Jason Martin Conquers Night 1 of RaceSaver Nationals
By Greg Soukup
It’s become almost a tradition that Mother Nature has to have her say in the Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals every year. So, after 2 weeks of forecasts of nothing but sun and warm temperatures, she decided to stick her tongue out at the weather guessers and gave us liquid sunshine to delay the start of Night #1 for an hour. And, just to show that she was the boss, she kept up drizzle and mist off and on all evening.
When you have 111 sprints in the pits, chomping at the bit to be a part of the biggest race of the year, nothing keeps the staff at Eagle Raceway from giving the racers and fans what they want however; a night full of excitement and fantastic racing action.
This year, the new format using passing points made it even more important to get up on the wheel and grab every possible spot during the 14 heat races and 7 preliminary features.
Ken Duke Jr., Jack Dover, Mike Boston, Chase Parson, Toby Chapman, Kevin Ramey, John Carney II, Matt Richards, Koby Walters, Jason Danley, Junior Jenkins, Jason Martin, Chase Weiler and Jeff Day Jr. all won their heats.
During those heats and lead-in features, there were 6 serious incidents. In the second heat DJ Estes and Michael Day got together coming out of turn 2 and ended up flipping on the back stretch. The second heat saw Jason Becker and Justin Allen make contact and ended up flipping in turn 4. Chris Kelly got into Trevor Grossenbacher during the 9th heat, destroying Grossenbacher’s mount and severely damaging the 32K of Kelly. Heat 11action was incident free until after the checkered flag flew. Shayle Bade went into turn 1 too hot and went over the cushion, resulting in a flip. George Tristao went flipping up and over Jason Miller in the F Feature and Nate Weiler ended up in the mess. Lastly, in the D Feature Kyle Colwell went too high in turn 4, made contact with the Armco barrier and ended up rolling over. Luckily, none of the drivers was seriously injured.
Dillon Richards and Bryan Vannausdale battled for the lead in the Mountain Dew Kick Start IMCA Sport Compact A Main, with Richards prevailing after the first few circuits. From there to the finish, Richards was not to be headed and grabbed the checkers by several car lengths. Richards left before being interviewed.
The Racesaver IMCA Sprint Car A Feature was next. Action was brought to a halt almost before it began as Jason Danley and Ken Duke Jr. got together on the back stretch, bringing out the red flag. Both cars went to the pits, but returned to the action. When a lap was officially in the books, Jason Martin led the pack with Mike Boston, Toby Chapman and Jack Dover rounding out the top 4. Chapman passed Boston for second on lap 2. Lap 3 saw the yellow lights come on when Chase Parson spun in turn 4. Dover used the restart to move up to third and John Carney II also passed Boston also to snag the fourth position. Carney wasted no time, moving up to third the next time around. Lap 6 saw Carney continue his move forward as he advanced to second. Dover moved up to third on lap 12. Matt Richards cracked the top 4 on lap 15. With 8 laps remaining, Ryan Hall spun into the infield, bringing out another caution period. Shon Pointer and Koby Walters spun out in turn 4 on the restart to keep the action slowed. Boston passed Richards with 7 circuits left to move back to fourth, but Richards retook the spot the next time around. Dover and Carney swapped the second position when Dover snagged the spot with 5 to go, only to have Carney retake the position the next lap. The final change in the top 4 came on the last lap as Chapman got past Richards for fourth.
That set the inside 9 rows for Sunday’s A Feature with Martin, Carney, Dover, Chapman, Richards, Boston, Tyler Drueke, Stu Snyder and Kevin Ramey qualified for the big dance.
Martin has been on a tear lately, winning the final 2 regular season A Features at Eagle Raceway. “I think our chances Sunday are as good as any. You’ve got to lose it a few times in order to win it I guess, so I think we’re as good as we can be right now. I’m really proud of this race team; they’ve worked their butts off! I’ve got a great race car, and sponsors who help me get everything that I need. I really appreciate my team and sponsors, and we’ll see how this all plays out” he said. When asked what he attributed his recent success to, he stated “Everything is gelling. That’s the biggest key to success anywhere, when everything works in unison. The motors are working good, the car is working good, the driver is working good, the shocks are working good. The crew is getting stuff done on the car to be sure it’s where it needs to be. I can’t complain!”. Martin’s sponsors include Infinity Excavating, Bybee Electric, Trucks Plus, Midwest Linings, Myers Racing Engines and Eagle Chassis.
The final races on the evening were the qualifying heats for the Jake Ita Memorial Fund Race of Champions. Those locking in to Saturday’s race, and hoping to take home the $1000 top prize were Tyler Drueke, Jack Dover, Doug Lovegrove, Jason Howell, Kevin Ramey, Luke Cranston, Ken Duke Jr., John Ricketts, Jason Martin, Andy Shouse, Claud Estes, Kaleb Johnston, John Carney, Toby Chapman, Jake Bubak, Dusty Ballenger, Justin Fifield, Ethan Barrow, Adam Gullion and Clint Benson.
Saturday’s action will kick off at 5 P.M. with hot laps and racing action beginning at 6. The Racesaver IMCA Sprints will be trying to qualify to lock into one of the 9 spots on the outside of Sunday’s A Feature. Also on the card will be the Hoosier Tire IMCA Sport Modifieds.
After the final A Feature the Jake Ita Memorial Race of Champions will be run.
There will be a Pit Party Following the Last Race with Entertainment by V-Twin Band. Eagle Raceway’s Famous “Melon Bar” will be open until at least 1am, and replays of tonight’s races will be on at the tailgate trailer.
Front gates open at 4:30. Adult admission is $15, youths 6-12 are $5 and children 5 and under are free.
Pits open at 3 P.M. with pit passes costing $25.