Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

May 21, 2013 -- An unlikely and unfortunate combination of factors worked to hold down both car and fan counts Sunday at the track. Strong storms a few miles to the north, hot, dry, and windy conditions in Quincy, and a bunch of as yet unplanted fields kept some drivers and fans at home. But despite the lower counts, the racing was close and intense, and the stock car feature in particualr was a " rip snorter. "

  Only ten of the 12 entrants were able to take the IMCA stock car green. Michael Larsen arrived at the track with a flat tire on his trailer, and things went downhill from there, as mechanical issues forced him to scratch for the night. After suffering quite a bit of damage the week before, his uncle, Jim Powell found himself airborne off turn four, landing in the catch fence and ending his run before feature time. The 15 lap main had an unusual amount of caution flags, but the back and forth racing was thrilling. After an early exit the week prior, Terry Houston found the front of the pack and held on as the rest of the field ping ponged their way throughout the 15 laps. At the checkers, five time hobby stock champ Steve Carlin enjoyed his best stock car finish in second. Brandon Savage nursed an overheating ride to a season best third, with Abe Huls taking fourth. Point leader Jake Powers finished out the top five.

  The IMCA Sport Mods were on good behavior Sunday, but the outcome was more of the same. After a couple early cautions, Jim Gillenwater paced the field until Tony Dunker worked his way through the field to challenge. Jim held on running the preferred low side before Tony pulled away on lap 14. A caution reset the pack, but Dunker had no trouble cruising to the win on the restart. Gillenwater, Bobby Anders, and Tanner Klingele chased the # 3 to the checkers. Dunker continues to stretch his points lead.

   The UMP modifieds were moved up to third in the running order. Michael Long had set the tone for the evening with the fastest qualifying lap of the 13 car field, but come feature time, it was once again Steven Delonjay who took took charge of the non stop event. Steven picked up his fourth win in five nights of racing, but just as he has opened up a nice points lead, it will potentially disappear this Sunday. the driver of the # 35 has not missed a points race since beginning his career in the 4 cylinder class in 2006, but he is slated to be out of town this Sunday. It has happened before that a driver has missed a points race and still won a championship, and the way Delonjay has dominated these first few weeks, he certainly cannot be counted out. Once again Dave Weitholder pushed the leader to the flag, and will be considered one of the favorites this week, along with the next four finishers, Robbie Reed, Long,Shawn Deering, and Jake Griffin, who started back in row six and powered his way to sixth at the end. A high paying holiday modified show is also slated for Sunday a few hours away, so it will be interesting to see what the field looks like.

  Justin Reed has struggled a bit early this season in the UMP late model class, but he used a lap 20 pass of leader Mark Burgtorf to keep an interesting streak alive. In five nights of racing, we have yet to have a repeat late model winner. Burgtorf was set up for a sweep after setting quick time of 14.418. He then rolled a " one " for the dash invert, and outpaced Jason Perry to turn one, leading all ten laps of the fast dash. Mark then shot to the lead from the pole of the 30 lap finale, with third starting Reed following him through. A lap one yellow rstacked the field, but on the restart, it was again Mark and Justin up front. Again, Burgtorf went to the preferred bottom line, and Reed decided to work the higher line. He has been trying to drive the top side with limited success the past couple of weeks, but this time he found some moisture and some " bite " in turn two. For several laps, he would sneak past the # 7B going down the backstretch, but would lose momentum in the super slick turn four. The yellow waved again on lap 14, then the chase resumed. With ten laps to go, Justin was able to make the pass for good, and he quickly stretched out a nice lead. Running third, Perry tried the higher line as well, but could not overtake Burgtorf. On thr final lap, point leader Denny Woodworth found a way around Perry to take third. Robby Warner continued his strong start with a fifth place run. The second five consisted of week three winner Rickey Frankel, Clint Kirkham, rookie Jared Schlipman, Fulton, Mo. youngster Alan Westling, and Cliff Powell. Cliff was making his first start of the season after son Shawn raced the number 6 machine a few weeks back. The late models will get the night off this Sunday, but look for the fields to return to normal as we enter June.

  The final race of the night was the 12 lap IMCA Sport Compact main, with 13 of the 14 entrants taking the green. Fast improving Laine VanZandt started up front after capturing a heat race win, and the youngster paced the field for the entire distance to pick up his first feature win. Craig Bangert had a good run going in second before going pitside mid race. Austen Becerra then took up the charge, as his # 22 billowed smoke out the back. Kimberly Abbott was running third when she tangled with a lapped car on the final lap. She managed to keep her # 71 going, losing only two spots, crossing the line fifth behind Pat Dunker and Brandon Lambert. The top five run was enough to vault her into the points lead.

  The final checkers waved around 8:30.

   This Sunday, the day before Memorial Day, the featured attraction will be the MOWA 410 winged sprint cars. The open wheelers always put on a good show at the Bullring, with 20 some entries expected. Again, the late models will be off, but the mods, sport mods, stck cars, and sport compacts will be on the card.





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