Sunday, August 28, 2011

Badker, Opheim, Chodur, and Schroeder Visit I-35 Victory Lane

Sunday night I made the trip back up to the I-35 Speedway in Mason City. Ironically, this would be the second trip to "an" I-35 Speedway in four days as I had visited the Winston, Missouri track back on Thursday. Anyway, this Mason City trip was the first time back since mid-June. I had decided not to venture back up lately as it seemed the racing was always on the bottom with little passing. Tonight, however, Joe Ringsdorf made me put my foot in my mouth for the most part as he had the track in great shape.

Lisa Cole would get the early lead in the novice hornet division and hold on to pick up the win. Kelly Miller tried to duplicate Cole's efforts and appeared to do so, but was apparently disqualified in post-race tech after he had been leaking fuel throughout the race. That handed the win over to Blake Cole.

There was a lot of buzz in store for the IMCA hobby stock feature after an altercation at the Hancock County Speedway in Britt on Thursday. Apparently Stac Schroeder and Heath Tulp had a little incident that flaired some tempers and people were ready for it to boil over into Sunday night's feature event. It would be outside front row starter Cory Gansen taking the early lead while Andy Borchardt and Scott Dobel raced side by side for the runner up position. The caution came out on lap two, and after restarting fourth Stac Schroeder quickly passed both Dobel and Borchardt to snare the second spot away. Following another yellow flag on lap four, Schroeder used the high line to motor by Gansen for the lead. Dobel would spin his machine in turn three and collect Borchardt and Chris Wiltsie to bring out the third caution of the race. Heath Tulp took advantage of the restart as he powered by Gansen on the top side to secure the second spot. Another yellow with two to go kept the pack together, but Stac Schroeder was able to fend off the pack to pick up the win. Heath Tulp finished second, Cory Gansen was third, Bernie Adams fourth, and Scott Dobel rounded out the top five. No drama ever took place between Tulp and Schroeder other then perhaps a few head games during the parade laps.

Next up would be the IMCA sportmod feature. A solid field of nineteen had checked in with one unable to start the feature. Travis Greenfield took command from the drop of the green flag while pole sitter John Warrington followed in second. Warrington's time in second was short-lived as Nate Whitehurst used the inside groove to slip past. Perennial contenders Nate Chodur and Adam Ackerman were on the charge from mid-pack as they moved into the fourth and fifth positions, respectively, by lap three. Chodur found the cushion to be the fast way around for his machine as he passed Dan Tenold and Warrington to take over the third spot. Ackerman would follow Chodur's marks and snag the fourth position as the crossed flags were displayed for the midpoint of the race. The caution flag waved for the only time shortly afterwards, and on the restart Chodur powered his way by Whitehurst for second before taking the top spot away from Greenfield. Ackerman would keep pace with Chodur as he maneuvered his machine around the top side of Greenfield and began to close in on Chodur. Nate Chodur would fend off Ackerman for the win as the two finished one-two ahead of Travis Greenfield, Nate Whitehurst, and Alex Zwanziger.

Next to hit the track was the IMCA stock cars. Although only twelve cars were on hand, this was probably the most exciting race of the night. Kevin Opheim took command in the early going while Travis Shipman and Ryan Goergen raced side by side for second. With those two battling it out John Campbell and Larry Portis were locked in a battle for fourth with Portis using the high line to take the spot. Shipman eventually secured the second spot ahead of Goergen using the low groove while Portis later used the high line to get by him for third. Portis maintained his momentum in passing Shipman for second and slowly began to close the gap to Opheim. After the field took the white flag it was replaced with the yellow flag as Merlyn Hegland came to a stop on the backstretch to set up a green-white-checkered finish. That was exactly what Portis didn't need, as he bobbled on the restart and fell back to fourth. Shipman and Derek Green made their way by the veteran from Nora Springs before Portis regained traction and passed Green back for third. In the end it was Kevin Opheim taking home the win ahead of Travis Shipman, Larry Portis, Derek Green, and John Campbell.

After seeing both grooves being used in the previous features, I was excited to see what the IMCA modifieds could display with their talents. Curt Badker grabbed the lead after starting on the pole with Parker Brumm maintaining his starting position of second. Once the race clicked off a few laps, everybody began to run the top side and get a little strung out. Badker opened up a good lead ahead of Brumm, who had a ten car-length advantage over the battle for third among Keith Schmitz, Roger Nielsen, and JJ Wise. The laps clicked away and the white flag was displayed, but Levi Nielsen spun in turn four to bring out the caution and force another green-white-checkered restart. Schmitz took advantage of the restart as he powered by Brumm on the top side for second. Brumm would fall back through the ranks. Schmitz would try his hand on the bottom side but couldn't make his attempts stick as Curt Badker picked up the win. Keith Schmitz was second, Roger Nielsen was third, Alex Hanson fourth, and Parker Brumm finished fifth.

I walked out of the grandstands pleased that I had made the trip. Not only was it good to see and chat with racing friends I hadn't seen in awhile, but the racing was better then I had remembered. It should also be noted that it was announced that Joe Ringsdorf will promote the Hancock County Speedway in Britt on Friday nights next year along with Algona on Saturdays and Mason City on Sundays. He will not be back in Fairmont, thus the move for Britt to Friday.

I'd like to thank track announcer Jerry VanSickel for the nice Positivelyracing plug tonight. I haven't been to many tracks lately in which Jerry announces, but the man knows his racing and offers up some good jokes along the way.

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

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