Friday, June 5, 2009

Hejna Finds Victory Lane in Alta

The United States Modified Touring Series (USMTS) made their first of two scheduled stops at the Buena Vista Raceway in Alta Thursday night as the third stop on the swing through the upper Midwest. The regular weekly classes were also on hand for a point night of racing action.

On my way towards the track, I received a phone call from fellow bloggers Dick and Joyce Eisele. They informed me they were making the long tow up from Grinnell to take in the action later on that evening. It was fun sitting with them and catching up on racing news and happenings. Also in the parking lot was another southern Iowa gentlemen by the name of Gary Storey. Gary is from Oskaloosa and decided to make the trip up as well. Hope to meet up with these great friends again in the near future.

Things got kicked off with the IMCA sport compact feature. Five cars were checked in and it would be Cory Flanigan taking the lead on lap two and taking the easy win.

Shannon Anderson jumped out front early on in the IMCA hobby stock feature, but he would soon be pressured by Craig Brotherton. Brotherton dove to the inside in turns one and two and tried to make a slidejob stick, but Anderson cut inside of him coming out of turn two to maintain the top spot. Andy Boeckman was driving a borrowed race car, but he looked to be very comfortable behind the wheel as he drove the car up to the third spot despite what appeared to be a broken left rear shock. It didn't slow him down much, but had to be hard controlling it in the corners. Devin Smith would later catch and pass Boeckman coming to the white flag, but it would be Shannon Anderson taking home the top prize. Brotherton was second, Smith third, Boeckman fourth, and pole-sitter Kyle Robinson rounded out the top five.

At the start of the hobby stock feature, there was a big pileup in turn one on the first lap that involved some eleven cars. I don't recall what happened to start the chain reaction, but one driver apparently was seriously injured. Shawn Halder was cut out of his car and transported to a local hospital. The extent of his injuries were not known. Thoughts and prayers are with him and his family.

The IMCA sportmods hit the track next for their fifteen lap event. Doug Smith bolted to the lead from outside the front row as he set the pace. Brett Meyer, driving a number 22 car tonight in memory of Charlie Clark, drove his machine to the second spot and set his sights on Smith. Meyer was closing in on Smith as the laps counted down, but a lapped car got loose in front of Meyer coming out of turn two with two laps to go to slow his momentum. Smith pulled away and went on to take the win. Meyer settled for second, Tony Pogeler was third, Chris Grothe fourth, and Tanner Powers charged up to fifth after starting fourteenth and was involved in an early incident.

As mentioned, Brett Meyer had his car looking like Charlie Clark's owned 22 ride driven by Steve Kosiski. Clark unfortunately passed away after suffering a heart attack a few weeks ago at the Beatrice Speedway. Meyer did a reverse victory lap during intermission to honor Clark. Thoughts and prayers go out to the Clark family and friends as well.

Seventeen IMCA stock cars were led to the green flag by Trent Murphy and Chris Ulrich. Murphy would grab the advantage early on, but Dustin Smith made a charge to the front and challenge for second on the inside of Ulrich. Smith would take over the spot as his brother Donovan followed right behind to go to the third spot. Dustin Smith would not be satisfied with second as he quickly reeled in Murphy and got by him on the inside groove. Again brother Donovan would follow suit and advance his way to second. Donovan tried to get under Dustin on the last lap, but didn't have enough at the line as Dustin Smith took home the trophy. Donovan Smith was second, Trent Murphy settled for third, Chris Ulrich backed up to fourth, and David Smith rounded out the top five.

The final event of the night would be the thirty-five lap feature for the USMTS modifieds. Dereck Ramirez and teammate Jon Tesch sat on the front row to lead the field to the green flag. Two cautions would come out before the completion of the first lap, but that set up for a great start on the third attempt. On the exit of turn two on the start, the field was 5-wide for the top spot and Jake Neal would take the early advantage at the line. That lead did not last long, however, as Corey Dripps powered up his machine to take over the top spot. Another quick yellow allowed Kelly Shryock to use the restart to his advantage and moved into second place while Dereck Ramirez and Al Hejna followed closely behind. Two laps later another caution set up a restart that saw Hejna get by Ramirez for third, but Jon Tesch tried widening the track out as he battled with Hejna on the top side of the track.

After yet another caution, Hejna bolted to the lead on a restart and would pull away from the field until caution flags slowed him down. Tommy Myer would began to pressure Shryock for the second spot after twenty laps, but Shryock would maintain the advantage. After the final yellow came out with seven laps to go Corey Dripps, Tommy Myer, and Jon Tesch waged a war for third. Dripps would eventually get the better of the bunch, but nobody had anything for Hejna as he motored away for the win in his Harris chassis. Kelly Shryock once again finished up in the bridesmaid spot, Corey Dripps finished third, Tommy Myer fourth, and Jon Tesch rounded out the top five. Twenty-four cars started the feature, but only ten were running at the end. Hejna's last USMTS win was last year at the then Tri-Oval Speedway in Fountain City, Wisconsin on August 15th.

During intermission, USMTS drivers were invited to the grandstand to sign autographs. This also gave track announcer Jerry Vansickel time to interview some of the drivers while track officials threw out tshirts. There was a great crowd on hand as the 50/50 money was $565. All in all, a lot of good racing throughout the night. Kudos to promoter Jeff Herrig and his staff on preparing a great track. Also a big thanks to Herrig and Eric Blum for their hospitality. Very much appreciated!!

The USMTS modified series moves north to the Murray County Speedway in Slayton, Minnesota on Friday night. The Buena Vista Raceway returns to it's normal night of racing next Wednesday night for another great night of racing action that will feature the IMCA sportmod King of the Hill race.

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

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