Donnellson, IA (Saturday, March 26, 2016) – Mother Nature can be very unpredictable in the month of March, and that was the case this past week. Tuesday started out sunny with high’s in the mid 60’s. But from there it went downhill. As Wednesday was overcast with highs in the lows 50’s, and then Thursday temperatures hovered around the low 30’s which produced rain, sleet, slush and even snow. All of this would play havoc with the first race in the state of Iowa for the 2016 season. Racing at the Pepsi Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, IA on Friday, March 25th was cancelled due to wet conditions. So it was a one day show on Saturday, March 26th with the Fleck Sales/ Donnellson Tire & Service 4th Annual Spring Extravaganza. On Saturday light winds and sunshine help to dry up the pit area and track for a practice session from 3-5pm and racing action at 6pm.
The first feature to take to the track was the 20 lap Donnellson Tire IMCA Stock Cars, with Jason See and Jeff Mueller drawing the front row for the event. See would take advantage of his front row start to grab the lead on lap 1 over Mueller, Derrick Agee and Greg Gill. But coming off turn 2, Mueller would slip under See to take the top spot away on lap 2. The action up front was slowed for the first time on lap 4, when Jordan Gerling spun in turn 4 to bring out the yellow. On the restart Jeremy Pundt, Dane Fenton, Abe Huls and Brian Hoener collided coming off turn 4 to bring the yellow light back on. The following restart saw Mueller jump back out front, with Agee and Gill close behind. Mueller then held the top spot until lap 7 when he lost an engine going into turn 3 to bring out the caution. Gill would inherit the lead on the restart, with Cayden Carter, who started 9th, moving into second. While Carter worked on Gill for the lead, Agee was trying to hold off Damon Murty, who started 7th, for the third spot. The four car battle for the lead was slowed on lap 15, when debris in turn 3 brought out the yellow. Gill, who was working the bottom of the track, would edge Carter, who was working the top, at the line on the restart to hold the lead. But Carter used the momentum off the top of the track coming out of turn 4 to take the top spot away from Gill on lap 17. Despite Gill trying to work back under Carter over the final 3 laps, Carter was able to hold on to pick up the win and the $1,000 top prize. Gill settled for 2nd, Murty was 3rd, Agee was 4th, with John Oliver Jr., who was driving Dean Kratzer’s #4k machine, coming from 12th to round out the top 5.
The second feature was the 14 lap Armstrong Tractor IMCA Sport Compact feature, with Luke Benischek and Jason Breuklander making up the front row. Benischek jumped out into the lead on lap 1 over Breuklander and Kimberly Abbott, and then held it until lap 2 when Breuklander took over the top spot. Just as Breuklander took the lead the red light would appear, as Darin Weisinger Jr. rolled in turn 2. After the safety crew got on scene to check on Weisinger Jr., he would fire up the car and drive it to the pits for his crew to check it over. On the restart Breuklander moved back out front, with Benischek trying to hold off Abbott in the battle for second. The action was slowed one lap later, lap 3, when Eric Eye spun in turn 2 to bring out the caution. Breuklander once again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Benischek and Abbott continuing their battle for second. While Breuklander set the pace out front, all eyes were on Brad Chandler, who was driving Josh Barnes’ second car and started in the 12th spot. Chandler would work his way into the second spot on lap 10 and then went to work on chasing down Breuklander for the lead. On the white flag lap Chandler was able to pull even with Breuklander coming out of turn 2, and then the two went into turn 3 side-by-side. Coming out of turn 4 for the checkered flag, Chandler was able to hold off Breuklander to pick up the win and the $300 top prize to go with it. Breuklander settled for 2nd, Luke Benischek was 3rd, Josh Barnes started 9th and came home in 4th, with Jake Benischek finishing in 5th.
The third feature of the night was the Steffes Auction and Reality service Crate Late Models new class for 2016 with Colby Springsteen of Morning Sun and Richie Gustin of Gilman making up the front row for the 20 lap feature event for the LCS Crate Late Models. Springsteen would take advantage of his front row draw to jump out into the lead on lap one over Gustin and Derek Liles. Just after the completion of lap one the first and only caution of the race appeared, as Gunner Frank spun down the backstretch. On the restart Springsteen moved back out front, with Gustin and Liles following. While Springsteen set a fast pace out front, Tommy Elston, who started 6th, would work himself into second on lap 10. Springsteen had built up a full straightaway lead and without another caution he would cruise to an easy win and the $1,000 top prize with Elston in 2nd, Gustin in 3rd, Liles was 4th, with Louis Lynch taking 5th after starting in 8th in the starting lineup.
The fourth feature was the Shottenkirk Parts Express IMCA SportMod feature for 18 laps, with Brett Lowry and Carter VanDenBerg leading the field to the drop of the green flag. VanDenBerg would use his front row starting spot to grab the lead on lap 1 over Brandon Lennox and Lowry. VanDenBerg then held the top spot until lap 5, when Lennox was able to slip under him coming off turn 4 to edge him out at the line for the lead. But VanDenBerg didn’t give up, as he used the top of the track coming off turn 2 to grab the lead back on lap 6. Despite several challenges from Lennox over the final 12 laps, VanDenBerg was able to hold on in a caution free race to claim the win and the $1,000 top prize. Lennox was 2nd, Austen Becerra started 6th and finished 3rd, Lowry was 4th, with Sam Wieben coming home in 5th after starting in 11th.
The fifth feature of the night was the Budweiser IMCA Modified feature set for 20laps. Kyle Brown and Hunter Marriott would lead the field to the green flag. The racing action would come to a stop with a red flag, as Brandon Brinton, Kory Meyer, Tim Hamburg, Scott Hogan, Ray Guss Jr., Blake Woodruff, and Jardin Fuller were piled up under the flag stand blocking the track. All drivers were okay, with Woodruff the only car able to continue. On the restart Marriott moved out front to lead lap 1 over Kyle Brown and Ryan Maitland. The action up front was slowed for the second time on lap 2, as David Brown lost a left rear wheel in turn 2 to bring out the yellow. Marriott once again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Kyle Brown and Cayden Carter close behind. The third caution of the race appeared on lap 7, when debris in turn 2 brought out the yellow. On the following restart the yellow light would come back on, as debris in turn 1 slowed the action. The following restart saw Josh Foster shoot to the bottom of the track to overtake Marriott for the top spot. But Marriott wouldn’t give up, as he used the momentum off the top of turn 4 on lap 9 to grab the lead back. Debris in turn 4 on lap 13 would bring the great battle up front to a slow. Marriott jumped back out front on the restart, with Foster and Carter following close behind. Foster worked the low side of the track coming off turn 2 to slip past Marriott for the lead on lap 16. Just as that lap was scored complete the caution appeared for debris in turn 1. Which was a break for Foster, as Marriott over took him for the lead going into turn 1. The final restart saw Foster move back out front, with Marriott and Kyle Brown battling for the runner up spot. Foster would go on to lead the final 4 laps to pick up the win and the $1,000 top prize to go with it. Kyle Brown won the battle for 2nd, Marriott was 3rd, Carter was 4th, with Kelly Shryock coming home in 5th after starting in 10th.
The final feature was the Coors Light IMCA Hobby Stocks set for 14laps with Shannon Anderson and John Irwin drawing the front row for the event. But it was fourth place starter Nick Ulin who jumped out into the lead on lap one over Anderson and Eric Stanton. Anderson then followed in Ulin’s tire tracks for the next 7 laps, until he slipped under Ulin going into turn 3 to grab the top spot away on lap 8 Ulin was battling brake problems all night and might had played a part in losing the lead to Anderson. The final six laps of a caution free racing to pick up the win and the $500 top prize. Ulin took second, Eric Stanton was third, August Bach came home in 4th, with Brandon Symmonds rounding out the top five.
Racing action will roar back to life on April 8th with NSL 360 Sprint league in action along with five classes as season opener except for the hobby stocks who will be off that night. Hot laps at 7pm and racing at 7:30pm at the Pepsi Lee County Speedway. For more information check out www.leecountyspeedway.com