Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Donlinger Tops Field at Britt

The rugged road warriors of the USMTS made their way to the Hancock County Speedway on Tuesday, June 2nd. After having their show in Des Moines Monday get cancelled, drivers were ready to go tonight along with hobby stocks and stock cars. Unfortunately the car count was less then expected for this show, but the racing action was well worth it for the fans.

While the track was on the dry side (dusty coming off turn 4), the racing was pretty good throughout the night. The hobby stocks kicked off the feature lineup with their fourteen car field. Chris Hovden didn't waste any time in finding the top spot from his row two start as he grabbed the lead using the bottom groove of the track in turn two on the first lap. An early caution allowed Brandon Hare to improve a couple positions on the restart and found himself just behind Hovden. Hovden and Hare were pulling away from the field while Stac Schroeder moved his way forward to take the third spot. A caution with three laps to go bunched the field up, allowing Schroeder to slip past Hare for second. Schroeder tried to run down Hovden, but it wasn't meant to be at Hovden finds victory lane at yet another track. Schroeder wound up second, Brandon Hare third, Chad Gentz fourth, and Dustin Wannarka rounded out the top five. I believe Hovden has now won features at about six different tracks so far this season.

Up next would be the eighteen lap stock car feature. Chad Palmer and Mike Jergens led the field of thirteen to the green flag, but it would be Ryan Hiscocks emerging with the early lead after he slipped past both cars on the bottom groove. Mike Jergens used the high side to his liking as he took the lead away from Hiscocks and began to distance himself. A caution on lap six allowed Jeff Dolphin to get by Hiscocks on the top side, and Dolphin would soon set his sights on the leader. Dolphin tried to power his machine to the lead on the bottom side in turn four, but would wind up giving up a lot of distance to Jergens. Jergens took advantage of this and took home the top prize. Dolphin finished second, Kurt Krauskopf battled his way up to third after starting ninth, Kevin Paca was fourth, and Chad Palmer rounded out the top five.

The thirty-five lap USMTS finale was up next. Jon Tesch and Rich Lewerke led the field to the start, but Lewerke's luck would end right there as he slid off the banking in turn one on the first corner. He kept his machine rolling though, so no caution flag was thrown. Ryan Gustin settled into the second spot before receiving pressure from Steve Wetstein. The first caution of the race would occur on lap 8 for debris, but Wetstein used this to his advantage. Lined up on the inside of the double file restart, he powered his machine under Tesch for the top spot. Wetstein and Tesch would swap the lead for several laps as Tim Donlinger was making his march towards the front. Donlinger would get by Wetstein on the next restart and had the cross hairs set on Tesch. Donlinger would get past Tesch after a caution in which Kelly Shryock suffered a left rear flat tire. Al Hejna made his way up to third after getting past Wetstein, but up front Jon Tesch was inching closer to Tim Donlinger for the lead as the laps were winding down. The leaders caught some lapped cars with two laps to go, allowing Tesch to close in and made a last-ditch effort to make the winning pass on the top side. But it would be Donlinger holding him off at the stripe in a close finish. Tesch settled for second, Al Hejna was third, Steve Wetstein fourth, and Zach VanderBeek was fifth.

While the dust made it difficult for the fans, the racing was pretty good. There was passing as Dean Mahlstedt started 20th and finished 6th. I was a little disappointed in the car count in all three classes, but realize that not everybody can get off work during the week to race. Several regular USMTS drivers were not on hand either as Jason Hughes and Rodney Sanders were not in attendance. Hats off to promoter John Pletcher and crew for a well-run show.

The USMTS series will travel to the southeast as they invade the Highway 3 Raceway in Allison on Wednesday night, June 3rd. Hot laps are set to get underway at 6:30 with racing at 7:00. Also racing will be bmods, stock cars, hobby stocks, and hornets. If you're in the area, check out the racing action at one of the fastest half-mile tracks in Iowa.

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

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