Saturday, September 8, 2012

IMCA Supernationals Friday Notebook

Friday night marked the fifth night for the IMCA Supernationals held at the Boone Speedway.  Anticipation was building all night for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational race for the IMCA modifieds in which thirty drivers would take the green flag.  In order to qualify for this prestigious event drivers had to rely upon their fans to vote via the internet. 

That event would be the first "feature" event of the evening.  The starting field was determined by a random draw by JJ Wise.  Wise, a driver who was voted in by the fans, was unable to participate in this year's event after a horrific accident at the track in Mason City.  Not only did he help with the draw, but he threw the ceremonial green flag to start the event.

The three-wide, ten rows deep field was led to the green flag by Colorado driver Jeremy Frenier.  However, it was defending national champion Jordan Grabouski getting the early advantage from the middle row to set the pace.  Todd Dart worked his way to the inside of Nic Baalman for the third spot prior to the caution waving on lap two.  On the ensuing restart Dart charged on the outside to snare the runner-up position away from Frenier just before yet another caution came out.  During this caution it was noticed that Mark Elliott, who had started 30th on the grid, had already managed his way up to the twelfth spot!

The green flag waved again and Dustin Smith swung his machine to the outside to pass Jeremy Mills for the fourth position.  Mills was driving Randy Artz's machine after Mills went for a wild ride in his heat race earlier in the night.  Meanwhile Mark Elliott continued his charge to the front as he picked off Brad Pounds for sixth.  The top four cars broke away from the pack with Frenier getting back by Dart for second and began to challenge Grabouski for the lead.  Frenier would peak to the inside in turn four on several occasions but was unable to muster enough momentum to complete the pass. 

The third caution of the race came at the halfway point on lap fifteen for Chris Abelson.  During this caution flag Frenier dropped a lot of fluid on the front stretch and ended his night.  So the top five on the restart would be Grabouski, Dart, Smith, Mills, and Elliott.  Smith and Elliott took advantage of starting on the outside of the two-wide restart to advance a position.  Elliott would then slip under Smith and wrestle the second spot away with ten laps remaining as he set his sights on the leader.  Grabouski and Elliott would separate themselves and Elliott began to show his nose under Grabouski's driver's side door corner after corner.  Grabouski would not be intimidated, however, as he went on to pick up the victory.  Mark Elliott finished second, Dustin Smith was third, Todd Dart finished fourth, and Jeremy Mills rounded out the top five.

IMCA stock cars hit the track later for their qualifying main event in which the top eight drivers would qualify for Saturday's "big dance".  Ryan Leeman and Perry Misner led the field of thirty to the green flag.  Misner would hold the early advantage, but Jim Larson would duck to the inside and take over the top spot on lap three.  Damon Murty was on the charge in the early going as he quickly moved into the fourth spot after passing Alan VanGorp.  Murty had started ninth.  The yellow flag came out on lap eight, and would again immediately be displayed due to an uneven start.  After contact between Stefan Sybesma and Murty for the fourth position, Murty would later spin in turn two that resulted in another yellow flag.

Sybesma continued his march towards the front following the restart, working under both Misner and Reitzler for third and second, respectively.  Marcus Fagan threw his name into the mix as he powered around the outside to pick up the fourth spot.  Sybesma challenged Larson for the top spot on lap thirteen and get the nod, but Reitzler used the same racing groove to pick off both drivers to steal the lead away.  Fagan, meanwhile, kept motoring along on the top side and got by Larson for the second spot.  Things at the front of the field finally calmed down a bit late in the race as the top seven cars went single file.  It would be Todd Reitzler picking up the win ahead of Marcus Fagan, Jim Larson, Shawn Havel, Stefan Sybesma, Luke Saathoff, Dean Wray, and Devin Snellenberger.

I believe there will be a last chance qualifier Saturday for the remaining six spots for the IMCA stock cars.  Saturday should prove to be a great day of racing as last chance races for IMCA modifieds will likely get things kicked off.  All Race of Champions events will be run throughout the night along with all the championship features.

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