The IMCA modifieds were the focal point of racing action at the Lee County Speedway Saturday night as the first annual Modified Smackdown was on the slate. A good field of thirty-seven modifieds were on hand for the lofty payday while support class numbers were solid despite it not being a points race.
Upon arrival I met up with Positivelyracing.com's Jeff Broeg. Jeff welcomed me as we did a little catching up before I walked through the pit area. While walking the pits I noticed a few guys that I hadn't expected to see, some of which included Sean Jerovetz from Wisconsin and Corey Dripps, a regular on the USMTS tour.
I made my way to the stands and sat with fellow race fan Brad Sayre. This would be Brad's first trip to the Lee County Speedway. Hopefully he enjoyed it despite the chilly temperatures.
Hobby stocks were first to grace the track with twenty-one cars set to do battle. Pole sitter Jeremy Pundt set the pace early before a quick caution waved on lap four. The green flag didn't wave for long when another car didn't come up to speed on the restart and eventually came to a rest. When racing did resume, Jake Wenig and Jim Lynch engaged in a battle for the third spot while Derek Kirkland used the high side to take over the race lead from Pundt. Another caution waved, and Dan Wenig had a superb restart as he passed two cars to snare the runner up position. Jake Wenig and Jeremy Pundt made contact with Pundt ending up nose-first into the frontstretch wall to bring out the final caution. Derek Kirland was able to keep his machine out front with the two-lap shootout to lay claim to the win. He was followed across the line by Jim Lynch, Andy Coleman, Dale Porter, and Jake Wenig.
Fifteen "Wild Things", also known as hornets or front-wheel drives, were up next. James Oliver III dominated the first half the race, opening up a sizeable lead until the caution waved. He then had to hold off challenges from John Helenthal and Jerry Ostby for the win. Ostby got by Helenthal late for the second position.
After a consilation race narrowed the field down, twenty-four IMCA sportmods took the track for their feature event. They had a rough time getting started as the first two attempts failed. In fact, the second attempt saw roughly nine cars involved in a pileup in turn three before a lap could be counted. Officials made the call for a single file start the next time as Michael Bliven held down the top spot. Phillip Cossel used the inside lane to snare the lead away on lap three while Eric Flander moved into the third spot. Flander's night would end prematurely when his machine hit an implement tire. With three laps to go, Bliven's car bobbled in turn two allowing Jim Gillenwater to slip by underneath for the second position. But the night belonged to Phillip Cossel as he collected the bigger payday for his efforts. Not only did he win the $500 advertised winner's share, but he also received a $200 bonus for running a GM Performance Crate Engine that he purchased from Shottenkirk. Gillenwater crossed the line in second, but was later disqualified in post-race tech. That bumped up Michael Bliven to second, Kurt Hogan in third, Cayden Carter to fourth, and Thad Gaylord to complete the top five.
The final event of the night would be the Discount Tire and Service IMCA modified Smackdown thirty-five lap feature. Rich Smith set the pace early on from the pole while Mark Elliott followed closely behind. Michael Long and Josh Foster swapped the third spot for several laps before Long took it for good. Following a caution, Long went to work on the top side and passed Elliott for second. Another quick yellow came out, which allowed Foster and Scott Hogan to slip under Elliott for third and fourth, respectively. Elliott would challenge Hogan, but didn't have enough as most of the cars were hugging the inside lane. Richie Gustin then cracked the top five when he snuck in under Elliott.
Up front Long used the high groove to pass Smith for the lead around the lap twenty mark. Following a caution, Long was able to pull away from Smith and claim the $2,000 top prize. Lap money was also on the line from different sponsors, so he likely went home with around $2,400. Rich Smith garnered second place, but also picked up his fair share of lap money. Josh Foster was third, Scott Hogan fourth, and Mark Elliott got back by Richie Gustin for fifth. Nate Caruth, Troy Cordes, Max Corporan, and Andy Krieger finished out the top ten.
It was an entertaining night of racing at the Lee County Speedway. The track did have a few ruts surface in the modified feature, but for the most part I think it held up rather nicely. I'd like to thank promoter Terry Hoenig and his staff, along with Jeff Broeg, for their hospitality. It's very much appreciated.
The Lee County Speedway will kick their season points schedule off next Friday night as the IMCA Late Model "Drive for Five" will also be in action. Late models have roughly ten dates on the schedule at the tricky oval in Donnellson. For more information and full results from last night, be sure to check out the track website: www.leecountyspeedway.com
- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!