Hahne navigates his Late Model to Victory Lane at Hamilton County Speedway
WEBSTER CITY – When it rains at the Hamilton County Speedway just hours before a race, you’ve “gotta do a little farming,” as the fans call it in order to get the track back to top racing form.
Everyone pitched in Saturday afternoon to get the track and the pit area ready for the weekly performance.
Track personnel, Fairboard members, racers, the regular track packers and even fans used everything from graders, to quad-wheel tractors, to pickups with car trailers to mush out the moisture and pack down the surface.
Their efforts provided a fast, multi-lane track, and the enthusiastic racers supplied the action, which included a few thrills and spills.
A full field of Sport Mod race cars provided the first excitement during its feature race. On the start lap, six cars traded paint in turn one, forcing two to retire to the pits for the night and the first of five restarts.
The last yellow flag flew during lap No. 9 when four more cars tangled in turns three and four.
Taking the lead at the start of the race was the No. 02A driven by Cody Albers of Wellsburg. Matt Lettow of Roland – the eventual winner in the No. 21L – gained the lead on the restart of lap No. 6 and held it to the finish line with Albers claiming a close second.
Lettow worked his way to the front from his sixth-row starting spot. It was his second feature win of the season.
Bob Sutherland of Blairsburg, driving the No. 4ORD, was third. Ellsworth’s Rocky Caudle in the No. 99 placed fourth, and Jerid Ratzke of Williams in the No. 2 was fifth.
Local driver Jason Hahne, in his No. 76 machine, notched his first Late Model feature win of the season at the local track. Fresh off a victory last week in Denison, Hahne kept his front-row start position all 20 laps for the victory.
Ryan Griffith, another Webster City driver in the No. 15X, took second. Veteran Darrell DeFrance out of Marshalltown took his familiar No. 99D to third.
Lake City driver Devin Smith started in the sixth row, but by lap No. 6 he had his No. 81 Hobby Stock running second. The 2011 IMCA National Hobby Stock champion ran side-by-side with leader Ty Griffith – out of Webster City in the No. 56 – until a smoking motor put Griffith in the pits.
But Smith didn’t cruise to the finish line without a battle from last year’s track champ, as Randy Embrey of Granger in the No. 40 moved up to vie for the checkered flag. Smith held on to win; Embrey placed second.
In third was the No. 21 driven by Myles Michehl, and Cody Nielsen in the No. 29N took fourth. Both drivers reside in Fort Dodge.
Third-row starter John Campbell, No. 7J of Belmond, gained the lead in the Stock Car feature on the lap No. 5 restart after race leader Jason Vansickel, No. 37E, spun coming out of turn three and had to be towed to the pits.
Campbell held the lead for the balance of the race to claim his first win of the season at the track. Steve Meyer, No. 94 out of Grundy Center, wound up in second. Travis Prochaska of Iowa Falls in the No. 21T was third, and Granada, Minn., driver Derek Green in the No. 32K placed fourth.
Ryan Ruter of Kanawha in the No. 555 Modified seized the lead at the start en route to his second win of the season. Behind him was a battle, as four experienced and talented drivers contested to overtake the leader.
At the checkers, it was Dustin Smith of Lake City in the No. 85 claiming the second spot. Third went to No. 15 Mark Elliott of Webster City.
Not to be outdone by their bigger counterpart, the Sport Compacts stayed bunched the entire race with three different drivers taking their turn at the lead. Crossing the finish line first was the No. 43H driven by Josh Cleghorn of Bondurant with Adam Struck – the No. 85S out of Webster City – in second. Dustin Haggard, No. 37 of Humboldt, completed the top three.
The 78 drivers came from 37 Iowa towns and the states of Minnesota and Kansas.
Current leaders in their respective classes for the 2013 Hamilton County Speedway track championships are Adam Strunk of Webster City in Sport Compacts; Randy Embrey of Granger in Hobby Stocks; Matt Lettow of Roland in Sport Mods; Steve Meyer of Grundy Center in Stock Cars; Mark Elliott of Webster City in Modifieds; and Darrell DeFrance of Marshalltown in Late Models.
The total number of drivers in all four classes this season stands at 146.
Weekly points races are once again scheduled for Saturday night. Hot laps will kick off at 6 p.m., with heat and feature races to follow.