WEBSTER CITY - As Nick Pedersen's No. 29 Late Model rolled over several times in front of the grandstand, the crowd collectively rose to its feet. Car parts had barely settled to the ground as track personnel rushed to his aid. He climbed out of the wreckage unhurt - thanks to the safety equipment required in all race cars - and received a rousing round of applause from the relieved fans.
The spectacular accident happened at the start of the Late Model heat as cars crowed each other to grab the lead on Saturday at the Hamilton County Speedway. Close contact with an other car caused the No. 29 to nose down, which flipped the car several times along the front stretch.
Pederson said later, as the wrecker loaded his car onto a flatbed trailer, "I'll rebuild it and be back on the track as soon as possible. It's racing, these things happen."
DFJ photo by Nancy Kayser
The No. 29 Late Model of Nick Pedersen collides with the wall as debris scatters in front of the grandstand at the Hamilton County Speedway on Saturday. Pedersen was able to walk away from wreck.
It was an exceptional night of racing on the fast, super tacky track as veteran drivers from around the state vied for the checkered flag.
The Sport Mods again fielded the largest number of entries for the night with 27, all of them gaining a spot in the feature. The No. 41 car driven by Jeremy Embrey of Granger took the lead on the second lap over pole-sitters Tyler Heetland, No. 17 of Bancroft, and the No. 48 driven by Blake Conant of Carlisle. Heetland stayed in second behind Embrey for the first half of the race as sixth-row starter Bryon Weyer, Des Moines in the No. 27, the No. 505 of Racer Hulin, Laurel, the No. 4ORD of Bob Sutherland of Blairsburg and the No. 64 driven by Brandon Leeman from Roland jockeyed for position behind them.
By mid-race Weyer moved to second behind Embrey and then passed him on the last lap for his second consecutive win. Embrey finished second with Heetland third, Leman in fourth and Hulin fifth.
It took two restarts to get the Hobby Stocks racing as several cars were involved in a bump and crunch at the start of the race. At the restart, Ty Griffith, Webster City in the No. 56, went to the front with Austin Wolfgram, also of Webster City in the No. 24, on his bumper.
By the middle of the race Randy Embrey from Granger in the No. 40 and Justin Nehring, Storm Lake in the No. 20N, had worked into the third and fourth spots. The group bunched together on the corners and spread out on the straightway.
By the final two laps the top four raced bumper to bumper and side by side. As the group headed into the final turn at the finish, Griffith appeared to go a little high, giving Wolfram just enough room to get by for his second win of the season. And if that wasn't exciting enough, Nehring also managed to get ahead of Embrey at the end to claim third.
The Modified division also got two chances on the start as the first attempt to begin the race was called back for jumping the start.
Pole-sitter Richie Gustin of Gilman in the No. 19G went to the front and stayed there, but he had to drive hard to keep it. Cayden Carter, No. 10C of Oskaloosa in his first year as a Modified driver, stayed with Gustin, running in second until Webster City's Mark Elliott in the No. 12 worked his way forward from the fourth row to take over the second slot. By mid-race, J. D. Auringer of Evansdale came from the fifth row for third.
Gustin managed to keep the lead to the checkers for a second win this year with Elliott a very close second.
Megan Lappegard of Spencer in her No. 33X Sports Compact garnered her first win this season at the speedway when she took over the lead mid-race from second-place finisher Jarid Kuchenreuther of Rockwell City in the No. 83.
The Deal cousins of Fort Dodge have claimed first in all four Stock Car races this season. This week it was Jeff Deal in the No. 22 who took the lead from a row three start for the win.
Veteran driver Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown piloted his yellow No. 99D Late Model to his first victory of the year at the speedway. DeFrance grabbed first place with a pass on the backstretch on lap No. 6. Right on his tail was the No. X driven by Ryan Griffith of Webster City for second.
There were 84 cars on the track from 40 Iowa towns.
Sponsor of next Saturday's race is I-Wireless. The grandstand opens at 5 p.m., and hot logs begin at 6 p.m. with racing to following.
Don't forget the Hawkeye Dirt Tour slated for Tuesday, June 5. Many of the state's top IMCA Modified drivers will be racing for series points. Support classes are IMCA Sport Mods, IMCA Hobby Stocks and Stock Cars.