in the feature he was caught up in the two early multi-car melees puncturing a hole in his radiator that he was unaware of until his motor got hot a few laps later and he coasted to a halt…..It was reported that Bill Whalen Jr., who you will find at just about any track running the four cylinders in the Midwest, was not feeling well and that is why Nathan Chandler was on board the 00W tonight. Hopefully Bill felt better when he picked up that second-place purse check…..Justin Wacha has moved from the Sport Compacts to the Hobby Stocks this year…..Nathan Ballard can usually be found winning features on the pavement at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Tonight he proved he could sling the dirt with the best of them as well…..A big thanks to Mick Trier, Dana Benning and the entire Benton County Speedway crew for putting on an entertaining and efficient program that saw the final checkers wave at ten minutes past seven. The regular season kicks off this coming Sunday night, April 10th in Vinton.