After Mother Nature forced officials from the United States Modified Touring Series to postpone the event at the Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa until Monday night (Sept 20), it appeared as though she may play a factor once again last night. However, track officials worked hard to get the track in racing condition to set up the first of five scheduled nights for the USMTS road warriors.
Plenty of rain over the course of the previous week provided for a choppy track, which was evident by the way the cars were bouncing through the corners. A few unlucky drivers ended their night on the back end of a tow truck after being in a wreck or rollover. Fortunately all drivers were okay.
Twenty-five USRA bmods were first to tame the monster half-mile oval. Outside front row starter Bill Gibson got the jump to hold down the top spot in the early running. Pole sitter Cayden Carter and row two starter Jason McDaniel engaged in a duel for the runner up position on lap three with Carter getting the advantage. Andrew Schroeder slowed down the front stretch on lap four to bring out the first caution flag, and when racing resumed Carter wasted no time in powering his machine to the top side and motoring by Gibson for the lead. With Carter securely out front, Gibson and McDaniel battled it out for the second spot late in the race. Gibson would snag the second finishing position ahead of McDaniel with Tony Johnson and AJ Johnson, but it was Cayden Carter picking up his eighteenth win of the season according to track announcer Tony Paris.
A field of eighteen USRA hobby stocks would be the next feature to take to the track. Outside front row starter Nathan Wood jumped out to the early lead in the #55 car owned by TJ Henderson. Dustin Griffiths ducked to the inside of Dale Porter for the runner up position before the top five spread themselves out in single file formation. Todd Reitzler and Kris Walker both worked their way by Porter to each advance a spot before Reitzler came to a stop in turn four with a flat tire with four laps remaining. On the restart, Dan Hovden made a great move to the inside to pass two cars to take over the runner up spot and set his sights on race leader Nathan Wood. The gap between first and second began to shrink as the laps clicked away, but Wood was able to hold off Hovden to take the win. Dan Hovden would finish a close second, Kris Walker was third, Bobby Greene fourth, and Todd Reitzler rebounded nicely for a fifth place finish.
Nineteen stock cars graced the pit area, but two drivers were unable to make the call for the Dart Iron Man Challenge feature event. Pole sitter Todd Inman would lead the first circuit, but Jason Minnehan would rocket off turn two and swing to the inside of Inman for the lead on lap two. Brad Pinkerton, piloting Nathan Wood's IMCA-rules stock car, quickly advanced into the third spot by lap three. Inman would regain the lead from Minnehan while Nathan Wood climbed to fourth. The two "Team Wood" cars would both dive to the inside of Minnehan and pick up a spot. Pinkerton would later peak to the inside of Inman for the lead prior to the red flag coming out when Shane Weller came to a stop in turn one. Chad Walter couldn't change his line fast enough and made heavy contact with Weller's machine, ripping the rear end out of Walter's car and sending him for a ride. Weller and Walter were both alright.
Following the restart Mike VanGenderen, Minnehan, and Inman raced three-wide coming out of turn four before contact was made a lap later. VanGenderen caught a rut wrong, causing his machine to push up and hit Minnehan's hotrod. Minnehan then collected Nathan Wood with Wood coming to a stop. The contact would end Minnehan's strong run while Wood tagged the tail of the field, along with VanGenderen who was penalized for questionable driving. VanGenderen and Wood both weaved their way back up through the field in fine fashion. Brad Pinkerton would take home the checkers with Nathan Wood in second, Mike VanGenderen in third, Mark Elliott fourth, and Greg Elliott fifth. The press release for the Dart Ironman Challenge series showed that Nathan Wood overtook VanGenderen for the point lead heading in to the final race of the series at the Highway 3 Raceway in Allison Tuesday night. Unfortunately Mother Nature had other ideas as that event was cancelled earlier today. So one could assume that Wood will be crowned the series champion.
It was then time for the heart-pounding cars of the USMTS to make their way to the track. Outside front row starter Colt Mather was seemingly shot out of a cannon as he took control from the drop of the green flag. Mike Spaulding was running second with sixth starter Ryan Gustin in third at the completion of the first lap. On the next lap Spaulding suddenly slowed in turn four, leaving Brad Pinkerton no place to go as the two tangled. Tim Donlinger would also get caught up in the mishap along with Ryan Schaffer suffering the worst luck as he would end up on his top after wheel-hopping a slower car ahead of him. During the extensive cleanup, officials decided to cut the distance down to twenty laps rather then the original thirty due to the dangerous track conditions.
When the green flag was displayed again, Ryan Gustin rocketed to the lead on the inside of Mather in turn two. Mather fought right back on the outside and regained the catbird seat on the next circuit. Mather opened up a ten-carlength advantage at one point before Gustin began to reel him back in as the laps clicked away. Gustin would use the slingshot move in turns three and four to once again take the top spot, but this time he would not relinquish it. Mather continued to run the cushion, but points leader Jason Hughes marched to the inside and made the pass for the second position. Rodney Sanders and Jon Tesch waged a good battle for the fourth spot before Tesch pulled off the backstretch and ended his night early. Gustin would go on to take the impressive win and shave a few points off Jason Hughes' points lead. Hughes would finish second, Colt Mather third, Rodney Sanders finished fourth, and Tommy Myer rounded out the top five.
The USMTS series was supposed to make their way to the Highway 3 Raceway Tuesday night, but inclement weather forced officials to cancel that show. So instead they will head north to the Deer Creek Speedway near Spring Valley, Minnesota Wednesday for a practice night before opening up the Fall Jamboree on Thursday. The Fall Jamboree marks the final weekend to determine this year's USMTS National Championship. For more information, check out www.usmts.com or www.deercreekspeedway.com.
- Racing may be a hobby, but it's DEFINITELY addictive!!