WEBSTER CITY - Two quick rain showers didn't stop the action at the Hamilton County Speedway Saturday evening.
The first shower forced race cars to the track to repack the surface. The next light rainstorm red-flagged the Sport Compact feature race. The main event got in half of its laps before they were brought inside the front stretch. Track officials then put all 24 Sport Mods waiting to begin their feature on the track for another session of packing.
For 15-year-old novice racer Matt Oberhelman, a Fort Dodge High School student, the timeout was worth it. He led the first three laps of the Sport Compact feature until Danny Sassman, Jr. took over.
DFJ photo by Nancy Kayser
Clear Lake driver Matt Benson leads the Sport Mod feature off the final restart on Saturday at the Hamilton County Speedway. Carter VanDenberg of Oskaloosa (on left) finished second.
But then the rain came and the little compacts began their wait.
Once the track was ready, Oberhelman regained the lead on the restart and hightailed it for the checkers for his first career victory. Sassman, also of Fort Dodge, finished second with Bryce Summers of Eagle Grove in third.
With seven of the top 10 IMCA Late Model national points contenders on the history half-mile just about every Saturday night, you can bet the feature race is going to be a shootout.
The Late Model lead changed hands three times before Webster City's Ryan Griffith, running the inside lane, powered under Todd Cooney of Des Moines on lap No. 16 to take the trophy. Cooney stayed with him during the final laps for second. Jason Hahne, another Webster City driver, was third.
The top three finishers in the Sport Mod feature all came from the back of the pack. For winner Aaron Benson of Clear Lake it was his first time this season in Hamilton County's victory lane.
Benson jumped into the lead at the midpoint of the race and then held off hard-charging Carter VanDenberg of Oskaloosa to cross the stripe just two car lengths ahead. Claiming the third spot was Roland's Matt Lettow, who won the previous week's feature.
VanDenberg began the 2014 season early on the western circuit and currently ranks ninth in IMCA National Sport Mod points. He stands second in Iowa.
The 19 Modifieds on the track were eager to get rolling - so eager that it took three restarts to get the first lap in. Officials called them back in line when everyone jumped the gun on the start. A multi-car tangle up in turn No. 4 brought out the second yellow flag, and when two more cars got together on the next restart the third yellow flag was waved.
Front-row starter Devon Havlik of Iowa Falls led until another caution on lap No. 9 reset the field. By then veteran drivers Adam Larson of Ankeny and Mark Elliott of Webster City had worked forward from the back to grab the top two spots.
Elliott chased Larson hard to the finish, but Larson prevailed to grab his second track win of the season.
Churdan's Jason Minnehan topped the Stock Car feature again this week. Minnehan got to the front by the 12th lap with John Campbell of Belmond on his bumper. The two dueled to the finish.
Steve Meyer of Grundy Center came across in third.
Granger resident Randy Embrey, last year's Hobby Stock track champ, didn't let a little thing like a flat tire keep him from a win. The flat sent him to the work area for a tire change early in the race, but restarting at the back of the pack, Embrey had gunned to the front by mid-race.
Webster City's Craig Graham followed right behind in second. Third went to Jeff Lyon of Duncombe.
A total of 88 drivers from 42 Iowa towns entered the pits for the night's festivities.
The Deery Late Model and Hawkeye Modified series will hit the Hamilton County Speedway tonight. Support classes include Hobby Stock and Sport Mods.
Regular points racing resumes Saturday with hot laps at 6:30 p.m.