Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

April 23, 2013 -- It is generally agreed by most that Quincy Raceways is a tough track to figure out, and that if you can run up front on the .29 mile oval, you can do so most places. So it became even more obvious how good a driver Chad Simpson is, as he set fast time and led flag to flag in heat one as well as the 40 lap feature on Sunday night. Simpson, who calls Mt Vernon, Iowa home cut his teeth on longer tracks in eastern Iowa, and does not have a great many laps on the smaller bullring style tracks. But he followed up a victory in the ALMS/MARS/Cornbelt Clash show Saturday night on the 3/8 mile oval in West Burlington, Iowa with a totally dominating performance at QR, picking up the $3,000 winners check.

Chad probably should have tipped the track crews at both tracks, as it was at best a long shot that either facility would be able to race given the heavy mid week rains. It was kind of a good news, bad news story at QR, as the racing surface stayed amazingly smooth all night, but it became preety much a one lane around the bottom track by feature time. Simpson, the defending Corn Belt series champ, turned the fastest lap early in qualifying with a circuit of 14.637 seconds, earning the pole in heat one. He then held off defending track champion Jason Perry, and 2012 UMP national and Summer Series champ Brian Shirley to earn the feature pole. New Berlin, Il youngster Brandon Sheppard outran Chris Simpson, Chads brother, and defending MARS champion Jess Stovall in heat two. Two time QR Summernationals winner Shannon Babb captured heat three over MARS regular Tony Jackson, Jr., and veteran Kevin Weaver. California transplant 17 year old Tyler Reddick, who is running a partial NASCAR Craftsman Truck series schedule nailed the final heat ahead of Iowan Jake Meier and local legend Mark Burgtorf. The remainder of the 33 car field contested two B- mains, with second generation ace Terry Phillips from Springfield, Mo besting Scott Schmitt and former UMP nationa champion Ryan Unzicker, and Iowan Justin Mitchell topping local drivers Robby Warner and Justin Reed. I really like the multi sanction events, as we get to see drivers run against competition they usually do not face, but an unfortunate by product of this format is the two provisional starting spots given to each of the organizations. So 25% of the starting grid did not race their way into the 40 lap finale. It was a quality starting field for sure, but Simpson took off after a false start for a three car pileup at the flag stand.

The only car unable to continue was young Bruson Behning, who made hasty repairs, but failed to complete a lap. As racing resumed, Simpson again put his # 25 out front, while Babb and Sheppard ran side by side for second. The race was stopped on lap five, as Meier checked up to avoid a scrum ahead of him, and Sheppard took control of the runnerup spot following the Delaware style restart. From there, it was 35 laps of green flag racing. Simpson caught the back of the pack on lap 18, and with Stovall the next car to drop out on lap 26, he had a real challenge ahead. Still he negotiated the back markers almost flawlessly, and there were no late race dramatics as we had last Sunday. Sheppard, Babb, Shirley, and Perry completed the first five at the checkers. Burgtorf was the next highest local, as he recorded an 11th place run after losing an engine the night before at 34 Raceway. Warner came home 14th, and Reed took 19th. It is my understanding that the liberal tire rule kept several local cars home on Sunday. Denny Woodworth was the only driver who did not come out for time trials, as he encountered problems in hot laps.

  The UMP modifieds and IMCA Sport Compacts ran in support of the late models, and both turned out somewhat disappointing car counts. There were only 13 mods signing in , with Robert Thompson apparently losing an engine before feature time. Sometimes - often times - fewer mods produce better features, and Sunday was a case in point. Fast qualifier Steven Delonjay and Michael Long made up the front row, but Steven pulled to the infield on lap eightwhile chasing Long. It was far from smooth sailing for Michael, however, as Robbie Reed moved up to apply pressure. On lap 17, Jake Griffin looped his ride, and following the Delaware restart, Dave  Weitholder muscled his way to second. By lap 22 Dave had pulled alongside Michael, and the two took the white flsg in that same formation. Michael prevailed at the checkers with Weitholder, and Reed in pursuit. First time visitor Jimmy Cummins from Highland, Il took fourth ahead of Shawn Deering.

  Defending point champion Seith Woodruff had the pole for the 12 lap Sport Compact main event, but could not make the call, moving Pat " Skip " Dunker to the point. Rookie Gary Stephenson rolled his # 24 one and a half times off turn one on lap one, but was uninjured. On the restart, Josh Barnes moved to the front, but lost a tire on the backstretch, ending his run. From there, it was all Dunker, as he picked up his third win of the young season at three different tracks. Kimberly Abbott had another runnerup finish ahead of Craig Bangert. Matt Moore towed in from Ottumwa, Iowa to take fourth but failed post race inspection, handing the spot to the only other car running at the end, Bryce Baker, who finished the race with a flat tire.

 Cool temps and a biting wind may kept some fans away, but they made a mistake by staying home and missing a chance to see some outstanding late model competitors. Hopefully this race can become a regular addition to the schedule. Regular racing resumes this Sunday, with the IMCA stock cars and IMCA sport mods joining the late models, mods, and 4 cylinders. Hope to see you then!



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