Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans


May 31 - After the sixth cancellation in nine tries Sunday night at Quincy Raceways, Tony and Paul decided to try something that hadn't been done in several years - racing on the Monday holiday. For many seasons, Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Labor Day racing was a staple at QR, but it was always a second night of racing, and eventually economic factors and other options brought an end to the practice. But the folks in charge correctly guessed that fans and racers alike were starved for some dirt track action, and with a plus day weather wise, the stage was set for a great night of racing. Still there was no way to gauge what the car count might be, especially since the IMCA classes could not be racing for track or national points. So it was something of a mild surprise that counts in the five regular classes were up, and the visiting 360 C.I. Sprint Invaders drew a solid 23 car field, giving us a total of 94 race teams.

  Early on it looked like the track might dry out, but the moisture came to the surface, and the track stayed mostly smooth throughout. As is often the case, the track slicked up after the sprint feature, so the low groove was the place to be after that, but there was still plenty of action in the remaining four features. The added class made for a bit of a long night, but sprint cars do not make for a quick show, and no one seemed to mind, as there was still a good crowd on hand when the final checkers flew just before 11:00.

  Incredibly, the stock car count was the highest of the season, with first time visits by 34 Raceway regulars John Oliver Jr. and Cale Samberg, and former modified driver Beau Taylor of Canton, Mo. Look for Taylor and his # 2T at QR often in 2011. For the first time this season, Aaron Brocksieck and his pink # 40A was not in the winners circle. Aaron was victimized by a flat tire and an accident, making two trips to the hot pit before ending his night early. Kevin Tomlinson finally got his # 49 dialed in, picking up the feature win. Abe Huls was the early leader before suffering a flat just before a restart. Abe made a hot pit trip, came back out to restart at the back, and worked his way back to the runner-up spot. The yellow flag was displayed an unusually high number of times in a class that often goes caution free.

   The Sprint Invaders ran the second feature, and despite some mid race caution mania, put on a top notch show. Ben Wagoner led early on before Mark Shirshekan took a turn up front. Around mid race, however, veteran Jim Moughan fired up the after burners and powered his #1M to the front. Kaley Gharst kept Moughan in his sites, but could not mount a serious challenge, and Moughan collected the $1200 top prize.

  One thing you should not do is run the hobby stocks right after the sprints, as they looked to be running about 20 MPH after watching the 1200 pound winged warriors. To add to the illusion, only 11 of the 14 car field were able to make the feature call. In fact, Wes Mayfield barely had a chance to warm his engine in the heat race before losing a transmission. Come feature time, it was more of the same, as Bobby Anders came from row two to grab the lead on lap one and cruise to his fourth win in four tries. Brandon Symmonds, who is making the haul weekly from Keokuk, Iowa, struggled the first couple of weeks with engine woes, but had things worked out the last race night, and finished a strong second on Monday night.

  As the late model feature came out I made my way from the pits to the grandstand side for the rest of the night. Watching races from the pits gives a unique perspective, but I miss being able to see the scoreboard! Before making the trip across, I had a chance to visit with Terry Gallaher. As mentioned here previously, Terry sold his ride to Jason Krigbaum about a month ago. Already the recently retired Gallaher is considering buying another car, he says he is bored! Another driver who hung up his helmet earlier this season is Nick Ingalls. Nick is pursuing some good opportunities in the hunting field, and car owner Jeff Carter has apparently sold the # 5 car which was built new this past off season and was raced only once. Although there was a Summer Series race on Monday, the car count of 15 was a nice surprise. Keokuk ace Tommy Elston made a rare visit to QR. Tommy has a new engine he was trying to put some laps on. Unfortunately, the engine started smoking early in the 30 lap finale. Hopefully it was not terminal. As it was not a points night, 12 year old Jake Griffin, a regular in the modified class was allowed to put some IMCA tires on his crate late model and compete for the night. Former track champion Lonnie Bailey started the main event from the pole position and led the early laps. After an early caution, defending champion and third starting Denny Woodworth moved into the second spot and found a way around Bailey. Denny went on to collect his first feature win of 2011, with Lonnie hanging on to second. Joey Gower raced to a strong third, and Griffin started eighth and advanced to fourth at the line. The Wild Things turned out 12 cars for the holiday show, and defending Lee County Speedway track champion Bill Michel found the shorter QR oval to his liking, cruising to the 12 lap victory. Craig Bangert, who has been solid in the early going, took the runner up spot.

  The final feature of the night was for the UMP Modifieds, with all but one of the 18 cars coming to the shiny, slick track. As might be expected, the open wheelers struggled early on before a lap two multi car pileup eliminated five cars. The remaining dozen cars clicked off 15 or so laps before Vance Wilson smacked the front stretch wall and was hit hard by Travis Griffith. Travis was momentarily stunned, and was checked over by the ambulance crew, although he seemed to be ok. The same could not be said for either car, as both the # B1 and the #1X appeared to suffer heavy damage. For the first half of the 25 lapper, it looked like Shawn Deering was the man to beat, but Steven Delonjay had other ideas. Steven has enjoyed early season success away from his home track, and he was more than due at QR. Once he got the top spot, he would not give it up, although Deering stayed right there. The action behind those two was worth the price of a ticket, as Dave Wietholder, Ryan Meyer, Jared Schlipman and Michael Long swapped spots throughout, finishing in the order behind the top two. Although I am sure Wietholder and Long would have liked a better outcome, it was not a bad night considering both suffered quite a bit of damage the night previous at Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Il. The Wietholder slept only about for hours before going to work Monday on the # 05. Tony Dunker was even less fortunate, as he destroyed his ride at the same venue.

   Hopefully the disagreeable spring weather is behind us, and we will be able to make Sunday nights at the Bullring a weekly adventure. See you at the track!







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