WEBSTER CITY - When the overhead lighting went dark Saturday evening at the Hamilton County Speedway, officials threw a black flag at the track lights and a red flag to the Hobby Stock drivers during the third lap of their feature race. The grandstand area was not affected by the blackout.
The drivers huddled in Victory Lane as officials worked to get the track lights working. Luckily, the "Flying Electrician," No. 37E Stock Car driver Jason Vansickel, had already finished his race and was able to temporarily repair a broken wire.
As drivers mingled around their cars waiting for the signal to resume racing, Sport Mod driver Matt Lettow of Roland laughingly remarked that this was the first time in his racing career that he had ever seen cars on the track at the same time the fans in the stands were doing the chicken dance for entertainment.
DFJ photo by Nancy Kayser
Brandon Leeman (64), of Roland, drives his way to a Sport Mod heat win on Saturday at the Hamilton County Speedway. He also won the feature, while Ben Kates (23K) of Tonganoxie, Kan., was fourth in the feature.
With the lights repaired, the Hobby Stocks roared back into action. Ty Griffith, No. 56 of Webster City, took the lead but was pressured by Roger Haupt, No. 24 of Clarion, among others.
The group raced as a tight bunch until a tangle up between corners three and four near the end of the race sent Haupt, Craig Graham and Andrew Burg to the pits.
After the restart, Griffith, No. 8R Corey Roe and No. 40 Randy Embrey battled for the lead. The three were side by side as they took turn four in the sprint to the finish on the final lap. Roe of Webster City grabbed the checkers for his first win of the season with Griffith in second and Embrey in third.
Griffith left the pit area prior to the post-race tech inspection and was disqualified.
Also taking his first win of the season was No. 64 Sport Mod driver Brandon Leeman; he jumped to the front on the first lap and held it for the win.
Lettow, in his customary No. 21L, picked off cars one by one from his fifth-row start position to end up in second. Aaron Benson, No. 24 of Clear Lake, placed third.
Steve Meyer, the Stock Car point's leader in the No. 94, added to his margin with his first win at the track this year. He worked up to the lead by the eighth lap and increased it with each trip.
Duking it out for the second slot were two Webster City drivers - Vansickel in his No. 37E and Mark Elliott in the No. 15. At the checkers it was Vansickel in second ahead of third-place Elliott.
In earlier competition, Elliott won the Stock Car 'King of the Hill' competition with Vansickel in second. Also contending were Steve Mayer and Lance Deal.
Another newcomer to Victory Lane was Modified driver Beau Kaplan, No. 11 out of Boone. By mid-race he held a commanding lead over second-place finisher Mark Elliott.
Devin Havlik, No. 5D out of Iowa Falls and last week's Modified winner, took the third spot ahead of Bill Crimmins, No. 35 of Fort Dodge.
There was no doubt that Adam Strunk of Webster City, driving the No. 85S Sport Compact, would make it to Victory Lane. He secured the lead at the start and held it the entire 10 laps for the checkered flag. It was his second win of the season and kept him atop the class leaderboard.
Ryan Griffith, No. 15X of Webster City, led from start to finish in the Late Model feature for his second win of the season. Darrell DeFrance, No. 99D of Marshalltown, was second. The No. 5 car driven by Jeremy Grady of Story City came in third.
There were 66 cars on the track from 32 Iowa towns and Kansas.
The track will celebrate Fan Appreciation Night for its 75th year of racing on Saturday. Admission will be $5 for anyone ages seven and up; youngsters six and under are admitted for free.
Topping off the evening will be a fireworks display sponsored by all of Webster City's financial institutions.