Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

SEPTEMBER 12, 2012 - After two weeks of rainouts, we finally got back to the business of racing Sunday at the Bullring. This was the first night of the new qualifying format, and for the most part , it went smoothly. Although it was the first time I ever saw a car get passed in group qualifying. Three cars on the track at a time works okay as long as they stay spread out, but i guess it is a learning curve for the drivers, as well. The UMP mods. with  a season high 25 cars, timed during their hot lap session, and visitor Matt Dotson from Sturgeon, Mo. set the pace at 15.512 seconds. The 20 car UMP late model field qualified after a hot lap session, and Michael Long topped the field with a lap of 14.067.

The two fast timers then rolled a die to set an invert for the fast heat/dash, and Dotson rolled a two, meaning he woudl start outside row one. Michael, however, rolled a six, putting himself outside row three. The top six ran a combined heat race/dash, with the finish setting the first three rows of the features. The potential is there for some lopsided car counts in the remaining heats, but it worked out well sunday, as the lates had a seven, seven, six count and the mods ran four heats of seven, six, six, six. Dotson lead the first eight circuits of the mod preliminary, before Dave Weitholder took the point. Dave then spun sideways on the final lap, was hit by Dotson, and Robbie Reed slipped by to earn the win and the pole position for the feature. First time visitor Steve Thorston, who races weekly in the Chicago area led all ten laps of his race to earn the pole for the late model finale, while Mark Burgtorf powered by Jake Griffin on the final lap to grab the outside pole.

  The IMCA stock car feature ran first with only six cars with Jim powell scratching after hot laps. None of the IMCA classes could run for points on Sunday, as the date was held as a rain date for the Boone, Iowa  IMCA Supernationals, so a draw, redraw format was used for the stock cars, sport mods, and sport compacts. Gabe Harrison led the stock car feature early until contact from michael Larsen sent both cars to the tail. Terry houston had brought out the first caution after stopping in turn one, but after the second yellow, Terry was out front. It was shortlived, however, as Abe Huls blasted through to pick up his tenth feature win of the season at QR. Houston held second, and Larsen recovered to slip past Darin Weisinger for third. Darin says he will be retiring from driving after this season, probably his finest ever. Will it happen? We will see.

 Next up was the 20 lapper for the sport mods, and Tony Dunker racked up win number eleven with a flag to flag effort. Amazingly, Dunker has finished first or second in 17 of 18 features at the Bullring. Vance Wilson took a ride in Jamie Fierges # J2, and was running second when the engine let go on lap seven. Two time winner Bobby Anders went to the tail after a lap two caution, recovered all the way back to second, then went pitside during a lap 13 yellow. Joe Bliven took runnerup honors, and Brandon Dale, absent since early in the season, outraced Tanner Klingele for third. Brandon has learned well from his father, former modified ace Bob Dale.

  Third in the running order was the late model main event, and with the track in tip top shape, it figured to be a dandy. Follwoing a turn one mixup, flagman Chris Miller waved off the start, and also disallowed the second attempt. But when the green finally waved, it stayed out until the while and checkers flew. Vance Wilsons' bad night continued, as he took the # 155 to the pits before racing started. Although Thorsten had put his # 7T out front on the first attempt, Burgtorf charged to the lead as the green waved. But as the pack exited turn four, Jake Griffin pulled alongside and just ahead of the # 15R, as Thorsten ducked to the infield. Young griffin began to stretch his lead, as Dustin Griffin charged from a row four start to third on lap six. Four laps later, D Griff eased by Burgtorf for second, while ninth starting Kevin Weaver - second in the national points chase - moved to sixth using the high groove. Three laps after, Wever again moved up the track and charged to fourth behind Burgtorf. When 13 year old Jake caught the back of the pack, Dustin edged closer. But once Jake began to weave his way through the slower traffic, he again built a lead. When the checkers waved, Jake had his second UMP super late model win of 2012 and his first at his hometown track. Cousin dustin took second ahead of Burgtorf and weaver, who has a first, second, and fourth in three trips to 8000 Broadway this year. Long slipped by brother in law Jason Frankel to record a top five run in the # 33F normally driven by Rickey Frankel. For Jason, it was only his second night on his brand new # 0F ride, the first being Saturday night at Pevely, Mo. Jim Moon ran seventh, ahead of track point leader Jason Perry, Clint Kirkham, and Keith Pratt. There was another first timer at the track Sunday, former drag racer David Janes, from LaPlata, Mo. in a sharp looking # 533. And Brandon Thirlby made his second visit, all the way from Traverse City, Michigan!

 Two new cars signed in in the hobby stock field, Ricky Miller from Gorin, Mo., and Taylor Gainer from Palmyra, Mo. But the race belonged to second half superstar Brian Hoener. A first lap caution sent Jeremy Buss away on the hook with front end issues, and after Jeff Delonjay led lap one, Hoener rolled by for the lead and the 20 lap win. Point leader Jake Powers finished second, one spot ahead of runnerup Brandon Symmonds, who he now leds by a scant two points. Delonjay came home fourth. It was feature win number six for Hoener.

  With all 25 mods set to take the green flag, we were hoping for the best, but... The field made it to lap four before the first yellow, with Shawn Deering ducking to the work area with a flat tire. Robbie Reed had paced the field from the pole, and on the restart, Steven Delonjay, who started in the fourth row, powered into fourth position. I hate to say it again, but at some point I quit counting cautions, and started counting minutes. Following a lap 16 restart, point leader Delonjay advanced to second and set his sights on the still leading # 28 of Reed. Weitholder had followed Steven past Dotson and into third, but two laps later, the # 05 again got turned around in turn four. By now, the time limit had expired, and Reed survived to pick up his second feature win of 2012. Delonjay was second, Dotson took third, and Jake Griffin ended a memorable night in fourth. Weitholders good run ended with a disappointing 17th place finish.

  IMCA sport compacts then came to the track, and again entertained the hearty few remaining fans. The action was fast and furious, the 4 cylinder cars seem to do all they can to avoid cautions, but that doesn't mean they dont get sideways and do a little rubbin'! As the laps wound down, they began to drop like flies, and finally the caution waved with two laps to go. Still this was no problem for Austen Becerra, who put his # 22 out front for win number seven. Since coming on the scene, Austen has been nothing less than dominate in the sport compacts. Brandon Lambert chased him home in second, while Kimberly Abbott took third ahead of Casey Lambert. With Kim still wheeling the Skipp Dunker # 5 with the 71 taped over it, Skipp debuted another # 5 ride on Sunday. Congrats to Alex Baker on his first heat win on Sunday, as the Baker boys nearly pulled off a one, two finish!

  There are only two scheduled nights of racing left at QR, with this coming Sunday closing out the points races. Then a King of the Hill special is on tap for the 23rd, with more info coming soon. Don't miss out on the conclusion of an exciting season of racing at Quincy Raceways!




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