Vetter wins Sprint Nationals Night 2 Feature & Ramey conquers the Race of Champions
By Greg Soukup
Boy!! What a difference a day makes. From cloudy, rainy and cool to warm, sunny and breezy; day 2 of the 2017 Racesaver IMCA Sprint Nationals, presented by NMC/Cat Rental and Precise Racing, was close to perfect for racing on the high banks of Eagle Raceway.
Besides the change in the weather, we went from 8 serious incidents to half that; 2 of those in the same race. In the 5th Racesaver Sprint Car heat Jed Werner went too high into turn 1 and smacked the wall so hard that the steel Armco surrounding the track was split and Jed went for a ride! That caused a 20-minute delay to repair the damage. After the race was over, Chris Kelly also got over the cushion, hit the wall and ended up going up and over. In the F Feature, Neil Nickolite suffered a part failure going down the back stretch. In a shower of sparks his racer went headlong into the turn 3 wall and sent him flipping. The last incident came in the E Feature when Brandon Allen caught the wall coming out of turn 4, hit the front stretch wall again and ended up rolling over. None of the drivers were seriously injured.
Heat race winners were Jerald Harris, John Webster, Clint Benson, Ron Love, Joey Danley, Austin McLean, Jake Bubak, Nick Bryan, Jason Danley, Cody Ledger, Robert Vetter, Blake Dacus, Kaleb Johnson and Terry Richards.
Reminiscent of Friday night’s A Feature for the Racesaver IMCA Sprints, Saturday’s A saw the yellow flag brought out before a lap was completed when Austin McLean spun in turn 1. The top 4 after lap 1 was in the books were Clint Benson, Joey Danley, Robert Vetter and Jake Bubak. Terry Richards and Ron Love slowed on lap 2 with Richards heading pit side with a flat right rear. Danley snagged the lead on the restart. Lap 5 saw Jason Danley pass Bubak for fourth. The next 2 laps saw Jason Danley and Bubak swap the fourth spot with Jason holding it until lap 10 as Vetter moved up to second. Lap 10 saw Bubak get back past Jason. 3 laps later Kaleb Johnson looped it in turn 4. Bubak moved up to third on lap 16 and Vetter took over the lead from Joey Danley. Bubak continued moving forward and took second after another circuit. With 8 laps left Doug Lovegrove got to fourth, advanced to third 2 laps later and passed Bubak with 3 to go to snag the second position. The 9 who locked themselves into rows 4 through 6 of the Sunday A Feature were Vetter, Lovegrove, Bubak, Joey Danley, Jason Danley, Justin Fifield, Adam Gullion, Cody Ledger and Ken Duke Jr.
Vetter was on the inside of the second row on the starting grid. This was his first Feature victory at Eagle Raceway. “We took the lead about half-way in when the 14 slipped up and I took advantage of it. This is our second time here at Eagle, and it’s an awesome facility! The best part of it is when you come around the corner from the main highway. As soon as you do that you see this beautiful track; it’s amazing. To say that you won a heat race here was fantastic, and now we’ve won an A Main; it’s in the history books. This is the fifth time for the Nationals here at Eagle, so not a lot of people have done that. I need to thank my family and friends who are all here from California and Texas, my girlfriend Jennifer, Amber and David” he said. Vetter’s sponsors include Smiley’s Racing Products, Dirt Defender, Superior Steering Wheels, Triple X Racing Chassis and Cheetah Racing Engines.
The Hoosier Tire IMCA Sport Modified A Main saw a 4-car pile-up on the start. Jeremy Noonan, Braydon Latture, Adam Vrbka and Roger Sluka were the top 4 after lap 1. Sluka moved up to third on lap 2 with Jeremy Baker also passing Vrbka for fourth the next time around. 1 more lap saw Shawn Harker take the fourth spot. Lap 6 had Sluka take over second. Latture looped his racer in turn 1 the next time around. That made the top 4 Noonan, Sluka, Harker and Baker. Harker got past Sluka on the restart and Josh Pfeiffer moved to fourth. Harker moved up to the top spot the next lap. With 4 to go Sluka got into Pfeiffer and both spun out. Pfeiffer went to the pits with damage to his right front and Sluka was taken to the infield with damage to his left front. At that time, it was Harker, Noonan, Trent Roth and Gary Saathoff the top 4. Roth passed Noonan on the restart. The last change in the top 4 came the next time around when Saathoff moved up to third. The final top 4 were Harker, Roth, Saathoff and Noonan.
Harker’s win came from starting 9th and was his seventh at Eagle Raceway in 2017. “The car was really good. I just got trapped on the bottom a little at the start and decided I was going to the high side, and it worked. The track was smooth as glass tonight! It was one of the nicest tracks we’ve raced on all year. Zach Woods at Speedway Engines built me a new piece this last week and it was awesome. I also want to thank the Smith family from Speedway Motors for helping with my motors and shocks. Of course, Kevin Larkins and everybody else that are part of the Speedway family” he related. Harker’s sponsors include Tex Cattle, Jet Racing and Speedway.
Last up was the Jake Ita Memorial Fund Race of Champions. John Carney II was out front after lap 1 with Kevin Ramey, Jason Martin and Tyler Drueke hot on his push bumper. Jack Dover passed Drueke on lap 3. Ramey got past Carney for the lead on lap 6. From there to the checkers the top 4 battled, but Ramey was not to be caught and held on for the victory.
“You know what? That was pretty danged cool!! This track, this facility, this whole event is something pretty danged special. We don’t get to race at events like this back home down south in the Texas and Oklahoma area. Probably the closest thing to this magnitude would be the Chili Bowl. The Chili Bowl is probably a tick bigger, but I think that over time this deal here is going to be HUGE! My hat is off to French Grimes and Roger Hadan. It’s in Roger’s hands now and it couldn’t be in the hands of a better person. It’s a tough job and I wouldn’t want to have Roger’s. He’s doing one hell of a job; everyone at this facility is doing a great job with this event. I want to thank Precise Racing; they’ve been on board basically from the beginning.” said Ramey. Ramey’s sponsors also include Jambo Barbecue Pits, Wells Racing Engines and Hoosier Tires.