Monday, April 13, 2009

New and Familiar Tracks Highlight Tapfan's Tours This Weekend

On Saturday April 11, I decided to make a journey to Missouri for a first-ever visit to 24 Raceway in Moberly, Missouri. The USMTS modifieds were on hand along with the weekly lineup of classes. Upon arrival it was evident they had received rain the day before as the spectator parking area was a bit muddy along with the pit area inside the track. The track, on the other hand, was a bit dry as dust was flying during the first session of hot laps. After a few more sessions, track officials decided to take a pause and water the entire track once more. That took care of the dust problem, which I appreciated as the wind was bringing that dust directly towards the fans.

Hornets, hobby stocks, bmods, and sportsmans were the other classes on the card on this night. The sportsmans resembled Iowa stock cars. It was hard to understand a lot of the names as the PA system was cutting out a lot. That would be one suggestion for the track to work on at some point as they have a pole on each end of the grandstand with 3 speakers on each pole. Most other tracks have the speakers spread out, usually on top of the front stretch fencing.

Although I didn't catch most of the names in the support classes, I did recognize two bmod drivers from southern Iowa. Paul Underwood and Andrew Schroeder both were running at the front of the pack in the feature until something sidelined Underwood's night. Schroeder had much better luck as he was in the mix battling for second place for most of the race. He would settle for second when the checkers waved as the leader had too much distance with which to do anything.

The USMTS modifieds put on a good race for the fans. Thirty-nine cars were narrowed down to twenty-four for the 35-lap feature event. Kelly Shryock redrew the pole position, but number one proved to be unlucky for him on this night. The preferred line appeared to be on the top side above where rubber had been laid down throughout the night. However, that groove was also rougher then the rest of the track. Shryock found this out the hard way as his entire right side sheet metal crumbled up and fell off in turn two. When Shryock had his difficulties in turn two, Jon Tesch made the pass on the low side for the lead. Several more cars would take advantage of Shryock's mishap, including Zack VanderBeek and Johnny Bone Jr. VanderBeek and Tesch would battle for the lead after a restart, but Tesch had too much for him as he took the checkers. Ironically, it was Tesch and VanderBeek who TIED for the win at the last race at this track last year. This year, Tesch made sure there was an obvious winner. VanderBeek finished second, Bone Jr third, Rodney Sanders fourth, and Dean Mahlstedt rounded out the top five. Shryock slid all the way back to 11th at the finish. Jason Hughes led the majority of the race, but suffered a flat right rear tire. He would rejoin the pack, but could only salvage a 12th place finish. Dusin Boney put on an exciting show for the fans as well. He was running well towards the front of the field when he suffered a flat tire as well. After tagging the back of the field, he quickly made his way through traffic. After a restart, he made one of the best moves I had seen all night when he passed 6 cars on the outside by the time he got to turn three. Unfortunately, his efforts weren't noticed by many as he would suffer other troubles that sidelined him from the finish.

For results, go to:

April 12th found me at my unofficial "home away from home": the I-35 Speedway in Mason City, Iowa. Sunday night was the season opener at the big half-mile track. I will admit it now, that I'm not a big fan of hornets. So I apologize to the drivers in this class as I won't usually write too much about this class at any track. That being said, I did note how many cars were in each "division" and the winners of each. Six novice hornets ran the feature with Ken Winkowich taking the checkers in convincing fashion. Five pro hornets then hit the track with Jesse Harang taking top honors.

Hobby stocks were next up. Only eleven cars were on hand for opening night, but they put on a good show at the front. Stac Schroeder, Chad Gentz, and Heath Tulp all battled at the front for the top spot. After changing positions several times, it was Tulp that pulled away at the end to take home opening night checkers. Gentz wound up second, Schroeder third, Dustin Larson came home fourth and Robert Black rounded out the top five. Larson is a regular at Fairmont Raceway in Fairmont, Minnesota.

Sixteen bmods hit the track for their feature event. Shane Swanson and defending track champion Dustin Brown sat on the front row at the drop of the green flag. Swanson jumped out front early on, but a few cautions slowed up the action. Nate Chodur took advantage of one of the restarts to make the pass for the lead going into turn three. Chodur would pull away from the field until a late race caution bunched them back up with just two laps to go. Dustin Brown mounted a challenge after the restart, but Chodur's car was too strong as he went on for the win. Brown finished second, Swanson third, Matt Hoeft fourth, and Dan Tenold rounded out the top five.

A solid field of 19 IMCA stock cars graced the track next for their main event. Luke Sathoff and Bert McDaniel sat on the front row for the fifteen lap feature. However it was Larry Portis taking the top spot early on. Other then restarts, Portis was never really challenge until late in the race when Kevin Opheim made his way to second. By that time, Opheim had run out of laps to make up ground as Portis picked up another stock car victory. Opheim was second, Sathoff third, Mike Jergens fourth, and Travis Hoeft completed the top five.

The final event of the night was the IMCA modifieds. Twenty cars were in the pits, with only Rich Lewerke not making the call for the feature. He had problems in hot laps as he made contact with another driver. Report was that he had suffered radiator damage. JJ Wise shared the front row with Wisconsin driver Mike Wedelstadt when the green flagged waved. Wise jumped out front early on with Ryan Ruter giving chase. Ruter was making up ground until he clipped a tire on the inside of the track, breaking suspension parts on the left front of the car and ending his night early. This opened the door for Garner's Jeremy Mills. Mills used a restart to his advantage as he made the pass for the lead and would prevail at the finish. Wise had to settle for second, Rob Rose third, Pat Graham fourth, and TJ Stalker fifth. Another Wisconsin driver, Julie Wedelstadt, finshed sixth. Also in attendance was Canadien Jim Harris. He finished 9th.

It was good seeing Bert McDaniel making the long four hour tow back up to Mason City. Bert raced up there pretty regularly a few years ago, but the long distance and fuel prices were too much as he decided to race closer to home. Bert had been running open stock cars the past couple of seasons, but decided to revert back to running IMCA this year. Unfortunately, Bert's first visit back to Mason City was a painful one as he got tangled up in a first-lap incident with a couple other drivers. He was hit in the right rear of his car and spun around. I briefly talked to him after the races, and he said something about a rib injury. Hopefully it's just a bruise and we'll see him back next week.

Full results can be found at:

- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!

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