Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

August 6, 2013 --  Car counts were a bit light Sunday night at the Bullring, but there was plenty of action on the .29 mile oval.

  One week after the announcement that the track was for sale or lease there was plenty of chatter about that, but once racing started, all the speculation was forgotten.

  The IMCA stock cars were 12 strong, with number two UMP modified point man Dave Weitholder wheeling the old Brian Hoener # 5 hobby stock car. Also, Donnellson, Iowa driver Jeremy Pundt made the trip down with his # 52J. Unfortunately the driver known as " the boot " was involved in a four car first lap feature pile up and decided to load up his ride. Jim Powell led the 20 lapper early, but following a lap three caution, Brandon Savage took over the top spot. However the yellow waved again, putting Powell back out front. The next restart saw Savage and Abe Huls power to the front. Savage began to stretch his lead in quest of his second straight win, but his left front wheel began to lay down, the result of an A arm issue. Still he held the lead through a lap eight caution. At this time, Terry Houston had smoke rolling from the rear of his car, a condition that eventually went away - maybe a brake hanging up?, and he was second on the restart. On lap ten Weitholder came from fourth to second. Savage held on until a lap 16 caution, but his car would not turn as sharp as needed, and in those final laps Huls grabbed the lead with Weitholder following. Savage held on for third breaking his string of top two finishes, and Jake Powers shook the monkey off his back with a fourth place run.

   The UMP mods had the highest car count, 19 strong, and they all took the feature green. Mitch Landrum made the trip from Ofallon,Mo with his # 04. And with Justin Reed taking over the # B4 ride, Adam Birck was back with a Jody Wood # 51 machine. Adam had his battery quit in time trials, and Jake Griffin popped a power steering belt, putting both deep in their heat race. Michael Long set quick time, but rolled a " six " to completely invert the dash lineup. In the dash, Weitholders # 05 came to a sudden stop on the front stretch with suspension issues, and he was hammered by Shawn Deering. Although both left on the hook, quick repairs were made to get them out for the feature. Meanwhile, Griffin had another belt issue in his heat, and he dropped out of the feature early. Jake had suffered damage to his # 08 on Saturday, so possibly there was carry over damage. Point leader Steven Delonjay took the dash win over long, and they made up the front row of the 25 lapper. Delonjay took the early lead, with Reed second and Long third. On lap two Long moved to second, but a bobble in turn four dropped him to fourth. As Reed and Weitholder battled behind Delonjay, Michael went pitside on lap nine with carb issues. When the yellow waved again on lap 22, Steven had lapped up through seventh place. As the cars headed for the white flag the caution waved for second generation driver Dylan Hoover # 99 from Vandalia,Mo., older fans will remember his father Mike turning many laps at QR. As we tried a green, white checker finish, Deerings car quit as he dueled for fourth. Meanwhile, suspension problems knocked Reed from the runner up spot. On the second try at green, white, checkers, Weitholder took over second, while late arrival Derrick Carlson from Murrayville charged to third in his # 7X, his best ever QR finish. Reed held on for fourth. It was, I believe the ninth points win for Delonjay in 2013. Meanwhile Long has indicated may park his modified on Sunday nights for the rest of the season to concentrate on his late model ride.

   The 12 car 20 lap IMCA sport mod feature was up next. although Joe Bliven has " retired, " there were still a dozen machines, as Richie Wagy brought out his # 55 that Abe Huls drove a couple nights earlier this year, and Cody Henderson from Frankford,Mo debuted his # 65. Charles Vanzandt took the early lead before Brad Holtmeyer took over. As is so often the case, multiple cautions slowed the action, and on a lap six restart Holtmeyer and Tony Dunker made contact with both sent to the tail. Tanner Klingele was now out front, but two laps late when the caution flew, Dunker had moved from tenth to fourth. He was third on the restart,  and moved to second following a false start.  After a lap 16 stoppage, Dunker took over the top spot, holding off Klingele, Jeff Delonjay, and Holtmeyer for yet another win.

   Mechanical issues resulting in thin wallets has taken a toll on the UMP late model car count in recent weeks, with only ten signing in Sunday. Point leader Mark Burgtorf sudeenly ducked to the infield in hot laps as the engine gave up in his # 7B. Dustin Griffin was back after running the entire UMP Summernationals tour and finishing fifth in points, and he celebrated by setting quick time at 13.810 seconds. He then rolled a " two " to start outside row one in the dash, with Denny Woodworth on the pole. Denny held off Dustin in the dash and they front row was set for the 30 lap finale. Woodworth grabbed the early lead, with Michael Long moving past Griffin on lap two for second.On lap six, Jason Perry, back from a trip to the hospital and engine issues, moved to third on lap six. As the leaders hit traffic on lap nine, Long took the top spot., and Griifin moved to third. Perry faded somewhat as Rickey Frankel took fourth on lap 21. Clint Kirkham moved into fifth on lap 25,and that was the finish as the race went caution free. The runnerup finsh was enough to move Woodworth back to the point lead, while Michael became the first three time late model feature winner of 2013. Among the missing on Sunday was Ron Elbe, also out with engine issues. We should not have to endure any three car heat races this coming Sunday, as the American Late Model Series ( ALMS ) stops by for a $2,000 to win late model event. I would expect a car count in the 20's, with young phenom Bobby Pierce indicating he will be competing in his # 32. All five classes will be in action.

   The final event, as usual was the IMCA sport compact 12 lapper. Laine Vanzandt took the point for lap one, but by lap eight, he was locked in a side by side duel with Skip Dunker. The two swapped the lead for three laps before a lap ten caution set up a two lap dash to the checkers. The 21V and the 3 litterally traded paint on the closing laps, and Kimberly Abbott stayed close and slipped past Dunker for second as Vanzandt took the win. Brandon Lambert came home fourth. the runner up finish kept Abbott on top of the tight points battle. Just a note to those of you who slip out after the late models, the sport compacts more often than not put on an entertaining show.

    By my count, we have eight more nights of racing in 2013, so come on out and enjoy some dirt track racin'!


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