Monday, September 19, 2011

Yankee / Tiny Lund Weekend

Even though my race schedule has been limited this year, I've still managed to do quite a bit of traveling throughout the course of the season. Part of that "crazy" side of me showed up this past weekend in my racing adventures!

Last Friday I headed east on Highway 20 to the Farley Speedway and night #3 of the 34th Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic. On the slate was the qualifying for the Hawkeye Dirt Tour for IMCA modifieds, the Deery Brothers IMCA late model series, and the open late models. I believe 27 modifieds, 47 Deery Brothers late models, and 28 open late models were in attendance.

The Hawkeye Dirt Tour modifieds ran three heat races with the top five I believe securing a spot for Saturday night's feature. Richie Gustin would win the first heat, Josh Foster the second heat, and Mark Schulte snared the third heat. Ryan Dolan, the series point leader, was not in attendance. I heard in the pits afterwards that his car owner had sold the car and he didn't have another one ready to go.

The Deery Brothers late models ran five heats along with two b-main events. The top two in each heat qualified while the top four in each of the two b-mains advanced to Saturday's main event. Heat winners were Andy Eckrich, Jeff Guengerich, Denny Eckrich, Tyler Bruening, and Terry Neal. B-main winners were Joel Callahan and Ray Guss Jr.

The open late models saw four heat races. I remember them running two b-mains, but unsure as to how many they took via passing points. Andy Eckrich won the first heat, heat two went to Justin Kay, Dave Eckrich won heat three, and heat four went to Denny Eckrich.

Following all the heats and b-mains, the Deery Brothers late models ran a "feature" that involved the past IMCA national champions and the past Deery Brothers series champions to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the IMCA late models. Twelve starters made the call as Jeff Aikey opted not to race it and Todd Cooney was not in attendance. Layne Meyer was there, but not racing.

Terry Neal used his outside front row starting spot to beat Mark Burgtorf to turn one and secure the early lead. Jay Johnson would settle into the third position while Terry Schlipman passed Jeremy Grady for the fourth position. Schlipman was driving Justin Reed's 1st car while Grady was behind the wheel of T.J. Criss's 12J machine. The top four would get strung out as they worked the top side of the speedway with the only car making significant moves being Ray Guss Jr. Guss Jr started last of the twelve-car starting field, but he worked his way up to sixth after passing Jeff French on lap eight of the twenty-lap sprint. Guss Jr would only advance one more position as he finished fifth, but the win would go to Terry Neal.

1. 28c Terry Neal
2. 7B Mark Burgtorf
3. 93 Jay Johnson
4. 1st Terry Schlipman
5. 58 Ray Guss Jr
6. 12J Jeremy Grady
7. 99D Darrel DeFrance
8. 1 Jeff French
9. 14 Boone McLaughlin
10. 45 Curt Martin
11. 37 Mike Smith (driving Clint Wendel's car)
12. 72 Denny Osborn (assume he was driving the 60 car of Dean Wagoner, but had different body panels on for Osborn)

It was fun catching up with Jeremy Grady after the races. Once a weekly competitor at both Des Moines and Webster City as well as a former Deery Series champion, he has been away from the sport for a few years. In fact, he told me he had only been to two races since his last stint behind the wheel. I think after this past weekend the fire still burns deep inside him and hopefully things will work out to where he can make a return to the sport!

After returning home in the wee hours in the morning Saturday, I was back up and ready again for another night of racing. This time, I opted to travel in the opposite direction and headed to the Shelby County Speedway in Harlan, Iowa. It would be the championship night of the two-day Tiny Lund Memorial. Five classes would run last chance races along with their feature events Saturday night while also having to deal with Mother Nature. A steady mist throughout the beginning of the last chance races would plague the track conditions, and officials decided to stop the action and get out the farm equipment to work in the track. The decision turned out to be a good one as the track was lightning fast the rest of the night and the skies would cooperate as well.

Feature action would get started with the IMCA hobby stocks. With Shannon Anderson starting on the outside front row, I fully expected him to run away with the feature win. However, that would not be the case. Dustin Griffiths would keep pace with Anderson in the early going before losing the second position around the halfway point to Andy Boeckman, who won one of the last chance races. Boeckman, who started fourteenth, caught Anderson but was unable to find a way around the former Supernationals and National champion. A caution came out as they entered lapped traffic, yet Boeckman still was unable to seriously challenge for the lead as Shannon Anderson took home the win. Andy Boeckman was second, Dustin Griffiths was third, Blain Peterson fourth, and fifth went to Dusty Van Horn.

Up next would be the IMCA sportmod feature event. A spin in the early going forced early contenders to the tail as Doug Smith and Dylan Book got caught up in the wreckage. After starting ninth, Jesse Sobbing worked the top side of the speedway and took the lead. From there he ran away from the competition as he won by nearly a straight away ahead of youngster Tyler Droste. Jared Hansen was third, Doug Smith rebounded to fourth, and Randy Archer completed the top five.

IMCA stock cars were next to hit the track. A lot of position swapping would go on throughout this race as drivers jockeyed for track position. Keith Knop took the lead from his outside front row start while the guys behind him engaged in battle. While most guys preferred the top side, Donavon Smith and Brian Blessington tried to work their machines on the inside line. It worked out well for Smith as he finished second behind Knop for the win. Chris Ullrich finished third, Clay Christian was fourth, and Blessington rounded out the top five.

The IMCA late models kept the pattern going in their feature event. Outside front row starter Jason Hahne jumped out to the early lead and built up nearly a straight away advantage over the competition. Todd Cooney would make his way to second and begin to chase down Hahne, but several caution flags would break his momentum as Hahne opened up some room on every restart. Hahne would go on to pick up the big payday ahead of Todd Cooney, Al Zeitner, Barry Sorensen, and Corey Zeitner.

The finale of the evening would be the IMCA modifieds as they embarked on the $5,000 to win feature. Pole sitter Luke Wanninger wasted no time in taking the lead while outside front row starter J.J. Wise struggled with the handling on his machine. Despite several caution laps, Wanninger was able to maintain a good lead while the field behind him swapped positions. Former national champion Dylan Smith from Nebraska ran the low line the entire race and made it pay off with a second place finish after starting seventeenth. Bob Zoubek finished third ahead of Wisconsin drivers Brian Mullen and Benji LaCrosse.

It was a good night of racing considering the way things started off with the persistent mist. Kudos to the track crew for their hard work as I had doubts whether they'd get it in or not.

This upcoming weekend is FULL of race specials. As of the time I'm writing this, my schedule will consist of the following:

Thursday - Deer Creek (MN) for the USMTS Fall Jamboree
Friday - Marshalltown for the Havoc on the Highbanks (Hawkeye Dirt Tour)
Saturday - Fort Dodge for the Bruce Sommerfeld Memorial
Sunday - East Moline for the IMCA Deery Brothers late model finale

I guess you could say my "crazy" traveling tour is getting started back up again. Be sure to get out and support a track near you this weekend!!

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