Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans


April 8, 2012 - Many things were different Sunday night at Quincy  Raceways, but a few things remained the same.  The track once again slicked up quickly and the racing was excellent with multiple grooves. The wind was again out of the south, though the dust coming into the grandstands was not nearly as bad, partly because the temperature was about 30 degrees cooler! The lights stayed on all night, and for the most part the drivers were on good behavior. As a result, the show ended about one hour earlier, with the final checkers flying before 9:00! Whether or not the mild scolding from chief steward Jake Croxton at the drivers meeting had an affect on the driver’s attempts to keep going after spins, it made for a much more entertaining evening. The car count was down by about eight cars, but considering it was Easter Sunday, the 83 race teams on hand seemed like a solid number. Especially when compared to a track to the north which had only 52 cars in five classes!

  One area that was probably affected the most was the UMP late models, with the " travelers " down a bit. However, one of the up and coming young stars of open late model racing was on hand to try his luck against our local hot shoes. Fifteen year old Bobby Pierce, son of legendary midwest standout Bob Pierce had competed in the KIDZ Mods at QR a few years back. This was a class his father developed to give his son a jump start on his racing career. Young Bobby showed so much ability, he quickly made the jump to the premier division. Much like Brandon Sheppard the week before, Pierce was the prohibitive favorite in the 30 lap feature after earning a front row starting spot by finishing second to first heat winner Dustin Griffin in the dash. Dustin had spent 2011 competing in the UMP crate late model class, and came home to Quincy with a national championship. He missed opening night at the Bullring as his engine was not done, but he hit the track in his # 20 this week and went straight to the front. Dustin kept it up by leading the first 16 laps of the finale before a caution period bunched the field. On the restart, second running Pierce and Matt Bailey, who had started eighth and advanced to third, drove around Griffin. While Pierce rolled around the middle groove in his # 32, Bailey worked the low line to reel him in. When pierce moved down a groove, Bailey made a high side move to take the lead. As the laps wound down, the teenager used a major league slide job to regain the lead with two to go as the leaders negotiated lapped cars. On the final lap, Matt used a bump and run move to regain the top spot, then held on for the win and the $1,000 check. Making it even more amazing, Bailey pulled off the win with an IMCA spec engine under the hood of his # 52. The IMCA power plant generates about 200 less horsepower than the standard UMP engine, but on the slick track, Matt used a better set up, patience and knowledge of the track to take the victory. Sixteen cars took the feature green, with Rickey Frankel missing the call with a broken push rod in his # 33F. The Jennings race team was a no show with the # 56J piloted by Michael long after finding a broken rocker arm in their engine. The Jennings brothers are farmers, and have minimal time right now to work on the car. Clint Kirkham was a spectator Sunday after suffering engine woes the week before in his # 28. Terry Gallaher made his season debut on Sunday. Vance Wilson struggled early before getting the bugs out of the # B1 in the feature. Griffin, week one winner Justin Reed, and Sheppard completed the top five in the feature. Look for Hannibal racer Kevin Tomlinson to debut his # 49 this Sunday.

  The UMP modifieds got off to a slow start as the first feature on Sunday, but after four early cautions took out contender Troy Grotz among others, the 17 car field clicked off laps to the checkers. Dave Wietholder led throughout in his # 05, although Michael Long pulled alongside on lap 20, and even took the lead briefly. However the veteran Weitholder kept his cool, and as the leaders came out of turn four to the checkers, the cheering crowd came to their feet to witness Dave take the hard fought win by about a half second. Robbie Reed and week one victor Steven Delonjay trailed the leaders. There were a couple of new cars in the mods, including Murrayville newly wed Derrick Carlson, and Nick Odell, a member of the Kyle Busch NASCAR team. Kyle calls Kannapolis, North Carolina home, although the # 37D car is headquartered in Jacksonville. Missing from the lineup was Tonty Dunker, who is still awaiting his “open " engine.

  After a decent car count on opening night, the IMCA stock car count was down to only seven on Sunday. Of that group, week one winner Abe Huls was a no show come feature time, after his engine locked up in the heat race. Aaron Brocksieck led every lap of the 15 lap main event for the win, holding off a hard charging Terry Houston.

  The IMCA sport mods once again had trouble getting going, conjuring up memories of the old B-mod class. However, things picked up and it looked as though week one winner Tony Dunker and former bomber track champ Jim Gillenwater would battle for the checkers, Gillenwater was forced to exit the speedway with six laps to go with what smelled like transmission issues, and Dunker then cruised to win number two. Donnellson, Iowa racer Brandon Ruffcorn took second pace honors, but third running Tanner Klingele, along with Rick Barlow Jr. failed post race inspection, the first DQ's of the season. The sport mods number 13 for week number two.

  The hobby stocks showed the most improvement, as the 13 starters ran 20 laps with only a couple of restarts. Special kudos to the Bevill's, both of whom looped their rides, but refried and kept going. Brian Hoener put his sharp looking # 5 out front for all 20 laps and the win, while Jeremy Buss and Jake Powers waged a great battle for second, with Buss taking the spot.

  The IMCA sport compacts showed 16 strong, possibly the biggest gathering ever for the 4 cylinder machines. Unfortunately, only eleven were still running at feature time. Among the casualties was C Jay Loring, who made the haul from Keokuk, Iowa, only to break after running a half lap in his heat race. Never the less, the 12 lap feature was a wild affair, with another Keokuk driver, Mike Hornung Jr, leading early. Mike seemed to have trouble keeping his # 55 from drifting high on the track, and after a lap six yellow for week one winner Chuck Fullenkamp, from Fort Madison, Iowa, high school senior Kimberly Abbott powered her # 71 to the lead. Kim survived another yellow, and picked up the win, although another Keokuk driver, Andrew Davis applied considerable pressure. Defending track champ Seith Woodruff ran third, and Fullenkamp recovered from his trip to the hot pit to take fourth.

   This coming Sunday marks the first of two visits by the UMP Northern All Star late models, racing for a $2,000 top prize. Defending UMP national champion Ryan Unzicker is scheduled at this time to be at the track, leading a group of midwest standouts who will challenge our local hot shoes for the big cash. Remember the early start time, and if you have not been at the track, racing has and will be starting at 5:30 sharp! See you at the track.



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