Past the Pit Gate
by Danny Rosencrans

September 10, 2013 -- Sunday night was a tough one at the Bullring, but an important one none the less. Aided by a morning shower and aggravated by the fact that several key employees were not able to be at the track this week, things got off to a bumpy start. The track surface was less than ideal early, and when two of the first seven UMP late models suffered flat tires in qualifying, the action was stopped and the track surface was reworked. During the delay, ceremonies to honor the Hall of Fame class of 2013 were held. Among the inductees were former drivers Dick Crane, Lonnie Carter, Joe Gower, and Tom Long, as well as several sonsors and support staff.  Late model qualifying was then restarted, and Mark Burgtorf, who was one who had a flat the first time around, set quick time at 13.843 seconds. Mark then rolled a " three," putting himself inside row two in the dash lineup. His luck was better than that of NASCAR veteran and QR semi regular Kenny Wallace, who posted the fastest UMP modified lap over 21 other competitors, but rolled a " six " and started the dash from row three. Fairbury,Il driver McKay Wenger made his first ever stop at QR, and was leading the late model dash when he went pitside on lap six. Outside polesitter and UMP national point leader Brandon Sheppard took the win, as only three cars took the checkers. So following the heats and dashes, more work was done on the track.

With all the down time, there was plenty of time for " bench racing, " and the poorly kept secret concerning the potential new promoters of the speedway made the rounds. It was actually Monday morning before an official announcement was made, that pending the final legal touches, Last Chance Promotion, a group from the Jacksonville area is leasing the facility for 2014 and hopefully beyond. The group also promotes Friday night racing at the Jacksonville 1/4 mile fairgrounds track. They include Tom Casson, Mike Wankel, and point man Kenny Dobson. Dobson is also the director of the Midwest Open Wheel Association - MOWA - sprint car series that made their only appearance of the season at QR earlier this month. The three partners have extensive racin backgrounds, and will hopefully be a breath of fresh air as the track heads towards season number 40.

 Two ambulance calls to the spectator area contributed to the marathon evening, but the feature racing was still pretty good when the green flag was out.

  The IMCA stock car class was short, with only six cars on hand, but Abe Huls made the long tow from the IMCA supernationals in Boone, Iowa even though the IMCA classes were not racing for points. Sunday is held as a raindate for the Supernationals, so tracks are not allowed to give points. But Abe is a racer, and even a flat on the trailer did not deter the # 30c team. They stopped at the home base in Carthage just long enough to drop off suitcases, then headed to QR. When the green waved, Jake Powers vaulted to the lead, but it was Jerry Jansen out front as lap one was scored. Terry Houston charged to second on lap two, but bobbled two laps later, letting Powers and Huls past. Huls took the lead from Jansen on lap nine, as the three challengers battled behind him. Houston took the runnerup slot back on lap ten, and Powers nipped Jansen for third in the closing laps. The race went caution free, as Huls picked up win number seven on the year.

  Next came the UMP modifieds, with 21 starters. Point leader Steven Delonjay had crashed out of the dash after suffering front suspension damage and after quick repairs he started shotgun on the field. He quickly moved through the field, aided by a handful of cautions, while Justin Reed checked out up front. Justin was back after another hard crash with Delonjay a couple of weeks prior. Delonjay was up to fifth by lap eight, fourth two laps later, and third on lap 11. He then had a side by side duel with Chris Spalding for the runnerup spot, taking over second following a lap 23 restart. Wallace slipped around Spalding one lap later, but it was Reed leading flag to flag in the Mike Begley # B4. Justin is the only driver this season with a feature win in both the mods and late models. Robbie Reed rounded out the top five. Points runnerup Dave Weitholder had suffered engine troubles Saturday night, and he was forced pitside on lap one of the dash. He borrowed the sport mod # 18 of Trevor Hagerbaumer to make his 255th consecutive points race start, but exited early with suspension damage. The two crews then made hasty repairs so Trevpr could take the sport mod green.

 The draw, redraw format was kind to Tony Dunker, who pulled a " one" to earn the pole position for the 20 lapper. Before one lap was scored, second generation driver Brandon Dale clipped the tractor tire in turn three and four and went into a series of hard flips. Although he appeared to be okay, his # 12 machine had serious damage. When racing resumed, Dunker took off, and only Jeff Delonjay had anything for the veteran. Delonjay stayed close much of the way, but Tony was in control, as he raced to his seventh straight feature win. The race hit the time limit, ending with a lap 16 spin by newcomer Skyler Stark from Donnellson, Iowa who otherwise did a nice job. Todd Reed and Charles Vanzandt followed the top two at the checkers.

  The 13 car UMP late model 30 lapper ran next. Sheppard led lap one as Rickey Frankel went pitside, but outside row one starter and defending track champion Jason Perry charged to the lead on lap two. The  front duo checked out as Wenger and Burgtorf battled for third, with Wenger holding the spot. As the leaders caught slower traffic, Rocket Shepp took back the lead on lap 13. Following a lap 17 caution, the first of the race, Burgtorf took third from Wenger. Again the top two checked out, with the second yellow for debris on lap 24. Wenger took third back on the restart, and the final caution came on lap 26. Burgtorf suffered another flat on lap 28, handing the fourth spot to point leader Denny Woodworth. Jared Schlipman recovered from a lap 17 spin to take fifth, and visiting Steve Thorsten from Milford,Il was the only other finisher.

B Shepp made the long tow from the World 100 in Rossburg,Ohio, where he finished 15th, pay off with the $1,000 check and the valuable points.

 The night ended with the IMCA sport compact 12 lapper. Kimberly Abbott drew the front row and led lap one. The yellow waved on lap two, and Austen Becerra took the lead on the restart. He then held on until the checkers, his fifth win in a row. Abbott held off Laine Vanzandt and Brandon Lambert for a second place finish.

  Only three more nights of racing remain, don't miss any of the action - it will be along winter as we anticipate the new promotion group. Hot laps are scheduled Sunday at 4:45. See you there!



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