Sunday, November 29, 2009

Martin, Essary Top Turkey Classic

A gorgeous November fall day on Saturday allowed me the chance to return to the Springfield Raceway yesterday for the 3rd Annual Turkey Classic. I was on hand last November for the event before persistent light rain forced officials to postpone the show until March. The bright sunshine and warmer temperatures allowed both drivers and fans alike to show up in bunches at the speedy quarter mile oval. It was announced that 170 race teams were packed in the pits, and the stands were probably close to capacity.

After finding a group of friends from Iowa that also made the trip, I sat down and visited a bit while hot laps were running. Much to my surprise, the modifieds and late models ran their heat races first. Seventy-five modifieds and thirty-five late models were on hand, a number that I hadn't expected. Modifieds ran eight heat races and five b-main events to narrow the field down to twenty, while the late models held four qualifying heats and two b-mains for the same starting field. Passing points was used for both classes to determine qualifiers out of the heat races along with starting lineups for the b-mains.

The modifieds would be the first feature to hit the track. After two failed attempts to get the race going, officials opted to use a single file start. Pole-sitter Steve Martin jumped out front early. The race would be plagued by several caution periods, roughly eight by my calculations. After one of the restarts, there was two and three-wide racing going on in the middle of the pack, showing fans how well prepared the track was. After bringing out the initial yellow flag as a result of a spin, Scott Drake was proving he would still be a factor as he set sail on the top side to try to make up ground. After restarting ninth, he quickly made his way up to the third spot before another caution flag waved, putting him back in fourth. Drake would advance to the runner up spot and put pressure on Martin, but the caution flag haulted his efforts every time. Steve Martin would be able to keep his distance out front as he pocketed the win. Scott Drake was second, Rex Merritt third, Jim Body fourth, and Paul Reeder I believe rounded out the top five.

1. 21M Steve Martin
2. 12D Scott Drake
3. 25 Rex Merritt
4. 71 Jim Body
5. 97 Paul Reeder
6. 09 Casey McClaskey (sp?)

The late models were up next for their feature event. Ken Essary and Johnny Fennwald paced the field to the green flag with Fennwald getting the edge on lap one. Essary and Justin Wells quickly challenged Fennwald's lead and made it three-wide down the front stretch before both were able to split Fennwald's machine going into turn one. Essary would get the advantage off the corner before he and Wells distanced themselves from the field. Wells would make his move on the outside as Essary got caught behind lapped traffic, giving him the lead. However, that pass would not stick as the caution flag came out before the lap could get completed, handing the lead back over to Essary. Four more caution flags would appear before the end of the race, which helped Brad Looney advance towards the front of the field. Looney used the low line to drive by Fennwald's machine to take over the third spot. A little further back, Chuck Comer was working the top groove as he climbed to sixth after starting fifteenth. Unfortunately as soon as I noticed that, he slowed entering turn three and pulled off the track. Up front Ken Essary maintained his lead as he went on to take the checkered flag ahead of Justin Wells, Brad Looney, Johnny Fennewald, and Matt Johnson.

1. 55 Ken Essary
2. 98 Justin Wells
3. 23 Brad Looney
4. 91 Johnny Fennewald
5. 5J Matt Johnson
6. 77A Justin Asplin
7. 97M Joey Mack (started 18th)

I would like to give the Springfield Raceway a big shout out. The track was in great shape all afternoon and evening and provided a lot of great racing. However, I would also like to give them one piece of constructive criticism. From a fan's perspective, it would be much appreciated if you had more then one official with a headset when trying to realign cars following a caution. I felt sorry for the guy on the front stretch having to do all the work pretty much by himself.

Due to the lengthy time of realigning cars and all the caution flags, I opted not to stick around for the bmods and legends as I had a 6 1/2 hour trip back home. For those of you who believe I am "crazy", I can had reinforcement to your belief as I pulled into my driveway around 3:15AM after leaving the track around 8:00pm.

The Springfield Raceway also made the announcement that they will be running E-mods next year. No rules were mentioned, but be sure to check out their track website throughout the winter months on this new class. Also mentioned was a pure stock/enduro shootout event scheduled for Memorial Day. The winner will receive a lofty paycheck of $2,000 as told by the announcer. As mentioned before, check out the track website at

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

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