Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans
July 8, 2012) -
the UMP Summernationals Hell Tour late model schedule came out, Quincy
Raceways was not on it, which was no surprise. The last time the tour
rolled through QR was 2009, and the car count was not up to par.
However that was when the track was IMCA sanctioned, with the weekly
late models not competititive with the big engine travellers. So when
Farmer City, Il Raceway lost their July 6 date, QR officials entered
into negotiations with UMP officials, and when they were allowed to
make some adjustments to the purse structure, the deal was sealed. Had
track owners Paul and Bob known that Friday would be another in a
string of 100 degree plus high temps, they probably would not have
made the deal. However area race fans proved on Friday how pleased
they were, as the mostly later arriving crowd was one of the best at
the Bullring in a while. And even the power outage caused by the
vicious lighning and the renegade rain shower that shortened the
Summit Modified Nationals feature event from 30 laps to eight did not
dampen the positive vibes from the enthusiastic gathering.
The late model count of 31 was right on with most predictions,
although I was a bit surprised that only 16 mods showed up for the
$650 to win event. Nine hobby stocks rounded out the field, not a
surprise number considering the increased pit fee, and the fact that
it was a non points night.
The start time was pushed back, with hot laps at 6:45, a smart move as
this night started out as the hottest yet at the speedway.
Modified hot laps wre combined with time trial qualifying, with four
cars on the track at a time. Track points leader Dave Weitholder, who
came in third in national UMP points set quick time at 15.284 around
the .29 mile oval. The late models qualified two at a time, with tour
point leader Brian Shirley and local hot shoe Robby Warner the first
two out. Shirley blasted out a quick time of 13.73 seconds, and no
else came close. Clint Kirkham led group three with a time just over
14 seconds for the runnerup honors.
It was annonced that the top eight mods were locked into the 30 lap
$650 to win feature, but of course with a count of 16, all would be
qualified. So they contested what amounted to two position races for
the feature lineup. Late model heats went to Shirley, defending
national champ Ryan Unzicker, early season track regular Brandon
Sheppard in his new Rocket house car ride, and two time QR
Summernationals winner Shannon Babb. With four drivers transferring
from each heat, only the top two from the B-main moved on, with Mike "
Opie " Spatola besting QR regular Jim Moon for the top two spots.
Former Iowa City, Ia racer Matt Furman, who now calls Columbus, Ohio
home was a surprise entrant and staged a valiant run in the B. Matt
tried to run the top side of the speedway, but with the mostly absent
cushion, he fell short by one spot. Four provisional starters were
added, with Justin Reed securing a spot as the top QR points earner
not already qualified.
With potential storm clouds building, the hobby stock feature took to
the track, having been cut to 15 laps from 20, due both to weather and
car count issues. Although this was a non points race, the Powers team
had hustled all week to make repairs to the # 0 car, which suffered
heavy damge last Sunday . After a trip to the frame shop, master
builder Jerry put in some late nights, saying he wanted Jake to shake
the machine out on Friday so any unknown issues could be corrected
before Sunday. The youngster did even better, winning a side by side
duel with fast approching Jeff Delonjay in the main event. Behind the
front two, Tanner Klingele and Jeremy Buss also crossed the line door
The late models then hustled to the track for 40 laps of action with
Shirley and Sheppard drawing the front row. " Squirrel " as Shirley is
known, beat " Rocket Shepp" to turn one, and from that point the race
was behind them. Sheppard, whose father Steve Sheppard Jr, failed to
make the starting field in his # 5s, made a couple of runs at the #
3s, but settled for 40 laps in the runner up spot. At the exact
halfway point, a vicious ligtning strike knocked out the newer quartz
lights at track, with turns three and four going totally dark. At this
point, the race was one lap from being official. After about 20
minutes,the lights cooled down and came back up, and racing resumed,
as a couple of raindrops plopped down. Babb had been hounding Unzicker
for third, and moved around on the restart. After a couple early shots
at Sheppard, he settled into third, while Unzicker held off the "Highside
Hustler " Jason Feger, for fourth. Dennis Erb, Jr. who dropped by the
spedway take a feature win earlier this season, won a spirited duel
with Jason Mcbride for sixth, while Ohio driver Jon Henry took eighth.
Mark Burgtorf edged 17th starting Spatola for tenth, while 21st
starting Reed gained ten spots to finish eleventh. 14 of 22
starters took the checkers. The lone lady racer in the field, Kathy
Jarvis of Park City, Utah, earned a provisional start as she has run
the bulk of the tour to date.
By now, rain looked like a sure thing, but the mods came to the track,
with Michael Long and Steven Delonjay in the front row. Delonjay won
the drag race to turn one, and led until lap six, when Long used a
strong move in turn one to take the point. The caution then waved for
Derrick Carlson, who dropped a drive shaft in his # 367x machine.
Derrick, who has been a QR regualr in 2012, was involved in an
incident on Tuesday at Jacksonville Raceway, with his blue # 7x
suffering frame damage. So he jumped in the # 36 of his father in law,
Steve Theivagt on Friday. As mentioned in an earlier column, Steve has
been competing with a street stock quality engine after blowing his
earlier this season, but running competitively none the less. With
rain now coming down steadily, the race restarted, with defending
modifed national champion Mike Harrison of Highland, Il. moving past
Delonjay for second in his # 24H. With eight laps in the books, the
caution waved as the track became too slick in the now steady rain,
and after a short delay, the race was called. Citing the difficulty of
several drivers returning to QR to complete the race, it was called
complete at this point. Donovan Lodge moved from eight to fourth at
the end, with Weitholder rounding out the top five.
Racing resumes at the track tonight, Sunday July 8, and if you present
your Friday ticket stub at the gate, you will receive a $2.00 discount
See you there!