Saturday, June 13, 2009

Donnellson Avoids Mother Nature, Aikey Takes Top Prize

My plan for Friday night was to go to Marshalltown as I hadn't been there since the USMTS show back on May 20th. Unfortunately the weather didn't look too promising, so I made a last minute decision (literally) and made the long tow south to Donnellson. After going 4 1/2 hours to the northwest the previous night, Friday's night trip would amount to about 3 1/2 hours to the southeast. Take about a trip across the state! Turns out the racing action would be top notch as the track stayed in great shape throughout the night. Tonight's action also included the IMCA late models, which would be my first time seeing them on the fast 3/8 mile track.

The IMCA late models would be the first feature to hit the track as twenty-three cars set to do battle. Thad Trump redrew the pole position to pace the field to the green and would take the early lead. Justin Reed and Adam Helmick battled it out behind him for second in the early going with Reed securing the spot a couple laps later. Jeff Aikey soon made his way to the front as he challenged Reed for his second spot, but he soon disposed of Reed and set his sights on Trump. Aikey ripped the lead away on lap seven while Reed followed him to second, bumping Trump back to third. Two laps later Boone McLaughlin continued his charge to the front as he took the third position away from Trump. Another strong contender everywhere he goes, Mark Burgtorf had his car working well on the top side as he worked his way up to fourth around Trump at the halfway point of the race.

Aikey would slowly pull away from Reed and the rest of the pack, but Reed received pressure from McLaughlin as McLaughlin grabbed second away with ten laps to go. Reed would later lose another spot as Burgtorf took over the third spot three laps later. In the end, however, nobody had enough to challenge Jeff Aikey as he motored to the win. Boone McLaughlin took home second, Denny Woodworth snuck up through the field to get third, Mark Burgtorf was fourth, and Justin Reed rounded out the top five. I hadn't noticed Woodworth's progress throughout the race as I assumed he was a lapped car.

Up next would be the IMCA stock cars. A good field of nineteen cars were on hand tonight as they battled it out for fifteen laps. The battle started right at the drop of the green flag as a multi-car pileup occurred before a lap could be completed. None of the cars received major damage and would be able to continue. When the green flag waved, cars battled three wide for about the fifth spot in turn two before they completed the first lap, proving what great condition the track was in. Four laps into the race, Corey Strothman got into the back of John Oliver Jr. coming out of turn four to bring out the caution flag. Both drivers were solidly in the top five, but unfortunately Strothman's night would end there as he couldn't make repairs in time to make it back out.

Jeff Mueller was determined to make his way to the front as he powered his car from the tenth starting spot up to third in just five quick laps. He wouldn't stop there as he passed both cars ahead of him to take over the race lead two laps later as he clung to the bottom side of the track in turn two to make the pass. Ironically race leader Chris Wibbell had been running the bottom groove at the time, but moved up for reason to the top side the following lap that enabled Mueller to make his pass. Jason Cook was also on the move towards the front as he took over the fourth spot with six laps to go. Nobody was able to challenge Jeff Mueller in the end though as he took home the trophy. Abe Huls finished second, Jason Cook got by Chris Wibbell for third and fourth, respectively, and Doug Huls rounded out the top five.

A strong field of twenty-five IMCA modifieds were on hand to put on a show for the fans. Lonnie Heap jumped out front from the pole with Rob Kirchner right behind him. Brandon Rothzen was quickly on the prowl as he motored up to third three laps in. Behind him Michael Long maneuvered his machine from eleventh up to fourth. Unfortunately both Long and Rothzen would later suffer mechanical problems and be forced out of the race. Heap would continue to lead until Wyatt Lantz set sail on the top side to get around Heap for the lead. Perennial contender Rich Smith would also get by Heap for second, but would soon lose that position to Josh Foster as Foster found the high side to his liking. Another driver making his way through the pack was Tyler Cale. Cale started sixteenth, but found himself up in fourth with four laps to go. He would gain two more spots late in the race as Foster clipped the turn two wall that forced Heap to hit the brakes behind him. But up front Wyatt Lantz went home with the win. Cale was second, Foster third, Heap fourth, and Adam Birck rounded out the top five.

The hobby stocks had a rough start to their fifteen lap feature. Jeremy Pundt looked as though he would grab the lead on the first lap, but his car snapped lose in turn three. Before he could regain control, the field was on top of him resulting in a nine-car incident. The restart also provided more havoc as Dean Kratzer's machine got sideways coming out of turn two that also collected three cars. Beings no laps had been completed yet, track officials decided to have the field start in single file formation.

Pundt would take advantage of this situation to grab the lead early, but Matt Tucker quickly snagged the top spot away on the next circuit. Behind him Dan Wenig made his way up to second after starting eighth and set his sights on the leader. Point leader Derek St. Clair started twelfth and quickly powered his car up to the third spot at the half way point. With five laps to go, race leader Matt Tucker had his car get a little loose coming out of turn four . Dan Wenig had nowhere to go and made just enough contact to make Tucker's car spin towards the infield. To Tucker's credit, he kept the car moving as to not bring out the caution, but it also enabled Wenig to take home the checkers. Derek St. Clair followed him across the line in second, Jim Lynch was third, Jeremy Pundt fourth, and Jim Oliver Jr. rounded out the top five. Wenig was very classy in his post race interview as he quickly apologized to Matt Tucker for the contact.

IMCA sportmods took to the track next for their fifteen lap main event. Rod Staats took the lead early, but Paul Lawson would stay within striking distance. Lawson mounted a charge for the lead, but drifted high in turn three to lose ground. Jason Cook made his way up to fourth at the midway point of the race as Rodger Dresden battled Higdon for second with five laps to go. Lawson would keep Dresden at bay and close in on the race leader once again, but it was Rod Staats taking home the win in a close finish. Paul Lawson was second, Rodger Dresden third, Jason Cook fourth, and Phillip Cossel rounded out the top five.

The wild thing four cylinder cars finished the night off with a twelve lap feature. Chris Loring Jr took command of the race on lap two and never looked back as he took home the win. I was amazed that they had nineteen of these cars as "back home" we rarely see even a field of ten cars.

While the show did run a bit long, the racing action more then made up for it. I told fellow blogger Jeff Broeg that I wish the Donnellson track was a lot closer as every time I've been to that track, I've always gone home knowing I had seen a good show. It was also nice to hear his voice as he announced some of the racing action. I'd like to thank him and promoter Terry Hoenig for their hospitality.

Sounds like next week's show will be another good one as it will be the Doug Townsend Memorial race. The IMCA modifieds will be racing for a top prize of $1,000. If you're in the area, you won't be disappointed in what you see at the Lee County Speedway in Donnellson!

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

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