Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

October 3, 2012 - The 2012 season came to an end on a cool Sunday evening at Quincy Raceways. A nice total of 77 cars signed in, with four of the classes enjoying a "cheaters night. Only the UMP late models and UMP modifieds ran under regular rules, with state, regional, and national points still up for grabs. In fact, when the extra week was added to the schedule, one of the reasons was to give the top late model points chasers another night to accumulate points. as it happened, that did not become a factor. Two time QR winner Brian Shirley held the national points lead entering the weekend, and he passed on UMP racing to attend the Lucas Oil late model three day extravaganza at Knoxville, Iowa. Meanwhile, the only driver who could catch him, Kevin Weaver, also a feature winner at QR, broke on Friday night. In talking to Shirley at Knoxville, he said that he would not be coming back through Quincy on Sunday unless Weaver picked up a win on Saturday night. Shirley then blew his engine on Saturday, and both drivers skipped the QR finale. We did have a UMP driver looking for a few more points, as Michigan ace Rusty Schlenk made his first visit to the Bullring this season. A total of 12 late models checked in, and fast qualifier Dustin Griffin put an exclamation point on his season by leading all 30 laps of the non stop feature, collecting his track leading fifth win. Denny Woodworth powered the Griffin backup he has driven of late to a second place run, matching his season best. Mark Burgtorf, who broke in his final race for Richard Racing on Saturday at Knoxville, brought the # 7B to QR on Sunday and finished third. Jerry Lierly turned in a fourth place finish in his first race since breaking his arm in early August at Montgomery County, Missouri speedway. And Jim Moon, who made the three hour one way trip every Sunday night to race at QR, finished fifth. Schlenk lost a top five run when he broke his # 91 early in the event. It was a night of firsts, as modified ace Jared Schlipman took a ride in the Woodworth # 45DW, and stock car hot shoe Michael Larsen wheeled the Kevin Tomlinson # 49, his first time ever in a late model. Michael Long had a short night, as the newly rebuilt engine failed in the Jennings Racing # 56J in hot laps.

  The UMP modifieds were not on their best behavior, as it took five tries to get the first lap in the books. After three more caution periods pared the field a bit, the laps clicked off, and we had a first time winner. Much improved Craig Spegal kept his # 7S out front, opening a big lead each time, finishing with the largest victory margin of the season in his first ever QR win. Double duty Mark Burgtorf wheeled the Mark Van Winkle # 24V to a runner-up finish, while Steven Delonjay went to the back early and powered back to third, and Jake Griffin overcame early issues to nab fourth.  

  No " cheaters night " addition was more in evidence than the sprint car top wing mounted on the roof of point champion Terry Houstons # 97. It helped turn the Ford machine into a rocket, as he charged to the win in the non stop 15 lapper. Michael Larsen turned in a runner-up spot, while one of two Jacksonville Speedway visitors, Brian Gaines outlasted Jim Powell for fourth. There is conjecture that Houston may have won the final stock car race at the track, as the low car counts may doom the class. Although I am not a fan of six class racing on Sunday nights, I truly hope the ultra competitive stock cars return.

  Number three national IMCA sport mod point man Tony Dunker continued his dominance of the class at QR, picking up another win. Long time QR driver Joe Hooper climbed behind the wheel of Bobby Anders # 20 ride and quickly regained his touch by coming home second.  Rick Barlow, Jr., a Lee county Speedway regular rolled home third ahead of another Jacksonville driver, Todd Cummings.

  Jeff Delonjay has been a top runner for most of 2012 in the hobby stock class, and he finally cashed in on the final night with his first feature win. Jim Brown shadowed Delonjay to the checkers, with point champion Jake Powers and hard luck Jeremy Buss claiming fourth.

   As a novelty on the final night, it was decided to give the 14 sport compacts on hand a special event. The normal 12 lap feature was lengthened to 40 laps, or 40 minutes, or when only three cars remained on the track. There was an extra $50.00 added to the top of the purse, and 13 cars took the final green of the season. 40 laps at the end of a long season was hard on equipment, but when the checkers flew, four cars remained on the oval. Austen Becerra was victorious again, but Laine VanZandt ran on his rear bumper lap after lap looking for an opening. Kimberly Abbott brought her new look ride home third, and Bryce Baker turned in a fourth place finish.

  All in all, it appeared to be a successful season at QR in 2012, a year when many tracks struggled, and some did not survive. The move from IMCA late models to UMP was a difficult decision, but it paid off with a nearly 50% increase in car counts. In fact, the number of cars on the point sheet more than doubled from last season, and it seemed like we had different travelers stop in every week. UMP modified car counts were strong as well, and the sanctioning of the 4 cylinder class by IMCA boosted car counts in that class. Indeed, the small cars staged some good races, although there were often few folks left in the stands when they hit the track. Car counts in the other three classes need to be higher, but we will see what 2013 brings, with the next season six long months away. Until then, watch for details on a mid winter awards banquet, check back often at the QR website for news and info, and check out my blog at Positively for midwest racing gossip.

  Have a great off season, and hopefully we will see you at the track in the spring!





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