For The Delphos Herald
LIMA — Friday night’s racing marked the 78th anniversary of oval track competition at the legendary Speed plant in western Allen County.
It also proved to be a throwback to the previous season. Todd Sherman and Shawn Valenti are returning track champions from 2012, while Sprint car ace Randy Hannagan was the touring NRA Sprint Invaders titlist from last year. All three veterans proved dominant again in posting triumphs over quality fields of race cars.
A slick racing surface triggered a handful of caution periods at the start of the Budweiser Thunderstocks 15-lap feature. Second-row starters Chris Douglas and then Brad Conover led the stocks around through the first two circuits. By the time a third early race restart began, the field had dwindled to 16 cars. A fourth early race restart saw Valenti power to the front from the outside and once he attained the lead position, the 7-time winner from 2012 was on his way to a first checkered flag of 2013.
Jeff Koz and Conover produced a spirited battled for the second position but neither genuinely threatened Valenti.
“It was hard to get some rhythm going early (with the yellows),” said Valenti of Fostoria. “When I really got going, I just started hitting my laps and tried to keep this thing rolling. Getting this win early despite all the rainouts is a great way to get started at this point in the season.”
The first appearance for Sprint cars with the new season on the LMP 1/4-mile saw 21 cars make the starting field. Leipsic veteran Butch Schroeder roared to the lead from his inside second-row position, with outside front-row starter Hannagan following closely behind. Similar to the Thunderstocks earlier, the racing surface was challenging through the opening go-rounds of the 25-lap feature event. When the racing finally settled into a rhythm, both Schroeder and Hannagan were storming around the cushion and had made it a 2-car affair.
Following a caution for a spin on lap number 12, Hannagan slipped around Schroeder on the backside of the racetrack for the pass. The California native and longtime Indiana resident never looked back in posting the win in his Yoakam Motorsports #22H machine. It was his 10th career victory at the track, including seven last season.
“I thought I might get him earlier than I did,” pondered Hannagan in the winner’s circle afterward. “A couple of those restarts, I really missed my re-entry, but then I was able to race him (Schroeder) off of (turn) two and got around him in three. Dennis Yoakam gives me a really good car and this has been a good effort with our team.”
The ultra-competitive K & N Modifieds had a 20-car field for the 20-lap feature and the theme of the evening maintained with former champions dominating. Indiana’s Sherman bolted to the lead at the start from his outside row-two slot and ultimately never surrendered the preferred position. It was a lengthy struggle to secure this win, although mostly as a result of numerous caution periods both early and late in the race. Jeff Babcock and Greg Amick produced some excellent side-by-side action for the runner-up position until they were both taken out by a late race collision.
Three-time defending champion Sherman immediately headed for the bottom of the track, which for him was clearly the fastest path around the track.
“I talked to my crew guys who were watching the sprint cars,” said the driver of the Frickers #65 Modified. “They said ‘stay in the middle of the track to the low side’ and then after a few laps, I just went right to the bottom. I just love the competition at this track. There are a lot of good cars here but I sure wish Terry (Hull) was here.”
Hull, a multi-time former track champion, is battling some medical issues and has yet to compete in 2013.
The win for Sherman is the 33rd of his LMP career. Hull leads the all-time list with 34.
Limaland Motorsports Park returns to action on Friday for the Memorial Cup with the K & L Ready Mix NRA Sprint Invaders vs. Sprints on Dirt. Also, the K&N UMP Modifieds and Budweiser Thunderstocks will compete. Gates open at 5 p.m. with hot laps beginning at 6:30 p.m. Racing begins promptly at 7:30 p.m.
All the latest news and information about America’s premier quarter-mile dirt track can be found at www.limaland.com. You can also find 2013 Limaland Motorsports Park on Facebook and Twitter.
Limaland Motorsports Park - Friday’s Results
Heats (8 Laps - Top 8 Transfer)
Heat 1: 1. 7C-Jordon Conover; 2. 57S-Billy Siferd; 3. 8C-Brad Conover; 4. 48-Tim Cole; 5. 27-Frank Paladino; 6. OO-Tommy Klein; 7. 1-Anthony Flannery; 8. 21H-Dave Hollon.
Heat 2: 1. 22T-Tony Anderson; 2. 16-Jeff Koz; 3. 82-Chris Douglas; 4. 6-Emily Gade; 5. 19-Bill Reimund; 6. OOM-Bryan Martin; 7. 32-Scott Boyd Jr.
Heat 3: 1. 7B-Shawn Valenti; 2. 93-Zack Gustatson; 3. 01C-Andrew Clark; 4. O1-Jordan Shipley; 5. 89-Keith Shockency; 6. 26-Justin Long; 7. 2-Ray Seach.
A-Main - (12 Laps) [#]-Starting Position: 1. 7B-Shawn Valenti; 2. 7C-Jordon Conover; 3. 22T-Tony Anderson; 4. 16-Jeff Koz; 5. 8C-Brad Conover; 6. 93-Zack Gustatson; 7. 82-Chris Douglas; 8. 6-Emily Gade; 9. 2-Ray Seach; 10. 48-Tim Cole; 11. 19-Bill Reimund; 12. 1-Anthony Flannery; 13. 89-Keith Shockency; 14. 32-Scott Boyd Jr; 15. OOM-Bryan Martin; 16. 01C-Andrew Clark; 17. 57S-Billy Siferd; 18. O1-Jordan Shipley; 19. 27-Frank Paladino; 20. OO-Tommy Klein; 21. 26-Justin Long.
K & N Modifieds
Heats: (8 Laps - Top 4 Transfer)
Heat 1: 1. 22-Andy Bibler; 2. 27A-Greg Amick; 3. 22T-Tony Anderson; 4. L5-Casey Luedeke; 5. 18N-Derrick Noffsinger; 6. 10-Brett Miller; 7. 6-David Sibberson; 8. 23J-Jon Henry.
Heat 2: 1. 5X-Jerry Bowersock; 2. 44-Zack Schroeder; 3. 20-Kody Weiswner; 4. 19B-Brandon Ordway; 5. 63-Troy Stewart; 6. 8C-Corey Bevard; 7. 21S-Mike Hohlbein.
Heat 3: 1. 65-Todd Sherman; 2. 7B-Jeff Babcock; 3. 69-Tommy Beezley; 4. 93-Tyler Stump; 5. 83K-Josh Kehle; 6. 20K-Bill Keeler; 7. 25-Josh Lolmaugh.
Heat 4: 1. 28-Chad Rosenbeck; 2. 17T-Ryan Ordway; 3. 3W-Dillon Woodling; 4. OO-Dwight Niehoff; 5. 33-Clint Reagle; 6. 46-Andrew Johnston; 7. F16-Jake Ruefer.
B-Main - (10 Laps - Top 4 Transfer): 1. F16-Jake Ruefer; 2. 20K-Bill Keeler; 3. 10-Brett Miller; 4. 18N-Derrick Noffsinger; 5. 6-David Sibberson; 6. 23J-Jon Henry; 7. 46-Andrew Johnston; 8. 83K-Josh Kehle; 9. 8C-Corey Bevard; 10. 63-Troy Stewart; 11. 25-Josh Lolmaugh; 12. 33-Clint Reagle; 13. 21S-Mike Hohlbein.
A-Main - (20 Laps) [#]-Starting Position: 1. 65-Todd Sherman; 2. 44-Zack Schroeder; 3. 22T-Tony Anderson; 4. 69-Tommy Beezley; 5. 5X-Jerry Bowersock; 6. 10-Brett Miller; 7. 22-Andy Bibler; 8. L5-Casey Luedeke; 9. 28-Chad Rosenbeck; 10. 20-Kody Weiswner; 11. OO-Dwight Niehoff; 12. 19B-Brandon Ordway; 13. 17T-Ryan Ordway; 14. 3W-Dillon Woodling; 15. 18N-Derrick Noffsinger; 16. 7B-Jeff Babcock; 17. 27A-Greg Amick; 18. 20K-Bill Keeler; 19. F16-Jake Ruefer; 20. 93-Tyler Stump.
Elwer Fence Sprints
Heats (8 Laps)
Heat #1: 1. 27-Beau Stewart; 2. 11- Tim Allison; 3. B20-Butch Schroeder; 4. 57-Mike Dunlap; 5. 28H-Hud Hoirton; 6. 22R -Kevin Roberts; 7. 23M-Jack Miller; 8. 4J-Bob Gehr.
Heat #2: 1. 7-Darren Long; 2. 22D-Dennis Yoakam; 3. 22H-Randy Hannagan; 4. 6S-JR Stewart; 4. 23-Devon Dobie; 5. 12-Nick Roberts; 6. 17-Jared Horstman; 7. 2S-Kyke Sauder.
Heat #3: 1. 49-Shawn Dancer; 2. 35-Ron Blair; 3. 10J-Jarrod Delong; 4. 7C-Max Stambaugh; 5. 2-Brent Gehr; 6. 34-Jimmy Snead; 7. 31N-Greg Nichols.
A-Main – (25 Laps)[#]-Starting Position: 1. 22H-Randy Hannagan; 2. B20-Butch Schroeder; 3. 49-Shawn Dancer; 4. 27-Beau Stewart; 5. 11-Tim Allison; 6. 17-Jared Horstman; 7. 7-Darren Long; 8. 23-Devon Dobie; 9. 22R-Kevin Roberts; 10. 57-Mike Dunlap; 11. 12-Nick Roberts; 12. 10J-Jarrod Delong; 13. 22D-Dennis Yoakam; 14. 2-Brent Gehr; 15. 34-Jimmy Snead; 16. 4J-Bob Gehr; 17. 28H-Hud Horton; 18. 35-Ron Blair; 19. 6S-Jr Stewart; 20. 7C-Max Stambaugh; 21. 23M-Jack Miller.