Sunday night marked the annual Skip Rose Memorial at the I-35 Speedway. All classes saw increased purses, and that would increase the car count in every class as 131 cars packed the pits in front of a full grandstand. Mother Nature provided persistent sprinkles throughout the night and at one point a light shower passed through to provide a little delay, but that moisture from above provided the drivers and fans with one heck of a race track the rest of the night.
Feature action got started with the junior hornets as twelve cars made the call. It would be Colton Kessler taking the win just ahead of Lisa Cole. In the professional class Blake Cole held down the top spot early on but was unable to hold off Gary Stahl late in the race. Stahl took over the lead with two to go and never looked back.
A healthy field of twenty-three IMCA hobby stocks were next onto the track. It would be outside front row starter Daniel Porter getting the jump and securing the lead, but his luck soon turned as his car spun in front of the field in turn four. He was able to get it out of harms' way and continue on, but that handed the lead over to Jake Jacobs. Just passed the halfway point the battle for the lead heated up as Chad Gentz, Jacobs, and Stac Schroeder raced door to door and three-wide at the starter's stand. Gentz would get the nod with Schroeder right behind while Mick Meyers ducked under Jacobs for third with two laps remaining. Schroeder tried everything in his power to get by Gentz, but it was Chad Gentz picking up the win. Schroeder was second, Meyers third, Jacobs fourth, and Heath Tulp rounded out the top five.
Nate Whitehurst used his pole starting spot to grab the reigns in front of a twenty-three car starting field of IMCA sportmods. Parker Brumm pulled to the inside of Whitehurst to make the pass for the lead, but a caution came out and he was put back in second. On the restart Brumm again used the same inside groove to get by Whitehurst in turn two to snag the lead. Mike Jaeger and Dan Tenold worked under Whitehurst to climb up to second and third before another caution waved. Adam Ackerman and Nate Chodur were working their way forward at the halfway point as Ackerman was fourth and Chodur fifth. Both drivers began to use the outside line in turns one and two and made up a lot of ground. Chodur got by Ackerman and Mike Jaeger to take the runner up spot with two laps remaining before passing Parker Brumm for the lead coming to the white flag. Chodur would go on to take the win ahead of Adam Ackerman, Parker Brumm, Mike Jaeger, and Dan Tenold.
An awesome field of twenty-two IMCA stock cars were on hand last night. Front row starters Brad Broers and Merlyn Hegland remained side by side at the completion of lap one until Hegland inched forward for the lead. Larry Portis dove to the inside of Broers to snare the second spot while Kevin Opheim followed along to third. Opheim and Portis then seesawed back and forth for the runner up position while further back in the pack Dustin Smith was making a little bit of noise. Smith, who started eleventh, had climbed his way to sixth before a caution bunched up the field. The restart provided the fans with a lot of excitement as Opheim, Hegland, and Portis were three-wide at the line before Opheim grabbed the lead exiting turn two.
Portis would get the momentum off the outside groove to reclaim the lead on the next lap while Joe Willier, Chris Adams, and Brad Broers were three-wide for the third spot. A caution calmed things down for a bit, but the action up front between Opheim and Portis continued. Opheim was faster in turns one and two on the inside, but Portis would battle back and get the advantage exiting turn four on the outside. Several cautions plagued the finish of the race, setting up multiple green-white-checkered restarts. Opheim grabbed the lead exiting turn two and took Portis' line away going into turn three on the final lap, but Portis got a great run on him and pulled to his inside and let the car drift up. Contact was made, sending Opheim into the marbles and allowing Portis to take home the win. Dustin Smith would finish second, Chris Adams third, Kevin Opheim fourth, and Mike VanGenderen rounded out the top five after starting fourteenth.
Thirty-four IMCA modifieds were checked in for action last night as drivers came to test out the track for the Hawkeye Dirt Tour on Monday. The field was narrowed down to twenty-five starters, and local rookie Dustin Brown raced to the lead from the outside front row. A red flag was thrown when Jake Durbin made heavy contact with an implement tire on the infield, thrusting his machine into the air and landing on his roof. Durbin was not injured, thankfully. When racing resumed, Shane Monson snuck to the inside of Brown to snare the lead away. Brown began to fade as Mark Noble, Alex Yohn, and Jeremy Mills filled into the second, third, and fourth spots, respectively.
Noble would use the inside groove and then slide up in front of Monson to take over the lead before a lap four caution for Jeremy Mills. The double file restart helped Jay Noteboom go from fifth to third using the outside line as he passed Alex Yohn. Josh Foster, the inaugural winner of the Hawkeye Dirt Tour, had to come from a b-main and started sixteenth. He found his way up to sixth at the halfway point before falling a couple spots at the end. With less then five laps remaining, Monson drifted a little too high and allowed Noteboom to get by for second. Noteboom tried to close the gap, but was unable to do so as Mark Noble took home the $1,000 paycheck. Noteboom was second, Shane Monson third, Rob Rose fourth, and J.J. Wise rounded out the top five.
As I mentioned in the opening paragraph, the track was in great condition last night. Perhaps the extra moisture from above helped during the modified heat races. In any case, the feature races were definitely the best I've seen all year! I can't wait to check out the Hawkeye Dirt Tour event tonight at the I-35 Speedway!!
- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!