HCS packs in 94 drivers in season opener

WEBSTER CITY – A fast track and accommodating weather conditions kicked off the 75th year of racing at the Hamilton County Speedway Saturday night.

New track manager, Mike VanGenderen of Newton, promised racers and fans at the annual racing banquet held earlier this year that “I intend to make the Speedway’s 2013 racing events fun for racers and fans, and will run a fast-paced program for everyone to enjoy”.

Ty Griffith of Webster City, in the No. 56 Hobby Stock, kept his pole position start throughout to win the feature race. The start lap was red flagged as the No. 20E, driven by Eric Larson of Holland, flipped as the group came out of turn four. He walked away from the mishap. The other front row starter, Cory Gansen of Clear Lake in the No. 6, also kept his starting spot to finish second. Third went to the No. 29N driven by Cody Nielsen of Fort Dodge.

After claiming the Sport Mod pole during the musical chairs competition at the start of the night, Bob Sutherland, Blairsburg, in the No. 4ORD, led the pack until eventual winner, Matt Lettow of Roland, brought his No. 21 from the back of the pack to take the lead after the seventh lap restart. The two stayed close until Sutherland was involved in a lap 13 tangle up coming out of turn three and his damaged car retired to the pits.

Placing second was the No. 51X driven by Matthew Webb of Des Moines. Last year’s Sport Mod track champ, Joel Rust, No. 26J of Grundy Center, took third.

Modified front row starter Jay Noteboom, in the No. 7N of Hinton, took a strong lead at the start of the feature race to top that division. He was chased by

second-place finisher Greg Elliott, No. 47 of Webster City, and eventual fifth-place finisher, Scott Olson in the No. 8X of Blairsburg.

Alan VanGorp, Des Moines in the No. 19A Stock Car, stayed at the front of this caution-free feature for the entire race. But he finished in second place as third-row starter No. 22X, driven by Lance Deal of Fort Dodge, soon caught up with him and eked out the win as the pair crossed the finish line.

Webster City’s Mark Elliott rejoined the Stock Car group this season in his No. 15 and came from the back of the pack to take third.

Ten Late Models, all driven by racers long familiar to local fans, finished off the evening’s race card with a fast-paced, no-caution event. Multiple-time track champ, Darrell DeFrance of Marshalltown in his yellow No. 99D, led the entire 20-lap event to take the win.

In second was Des Moines’ Chad Cooney in the No. 31. Taking third was the No. 76 driven by Jason Hahne of Webster City.

Starting his season off with a win was Sport Compact driver Adam Strunk, No. 85S of Webster City. He was challenged most of the race by the No. 37 driven by Dustin Haggard of Humboldt until mechanical problems put Haggard to the back of the group. Fort Dodge’s Danny Sossman, Jr. in the No. 10 was second.

The race brought in 94 drivers from 49 Iowa towns and from the states of Kansas and Minnesota.

Racing continues next Saturday, May 4 at the Hamilton County Speedway with hot laps at 6 p.m. Racing will follow.