by Brian Neal
Donnellson, IA (Friday, October 14, 2016) – Friday was a brisk and cool night, but the on track action was hot enough to heat you up. As the Pepsi Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa opened the “5th Annual Fall Extravaganza”. The nights action was being presented to you by Budweiser, Casey’s General Stores, Donnellson Tire and Service, Randall’s Performance, and Trump Trucks.
The rained out Shottenkirk Parts Express SportMod feature from August 19th was the first event to take to the track on the night, with 3 laps complete. Jim Gillenwater resumed the lead of the race at the drop of the green flag, with John Oliver Jr. and Joey Gower following. While Oliver Jr. try to keep pace with Gillenwater, the battle was for third between Gower, Tony Dunker, and Brandon Lennox, who restarted in 7th. But without a caution there was no catching Gillenwater, as went on to win his third feature of the season at the track. Oliver Jr. was 2nd, Lennox won the battle for 3rd, Dunker was 4th, with Gower rounding out the top 5.
Up next was the 15 lap Mod Lite / Micro Mod feature, with Jason Bahrs and Josh May leading the field to the green flag. May would take advantage of his starting spot to grab the lead on lap 1 over Bahrs and Don Erger, who started 5th. The action was slowed only one time, as Darrick Knutsen stopped down the backstretch on lap 4 to bring out the yellow. On the restart May jumped back out front, with Erger and Bahrs battling for second. May though would pull away over the final laps to pick up the win. Erger was 2nd, Jason Masengarb came from 7th to finish 3rd, Devon Rouse finished 4th after starting in 8th, with Joel Huggins coming from 11th to come home in 5th.
Luke Merfeld and Chad Holladay drew the front row for the 25 lap Steffes Late Model feature, with Merfeld using his front row advantage to grab the lead on lap 1 over Holladay and Richie Gustin, who was driving the #15k for Justin Kay Racing. Merfeld then held the top spot until lap 4, when disaster would strike him. Something appeared to break on the right front that resulted in him hitting the guardrail in turn 4 and bringing out the caution. On the restart Gustin would take over the top spot, with Holladay and Tommy Elston, who started 7th, battling for the runner up spot. The action was slowed for the second and final time on lap 13, when Blake Woodruff spun into the guardrail in turn 1 to bring out the yellow. Gustin once again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Elston over taking Holladay for second. Elston then held off Holladay until lap 19, when a lapped car forced Elston high coming off turn 4 and allowed Holladay to slip back under him for second. But on this night there was no catching Gustin, who pulled away to pick up the win and the $1,000 top prize to go with it. Holladay settled for 2nd, Elston was 3rd, Jeremiah Hurst, who started 9th in the Roberts Motorsports #58, finished 4th, with Todd Frank coming from 12th to round out the top 5.
The 20 lap Donnellson Tire and Service Stock Car feature was up next, with Cayden Carter and Jeff Mueller leading the field to the green flag. Carter took advantage of his starting spot to grab the lead on lap 1 over Mueller and Mike Hughes. While Carter set the pace out front, Mueller and Hughes would battle for the runner up spot. Until the first caution of the race appeared on lap 10 for Randy Exline’s spin in turn 3. On the restart Carter moved back out front, with Mueller and Hughes continuing their battle for second. But the second and final caution of the race came out on lap 13 to slow the action, as Exline spun in turn 3 to end his night with a second solo caution. Carter again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Hughes finally getting around Mueller for second. Despite a few challenges from Hughes and Mueller over the final laps, Carter would hold on to pick up the $1,000 top prize. Hughes was 2nd, Mueller was 3rd, John Oliver Jr. was 4th, with Kirk Kinsley rounding out the top 5.
Up next was the 15 lap Coors Light Hobby Stock feature, with Bill Bonnett and Neal Miller making up the front row for the event. Bonnett would use his front row starting spot to jump out into the lead on lap 1 over Miller and Justin Lichty, who started 5th. A couple of laps later Lichty and Nick Ulin, who started 6th, would over take Miller to move into second and third. Bonnett, who was working the top of the track, then had to work to hold off Lichty over the next several laps, as Ulin was waiting for an opening. Going into turn 3 on the final lap Bonnett entered low to try and slow down Lichty’s momentum, but would drift high coming off turn 4. This would allow Lichty to pull even with Bonnett coming off turn 4, as the two crossed the line side-by-side. Lichty was awarded the win by inches, which was worth $500. Bonnett settled for 2nd, Ulin was 3rd, Miller was 4th, with Mike Kincaid coming from 9th to finish in 5th.
Michael Long and Ronn Lauritzen drew the front row for the Budweiser Modified feature, with Long grabbing the lead on lap 1 over Lauritzen and Cayden Carter, who started 6th. Debris in turn 2 on the completion of lap 1 slowed the action for the first time. On the restart Long moved back out front, with Carter over taking Lauritzen for second. But the second caution of the race appeared after the completion of lap 2, as Scott Dickey and Jason Murray ended up in the guardrail at the end of the front stretch to bring out the yellow. Long once again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Carter and Lauritzen close behind. Just as Long started to pull away from the battle behind him, the third and final caution of the race came out on lap 13. This time Patrick Flannagan slowed to a stop in turn 1 with motor troubles to bring out the yellow. On the restart Long jumped back out front, with Richie Gustin, who was driving the #15k for Justin Kay Racing, and Dave Wietholder, who started 9th, slipped past Carter, who slid high in turn 2 and fell back to 8th. Gustin tried to work under Long over the final laps, but Long would hold him off to pick up the win and the $1,000 top prize. Richie Gustin was 2nd, Bill Roberts Jr., who started 12th, slipped past Wietholder late to finish 3rd, with Wietholder 4th, and Jenae Gustin finishing 5th after starting in 10th.
Up next was the 15 lap Armstrong Tractor Sport Compact feature, with Darin Weisinger Jr. and Josh Barnes leading the field to the green flag. Barnes took advantage of his starting spot to grab the lead on lap 1 over Darin Smith and Jake Dietrich. While Barnes set the pace out front, there was several side-by-side battles going on behind. But that action came to a halt on lap 13, when Dietrich, Ron Kibbe, and William Michel collided in turn 2 to bring out the one and only caution of the race. On the restart Barnes moved back out front, with Kimberly Abbott, who started 6th, and Barry Taft, who started 7th, glued to his back bumper. Barnes, who was working the middle of the track, had Abbott, who was on the bottom, looking under him coming to the white flag. The two would come off turn 4 side-by-side on the final lap, with Barnes claiming the win by a half a car length to pick up the $300 top prize. Abbott settled for 2nd, Taft was 3rd, Smith was 4th, with Nathan Chandler coming from 9th to round out the top 5.
The final feature to take to the track on the night was the 20 lap Shottenkirk Parts Express SportMods, with Brayton Carter and Brandon Lennox drawing the front row. But just as the green flag was waved the red light would come on, as Jason McDaniel, Creston Williams and Paul Howard collided in turn 4. Howard’s car work turn over on it’s side when Carter VanDenBerg clipped him trying to avoid the wreck. All drivers would climb from their cars okay. On the original restart Carter moved out front to lead lap 1 over Lennox and Dakota Simmons. Just after the completion of lap 1 the second caution of the race appeared, as Jim Gillenwater, Tony Olson and Curtis Van Der Wal collided in turn 2 to bring out the yellow. Lennox would slip past Carter on the restart to grab the top spot away, as Jared Boumeester, who started 5th, moved into to challenge. Coming off turn 5 to complete lap 5, Boumeester slipped under Lennox to take over the lead. Boumeester then started to pull away, when the third and final caution appeared on lap 9. This time Austen Becerra slowed in turn 4 with troubles to bring out the yellow. On the restart Boumeester jumped back out front, with John Oliver Jr., who started 10th, over taking Lennox for the runner up spot. Oliver Jr. tried to stay with Boumeester over the final 10 laps, but Boumeester would pull away to pick up the win and the $1,000 check to go with it. Oliver Jr. was 2nd, Lennox crossed the line in 3rd. But a illegal MSD box was found on Lennox’s car in post race inspection, which resulted in him being disqualified. This would move Richie Gustin, who was driving Shawn Ritter’s #5JR, up to 3rd after he started 14th, Tyler Soppe was moved up to 5th after starting in 9th, with Logan Anderson being moved up to finish in 5th.