Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

September 3, 2013 -- Despite the recent heat, Sunday night was a pleasant one at Quincy Raceways and the racing was good, as well. With the predicted forecast of high heat and being a holiday weekend for most folks, the start time was moved back to the summer schedule for one week. Things were about 20 minutes late getting started, and a lengthy intermission took place as the racing surface was reworked, but the final checkers still waved not long past 9:00. There were a couple of reasons for this, and in some ways they were related. With the start of the six day  IMCA Supernationals in Boone, Iowa just hours away, IMCA stock cars and IMCA sport mods were dropped from the card to allow those drivers going ample time for travel.  The Midwest Open Wheel Association 410 c.i. sprint cars were added to the program with a $2,000 winners check. The four class program was a noticable change, and the fact that we had only four caution periods during the four features added to the positive flow of the program. This was an even more fortunate turn of events, as we witnessed one of the largest crowds of the season. In fact, the sprint cars always draw well, at QR, but I am convinced it is considered a special treat, and would not work on a weekly basis, as some have wished. At least not as far as the high powered 410 class is concerned.

 The total car count stood at 55, and was helped somewhat by the fact that the higher paying UMP modified special in the St Louis area was rained out early enough for several cars to make their way to Quincy, including number two points man Dave Weitholder. NASCAR driver Justin Jennings  made the trip from his home to pilot the family owned # 56J late model, but when Michael Long rolled in from the rainout, he resumed the driving duties.

 Weitholder started things off by posting quick time in the mods at 15.283 seconds, then rolled a " one " to give himself pole position for the dash. That event turned into a barnburner between Dave and point leader Steven Delonjay, with the two hotshoes crossing the stripe in that order.

 Late model qualifying for the 11 cars on hand was topped by UMP national points leader Brandon Sheppard at 13.978 seconds. Brandon, however, rolled a " four " to set the dash lineup. Jason Perry jumped to the lead in the ten lapper, but gave way to Rickey Frankel, then suddenly stopped in turn four. With the first lap scored, Jason found himself tagging the tail. With Sheppard leading on lap four, number two national points driver Bobby Pierce pulled a classic turn four slide job to take the lead and the win. This gave both Pierce and Sheppard their preferred lines to start the feature, Pierce the low side and Sheppard the top.

  MOWA sprint car heat two gave the gathering a glimpse of how the night would play out. 16 year old Paul Nienhiser powered his # 9 machine from row four to the runnerup spot behind Joey Moughan, who was wheeling the # 83 for the first time.

  Following intermission, all but one of the 17 UMP mods on hand took the feature green. Weitholder won the race to turn one taking along inside row two starter Rusty Griffaw, from Festus, Mo. Delonjay settled in to third. A jam up on the start left visiting Jeff Yates well off the pace, and with one lap in, Yates spun, bringing out the caution. Green flag racing then resumed until lap 22. As the leaders worked traffic on lap 12, Delonjay made a bid for second, but could not complete the pass. On lap 22, fifth running Adam Birck nudged a tractor tire onto the surface in turns three and four, bringing out the yellow. One lap later, visiting Dean Vickers suddenly fell off the pace, ending his seventh place run. With the leaders running the bottom, Keith Pratt took his # 33 upstairs, moving into the top five. When the checkers waved, Weitholder had led every circuit, leaving only seven cars on the lead lap. Griffaw came home second ahead of Delonjay, Chris Spaulding, Pratt, Birck, and Jim Black.

  The 17 car MOWA 30 lap finale was up next. Nienhiser had the pole, and he shot to the lead before the only yellow of the race - the final one of the night! - waved one lap in. MOWA uses single file restarts, and by lap seven, the youngster was negotiating the back markers. By lap 12 his big lead was gone as Joey Moughan had used the heavy traffic to make it a two car race. On lap 18, Moughan slipped by on the low side, again in traffic. But two laps later, Nienhiser drew a gasp from the crowd as he put his mount close to the front strtch wall to regain the lead. He was never headed after that, and as the checkers came out, the front two had a straightaway lead over third running A J Bruns, series points leader Jarrod Hull, and Jim Moughan.

  With the fans still buzzing, the UMP late models rolled out for 30 caution free laps. Pierce used his low line to lead the first tour of the .29 mile oval, but Sheppard blasted around on the high side to pace lap two. The leaders hit traffic on lap 12, but try as he might, Pierce could not get his ride to stick to the low groove coming off turn two, as he drifted up the track each time. The only other significant pass came on lap 16, when Mark Burgtorf, back from a blown engine, eased around track points leader Denny Woodworth for third. When the leaders clossed the line for the final time, only those four were working lap 30. Rickey Frankel ran fifth, with Dustin Griffin, Perry, Ron Elbe, and Jared Schlipman giving chase. Long had went pitside about lap ten, while Kentucky driver Dillan White # 54, who made the trip from Fairbury,Il to QR with Sheppard and Pierce, dropped out only a couple laps in. It was win number three at QR this year for " B Shepp, " tying him with the " Smooth Operator," Pierce. The national title is still very much in question, and we hope to see one or both of these two youngsters back at Quincy as the race for the $25,000 top prize plays out.

  As always, the IMCA sport compacts rounded out the card. Ten cars had signed in, but Casey Lambert was unable to make the feature call. Brandon Lambert was lucky to make the call at all, as his tow rig burst in to flames in front of the Prairie Crossing shopping center on his way to the track. Brandon found someone to pick up his car and trailer, and came racing anyway, in time to capture his heat race win! As the feature green waved, Skip Dunker charged to the lead, but as the front cars passed the stripe for lap one, it was Kimberly Abbott ahead by a nose from her row three starting spot. As Kim led the first two trips around, Skip fell to sixth before working his way back forward. Point leader Austen Becerra took over on lap three, holding on through the 12 caution free laps. Abott held off Dunker for second, while Seith Woodruff made a return to the class, running fourth. Seith was double duty on Sunday, continuing to pilot the # 15V modified as well. Lambert finished off his eventful evening by finishing fifth.

  Next Sunday we will return to regular racing, however per IMCA rules, the stock cars and sport mods will not be racing for points, as Sunday is the rain date for the Supernational finals. Hot laps are scheduled for 4:45, with qualifying and racing at 5:30. Four more nights of racing in 2013, hope to see you there!


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