WEBSTER CITY - Fans filled the grandstand at the Hamilton County Speedway on Saturday for the reduced-admission Fan Appreciation Night, and intense competition and exciting finishes made it a good night to be in attendance.
There was a little something for everyone as youngsters were treated to rides around the track with their favorite drivers. The evening was topped off by a fireworks display sponsored by Webster City's financial institutions.
The fast track provided the perfect venue for the Sport Mod feature race with Chase Ellingson, No. 14E of Williams, gaining his first-ever victory at the speedway.
DFJ photo by Nancy Kayser
Chase Ellingson (front) leads his Sport Mod heat race as Carter VanDenberg gives chase on Saturday at the Hamilton County Speedway. They finished first and second in the heat and then in the same spots in the feature race later in the night.
But it didn't come easy.
Ellingson led the entire 16-lap feature, but the pack behind him worked its way forward with the top three cars running side-by-side over the final laps. It was a squeaker at the finish line with Ellingson taking a slight edge on runner-up Carter VanDenberg, No. 7 of Oskaloosa. Joel Rust, No. 26J of Grundy Center, took third.
Rust is currently in first-place in the Iowa IMCA Sport Mod point's chase. VanDenberg - Saturday's 'King of the Hill' winner - resides in second.
Also earning his first win this season in the Hobby Stock class was Myles Michehl, No. 21 of Fort Dodge. He led all but the first lap.
Behind Michehl was the No. 40 driven by Randy Embrey of Granger. He worked his way up from the ninth starting spot. Also coming from the back of the pack was Matt Mundt, No. 25M of Callender, to claim the third-place spot.
It wasn't an easy task for Jason Vansickel, No. 37E of Webster City, to get his second win of the season in the hotly-contested Stock Car feature race. He led the first few laps until Steve Meyer, No. 94 of Grundy Center, took over.
Vansickel stayed on his tail and then went to the front when Meyer blew a motor that took him out of the race coming out of turn four.
Mark Elliott, No. 15 of Webster City, settled for second. John Campbell, No. 7J of Belmond, was third.
Mark Elliott came roaring back on the track in his No. 15 Modified determined to take the checkers in the feature race. He didn't waste any time in taking the lead on the first-lap restart and held it for his second win of the season.
Coming in second was the No. 22T driven by Tyler Prochaska out of Iowa Falls. Devon Havlik, No. 5D of Iowa Falls, claimed third.
Ankeny driver Ben Nading pushed his No. 21 Late Model to the front from his pole position start in the feature. But my mid-race, Webster City's Ryan Griffith, in the No. 15X, had reeled him in and gained the lead.
Griffith crossed the finish line first to claim his third speedway victory of the year. The win propelled him into a one-point championship lead over Darrell DeFrance, No. 99D out of Marshalltown.
Nading finished the feature in second. DeFrance was third.
Adding more excitement to the evening was the 10-lap Sport Compact feature, as two cars ran side-by-side for the final half of the race. Webster City's Adam Struck, in the No. 85S, and Mason City's Ryan Bryant, in the No. 37X, dueled for the win. Strunk edged out Bryant at the finish line to grab his third track win this year. In third was Dustin Haggard, No. 37 of Humboldt.
There were 70 cars on the track with drivers from 31 Iowa towns.
Saturday begins two weeks of regular and special racing in Webster City. Weekly point's racing is set for July 13. On Wednesday, July 17, the Lucas Oil Late Model series along with the United States Modified Touring Series comes to the historic track; it is the second of a four-night, three-state tour.
The Hamilton County Fair will follow with Thursday Night Thunder racing on July 25. The traditional Trailer Race has been moved to Friday, July 26, along with a fun Hound and Hare challenge race. The traditional Saturday Night Classic point's race is July 27, and the Eve of Destruction Demolition Derby will close out the fair on Sunday, July 28.