NIGHT ONE IN THE BOOKS AT IMCA SUPERNATIONALS AT BOONE SPEEDWAY
News And Notes From One Of The Biggest Short Track Events Around
Over 700 racecars, thousands of campers, bonfires, some of the best dirt track racing you will ever see on one of the best dirt surfaces in the country, it’s the Boone Speedway Speedway Motors IMCA SuperNationals. In short track racing it is one of the most incredible events to take in, tabbed as ‘America’s Racin’ Vacation’, it brings out the biggest car count for any one event in all of short track racing and the atmosphere is similar to Mardi Gras.
Monday saw Boone McLaughlin win the Deery Brothers IMCA Late Model Tour race with Curt Lund won the Jackpot Junction IMCA Sprint Car race on Tuesday, but the big show began on Wednesday night as well over 320 IMCA Modifieds took to the track to begin qualifying attempts for Saturday night’s ‘Big Dance’ – the 40-lap modified feature, the culmination of the SuperNationals.
Qualifying for the SuperNationals features is a feat within itself. 40 heat races race per night, with the winners of each heat race advancing to one of two ‘A’ Mains, where the top four from each ‘A’ Main advance to Saturday night’s ‘Big Dance’, which has 33 positions. When you put that into perspective, there are only approximately 50 teams that attempt to qualify for the Daytona 500 that has 43 positions. Each night of qualifying sets a row in the three-wide start with Wednesday night’s efforts setting the bottom row.
40 Heats, Let’s Go, Lets Race!
The racing was fast and furious throughout the 40 heat races that took just over 4 hours to complete. Several events were won by drivers that started midway through the pack, including several races were drivers advanced from the last starting positions to claim spots in the A-Mains.
The two A-Mains were won by Joe McBirnie of Boone, Iowa and Eric Dailey of Armstrong, Iowa. McBirnie, who is a regular at Boone Speedway, pretty much dominated the first 20-lap A-Main and lead Dan Ratajczak of Frog Station, Wisc., defending event champion Richard Lewerke of Garner, Iowa and Jon Thompson of Superior, Nebraska into the first four positions for Saturday’s feature.
Defending SuperNationals Champion, Richard Lewerke, scored a heat race win. (IMCA File photos)
In the second A-Main, young Eric Dailey of Armstrong, Iowa scored the victory. Dailey held off Brad Williams of Lytton, Iowa, Johnny ‘The Jet’ Saathoff of Beatrice, Neb., and Scott Simatovich of State Center, Iowa, who scored the final transfer position available for Saturday night’s A-Main. Dailey currently leads the points in the IMCA Modified division at Algona Speedway in Iowa and Fairmont Speedway in Minnesota.
“This is a big night for us,” stated the young Dailey, who began racing on a video game that his Grandfather purchased for him. “We couldn’t ask for a better start to our week. This is just amazing. It’s so competitive to come here and race against all of these guys. I can’t believe we’re standing here, this is pretty incredible.”
Multi-Time National Champion and Defending Race Champion Make the Field
Richard Lewerke muscled his way into the 40-lap starting field on Wednesday night by finishing third in the first 20-lap A-Main. Lewerke won an early qualifying race and steadily progressed through the 20-car field into a position that place him into the ‘Big Dance’.
“It takes a lot of the pressure off,” grinned Lewerke. “We’re in and we don’t have to fight much. We’ll just keep tuning and working on the car to be ready for Saturday. I haven’t thought about a repeat performance, but it would be very sweet.”
Johnny ‘The Jet’ Saathoff, has recorded four IMCA National Modified Championships (1996-1999), but he has never turned the trick at Boone. It is not for his lack of effort. He has made the ‘Big Dance’ on seven occasions, but his highest finish has only been 6th.
“We’ll just see what Saturday night brings,” stated Saathoff. “It’s nice to be in because now you can see what your are up against a little and the competition is extremely strong here. It always is. We’ll just have to keep our eyes on things and see what we can come up with on Saturday. We’re going to give it our all.”
Erick Daily (top) and Joe McBirnie (bottom) each took wins in the two A-Mains
Previous SuperNational Winners Logue and LaCrosse Struggle
Benji LaCrosse, who is the defending IMCA National Modified champion and the 2005 winner of the Speedway Motors IMCA SuperNationals, has three more nights to try and qualify. LaCrosse struggled in his heat, chasing Iowa’s Troy Cordes, but to no avail.
“You’ve got to have a good draw and get some breaks,” stated LaCrosse. “We’ll just keep trying. Thursday is another night.”
John Logue of Boone, Iowa, who has more appearances in the 40-lap main on Saturday night then any other IMCA competitor with 22, looked to be going in the right direction after winning his heat race, but a mechanical failure forced Logue out early in the first of the two A-Mains on Thursday. Logue is a five-time SuperNationals champion.
The Speedway Motors IMCA SuperNationals turned 25 this week and it’s a true celebration of grassroots racing. With over 700 cars competing in the week long affair in 6 divisions; Modifieds, Northern SportMods, Stock Cars, Hobby Stocks, Deery Brothers Late Model Series and Jackpot Junction Sprint Cars. The SuperNationals found its home at Boone Speedway in 1988, but began in 1983 at Benton County Speeday in Vinton, Iowa. The race was also run at Independence Speedway, West Liberty Raceway, Knoxville Speedway and Mason City Raceway, all in Iowa.
The race will also be televised on the Outdoor Channel on a tape delay basis. ‘America’s Racin’ VacatioN will hit the airwaves on Friday, October 12th at 7:00pm EST.
Eastern Region Notes for Wednesday Night
Dale Caswell of Central Square, N.Y., struggled through his heat race on Wednesday night after being crashed in a practice session. Caswell then made only one lap in his B-Main before the driveline failed.
“We won’t quit,” stated Caswell. “We just had a bad night. The car is fast, we just need to get it back that way. The guys have been doing awesome work.”
Rob Keller, Art Halliday and Kevan Cook along with Pennsylvania’s Mark Griffin, towed from the Northeast, while Richard Clew, Chad Donahue, Clay and Justin Galbreath traveled from the Southeast.
Benji LaCrosse (#54) attempts to qualify through his heat race.