Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

July 2, 2012) -  The landscape was definitely different as I walked through the pits on Sunday, as the UMP late models and IMCA stock cars had the night off, and the Midwest Open Wheel 410 cubic inch sprint cars made their first appearance at QR in their second season of operation. A nice field of 23 sprinters signed in, although a couple of the other classes were down a bit on participants. Due to the correctly anticipated extreme heat, the start time was pushed back yet another hour. Fortunately adjustments were also made to the program, with the IMCA sport compacts and IMCA sport mods ran only features, helping to move the show along. The later start and fewer laps also contributed to a good race track, which stayed smooth and fast throughout the night, with many of the sprinters bumping up against the tall cushion on the top side of the speedway. The sprint cars used time trial qualifying to set their heat race lineups, and 2011 series champion Jerrod Hull from Sikeston, Mo. set the pace with a lap of 11.786 seconds, an average of about 88 MPH. Unfortunately, Hull was an early casualty in the 25 lap feature, as he retired pitside during the only caution of the 25 lap event on lap two. AJ Bruns put his # 44 out front at the green and caught slower traffic by lap seven. Bruns was nothing short of dominate until the final lap, when second running Jimmy Hurley made a last ditch charge in his # 35. Jimmy blasted down the back chute, catching Bruns in turn three. The two made contact, with Hurley moving into the lead, and Bruns taking a detour through the infield. He was able to come back on the track in time to cross the line in second, with Joey Moughan and Jim Moughan in the next two spots. Ben Wagoner, a veteran of the 360 sprint shows at QR, rounded out the top five. Hurley collected $2,000 for his efforts before an excellent crowd on a less than perfect night.

  The UMP modifieds led off the feature parade and the 16 cars on hand staged one of their best efforts of 2012. Much improved Derrick Carlson took the early lead, with Peoria Speedway champ Ray Bollinger taking over on lap two. Ray was among three drivers making their first visit of the season to QR, and all three recorded top ten finishes. Following a lap two caution, the field was aligned in the Delaware start fashion, which is my personal preference. this is the formation with the leader out front, then the field side by side behind. Point leader Dave Weitholder and Jared Schlipman dueled behind the leader before Schlip took over the lead. Michael long moved to second before a lap nine yellow. Although Long slid back on the restart, he was soon locked in a battle with Schlipman before taking the point on lap eleven. On lap 18 Weitholder looped his # 05, and Steven Delonjay was sent to the back as well for his part in the incident. One more stoppage came on lap 20, but Long remained in charge. The win capped off a stellar weekend for the 30 year old, following wins on Friday at Fulton, Mo., and a $1,000 payday Saturday at Pevely, Mo. Schlipman nabbed second, while first timer Donovan Lodge came from deep in the pack to third. Shawn Deering held off Bollinger for fourth. NASCAR star Kenny Wallace came to QR with his University of Northern Ohio sponsored modified and rolled home in tenth.

  Sport compact racer Pat " Skip " Dunker added a $100 bonus to the winner in that division, and the racing was intense for the top spot. Austen Becerra was not to be denied on Sunday, holding off a late charge from deep in the pack by Chuck Fullenkamp. Dunker took the third spot in his second night out. Seth Woodruff stretched his point lead to seven with a fifth place run behind Dakota Anderson after Kimberly Abbott crashed out early in the race.

  Twelve hobby stocks checked in, but point leader Jake Powers was involved in a hard crash in his heat race. So Nathan Hayes loaned his ride to Jake for the feature, giving us eleven competitors. Jake took things slow, starting in the back and picking cars off in a cautious manner. Meanwhile Tanner Klingele found the fast way around the oval, leading all 15 laps to edge Brandon Symmonds. Brandon had earlier dropped to seventh before finding his groove, taking third on lap eleven, and moving to second at the white flag. Jeremy buss, Brian Hoener, and Steve Carlin, back in his # 9, rounded out the first five.

  Skip Dunker also added a $100 to the sport mod winner, where his brother Tony had been the dominant force of late. However the extra cash went to Vance Wilson, who recovered from an early spin to outlast Dunker. The win was a bit of validation for Vance, who was set to be on an airplane early Monday out of St Louis for a family vacation. So it sounds like the extra cash came at a good time! Bobby Anders, Joe Bliven, and Klingele filled out the first five spots.

  QR fans have a short turnaround, as we will be back in action Friday night. The UMP late model SummerNationals series rolls into town with the locals vying with the travelers for a $7500 top prize. The UMP Summit modifieds will also bring some out of towners in for a shot at a $650 check, while the hobby stocks will have some extra cash on the line. As of this writing, Brian Shirley leads the late model series, which boasts 29 races in 32 days. Shannon Babb, Jason Feger, Ryan Unzicker and Brandon Sheppard follow Shirley as of this writing, so expect all these, as well as Dennis Erb, Jr and others on Friday. We will also be back for regular racing action on Sunday. See you at the track!




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