Saturday, September 4, 2010

Marshalltown Crowns Season Champions

Friday night marked the end of the regular season at the Marshalltown Speedway. As track announcer Blake Anderson mentioned, it seemed like only yesterday that the season opener took place. The summer came and went by way too fast for us diehard race fans, but now the fall specials are ready to take center stage. But before we get to those, promoter Toby Kruse and his staff needed to crown track champions for the 2010 season.

With it being Larry Wollam Season Championship night, only features were run. Five laps were added to each feature event. First to hit the track for driver introductions and the race would be the mod-lites/dwarf cars. Points leader Tim Hennigar took advantage of starting on the pole and grabbed the early lead. Josh May battled Mike Morrill for the runner up position beginning on lap three. That allowed Hennigar to open up his lead further before Morrill secured the second spot. Morrill would lose the handle of his machine in turn two on lap six, giving up the position to May. The race would go green to checkered as Tim Hennigar picked up the win and also notch the season championship under his belt. Josh May finished second, Mike Morrill was third, Dusty Masolini fourth, and Joel Huggins rounded out the top five.

The IMCA hobby stocks graced the track next for their event. Michael Murphy shot to the lead at the start as the top side was the preferred line. Pole sitter Devin Smith stayed on Murphy's rear bumper until a lapped car slowed Murphy down a bit. Smith swung to the inside and made the pass for the lead on lap five. Murphy would nearly spin out in turn four a couple laps later as he lost a lot of ground without losing a position. Murphy tried to reel Devin Smith back in, but Smith was too tough on this night as he picked up yet another win. Michael Murphy finished second, Eric Larson was third, Calvin Dhondt was fourth, and Josh Saunders rounded out the top five. Smith would grab the track championship as well.

A full field of IMCA sportmods hit the track next. Outside front row starter Eric Flander nipped pole sitter and points leader Scott Davis at the line to lead lap one. Two laps later Davis utilized the inside to make the pass for the lead. Flander lost control of his machine as he faded back to eighth, allowing Cayden Carter to pull up to Davis' rear bumper. Carter momentarily took the lead away from Davis on lap five, but the caution flag waved and negated the pass. When racing resumed Carter again powered his machine to the outside of Davis and made the pass stick this time as he grabbed the lead. From that point on Carter would seemingly put more distance between him and the rest of the field as he picked up the impressive victory. Scott Davis would take home second, Jake Strayer was third, Geoff Olson finished fourth, and Gaitlin Leytham rounded out the top five. Davis claimed the track championship.

Nineteen IMCA stock cars appeared over the turn four hill for their final race of the regular season. During driver introductions former track announcer Denny Grabenbauer made a return appearance to help celebrate the retirement of Rick Brown. Grabenbauer was the announcer during Brown's first race, and he wanted to make sure he announced his final race.

Trent Murphy took the lead from his outside front row starting spot, but the man people were watching was Damon Murty. After starting fourteenth, Murty quickly advanced to the fifth spot in just two laps. He then worked under Jeff Wollam for fourth before the caution waved on lap four. Three laps later third-place runner Steve Meyer slowed down the backstretch and exited the track. Murphy, Dustin Smith, and Murty broke away from the pack and Murty made his way by Smith for the runner up spot. Murty made the pass on Murphy for the lead, but pushed the envelope a bit too far as he jumped the cushion in turn one and went over the banking to bring out the caution. Murty would restart in fourteenth and again make a charge towards the front. He made his way back inside the top five before spinning in turn one to end his night. Back up front Dustin Smith tried everything he could to get by Trent Murphy, but it was not to be on this night as Murphy picked up the win. Dustin Smith settled for second, Jeff Wollam was third, Jay Schmidt fourth after starting seventeenth, and Andy Bryant completed the top five. Dustin Smith would be crowned track champion.

The final event of the night would be the IMCA modified feature. Again the outside front row would be the place to be as Jon Snyder rocketed to the lead. Two cautions slowed the pace in the early going, but Richie Gustin was on the prowl as he found a groove that worked. Gustin started sixth, but made a move on brother Jimmy and Luke Wanninger that propelled him to the runner up position. A lap later Wanninger spun and brought out the caution. With Gustin lined up right behind Snyder on a single-file restart, I thought Gustin would make the inside work for him again and make the pass. That was not the case, however, as Snyder continued to make the cushion work to his advantage. Adam Larson was another driver make some noise as he began marching to the front. He passed Mike O'Lear and Jimmy Gustin to advance to the third spot before losing the engine with just two laps remaining. Jon Snyder would take the win ahead of Richie Gustin, Jimmy Gustin, Brett Ladehoff, and Rod Clement. It was Snyder's third win in two weeks at Marshalltown as he picked up the feature and gambler event last week. Jimmy Gustin took home his fourth consecutive track championship at Marshalltown.

As mentioned, Friday night marked the end of Rick Brown's racing career. For twenty-two years Brown raced at Marshalltown on Friday nights. Denny Grabenbauer mentioned that Brown, a Ford racer, started out driving a Chevy the first couple of seasons before making the switch to Ford. From that point on Brown racked up over 100 IMCA stock car feature wins. Perhaps just as impressive as the win total is the amount of respect other drivers have/had for him. I've known Rick for awhile now, and he's always taken the time to talk to me after the races. The Marshalltown Speedway, and racing in general, has lost a genuine good guy. Although he won't be racing, he still plans to be at the track as a fan. Happy retirement Rick!!

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

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