by Brian Neal
Donnellson, IA (Friday, March 22, 2019) – After a cold and snowy winter many thought there would be no chance of the 2019 racing season getting starting anytime soon in the Midwest. But with a lot of hard work and determination by the crew at the Pepsi Lee County Speedway in Donnellson, Iowa the opening night of the Fall Extravaganza was put into the books on Friday, March 22nd. Coming away with opening night wins were Tommy Elston (I-Smile Silver Late Models), Michael Long (Budweiser Modifieds), Abe Huls (Donnellson Tire & Service Stock Cars), Tyler Soppe (Roberts Tire Center SportMods), and Jacob Houston (Discount Tire & Service Sport Compacts).
The first feature to take to the track was the 20 lap I-Smile Silver Late Models, with Dustin Bluhm and Sam Halstead drawing the front row. Bluhm would take advantage of his starting spot to grab the lead on lap 1 over Halstead and Jay Johnson. The action was slowed for the first time on lap 4, when debris in turn 3 brought out the caution. On the restart Bluhm jumped back out front, with Johnson over taking Halstead for second. Just after the lap was scored complete Bryan Berger spun into the guardrail in turn 4 to bring out the yellow. Bluhm again grabbed the lead on the restart, with Johnson and Tommy Elston, who started 5th, close behind. Two more laps would be scored complete when Todd Frank spun in turn 2 to bring the yellow out. On the restart Bluhm jumped back out front with Johnson and Elston still following. Disaster would strike Bluhm on lap 9, when he spun in turn 1 to bring out the yellow. This would hand the lead over to Johnson on the restart. On that restart Brandon Queen spun in turn 1 to bring the yellow light back on. The following restart saw Johnson jump out front, with Halstead and Elston battling for second. Elston would secure the runner up spot on lap 11 and then went to work on Johnson for the top spot. Coming out of turn 4 to complete lap 17 Johnson slid high, which allowed Elston to pull even with him down the front stretch. Elston would come out turn 2 with the lead, and then pulled away over the final laps to pick up the win. Johnson was 2nd, Halstead was 3rd, Bluhm recovered from his spin on lap 9 to come back up to finish 4th, with Berger also recovering from an early spin to finish 5th.
Up next was the 20 lap Roberts Tire Center SportMod feature, with Jeremy Gustaf and Brandon Dale leading the field to green. Dale would edge out Gustaf on lap 1 to grab the lead. While Dale set the pace out front, Gustaf, Nathan Bringer, Tyler Soppe, Daniel Fellows, who started 9th, and Austen Becerra, who started 7th, waged a battle for the runner up spot. Soppe was able to grab the second spot on lap 11 and then went to work on cutting into Dale’s lead. On lap 15 Dale started entering lapped traffic, which allowed Soppe to close in on him quickly. Coming off turn 2 to come around to complete lap 16 Dale chose to try the topside to get around some lapped cars. This would allow Soppe to slip under him to grab the top spot away. Soppe then pulled away over the final laps to score his first win at the Pepsi Lee County Speedway, and score the $1,000 check. Becerra made a last lap pass to finish 2nd, Dale was 3rd, Fellows was 4th, with Bringer rounding out the top 5.
Abe Huls and Jay Schmidt drew the front row for the 22 lap Donnellson Tire & Service Stock Car feature, with Schmidt edging out the lead at the stripe on lap 1 over Huls. With Schmidt out front, Huls, John Oliver Jr., Derek Green, Damon Murty, who started 5th, and Todd Reitzler, who started 8th, made it a six car battle up front. Huls would find a groove up top to his liking, which allowed him to challenge Schmidt for the top spot on lap 9. When Schmidt upset the car in turn 3 coming to lap 10, this allowed Huls to shoot under him for the lead. Huls then started to pull away, when the first caution of race appeared on lap 16. Green, who was running fifth, slowed with a right rear flat and couldn’t get off the track. On the restart Huls moved back out front, but now had Murty glued to his back bumper. Murty would keep the pressure on Huls over the final laps, but Huls was able to hold on for the $1,000 paycheck. Murty was 2nd, Schmidt held on for 3rd, Oliver Jr. was 4th, with Jeremy Pundt coming from 9th to round out the top 5.
Following the Stock Car feature was the 22 lap Budweiser Modified feature, with Aaron Johnson and Mike Van Genderen leading the field to green. Van Genderen took advantage of his draw to grab the lead on lap 1 over Chad Holladay and Jeremy Mills, who started 6th. The lead for Van Genderen lasted until lap 2, as he slowed off turn 4 before pulling into the infield in turn 1. This would hand the lead over to Holladay. With Holladay setting a fast pace out front. Micheal Long, who started 10th, was working his way towards the front. Long would challenge Mills for the runner up spot on lap 6, before over taking him on lap 7. He then went to work on cutting into Holladay’s lead. By lap 17 Long had pulled himself up to Holladay’s back bumper. Then on lap 19 he made a move off of turn 2 to take the top spot. Long then pulled away to claim the $1,000 top prize. Holladay was 2nd, Mills was 3rd, Dave Wietholder started 8th and finished 4th, with Johnson holding on for 5th.
The final feature to take to the track was the 14 lap Discount Tire & Service Sport Compacts, with Chris Wilson and Brandon Reu drawing the front row for the event. Reu would use his starting spot to his advantage, as he grabbed the lead on lap 1 over Barry Taft, and Jacob Houston, who started 8th. With Reu out front, Taft and Houston raced side-by-side for the runner up spot. Going into turn four to complete lap 4 Houston got up on two wheels, and with Taft to his outside it would help to settle him back down on all four tires. But as a result of the contact Taft would slow off turn 4 the following lap with a left front flat to bring out the one and only caution of the race. On the restart Reu moved back out front, with Jason Ash, who started 11th, over taking Houston for second. Ash would grab the top spot away from Reu on lap 9. Two laps later Houston made the pass on Reu to take second, and then went to work on Ash for the lead. Going into turn 3 on the final lap Houston got under Ash and then edged him at the line by half a car length to claim the win and the $300 top prize. Ash was 2nd, Reu was 3rd, Chuck Fullenkamp came from 7th to finish in 4th, with Zach Bohlmeyer coming home in 5th.
Pepsi Lee County Speedway, Donnellson, Iowa
Friday, March 22, 2019 – Spring Extravaganva Night 1
I-Smile Silver Late Models
A-Feature: 1. Tommy Elston, Keokuk, IA; 2. Jay Johnson, West Burlington, IA; 3. Sam Halstead, New London, IA; 4. Dustin Bluhm, Herman, MN; 5. Bryan Berger, Ortley, SD; 6. Brandon Queen, Keokuk, IA; 7. Todd Frank, Montrose, IA; 8. Brian Harris, Davenport, IA; 9. Gunner Frank, Montrose, IA
Heat: 1. Bryan Berger; 2. Dustin Bluhm; 3. Sam Halstead; 4. Jay Johnson; 5. Tommy Elston; 6. Gunner Frank; 7. Brandon Queen; 8. Brian Harris; 9. Todd Frank
A-Feature: 1. Michael Long, Fowler, IL; 2. Chad Holladay, Muscatine, IA; 3. Jeremy Mills, Britt, IA; 4. Dave Wietholder, Liberty, IL; 5. Aaron Johnson, Brainard, MN; 6. Derrick Stewart, Ainsworth, IA; 7. Jeff Waterman, Quincy, IL; 8. Dalton McKenney, Clarksville, MO; 9. Austin Howes, Memphis, MO; 10. Kelly Buckallew, Memphis, MO; 11. Vance Wilson, Quincy, IL; 12. Mike Van Genderen, Newton, IA; 13. Bill Roberts Jr., Burlington, IA (DNS)
Heat 1: 1. Dave Wietholder; 2. Michael Long; 3. Vance Wilson; 4. Mike Van Genderen; 5. Aaron Johnson; 6. Jeff Waterman; 7. Bill Roberts Jr.
Heat 2: 1. Chad Holladay; 2. Jeremy Mills; 3. Austin Howes; 4. Dalton McKenney; 5. Derrick Stewart; 6. Kelly Buckallew
Donnellson Tire & Service Stock Cars
A-Feature: 1. Abe Huls, Carthage, IL; 2. Damon Murty, Chelsea, IA; 3. Jay Schmidt, Tama, IA; 4. John Oliver Jr., Danville, IA; 5. Jeremy Pundt, Donnellson, IA; 6. Dan Mackenthun, Hamburg, MN; 7. Derek Green, Granada, MN; 8. Tyler Pickett, Boxholm, IA; 9. Adam Klocke, Carroll, IA; 10. Chad Krogmeier, Burlington, IA; 11. Dallon Murty, Chelsea, IA; 12. Jared Miller, Iowa City, IA; 13. Les Blakley, Fairfield, IA; 14. Kevin Koontz, Memphis, MO; 15. Jeff Mueller, Albion, IA; 16. Todd Reitzler, Grinnell, IA; 17. Kyle Brown, Madrid, IA; 18. Peter Stodgel, Fowler, IL
Heat 1: 1. Todd Reitzler; 2. Abe Huls; 3. Dan Mackenthun; 4. Tyler Pickett; 5. Adam Klocke; 6. Dallon Murty
Heat 2: 1. Jay Schmidt; 2. John Oliver Jr.; 3. Jeremy Pundt; 4. Chad Krogmeier; 5. Les Blakley; 6. Jeff Mueller
Heat 3: 1. Derek Green; 2. Damon Murty; 3. Kyle Brown; 4. Kevin Koontz; 5. Peter Stodgel; 6. Jared Miller
Roberts Tire & Service SportMods
A-Feature: 1. Tyler Soppe, Sherrill, IA; 2. Austen Becerra, Bowen, IL; 3. Brandon Dale, Arbela, MO; 4. Daniel Fellows, Keokuk, IA; 5. Nathan Bringer, Lewistown, MO; 6. Adam Birck, Canton, MO; 7. John Anderson, Kirksville, MO; 8. Jeremy Gustaf, East Moline, IL; 9. Blaine Webster, Ottumwa, IA; 10. Ryan Maitland, Waterloo, IA; 11. James Roose, Grandview, IA; 12. Bob Cowman, Quincy, IL; 13. Brandon Lambert, Carthage, IL; 14. Patrick Profeta, Keokuk, IA; 15. Andrew Swailes, Riverside, IA
Heat 1: 1. Tyler Soppe; 2. Daniel Fellows; 3. Jeremy Gustaf; 4. Andrew Swailes; 5. John Anderson; 6. Brandon Lambert; 7. Patrick Profeta; 8. Adam Birck
Heat 2: 1. Austen Becerra; 2. Blaine Webster; 3. Nathan Bringer; 4. Ryan Maitland; 5. Brandon Dale; 6. James Roose; 7. Bob Cowman
Discount Tire & Service Sport Compacts
A-Feature: 1. Jacob Houston, Burlington, IA; 2. Jason Ash, Burlington, IA; 3. Brandon Reu, Donnellson, IA; 4. Chuck Fullenkamp, West Point, IA; 5. Zach Bohlmeyer, Beatrice, NE; 6. Oliver Monson, Humboldt, IA; 7. Jake Benischek, Durant, IA; 8. Kimberly Abbott, Camp Point, IL; 9. Drake Bohlmeyer, Beatrice, NE; 10. Luke Benischek, Durant, IA; 11. John Gill, Marshalltown, IA; 12. Jaden DeLonjay, Quincy, IL; 13. David Prim, Hamelton, IL; 14. Jake Smith, St. Joseph, MN; 15. Zach Jackson, Bemidji, MN; 16. Chris Wilson, Britt, IA; 17. Jeffery DeLonjay, Quincy, IL; 18. Tanner Wilson, Albia, IA; 19. Barry Taft, Argyle, IA; 20. Cody Staley, Muscatine, IA; 21. Ashton Blain, Burlington, IA (DNS)
Heat 1: 1. Jacob Houston; 2. Brandon Reu; 3. Jake Benischek; 4. Chris Wilson; 5. Jeffery DeLonjay; 6. Drake Bohlmeyer; 7. David Prim
Heat 2: 1. Jason Ash; 2. Barry Taft; 3. Chuck Fullenkamp; 4. Zach Bohlmeyer; 5. Kimberly Abbott; 6. John Gill; 7. Oliver Monson
Heat 3: 1. Luke Benischek; 2. Tanner Wilson; 3. Zach Jackson; 4. Jake Smith; 5. Jaden DeLonjay; 6. Cody Staley; 7. Ashton Blain
by Brian Neal