Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

August 20, 2013 --  Lets be honest. If you attend the same race track every week for a full season, you will see some good races and some stinkers. But if late model racing is your thing, you won't see anything better than the final ten laps of the UMP late model feature Sunday night at QR !  The top two in UMP national points are 20 year old Brandon Sheppard, and 16 year old Bobby Pierce, and they have decided to make the .29 mile oval a major part of their battle for the title. After Pierce took the win last Sunday night, Brandon told us he would likely miss this past Sunday, as he was going to Michigan to race with the World of OutlawsFriday and Saturday. But when I saw his name in the results at Pontoon Beach,Il - where Bobby took the win - on Friday, and at Pevely,Mo on Saturday, I figured we were in for another showdown. Sure enough, the # B5 was the first car in the pits on Sunday, and the Pierce Posse soon followed. Only 11 late models total checked in, with Jared Schlipman in Michigan for the Sprint Cup race, and Rickey Frankel on vacation in Florida. Pierce unloaded one car, then a second, and put the first one back in the trailer, then set quick time at 13.761 seconds. He then rolled a " five " for the dash invert, landing him in row three, with Jason Perry and Sheppard in row one. Jason led the ten lapper until the final lap, when he bobbled in turn two, giving the win to Brandon, while Bobby worked his way to third, as the front three rows of the 30 lapper were set. We basically lost one top car when Michael Long suddenly pulled off the track on the last lap while leading the heat race, as the rear end gave out in the # 56J. Michael did a "start and park" in the feature. After a false start, Sheppard grabbed the lead, with Pierce on his heels. The caution waved on lap three when the suspension gave out on the Cliff Powell # 6 machine. On the restart, fifth starting Mark Burgtorf moved to third, and one lap later he powered around Pierce for second. Sheppard and Burgtorf locked into the faster low groove, while Pierce tried the high side briefly before moving back down the track. On lap 17, slower traffice became a factor. On lap 21, Sheppard tried to put billy Genenbacher a lap down, and the resulting contact sent Billy into a spin. When the green waved again, things got exciting. Pierce, who normally prefers the lower groove, moved up top again. Two laps later, he moved around Burgtorf and set his sights on Sheppard. The two youngsters crossed the line side by side on lap 28, and again on lap 29. Running in lock step, they charged out of turn four to the checkers in a dead heat. Had it not been for the computeriized transponders in the car, there would still be a discussion going on about who won. As it was, Pierce crossed the line .031 seconds in front. It was so close, tech officials even checked both cars to make sure the transponders were in the proper position! It was the second win in a row for the " Smooth Operator " over " Rocket Shepp, " as the race continues to tighten. For a while in the mid portion of the race it looked like Burgtorf might outgun both of the youngsters, as he was turning the fastest laps. Mark picked up a few points on track leader Denny Woodworth, as the two ran third and fourth. Perry,  heat winner Dustin Griffin, Genenbacher, and Clint Kirkham followed , while Ron Elbe, Powell, and Long retired early. It is always tough to figure out what racers will do, but there is a UMP Summernationals make up race this Sunday which will pay $10,000 to win and national points, so we may not see either of the title contenders this week.

  UMP modified fans witnessed a first on Sunday, as Shawn Deering broke a 132 race winless streak with his first ever feature win. 19 cars started what became a caution fest - time limit? Steven Delonjay paced mod time trials at 15.480 seconds, and even though he rolled a " four " to start the dash in row two, he charged to the win, giving him the pole in the 25 lap finale. Steven built a large lead, and held on through a lap six caution  while Dave Weitholder, Chris Spaulding and Deering battled for second. Following a lap 11 yellow, it took three tries to get the next lap in, and after one lap was finally added, the caution waved again two times. Then as Delonjay exited turn two on lap 14, he slowed and it appeared his car would not turn. He was hit hard by Justin Reed and Jake Griffin ending the night for all three contenders. Weitholder then inherited the lead, but on lap 18 there was contact between he and Deering in turn four setting Dave into a spin. With smoke coming from his # 05, he soon went pitside. Deering restarted out front, and held on for the popular win. Mike Vandereit Jr drove a solid race to finish second, while Spaulding recovered from a lap 11 spin to take third. Keith Pratt started in row eight and came home fourth, while Adam Birck came back from a lap 13 spin to nab fifth.

 The IMCA stock car 15 lapper saw Troy Brierton lead early before Terry Houston and Jerry Jansen put their Fords out front. On lap four, the hottest stock car racer, Brandon Savage, grabbed second, but on the same lap, Abe Huls blasted past. Two laps later, Abe took the lead, although Houston, Savage, and Jansen stayed close. Brandon took second, but could not find a way around Huls, who stretched his points lead with the win. Savage made it five top twos in six weeks, with Houston, Jansen, and Darin Lambert completing the top five.

  All 13 IMCA sport mods took the green flag, but it took Tony Dunker only five laps to move from row five to the lead. Tony then cruised to win number nine - eight for points - in 2013, extending his remarkable streak of top twos to 27 in a row. Tanner Klingele picked up his third runner spot in a row, with Todd Reed making his sport mod debut in third with a # 44 machine. Joe Hooper wheeled the # 20BA to fourth, and Taylor Lear held on to his top five run this week. Bobby Six from Keokuk, Ia made his first visit to QR with what else, a # 6 machine, but fell out of the race early. The #6C ride of Bob Cowman is reportedly the former # 20JB of Joe Hooper. Bob came home sixth in the 20 lapper.

  Kimberly Abbott came in to IMCA sport compact action leading the points, and when her # 71 was damaged in a heat race mishap, she was able to enlist help to go back to her race shop and retrieve the pink # 71 she races at 34 Raceway.It was Austen Becerra taking the lead at the start of the 12 lap finale, however. Following the second caution of the race on lap two, Skip Dunker began to pressure Becerra. On lap five, diaster struck Dunker, as he made contact with one of the tractor tires in turn one. The collision ended his night, and dropped him seven points back in the points chase. Becerra kept his # 22 out front to the checkers, although Laine Vanzandt pushed him to the flag. Abbott rolled home third, and as a result, she and Austen are tied atop the point sheet. Alex Baker came back from a lap one spin to grab fourth, and Brandon Lambert overcame engine woes mid race to take fifth.

 Remember, this week the track reverts to the earlier school year start times, with hot laps scheduled for 4:45, qualifying and racing to follow. And in two weeks, the MOWA 410 sprint cars join the field on the night before Labor Day. UMP late models, UMP modifieds, and IMCA sport compacts will be on the card, while the IMCA stock cars and IMCA sport mods will be off as the IMCA Supernationals begin on Monday. Racing is set to continue through September, hope to see you at the track!


 


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