Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

July 3, 2013 --  Tuesday night turned in to a long but entertaining night at Quincy Raceways. Track preparation has been a tricky thing all season, and Tuesday was no different. Plenty of water was added on a warm day, but running in the surface took a bit longer than expected. Also, the touring late model and modified drivers are not big on helping with track packing and as a result hot laps started nearly an hour past the advertised start time. When you figure in an hour later start because of the week night show, things kicked off about two hours later than a Sunday night show.

When things finally got rolling, Steven Delonjay set quick time over 29 other UMP mods, and 16 year old Bobby Pierce paced the 37 late models with a lap of 14.025 seconds. Wisconsin late model driver Todd Frank took his two qualifying laps, and on his cool down lap, he hit the by now tall cushion in turn one, flipping his # 21 one and a half times, landing on his roof, ending his evening. It was the second time in less than two weeks he had found himself upside down!

The IMCA sport mod count was a bit disappointing to the folks who had worked extra hard to bump up the purse to a whopping $1003 to win and $113 to start, but still 19 cars checked in. After drawing for their starting spots, they began the racing action with three heat races. On lap one of heat one, Bobby Anders made contact with Keokuk, Iowa driver Chris Larson in turn three. As a result, Larson began a series of violent flips - more than a half dozen times including several while high in the air, and his # 67L landed well off the racing surface. EMS workers extricated the second generation driver from his car and eventually transported him to the hospital. He was released several hours later, with bumps, bruises, and a sore shoulder. His race car was destroyed. Following the nights events, Pat and Tony Dunker, who spearheaded the increased purse decided to donate the unused purse money to Chris. I believe there was also some bonus money added to this amount, a grand gesture by Larsons fellow racers.

After the ambulance left, track crews decided to use the grader to knock down the cushion in turns one and two. By now, it was past clock watching time!

The rest of the heat race action went off smoothly, three heats of sport mods, and four each for the UMP Summit Tour mods and the Hell Tour Summernational late models. Each race qualified the top four to move to the feature in their class. All four late model heat winners started on the pole position, including last years series champ Brian Shirley in heat one. Brian has parked his # 3S ride for the series and teamed up with Brimfield,Il driver Tim Lance. Brian has being acting as crew chief for Tim during the week night shows and racing the " back up " # 48 on weekends, but decided to compete Tuesday at the track he has had success on. Pierce nabbed heat two, with Springfield, Il pilot Brian Dively taking heat three and Shannon Babb claiming heat four.

While the mods ran a B main to qualify only two feature starters to go along with four provisionals, the late models ran a C-main, taking the top four to the B-main. Track regulars Billy Genenbacher and Ron Elbe dueled throughout the ten laps in this one, taking the top spots. The 12 lap B transferred only the top two to the finale, with double duty Michael Long taking the checkers ahead of Matt Furman. Matt is originally from Iowa City, Iowa, but now calls Columbus, Ohio home. Among the four late model provisionals, Dustin Griffin earned one as the highest in tour points not already in the show, and Mark Burgtorf picked one up as the track points leader.

The first feature was the 30 lapper for the UMP mods. Local favorite Dave Weitholder took off from his pole position, jumping out to a big lead before the caution waved on lap ten for a spinning Cody Bauman. The field was bunched for the restart, Delaware style, with Matt Goulden and Delonjay lined up behind Weitholder. One lap after the restart, Steven moved around Goulden, and as the leaders approched slower traffice on lap 18, he eased around Dave for the lead. It was then smooth sailing for the final 12 laps for the second generation track champion. It was his sixth and biggest win of the season at his home track, as he collected a cool $1,000 check. Weitholder held second over Goulden, Festus, Mo driver Rusty Griffaw, and Jim Black, who pulled to QR from Bonne Terre, Mo for his second visit of the year. Long dueled throughout much of the race with Shawn Deering taking the sixth spot. Tyler Nicely made the long tow from Owensboro,Ky, and he edged by Deering late for seventh. Ray bollinger finished ninth, and Michael Stuckey defeated NASCAR veteran Kenny Wallace for tenth. Weitholder got his revenge by topping the field the next night as the tour moved to Jacksonville,Il.

The 40 lap late model $5,000 to win headliner ran next. Dively and Shirley drew the front row among the heat winners. Dively jumped to the early lead, but Clint Kirkham rolled to a stop on the backstretch, ending his night. On the restart, Shirley powered past Dively out of turn two, building a nice lead. The yellow waved on lap three when locals Long, Rickey Frankel, and Jerry Lierly got together, ending Michaels night. It ended a run in which the local hotshoe ran the late model 12 lap consy, jumped in his mod for 30 laps, then right back in the late model! Three laps after the restart, Babb powered past Pierce on the high side to take third, and one lap later he cleared Dively for second. Series points leader and 2013 QR feature winner Brandon Sheppard started 12th, and moved to fifth on lap 13, but could advance no further. At the 15 lap mark, Babb took over the top spot as the leaders approached slower traffic. Shirley was not done, however, and he staged a great side by side duel with Babb, actually leading past the flag stand on lap 21. As the two attempted to put Lierly a lap down, Babb was able to clear the # 7, but Shirley had some trouble doing so. That was all the help Babb needed, and as the race stayed green, he cruised to the win. Pierce finally found a way around Dively at about the 25 lap mark, and the top five was set. Defending track champion Jason Perry crossed the line sixth, followed by Kevin Weaver, transplanted 16 year old Californian Tyler Reddick, the first ever QR Summernationals winner Randy Korte, and Denny Woodworth. Babb has claimed three series races at QR, while Shirley took the checkers in 2012. The long distance award went to James Joiner, who pulled his # 10 to QR from Milton, Florida. James did not make the show, even though he has won seven of the last eight main events at his hometown track. His brother was on hand to cover the action for Dirt on Dirt. Two father and son teams were racing this night, including Terry and Tanner English from Kentucky, and Terry and Lake Knutti from Lanark,Il. None of the four made the big show.

The sport mod 25 lapper was next with 16 cars taking the green, and I believe eight left at the checkers. Multiple cautions slowed the pace of the race, but did not deter track champion and points leader Tony Dunker from taking the win. IMCA stock car ace Abe Huls was out for only the second time in Richie Wagys new # 55, and he was nipping at Dunkers heels as the checkers waved. Brandon Dale drove a solid race to take third, with Charles VanZandt fourth, Joe Bliven had engine issues on Sunday, and competed Tuesday in a back up # 05 Weitholder car, coming home fifth. Tanner Klingele, Rick Barlow Jr and Bob Cowman followed. Cowman collected the $100 bonus for last car on the lead lap, while he and Barlow split the $100 bonus for most positions advanced during the race at seven.
Racing resumes this Sunday, with hot laps at 5:45 and five classes in action.


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