Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

July 30, 2012- The word of the night Sunday at Quincy Raceways was "streaks". Some continued, some ended. But most of the chatter afterwards was about two brothers taking feature wins in much the same fashion. Tony Dunker continued his domination in the IMCA sport mod class by posting his ninth win of 2012. It was not business as usual for the veteran driver, however, as the driver known as " Bone " did not take the lead until turn four of the final lap. Brad Holtmeyer, Joe Bliven, and Bobby Anders all took turns at the top spot, with Bliven regaining the lead following the first restart on lap eight. On that restart, Dunker moved to third, and took the second spot just ahead of the second and final caution - good job, guys! - on lap 14. At that point, Anders went to the trailer with a flat tire. Bliven stayed in control on the restart, leading thru lap 19. But coming out of turn four to the checkers, Joe drifted a bit off the bottom, and Dunker powered by on the low side to the line. Rick Barlow Jr. made a successful return to the speedway by nabbing third, ahead of Tanner Klingele and Holtmeyer. Also of note was the return of long time competitor Jack Evans Sr. Jack has raced for many years around the Tri State area, including the sportsman and late model classes at QR. Several years ago, Jack told my son and I that he was "not retired, just not racing!" I guess he was telling the truth! Jack came home sixth in his return. Track officials checked out Tony's engine after the races, finding everything to be in order.

 In the final race of the night, another returning racer, Pat Dunker, Tony's brother, celebrated his return by capturing the IMCA sport compact twelve lapper. all but one of the 17 entrants took the green flag, and things barely got started when Alex Baker took a hard lick into the front stretch fence. Although it looked like a potentially bad hit, Alex actually drove his car back to the pit area. Craig Bangert, who has missed a few nights of racing, led early. Dunker led the mid portion of the race before Robert Thompson took over. On the final lap, Thompson slowed, and Pat moved back out front. He crossed the stripe in first, with Austen Becerra trailing. The victory broke the four race win streak by Becerra. Kim Abbott took third ahead of Casey Lambert and Jason Stucker.

 Another streak continued as Abe Huls picked up his second feature of the season, and he kept pace with T Dunker with win number nine. After missing a week while on vacation, Abe has won two in a row, although the missed week may cost him a track title. His only competition came from the king of heat race wins, Michael Larsen. Back from his business trip, Michael led the early laps and rolled home in the runner-up spot ahead of point leader Terry Houston, Jerry Jansen, and Darin Weisinger.

 The UMP modified streak was the result of a stellar weekend by Michael Long. Michael went three for three this weekend, picking up wins on Friday at Tri City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, then Saturday at Montgomery Motorsports Park in Missouri, before surviving a time shortened marathon on Sunday. After the sport mods ran 20 laps with only two cautions, things were looking good as 16 of the 18 cars signed in took the green. I quit counting caution flags at eight, and I am sure the 30 minute time limit was exceeded before the checkers was waved to cheers from the fan appreciation night crowd. The track was in good shape, so I really do not know why the guys could not string together green flag laps, but to say the race was ugly would be generous. It was a particularly rough night for Shawn Deering who suffered heat race damage and watched from the bleachers, and Dave Weitholder who exited early after a crash with Robbie Reed. After Long found his way around early leader Jared Schlipman, Jared looped his # 42 in turn four, turning the second spot over to point leader Steven Delonjay. With the help of the yellows, Jared worked his way back to third at the checkers, with Craig Spegal and Russ Coultas also earning top five finishes. Jake Griffin had a new frame and different engine after a rough night in the prior events, but dropped out early. Jake is still waiting to get his big power plant back.

 Perhaps the most interesting streak took place in the UMP late model feature, as Mark Burgtorf picked up his second straight win. The unique part is that Mark has done it in two different cars. Two weeks ago, Mark picked up the win in the Richard Realty # 15R. This week, he outdueled Dustin Griffin to take the lead for good on lap twelve in his # 7B. There was a restart one lap later, but Mark was not to be denied. On the restart Jerry Lierly moved around Jason Perry for second, and on lap 15, Griffin spun while running second, ducking into the pits at that point. Now in the runner-up spot, Lierly looked as though he might have something for Mark, but settled for second. Perry dropped out two laps later, and gave up the points lead in the process. Bill Genenbacher rebounded from a hard crash on Saturday night to record a season best third, and Justin Reed’s fourth place run was good enough to take the points lead. Robby Warner crossed the stripe in fifth. Ron Elbe debuted a brand new Rocket race car, and although he said he was out "a week too soon”, he and his team nursed the new ride to a sixth place finish.

 The hobby stock finale also turned in to a battle of attrition after all twelve cars took the green. Jeff Delonjay took the early lead, and staged an entertaining back and forth battle with Jake Powers, as Tanner Klingele pulled out early. Delonjay also eventually went to the trailer, and on lap ten, a four car pile up depleted the field. While the mess was cleared, Brandon Symmonds retired to the trailer and Jim Brown limped to the infield. Only three cars were around when the green waved again, and the race was shortened to 15 laps, probably the ideal length for this class. Powers led the final five circuits, followed by Jamie Bevill and Justin Bartz.

 The big news from the pits was concerned the former driver of the # 56J late model, Justin Jennings. After a successful run in the NASCAR Camping World truck race a few weeks back at Iowa Speedway, the teenager from LaGrange, Mo. has earned a ride in this weeks NASCAR Nationwide race at the same track. Justin will be wheeling the Jimmy Means # 52 machine. Make us proud, JJ!


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