Thursday, April 5, 2012

Stud Girdles Not Allowed! Gustin Inherits Frostbuster At Osky

I am not mechanical at all so before last night I would have thought that stud girdles were something that would be marketed to gentlemen in retirement homes. The men are the desired minority at those places you know. But now I know that stud girdles are something used to stabilize your valve-train and that they are not legal under IMCA Modified rules. Why do I now know that? Because the young man who had appeared to have won his first first-ever race in the division was disqualified in the tech area at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa following the opener of the five-night Frostbuster swing through Iowa.

Andrew Schroeder, known as the “Kool-Aid Kid” here at his home track, had graduated from the B-Mod division and was very impressive winning the first of six IMCA Modified heat races here Wednesday night. The youngster then pulled the number one pill for the re-draw to start the main event on the pole, a definite advantage on a night where a stiff east wind and the pounding of 125 race cars had sucked nearly all of the moisture out of the track surface. At the drop of the green the goal was to get to the bottom groove as soon as possible evidenced by fellow front row starter Richie Gustin’s choice to tuck in behind Schroeder before they even reached the flagstand.

With third-starting Kyle Strickler close behind, the lead trio put some distance on the rest of the field, but even with that cushion neither Gustin or the North Carolina driver Strickler dared to step out of line to make a bid on Schroeder. The kid was smooth and on a few occasions even pulled away from his two challengers who have graced victory lane at many IMCA Modified main events over the past few years. On this night though, the division rookie would win in his first outing with Gustin in second and Strickler in third. Mark Elliott and Lance Arneson also finished where they started in fourth and fifth respectively.

That is until those stud girdles were discovered on Schroeder’s #02 car giving Gustin the win and sliding everybody up one position putting Ronn Lauritzen into the official top five. A tough pill to swallow for Schroeder, but after making the corrections look for him to bounce back strong in the track’s regular season opener next Wednesday night April 11th.

The SportMod feature was dominated by the defending IMCA Northern Sport Mod National champion as Brian Lariviere of Wichita, Kansas, started inside of row three and powered to the point on the opening lap. He then cruised the remaining fifteen circuits to a convincing victory. Pole-sitter Clint Luellen settled for second while Ty Luellen charged from thirteenth to third. Racer Hulin took fourth and John VanDenBerg used the knowledge of his hometown track to come from row eight to finish fifth.

John Heinz started on the pole of the Stock Car main and took the lead at the drop of the green while fifth-starting Jeff Mueller surged to second on the opening lap. It looked like Mueller would mount the challenge on Heinz, but Wisconsin driver Justin Jacobsen and J.C. Howell of Texas had other ideas as they soon relegated Mueller back to fourth. Jacobsen was able to get to the back bumper of Heinz on a few occasions, but was not able to mount a challenge as the driver from Green Bay registered the win in his first appearance at Oskaloosa. Jacobsen took second, Kyle Harwood muscled his way up to third at the finish with Howell and Mueller completing the top five. Both Howell and Mueller said “hi” to Harwood on their way back to the infield following the checkered flag.

The Hobby Stock feature saw some great door-to-door action for the lead between Shannon Anderson and Bill Bonnett. Anderson would lead the first lap by a nose before Bonnett took over on lap two. With Bonnett hugging the bottom line, Anderson went up one car-width further on the track pulling even with the leader while Eric Stanton waited patiently for racing room right behind those two. As the leaders crossed the stripe on lap ten, Anderson was ahead by inches and the caution waved just after that lap was scored. This gave the lead to Shannon for the restart and he was able to hold back both Bonnett and Stanton over the final five laps for the victory. Stanton would finish as the runner-up followed by Bonnett, Danny Thrasher and Justin Hook. Hook, who won the first heat race, was apparently dinged in the tech area following that event as he started the main event dead last in the nineteen-car field.

It was a great way for new promoter Mike VanGenderen and his crew to open the season with a full pit area including numerous cars and drivers from Canada as well as states mentioned above. It was no surprise to me that this opening show was presented in a coordinated and professional manner by this “rookie” promoter as VanGenderen has a unique combination of experience that he is bringing into this role. Not only is he a very successful driver in both a Modified and a Stock Car, but he has also been working at racetracks when he wasn’t driving serving as a flagman, a pit steward and as the “guy on the raceceiver”. He also knows how to assemble an experienced and talented crew as evidenced by some of the faces that I saw in the flagstand, on the raceceiver and wearing “IMCA Official” shirts. Regular season weekly action begins here next Wednesday night and continues through the end of August and I think that it is safe to say that an IMCA National Championship in at least one division might just pass through Osky in 2012. The second leg of the half-mile portion of the Frostbuster Five will run under less threatening weather conditions in Des Moines tonight, so get out there if you can and catch this very diverse field of competitors. Then we go short-trackin’ for the weekend Friday night in Marshalltown, Saturday in Boone and Sunday in Vinton. The weather forecast looks good except for a slight chance of rain during the day on Saturday. But if any track knows how to avoid a rainout, it is the Boone Speedway. Just check their record over the past few years!

My next action will be this Saturday night when the Deery Brothers Summer Series for IMCA Late Models comes to 34 Raceway near Burlington for the annual Brent Slocum Memorial event. Perhaps I’ll see ya there!

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