Monday, May 24, 2010

Opheim Collects First Win of Season at I-35

A muggy night was in store for the fans at the I-35 Speedway Sunday night as temperatures were on the climb. One could say we were fortunate that there was cloud cover most of the evening as to not make it worse then it seemed.

The action moved along at a quick pace throughout the night, bring the junior hornet feature to the track. Colton Kessler would take the lead and appear to be on his way to victory, but Taylor Frerichs made severe contact with his machine and spun him around. A few other front running cars made contact with Kessler's machine, handing the reigns over to Harold Stinnett. In the "pro" hornet feature it looked as though Amanda Kaltved would repeat her win from last week, but Kelly Miller had other ideas as he made the last lap pass to steal the win.

Jeremy Solberg sped to the early lead in the IMCA hobby stock feature, but a quick caution kept the competition glued to his rear bumper. Chad Gentz, who lined up third on the restart, made his move to the inside of Jake Jacobs to slide into the second position. A late caution set up a two-lap shootout, and what a finish it would turn out to be. Chad Gentz tried everything he could earlier in the race, but he saved the best move for last as he slingshotted off turn four and ducked to the inside of Solberg exiting the corner. Gentz had enough momentum to carry him to victory lane while Solberg was left with a disappointing second place. Jake Jacobs picked up third. Daniel Porter crossed the line in fourth, but was later disqualified in post-race tech. That bumped up Cody Knecht and Heath Tulp to round out the top five.

Alex Zwanziger paced the IMCA sportmod feature as the field of sixteen other drivers followed. Zwanziger opened up his lead to roughly ten carlengths in the middle stages of the race as Adam Ackerman began working through traffic. Ackerman picked them off one at a time with the exception of one lap in which he passed three cars to take over the third position. Ackerman then changed lines to get by Kyle Germundson on the outside while Zwanziger stayed out front. Zwanziger's worst nightmare came true when the caution waved with two laps left. Ackerman dove to the inside in turn one following the green flag and would power his way to the lead down the backstretch before continuing on to the win. Zwanziger settled for second, George Nordman was third, Nick West fourth, and Matt Looft was fifth.

The disappointing part of the night was the lack of IMCA stock cars on hand Sunday night. Only seven cars were present and only five made the call for the feature as Larry Portis suffered transmission issues and Travis Shipman broke a motor in the heat. Pole-sitter Merlyn Hegland assumed command from the start, but that didn't last long as Kevin Opheim shot to the inside to take the lead away. The field remained the same until the last lap when Joe Willier snuck under Derek Green for third. Opheim would pick up his first win of the year at Mason City followed by Merly Hegland, Joe Willier, Derek Green, and Chris Adams.

Sixteen IMCA modifieds were then set to close out the night. After graduating from Mason City High School earlier in the day, Levi Nielsen rocketed to the lead from the pole. Nielsen would never been challenged as he opened up a straight away advantage on second place runner Alex Yohn. Yohn had to fend off the challenges of JJ Wise for several laps, but maintained the position at the finish. Todd Stinehart and Rob Rose completed the top five.

I'm not sure if it was the lack of cars or the lack of caution flags waved Sunday night, but the races were completed by 8:20 or so. In fact, the sun was still setting off in the horizon.

Next week is a big weekend for the I-35 Speedway in Mason City. Sunday night is the Skip Rose Memorial Race, with added payouts for all classes. Then Memorial Day Monday the JR Motorsports Hawkeye Dirt Tour for IMCA modifieds roll into town for the second event of their series. The initial event saw 58 modifieds on hand at the Independence Motor Speedway, so officials are looking forward to seeing a stellar group of cars. For more information, check out or

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

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