Article Courtesy of Brian Neal – Positively Racing
Photo courtesy of Dennis Krieger Imagery
West Burlington, IA (Saturday, April 19, 2014) – Saturday night’s “Slocum 50” at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa is an event everybody looks forward to putting on there calendar when the schedule of events comes out each year for the past 6 years. This event honors Brent Slocum, who was taking after a pit accident back in 2005 at 34 Raceway. Thanks to his many friends, family and great sponsors his memory is carried on with this annual event. The 2014 edition of the “Slocum 50” boosted the biggest payout in the 6 year anniversary, with the winner taking home a check for $10,555, and it also marked the first time featuring the open Late Model type rules.
The first feature up on the night was the 20 lap IMCA Stock Cars, with Jake Wenig and Jim Redmann drawing the front row for the event. Wenig would take advantage of his front row start to grab the lead on lap 1 over Redmann. Wenig then held off Redmann until the first caution of the event appeared on lap 7, as Mark Bowman spun in turn 4 to bring out the yellow. On the restart Jim Lynch would spin in turn 2 and collect Dane Fenton to bring the yellow light back on. The following restart saw Redmann edge out Jason Cook, who started 8th, at the line by inches to grab the lead on lap 8. But Cook, who was using the bottom of the track, managed to edge out Redmann at the line by inches to lead lap 9. Just as the battle up front was heating up with two and even three wide racing for the top 5 spots, Blaine Dopler would spin in turn 2 on lap 10 to slow the action down. Cook jumped back out front on the restart, only to be slowed one lap later. As Dopler spun in turn 2 on lap 11 to bring the caution out. Once again Cook moved out front on the restart and held on over the final 9 laps to pick up the win. Redmann was 2nd, John Oliver Jr. was 3rd, Ray Raker was 4th, with Tom Bowling Jr. coming from 10th to round out the top 5.
Justin Newberry drew the pole for the 20 lap 305 Sprint feature, but when he slowed to a stop in turn 3 on the parade lap and was pushed to the pits, this moved Cody Wehrle to the pole next to Matt Krieger. Wehrle jumped out into the lead on the drop of the green flag over Krieger and Jayson Ditsworth. Wehrle, who was using the bottom of the track, and Krieger, who was up top, had a battle going for the lead until disaster struck them both on lap 7. Krieger was able to squeeze under Wehrle going into turn three, but with both bumping wheels, Wehrle would get sideways and had Krieger go over his left front. Krieger would end up upside down in turn 4 to bring out the red. He would climb from his car dejected but okay. While Wehrle did a complete 360 and kept going. But 34 Raceway rules state if a driver does a complete 360, weather they keep going or not, a caution is thrown and the driver sent to the back for being part of the caution. Dave Getchell, who started 7th, inherited the lead on the restart and looked to be heading for the win until lap 14 when he entered lapped traffic. Getchell used caution to get around the lapped cars, which allowed Ditsworth to power by on the top to grab the lead on lap 16. Ditsworth’s lead only lasted for one lap, as John Schulz, who started 8th, edged him at the line on the bottom by inches to lead lap 17. After the completion of lap 17, Dustin Clark spun in turn 2 to bring out the yellow and slow the action up front. On the restart Schulz moved back out front and then led the final 3 laps to claim the win. Ditsworth was 2nd, Donnie Steward came from 6th to 3rd, Dustin Whiting passed 9 cars from his 13th place starting spot to finish in 4th, with Daniel Bergquist coming from 10th to finish in 5th.
The final feature on the night was the Corn Belt Clash / MARS Dirtcar Series / American Late Model Series (ALMS) 50 lap “Slocum 50” Late Model feature. By virtue of there first and second place finish in the dash Jason Utter and Brian Shirley led the field of 24 strong to the drop of the green flag. Utter jumped out front on lap 1 over Bobby Pierce and Shirley and then held it until lap 4. Pierce used the bottom of the track to slip past Utter on lap 4 to grab the top spot, leaving Utter to battle Brandon Sheppard and Shirley for the second spot. While Pierce set a fast pace and was pulling away from the battle for second, Utter and Shirley were racing side-by-side for the runner up spot. That was until lap 13 when Shirley squeezed Utter down going into turn 1, which caused Utter to clip a tire and spin to bring out the first caution. On the restart Pierce moved back out front, but now had Jason Feger on his back bumper. Pierce once again started to stretch his advantage over second, until lap 27 when he started to enter heavy lapped traffic. The combination of lapped traffic and Pierce jumping the cushion in turn 3 and scrapping the wall, allowed Feger to close in on his back bumper. But the final caution of the event on lap 32 for Shirley who jumped the cushion in turn 3 while running 5th and came to a stop in the wall, gave Pierce an open track in front of him for the restart. On that restart Pierce grabbed the lead and never was challenged over the final 18 laps to claim the “Slocum 50” win and the $10,555 top prize to go with it. Feger settled for 2nd, Sheppard recovered from jumping the cushion in turn 3 on lap 8 and falling back to 6th to finish in 3rd, Brian Birkhofer started 10th and finished 4th, with Jimmy Mars coming home in 5th.
Notes from 34: Forty-six Late Models from eight states including Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Ohio, Arkansas and Texas signed in in hopes of claiming the $10,555 top prize or even the $500 guarantee to just make the 24 car starting field for the “Slocum 50”. Those 46 cars drew a number and were then divided into 5 heat race groups, in which they were timed with those drivers in there groups. The times would then be used to set their starting spots for the heat races, with the top 3 in each of those heats moving into the A Main. The remainder would run one of two B Mains, with the top 3 out of those moving into the A Main. The final 3 spots were determined by one provisional for the MARS Dirtcar Deries, one for the Corn Belt Clash and one by the ALMS….Heat one saw Utter pull away to claim the easy win. While Will Vaught came from 7th to finish in 2nd, and Kevin Weaver coming home in 3rd….Heat two had Brandon Sheppard holding off Jimmy Mars to claim the win. With Shannon Babb finishing 3rd…..Heat three was claimed by Jason Feger, with AJ Diemel coming from 4th to finish 2nd, and Frank Heckenast Jr holding on for 3rd….Heat four was won by Bobby Pierce over Rodney Sanders and Jesse Stovall….Heat five was one of the best ones, as Brian Shirley and Brian Birkhofer raced side-by-side for the lead much of the race. Shirley was able to hold back Birkhofer to claim the win, with Tony Jackson Jr. coming home in 3rd….The first B Main was claimed by Chris Simpson, with Terry Phillips coming from 4th to finish in 2nd, and Spencer Diercks finishing 3rd….B Main number two saw Ryan Gustin hold off Ryan Unzicker to pick up the win, with Lance Matthees holding off Mark Burgtorf, who started 7th, to claim the final transfer spot….Utter used his pole draw in the dash to pick up the win over Shirley to claim the pole row for the “Slocum 50″….Gustin passed 11 cars from his 17th place staring spot in the feature to take home a 6th place finish….Unzicker came from 22nd to pass 12 cars and finished 7th to earn the hard charger award….Stovall started 14th and came home in 8th….Jackson Jr. finished 9th after starting in 15th….Rodney Sanders was running sixth on lap 42, when he jumped the cushion in turn 3 and fell back to finish in 11th….Jason Riggs took the ALMS provisional and started 24th. He would pass 11 cars to come home in 13th……Abe Huls, who started 15th in the Stock Car feature, was running 5th when he had a flat tire on the lap 11 caution. He went to the pits and got it changed to start in the back for the restart. He would recover to bring home 6th and won the hard charger award….Jim Lynch, who started 12th, recovered from his lap 7 spin to come back to finish in 8th….Shane Watts started 14th and passed 5 cars to finish in 9th….Chad Krogmeier came from 16th to finish in 10th……Andy Huston started the 305 Sprint feature in 11th and passed 5 cars to finish in 6th….Nick Guernsey came from 18th to finish in 9th….Andy Krieger moved up from the IMCA Modified class to the 305 Sprints and started 17th in the feature. He passed 7 cars to bring home a 10th place finish….Chase Wanner had troubles in his heat and had to start 20th for the feature. He would pass 7 cars to come home in 13th.
I would like to thank Amy and Jeff Laue and the entire staff at 34 Raceway for allowing me to be a part of the 6th Annual “Slocum 50”. Tonight will end my three day weekend of racing, as I head south to the Quincy Raceways in Quincy, IL for the ALMS Late Models.