Monday, June 22, 2009

Hughes Returns to Iowa, Takes Home Des Moines Checkers

Jason Hughes took a little time off from the upper Midwest portion of the USMTS tour recently, but he made sure people didn't forget who he was as he took home the $2,000 pay day tonight at the Iowa State Fair Speedway in Des Moines. The man who has dominated the series thus far this season continued his "hot" streak tonight as temperatures soared into the mid 90's.

Colt Mather jumped out front in the early going of the thirty-lap feature. A lap six caution bunched the field back up, but Mather's car slid up the track to allow both Jason Hughes and Ryan Gustin to get by. Gustin's car would get loose in turn two, allowing his brother Richie Gustin to get by on the outside. Kelly Shryock quickly made his way up to fourth behind the Gustin's after he started fourteenth.

The top four cars spread themselves out until the Gustin's went at it for second. Ryan's car would tag the outside wall coming out of turn four that ended his good run with just five laps to go. Kelly Shryock would get by Richie Gustin on the restart for second while Zach VanderBeek was making headway up to fourth around Steven Pfeifer. A late caution set up a green/white/checkered finish. Shryock chose the outside, but it would be Gustin getting the edge on the bottom side to secure the second place finish. Zach VanderBeek would get by Kelly Shryock to take the third and fourth spots, respectively, while North Dakota driver Steven Pfeifer rounded out the top five. Only twelve cars were left running when the checkers waved.

Eighteen stock cars were on hand tonight and they put on a good show for the fans. Steve Jackson led early, but it didn't take long before Todd Inman made his way to the front. Inman found the top side to his liking as he made his way to second, and eventually the lead on the same lap. Jackson's night would come to an end early as his car went up in smoke a few laps later. Nathan Wood and Richie Gustin got by Pat Rachels to move up a spot. As the leaders were going down the front stretch, the track lights went out. I haven't been counting, but I think this was at least the third time this year it's happened at a track I've been at, so of course people around me were blaming me for it. :)

When the lights came back on, Richie Gustin would retire to the pits before the green flag waved. Tory Reicks made his way up to third after starting shotgun on the field while Wood snuck under Inman for the lead. As Reicks began to close in on the top two, Inman would regain the lead. Inman's car slid up the banking in turn four, giving Reicks the opening he needed to seize the lead. Reicks and Inman made contact coming out of the corner and continued it down the front stretch, resulting in both drivers crashing into the front straight wall. A yellow and checkered finish was scored and Nathan Wood took home the win. I believe Brian Mitrisin was scored second, but not sure after that as the wreck also took out another top five driver in Kyle Harwood.

Eleven Karl Chevrolet trucks took the green flag that saw Carl Moyer take the lead early. Brett Moyer had his truck slide up in the corner that allowed Ed Nelson and Rick Clark to motor by. Nelson started to close in on Moyer's truck, but it would be Moyer taking home the win by only a slim margin. Ed Nelson was second, Rick Clark third, Brett Moyer fourth, and Lou Sipolt rounded out the top five.

Shannon Anderson dominated the IMCA hobby stock feature as he took home the convincing win. Rob Allison came in second, Ray Stock Jr was third, Alan VanGorp was fourth, and Kenny Loftus rounded out the top five. This race also ended under a yellow and checkered situation. Loftus was involved in a caution before a green flag lap was completed and made it back up to fifth for an impressive run. Twenty-two hobby stocks were on hand tonight.

Jesse Sobbing took a narrow lead in the IMCA sportmod feature on the first lap, but Austin Kaplan would snag the lead away a few laps later. Sobbing would regain the lead after Kaplan's left front suspension broke. Kaplan stayed out until the next yellow, which also was the end of Tyler Gross' night as he suffered a left rear flat tire. With the second and third place cars out of the race, Sobbing received pressure from Bryon Weyer on the inside with two laps remaining. Sobbing would take the win by a mere 1/2 car length over Bryon Weyer. Tommy Killen Jr was third, I believe Gary Stajcar was fourth, and Jack Myer rounded out the top five. I could be wrong on the fourth place finisher as there were at least three cars that had a number 2 on the side.

The track was a bit on the rough side, as evident by the number of cars that failed to finish each race. I was somewhat happy to hear that tonight's surface was the worst it has been all year, although the drivers tonight I'm sure did not care to hear. Hopefully track personnel will get it ironed back in after all the rain recently and get it smooth for Friday night's mid-season championship night. One other thing I was disappointed in was the fact that the normal track announcer didn't have lineups for the mid-season championship features for the hobby stocks and sportmods. Was frustrating not knowing the driver names or even the car numbers before the races started.

The USMTS series moves north to the Mineral City Speedway in Fort Dodge on Tuesday night. Bmods and stock cars will also be in action on the fast half-mile track as hot laps will get underway at 6:45 with racing to follow. Kenny Wallace will again be on hand at this event after posting a ninth place finish in Des Moines tonight.

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

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