Thursday, June 7, 2012

Anderson Takes Two On a Great Night at Osky

Perfect weather, a large crowd, good car counts, a multi-grooved surface, three extra features and a charismatic young driver helping a child in need all added up to a fantastic evening at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa Wednesday. Even the one downer for the night worked out as well as possible, but more on that later.

Three extra features were on the card tonight after those events were rained out from last Wednesday night and they were run after the qualifying heats for the Sport Mods and Sport Compacts in order to make for a wider, more racey track. The Hobby Stock make-up main event was first with pole-sitter Bobby Greene pacing the first four laps, but it was obvious from the drop of the green who the fastest car on the track was. Shannon Anderson started ninth and was coming to the front quickly often passing cars exiting turn two off the low groove. It was almost as if he were being shot out of a cannon comparatively as Anderson would drive by competitors with ease going down the back stretch and on lap five he blasted past Greene for the lead. From there the race was for second as Anderson would cruise to the win while Greene managed to fight off Kevin Fee to earn the runner-up pay. Fee started eighth and finished third followed by Donovan Nunnikhoven and Danny Thrasher.

The Stock Cars were next to round out their portion of last week's program and if this one didn't impress the huge crowd on hand, I don't know what will. Colt Mather drove off to a big lead while the field raced tightly bunched for position behind him. Around the mid-race mark Matt Greiner had worked his way up from a fourth row start to take second and he was now tasked with trying to chase down Mather who had nearly a straightaway advantage. While closing the gap steadily, Greiner had some company in Damon Murty, Todd Reitzler and Zack Vanderbeek who were racing for position right behind him. With the laps winding down it appeared that Mather was slowing a bit as Greiner and the others were now closing fast and when the white flag waved he was within a car-length. With Mather on the cushion Greiner drove to the inside in turn one and as he completed the pass the two made some contact in turn two causing both to check up just a bit. Murty saw his opening and went to the inside pulling even with Mather down the back stretch and making a run on Greiner into turn three while Reitzler kept his foot to the floor and hammered the cushion in turn three trying to go around everybody on the topside. Greiner maintained his composure and drove the final two turns to perfection to take the win while Mather and Reitzler crossed the stripe in a near dead heat for second. Murty was right behind them in fourth while Vanderbeek had the best view in the house of all of this while he was looking for his own opening in fifth. It looked like the scoreboard showed Reitzler as finishing second, but you would want to check the official results for confirmation. Oskaloosa has always been known for thrilling Stock Car races and this is just one more to add to that reputation!

The IMCA Modifieds were the last of the three make-up features and this one would be a two-car battle out front between Jeff Waterman and Scott Dickey. For Waterman it was his first-ever feature race at Oskaloosa as the Quincy, Illinois, driver suffered motor problems on his first appearance here so he started from the pole position and tried to run off from the field. Scott Dickey had other ideas though as he maintained the leader's pace until there were two laps to go and then executed a perfect move driving into turn one low and then sliding up to shut the door on Waterman. I can't even call it a "slidejob" because it was so clean that Waterman never had to lift and Dickey then pulled away over the final two laps for the convincing win. Waterman would finish second while Greg Cox drove a solid race to take third. Jacob Murray, who had two wins in two starts so far here in 2012, settled for fourth in this one while southeast Iowa visitor Josh Foster was on the fly coming from fifteenth to fifth.

The Sport Compacts would run the first of the five regularly scheduled features with Merv Chandler taking yet another win ahead of Bill Whalen Jr. and Larry Hopkins. Cory Howk and Anthony Cassat completed the top five. The Sport Mods were up next and I was very impressed with Grinnell driver Jason Hall who moved to the early lead and held it for the first four circuits. There was no holding back Jesse Sobbing though who had mounted another one of his typical charges through the field after starting in the fifth row and drove past Hall for the lead on lap five. It would be the 20th win of the season overall for Sobbing with several coming here at his Wednesday destination following a three-hour drive from Glenwood. Brett Lowry would race in for second with Sunday's Knoxville winner Scott Davis taking third. Hall posted what I believe to be his first-ever top-five finish in fourth while point leader Curtis VanDerWal took fifth.

The Hobby Stocks were up next with the track already posting a $400 top prize tonight and when Jamie Songer with Supreme Lawn & Landscaping adding even more cash the winner's check would be a hefty $500. As a special event tonight this would be a draw-redraw format and it was Kevin Fee who drew the pole and set the early pace. Once again Shannon Anderson was hooked up and hauling as he quickly moved from seventh up to second and on lap three he drove past Fee for the lead. With Anderson and Fee working the low line, Dustin Griffths went up top and soon he was in second and appeared to have a run on the leader. But Anderson was solid throughout and Griffiths could never pull even as Shannon notched his second victory of the night. Danny Thrasher would follow Griffiths in for third, Fee finished fourth and "the Ladies Man" Andrew Hustead took fifth.

While the first Stock Car main event of the night was a thriller, the second one will be remembered for its nostalgic nature as Brad Pinkerton, Colt Mather and Zack Vanderbeek left the rest of the competitors well behind and set out to decide this one amongst themselves. Pinkerton, driving John Hunnell's #62 car, would set the pace for the three drivers who have raced many laps around this close-to-home half-mile, but a triumphant return to victory lane will have to wait for Brad as Vanderbeek made his move to the lead on lap twelve and captured the victory. Pinkerton would take second with Mather in third and I do hope that the fans had a chance to see what was happening well behind that trio on the back stretch during lap number nine. The race for fourth went four-wide with Alex Buffington, Leroy Groenendyk, Damon Murty and Matt Greiner, plus you had Nathan Wood right there behind them waiting for racing room! Murty would prevail and finish in the fourth spot while Wood completed the top five.

The Modifieds would close out the night with Mark Widmar leading the pack for the opening circuits of the 15-lap finale. Tim Murty would get by Widmar on lap three only to have Jacob Murray go driving past the following lap. Murray quickly opened up a big lead while fifth row starters Tyler Cale and Josh Foster raced their way toward the front. The caution waved for a Steve Pumphrey spin on lap eight and it looked like Murray might have his hands full with Cale and Foster who would now restart on his bumper. It was no problem for Jacob though as he left the two visitors in his wake to claim his third feature win of the year here in a chassis that he built on his own. Foster and Cale finished second and third respectively and I am sure that if their work schedules will allow it you will likely see them back in Osky again sometime on a Wednesday night. Cayden Carter maintained his point lead in fourth while Murty completed the top five.

A beautiful night, extra features and some good promoting by having drivers distribute $2-off coupons brought a large crowd out to the Southern Iowa Speedway

Osky Notes......Pumphrey's caution was only the second to wave during the eight feature races tonight with the other being for a Sam Hodges spin in the Hobby Stocks. Amazing! Great job drivers!......Thanks to Jason Murray for the ride down to the pit gate and I enjoyed the conversation. Hopefully we'll see him behind the wheel of another Murray-built Modified soon.....As mentioned in the lead paragraph, the large crowd went quiet during the first race of the night when young Kansas driver Ben Kates slowed to a stop in turn two apparently knocked unconscious by debris hitting him in the head on the first lap of the Sport Mod heat race. Safety workers were fantastic working with Kates who was now awake, but groggy as they took the roof off of the #23K and eased him out on a backboard. It was reported later in the night that Ben had suffered a laceration on his head that had required stitches, but that he had returned to the track.....Modified driver Brandon Banks is known as "Hollywood" likely because he is young, good-looking (confirmed by several ladies in the stands last night) and outgoing. Plus, he drives a race car which never hurts either. A couple of weeks ago it was announced that Brandon would shave his head if racer's and fans would help out with the struggles of young Payton Schultz who constantly fights the battle of HIDS, a hereditary disorder that effects the inflammatory response system of the body. Tonight was the night that Payton would do the honors himself and shave off Hollywood's hair and at intermission the deed was done in front of the large crowd. Not only did the house cheer the kindness of Brandon Banks, but they honored the barber himself by filling the helmets of other drivers who walked through the stands with $1,643. It was a touching scene and the look on Payton's face was unforgettable as his hero knelt before him. If you too would like to make a donation in support of Payton you can do so by sending a check payable to Players 4 Payton, 320 East Street, West Chester IA 52359 and put "Hollywood's Hair" in the memo so that they know that it comes from a caring race fan.

Payton Schultz gives Brandon Banks a new "do" during intermission. Drivers and fans donated more than $1,600 in support of Payton as he battles HIDS on a daily basis.

Don't forget that the Deery Brothers Summer Series comes to Oskaloosa on Wednesday night June 20th!

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