Monday, June 15, 2009

Portis and Schroeder Double Up at I-35 Speedway

Sunday night's racing action at the I-35 Speedway in Mason City was double the fun for fans as double features would be run on account of Mother Nature not cooperating last week. To be more precise, double features and two extra heat races would be in store for those in attendance tonight.

After the two modified heat races were run, the makeup features hit the track soon thereafter. Blake Cole grabbed the early command in the junior hornets and drove away for the easy win in the first feature while Jesse Harang did the same in the hornet feature.

The lead changed hands on the first two laps of the hobby stock feature until Stac Schroeder took over the top spot on lap four. Schroeder used the inside line to get by Scott Dobel and would never seriously be challenged. Behind him Cory Gansen and Chad Gentz went to work on Dobel as both drivers were able to slip by on the inside with two laps to go. Stac Schroeder took home the win followed by Cory Gansen, Chad Gentz, Scott Doble, and Heath Tulp.

Mike Jaeger used his pole start to grab the lead in the early going of the 360 (bmod) makeup feature, but he would soon receive heavy pressure from Adam Ackerman. Ackerman started outside row four, but quickly used the high side to his advantage as he found himself up to second at the completion of the first lap. The top two cars separated themselves from the pack while Bob Sutherland went to work on Matt Hoeft back in fourth. Sutherland would take the spot just before a caution, and the top three pulled away on the restart. Ackerman's car slid up the track, opening the door for Sutherland to scoot by under him. Sutherland was not satisfied with second as he quickly grabbed the top spot away from Jaeger on the next set of corners with three lap remaining. Ackerman hit his marks and got by Jaeger before the checkers waved, but Sutherland beat the field to the apparent win. Unfortunately, Sutherland's car did not make weight during post-race activities, which handed the win over to Adam Ackerman. Mike Jaeger, Matt Hoeft, Nate Chodur, and Dan Tenold rounded out the top five.

Fifteen IMCA stock cars answered the bell for their makeup feature event in which Larry Portis grabbed the lead from the pole. Bert McDaniel followed him through to settle in for second. After an early caution, Travis Hoeft made a great move to the inside to get by two cars to advance his way up to third. Points leader Kevin Opheim worked his way to the inside of Jared Dirks for fifth on lap nine as the caution flag waved. The field stayed single file from that point on as Larry Portis took home the win. Bert McDaniel finished second, Travis Hoeft, third, Kevin Opheim fourth, and Jared Dirks rounded out the top five.

Terrance Prochaska raced to the early lead in the IMCA modified makeup feature, but Rich Lewerke stayed hot on his heals throughout the early laps. Jeremy Mills went in a little too hard in turn three that resulted in his right front tire getting into the left rear tire and rear quarter panel of Ty Mennenga's machine. Mills car was unable to get going to bring out the caution. A few laps later, both Todd Stinhart and Ryan Ruter got by Mennenga to move up a spot before both also made a pass on Alex Yohn after his machine pushed up the track. Lewerke got to the inside of Prochaska at the halfway point of the race, but Prochaska motored back to the lead as Ruter settled in to third place several car lengths back.

With a mere four laps to go, race leader Prochaska had his motor let go just as he got to the flagstand to bring out the caution. Lewerke inherited the lead, but Ryan Ruter jumped to the outside on the ensuing restart to get alongside of Lewerke. Ruter's car made contact with the outside retaining wall, but that didn't slow down the hotshoe. The contact with the wall caused his rear decklid to pop off in turn one to bring out the caution, slowing Ruter's attempt at the pass. That was all Rich Lewerke needed as he went on to take the win. Ryan Ruter crossed the line in second, but failed to make the weight requirement and thus disqualified. Todd Stinehart would get credited for a second place finish, Jeremy Mills third, Alex Yohn fourth, and J.J. Wise in fifth.

A lot of excitement already taking place, things were just getting started as heat races for the regular show were run immediately following the modified makeup feature. The junior hornet feature came out with twelve cars that saw Blake Cole take home his second win of the night. Mike Blowers set sail and was never challenged in the hornet race.

A solid group of twenty hobby stocks took the green flag for their ten lap nightcap. Travis Johnson took control early on with Terry Litwiler on his rear bumper, but that didn't last long as Stac Schroeder dove to the inside to make the pass coming out of turn two on the third lap. Johnson's car would get sideways in turn four that bunched up a few cars behind him in a chain reaction. Schroeder would pull away from the field as the battle for second heated up among Johnson, Litwiler, and Chad Gentz. Gentz was able to get by both cars to nail down the second spot as Litwiler and Robert Black got by Johnson as well. But nobody could stop Stac Schroeder tonight as he bagged his second feature win on the night. Chad Gentz finished second, Terry Litwiler was third, Robert Black fourth, and Cory Gansen completed the top five.

Thirty-some 360's (bmods) checked in for the normal show, but the feature field started with twenty-four. Shane Swanson jumped to the early lead before a caution quickly slowed the field down after the first lap was in the books. Another couple of yellows allowed Matt Hoeft to challenge Swanson on a restart and edge him out at the line before yet another caution flag waved. Hoeft took over the top spot and looked to put some distance between him and Swanson, but a four-car pileup closed the gap. Adam Ackerman swung his car to the outside groove to make two passes to advance to the third spot, but it wasn't enough to catch Matt Hoeft. Hoeft took home the win followed by Shane Swanson, Adam Ackerman, Nick West, and Dan Tenold.

IMCA stock cars hit the track next as Larry Portis again led the field at the drop of the green flag. Three cars battled side by side for the third spot as Kevin Opheim jumped to the inside of Joe Willier and Bert McDaniel. Opheim would take that spot while Willier and McDaniel battled it out for fourth for several laps. With five laps remaining, Mike Jergens and Kevin Opheim both made their way by Portis. Opheim got into the back of Jergens in turn two a lap later, causing both cars to spin out and bring out the yellow. Jergens went to the pits while Opheim tagged the tail of the field. This handed the reigns back over to Portis, and Portis would cash in as he took home his second win of the night. Portis has now won three features in a row in Mason City. Joe Willier finished second, Bert McDaniel third, Ken Tietz finished fourth after starting eleventh, and Travis Hoeft rounded out the top five.

The final race of the night was the IMCA modifieds. Twenty-three cars took the green flag and Levi Nielsen set the pace early on. Rich Lewerke slid his car from the bottom groove to the outside groove coming out of turn four. He pushed his luck a little too far as he tagged the wall hard, sending his car back down and collected Alex Yohn, Jeremy Mills, and Troy Swearingen. All cars finished the night in the pits. When racing resumed, Al Hejna took his Harris modified to the top side of the speedway and found a lot of grip as picked off cars one by one to take over the third spot. Nate Caruth used the same line to make his way to the front as he found himelf up to fifth after starting sixteenth. A caution bunched the field back up, allowing Hejna to use the high line again to snag the top spot away a few laps later. Caruth took advantage of a bobble by Nielsen to grab the second spot away.

Shane Monson started picking off cars each lap as he made his way up to third. A caution came out with three laps to go, and Monson would get under Caruth coming out of turn four to take over second. Caruth's luck ran out as his car spun to the inside of turn four to end his night as Monson tried one last attempt to get by Hejna coming to the checkers. Al Hejna used the momentum off the high side to take home the narrow victory. Shane Monson finished a close second, T.J. Stalker was third, Jesse Hoeft fourth, and J.J. Wise rounded out the top five.

Tonight's show was pretty good considering all the races that had to be run. The track surface stayed racy all night providing drivers with a couple different lines to choose from. Hopefully the track will be in the same condition next week as hot laps will get underway at 6pm with racing to follow.

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

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