Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wood Doubles Up, Hughes Continues His Winning Ways

A beautiful Tuesday evening turned into a good night of racing at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa on May 19. The road warriors of the United States Modified Touring Series made their first SIS stop to start a string of seven straight races in the upper Midwest. While Oskaloosa usually runs their weekly show on Wednesdays, Tuesday night's show would be a weekly points night as promoter Todd Staley will allow guys to venture north to Marshalltown on Wednesday night for a full night of racing at that quarter-mile speedplant. Tonight's USMTS race also provided a " gathering" as three of us were in attendance tonight (Jeff, Dick and Joyce, and myself).

A good group of cars were on hand as there were 41 USMTS modifieds, 20 USRA hobby stocks, 20 USRA bmods, but only 13 USRA stock cars. The bmods would be the first feature run and it would be Tyler Groenendyk jumping out to the early lead. His father Leroy settled into the runner up spot after starting on the pole while the battle was for fifth early on as three cars battled side by side. The field spread out as the laps clicked off and Tyler Groenendyk took home his first career win by a full straight away over his father Leroy. Drew Lawson came home third, Cory Brown was fourth, and Andrew Schroeder rounded out the top five. The fifteen lap race went flag to flag, although I'm not sure anybody else had anything to compete with the victor.

Up next would be the USRA stock car event. Nathan Wood darted out front from the pole. Kyle Harwood took the lead away on the second circuit, but Wood would recover at the halfway point of the race as he dove to the inside of the track in turn three to regain the lead. Right behind him, Brian Mitrisin made the same move on the following lap to move his way up to second. A little further back, last week's feature winner Zach VanderBeek was running the low line the entire race and made his way up to the third position after starting towards the rear of the field. Those two competitors followed Wood across the line while Matt Greiner was fourth and Kyle Harwood slipped back to fifth.

One win apparently wasn't enough for Nathan Wood tonight. He started on the outside of the front row in the USRA hobby stocks and quickly took command of the race. He found himself increasing his lead lap by lap while the battle for second heated up among Chris Hovden, Tony Tenity, and Bobby Greene. Greene would prevail in this group, but he had nothing for the leader as Wood sailed to his second win of the night. Hovden, making the long pull down from Cresco, finished third while Kris Walker and Dale Porter rounded out the top five. Tenity slipped back to seventh.

Twenty-seven USMTS modifieds took to the track next for their thirty lap finale. NASCAR stars Kenny Schrader and Kenny Wallace were both on hand for tonight's action. Both drivers were scheduled to compete in the second heat race, but Wallace's car would not fire. Schrader would make the call, but found himself in a bmain as well.

Jon Tesch took command of the race from the drop of the green flag from the front row. While Tesch was rim-riding on the top side, Jason Hughes was using the bottom side of the track and slowing reeling in the race leader. A couple early cautions bunched the field up, giving Hughes and company another shot at Tesch. Hughes would pull up on the inside of Tesch going in to turn three on lap ten, but was unable to make the pass. While those two were battling it out up front, Brad Pinkerton and Ryan Gustin were waging war with each other. Gustin would keep his momentum on the top side of the track to maintain a couple car lengths on Pinkerton every time they crossed the finish line. After encountering lapped traffic, Hughes began his quest for the race lead as he closed up on the back bumper. With just three laps to go, Tesch clipped the outside wall in turn one, opening the door for Hughes to slip by on the bottom. The contact with the wall damaged his rear spoiler, which meant he lost downforce on the rear tires that allowed Hughes to pull away for the win at the end. Tesch hung on for second, Ryan Gustin finished third, Brad Pinkerton fourth, and Zach VanderBeek rounded out the top five. A couple other drivers had solid runs as Al Hejna started 14th and finished 6th while Jake Neal took a provisional (started 24th) and moved up ten spots to 14th. Kenny Schrader finished 13th and Kenny Wallace was 21st.

Night one is in the books as the USMTS heads north to the Marshalltown Speedway on Wednesday for their initial visit to the high banked quarter mile facility. I believe hot laps get under way at 6:15 with racing scheduled to start at 7:00. The USMTS was scheduled to race in Marshalltown last year but fell victim to weather. If you're in the area, I suggest you make it out to the track early as this is one show I definitely don't want to miss!

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

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