Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

 July 3, 2011 - If it was Sunday, it must have been raining - and it was, at least for a couple of hours. This time, I tried a different strategy. Instead of staying home and waiting for bad news, I headed for the track early to tailgate with the out of towners and shoo away the persistent sprinkles. And what do you know, it worked! After a couple hours of the stubborn drizzle, it finally quit. Track workers stayed on the surface to keep it run in, and when the rain stopped, the IMCA officials began teching the late models in advance of the $2,000 to win Summer Series event. Of the total of 76 cars, 27 were there for the late model shootout, no doubt the threatening weather cost us a few more travelers. In addition, several of the weekly guys decided to sit this one out. Still it was a good field, with the best of the best in IMCA late model racing on hand. With the exception of the IMCA stock cars, I think it is fair to say the car count in the other classes was somewhat disappointing. I will admit I was not among those expecting a big turnout for the first visit of the IMCA Sport Mods, but even I was surprised when only seven cars checked in for $500 to win and national points. On the plus side, the stock car count was a season high eleven, and there was a new entry from Quincy, as Shane Paris made his debut in # 5.

   Although hot laps began an hour late due to the weather, track personnel worked throughout the evening to make up time, and the six class show ended around 10:30, even with a late model feature that lasted some 42 minutes!

   The UMP modifieds ran the nights first feature, and I want to be the first to congratulate them on a caution free event. Steven Delonjay endured a bit of a slow start this season, but he is on fire as we enter the second half of the season. The second generation driver led all 25 laps to pick up another main event win. Shawn Deering continued to play the bridesmaid role, recording his fifth runner up finish in eight weeks of racing, and is still looking for that elusive first ever win. Vance Wilson charged through the pack to take third ahead of Dave Weitholder, while Jared Schlipman squeezed by Troy Grotz at the checkers for fifth.Eleven of the twelve cars took the green, as Mike Begley loaded up his # B4 and headed home early after Justin Reed took the car pitside early in his heat. Adam Birck paid a visit to the track, but was out of the feature early with an electrical short in his # 12.

   The Sport Mods ran next, with track employee Joe Bliven taking the night off to compete with his # 20. Joe jumped out to a commanding lead before returning Tony Dunker began to chip away in a brand new # 15C machine. As Tony and Joe dueled for the lead near the halfway mark of the 20 lapper, Dunker suddenly headed pitside, leaving Bliven in charge. Young Brandon Dale from Gorin, Mo. chased Bliven across the stripe, with Keokuk, Iowa hotshoe Rodger Dresden in third, and Fort Madison, Iowa veteran Dean Kratzer fourth.

  The 24 car 40 lap Summer Series feature rolled out next to the delight of the large crowd. 2010 track points runnerup Jason Perry was back and drew the pole position, with Quad City ace Mike Murphy Jr. to his outside. In weeks past, the bottom lane was the place to be come feature time, but things were different Sunday, with multiple racing grooves. Murphy jumped out the early lead, but things got shakey with the first caution on lap three for the # 16 of Tyler Breuning, who spun in turn one. The double file restarts proved problematic, and before another lap was scored, Tom Goble stopped with a flat tire. Defending series - and national - champion Ray Guss Jr., who started ninth also went to the work area for a tire change, restarting at the tail. A series of yellows began on lap seven, and Mark Burgtorf was a victim of a brake check melee in the middle of the pack. Although Mark made a couple of visits to the hot pit, the front end damage on his ride was enough to eventually send him to the trailer, ending his quest for a tenth QR series win. On the third of those restarts, Murphy broke a ball joint on his # 14M entering turn one, ending his shot at his second series win of 2011 and all time. 2005 QR Summer Series winner Terry Neal, from Ely, Iowa grabbed the lead, with Perry in pursuit. Meanwhile, 16th starting Denny Woodworth found his groove and was easily the fastest car on the track until making contact with a lapped car on lap 22, sending him to the back. Perry and series points leader Andy Eckrich then dueled for the runner up spot before Perry’s run ended as he headed pitside. While Neal ran the low line in turns one and two and the top in three and four, Guss locked his # 58 in the very bottom groove, and picked off cars quickly, gaining the runner up spot with about five laps to go. From there he closed to within a couple car lengths of Neal at the checkers. Eckrich held on for third, Jay Johnson hung around for fourth, and Quad City pilot Nate Beuseling came from 17th to fifth. Joey Gower was the highest finishing home towner, taking sixth. The series ironman, Darrell Defrance came home tenth in his 374th consecutive Summer Series race, having never missed one since the series began. On a side note, Bill Genenbacher came back from a nasty flip over the guardrail Friday night in Donnellson, Iowa to make the show as the hard charger on Sunday.

  The stock cars were next on the card, with  Abe Huls taking a hard fought win, his first at QR in 2011. Five time winner Aaron Brocksieck advanced to second, while defending champion Terry Houston seemed to come from nowhere to nab third, outdueling fellow Ford fanatic Jerry Jansen.

   Eleven hobby stocks took the green, and Wes Mayfied picked up where he left off last week, leading Jim Powell at the front. On lap eight, Powell, who may have received a tap from behind, got in to Mayfield, with both cars spinning in turns three and four. Steve Carlin inherited the lead, and the " Tea Man " held on for the win. Jake Powers pushed Carlin to the flag, while Mayfield came back to ease past Brandon Symmonds for third.

   With much of the big crowd sticking around, the Wild Things completed the card, with four of the eight entrants doing some four wide racing at one point. Springfield, Il. racer Todd Nelson stayed around the Tri State area to race all weekend, capping it off with a win on Sunday night. Wednesday night winner Robert Thompson from Macomb has been to the track twice, and has a win and a second to show for it. Seith Woodruff and Craig Bangert completed the top four.

   If Mother Nature finally settles down, we will get back to points racing in five classes this Sunday night. See you then!





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