Big Bucks Shootout @ I-37 Speedway, 11/3-4/17
By JM Hallas
Pleasanton, TX.,(Nov. 4Th, 2017) Saturdays portion of the Big Bucks Shootout saw the Modifieds return to action on the ¼ mile, semi-banked, track and had four drivers from Friday with a chance to pick up some bonus money if they could repeat. Marcus Mikulencak(Sport Modifieds-$175), Mike Trigg(Street Stock-$175), Dakota Heinaman(Pure Stock-$175) and Trevor Bettis(Sport Compact-$125) were the drivers to have the extra money in their sights.
The purses for the Sport Modifieds jumped up Saturday to $750 for the winner, with the Modifieds and Pure Stocks looking at $500 to win, Street Stocks $525 and Sport Compacts $325.
With no other tracks racing many of south-central Texas best drivers were on hand looking for some money to end the season. Over 120 cars signed into the pits for the weekend. After last nights action packed, full moon, night of racing on Friday, Saturday night was tame by the same standards.
Dinsmore Dialed In Despite Damage
Despite getting some significant suspension damage in the heat race, that he still managed to win, Kerrville's Greg Dinsmore got it back on track for the feature. Racing in memory of his crewman Marcus' brother Tony, who passed away Thursday, Dinsmore led every lap, in the caution free event, on his way to capping off his season with a sentimental win.
As the 17-car Modified main roared to life it was Dinsmore, from the pole jumping out front trailed by Jamie Campbell, Chris Carroll, Cody Leonard and Jason Borlace. Robbie Daniel and Jeff Hoegh made quick moves to get by Borlace for fifth and sixth. Carroll was able to grab second from Campbell on lap 3 as Dinsmore eased away a couple car lengths.
Track champ, Talon Minten, got along side Hoegh as they closed on Leonard going three wide for fourth. Minten got the spot, then put Campbell back another position while Leonard and Hoegh were still side by side. At halfway Dinsmore was increasing his margin over Carroll, Minten, Campbell with Leonard and Hoegh still wheel to wheel.
Hoegh finally wrestled fifth away from Leonard and got by Campbell for fourth. Up front Dinsmore was up on slower traffic and having to change his line. Once clear, Dinsmore again was easing away while Carroll and Minten were swapping second in the same traffic.
As the white waved it was Dinsmore in the Sundowner Performance Diesel Repair, Texas Land Restoration, Performance Towing, Race Safe Technologies, The Alignment Shop, Wehrs, Sanderson Motorsports, Fast Shafts, AFCO, Six-Two Graphics, Friesen crate powered, BMS Chassis by a half straightaway, a margin he carried to the checkers.
“We've had a good end to the season,” replied Dinsmore. “This was a heart felt race. We came to race for Tony. Marcus helps us on the racecar and that was his brother that passed away. I told Marcus that I'd like to race to win for Tony, but usually end up wrecked. After the heat race it looked like that might happen.”
“We sheared the birdcage on the right rear, and broke the shock mount off the right front. We thrashed on the car and didn't get a chance to look at the track or change for the track. We just took the car we had, threw some stuff on it, went out and raced it. It did pretty good.”
“Once I got rolling I went up to the top, rolling my own place and waiting to get challenged. I just told myself 'slower is faster' in my head. I just kept hitting my marks and driving off. The car was good and quick. I was trying to save the car a bit, put a couple lapped cars between us and was basically riding around.”
“I think this is our last race for the season. We've got some different plans this winter. I've talked to Nick Roberts about a few things and thinking about switching cars. Just don't tell my wife.(oops)”
8g Greg Dinsmore, 14t Talon Minten, 15c Chris Carroll, 97 Jeff Hoegh, 127 Robbie Daniel, b29 Jamie Campbell, 12 Cody Leonard, 1 Danny Rogers, 82 Rick Green, 27 Joe Gomez, 125 Jason Borlace, 94 Chris Morris, 55 Mike Morris, 56 Marcus Berndt, 137 Darin Leonard, 1r Ritchie Robins, 31m Marlin Samford
Heat 1; 8g Greg Dinsmore, 125 Jason Borlace, 127 Robbie Daniels, 1 Danny Rogers, 21 Joe Gomez, 56 Marcus Berndt---bf
Heat 2; b29 Jamie Campbell, 82 Rick Green, 97 Jeff Hoegh, 94 Chris Morris, 137 Darin Leonard, 1r Ritchie Robbins
Heat 3; 15c Chris Carroll, 12 Cody Leonard, 14t Talon Minten, 55m Mike Morris, 31m Marlin Samford---dns
Leonard Ends Long Weekend With Wire to Wire Win
After running in three classes Friday night(Sport Modified, Limited Late Model and Street Stock) and three again tonight(Modified, Sport Modified and Street Stock) Cody Leonard(Corpus Christi) found his way to the winners circle in the final race of the night. Leonard would get out front and lead all 20-laps in the Sport Modified feature. Leonard was chased part of race by Hunter Flanagan, who was using a different line. At the finish Leonard was able to get away from Flanagan and Cody Beddoe, who battled for the runner-up spot.
As the 21-car Sport Modified field fired off Leonard beat Beddoe as the two Codys started on row 1. Tanner Whitmire got second from Beddoe with Lawrence Mikulencak fourth and Flanagan along side Talon Minten for fifth. Flanagan quickly made his way by T. Minten then L. Mikulencak for fourth. It was then three wide with Beddoe and L. Mikulencak for third.
A Chris Swenson spin on lap 5 slowed the pace. On the restart L. Mikulencak got by Whitmire for second, but quickly bailed out on the hot pit entrance. The field checked up causing a chain reaction crash between JJ Jennings, Ray Doyon and Jim Blevins. Finally back to green and it was Flanagan, on the top, getting second from Whitmire.
This left Whitmire three wide with Beddoe and T. Minten for third. At the crossed flags it was Leonard(on the bottom), Flanagan(up top), Whitmire(top), T. Minten(bottom) and Beddoe trying both. Ryan Doyon got turned by Michale Pesek on lap 10 setting up a series of restarts that saw Beddoe get back past T. Minten for fourth.
Beddoe then picked off third from Whitmire bringing last nights winner, Marcus Mikulencak along to fourth. As T. Minten and M. Mikulencak battled for fourth, Beddoe moved in on Flanagan for second. As they scrapped for the spot, Leonard in the CD Electric, Coastal Diesel, K&R, Swenson Racing Shocks, Ace Transmission, Wells Racing Engines, 2009 Express Chassis was building his lead on the way to the win.
“I'm worn out today,” commented Leonard. “Yesterday we had a long night in all three cars. We pulled through tonight finally. It was tough tonight too. We struggled in the Modified, the Street Stock we were somewhat decent, but didn't have enough. The Sport Modified we were pretty good.”
“Starting on the pole was tough. I was running the top all night in the Street Stock and Modified, but we started on the bottom in the Sport Modified. I didn't know whether to go up top or stay low. I was looking for someone by the pit entry to show me to move up or something. I didn't see anyone so I just stayed on the bottom where I knew I was somewhat quick.”
“I could hear someone back there, but couldn't tell if they were running the top or bottom. I couldn't tell how close they were, but I knew someone was back there. I thought about changing my line. I didn't was to mess myself up and cost me the win.”
“The restarts kind of worried me that someone might get a run off the top. The best thing to do is change up where you start on the restarts. I think it may have been helping me, I don't know. When there's a big tough field of cars here it's a lot more satisfying to get the win.”
“Next season is kind of up in the air right now. We're building a new Modified and we'll still have our Sport Modified. Jamie(Fuller) is selling the street stock. He told me if it doesn't sell we'll run it again.”
12 Cody Leonard, 77 Cody Beddoe, 58 Hunter Flanagan, 4 Talon Minten, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 101 Tanner Whitmire, 24r Robby Minten, 9 Ray Doyon III, 174 Michale Pesek, 6 Vince Louden, 97 John Witzsche, 24 Jim Blevins, 15 Bruce Beddoe, 27 Mike Morris, 5r Ryan Doyon, 48 Chris Swenson, 25t Michael Keylich, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak, 89c(26g) JJ Jennings, 777 James Hanusch, 11t Tom Grothues
Sport Modified heats
Heat 1; 12 Cody Leonard, 87 Lawrence Mikulencak, 6 Vince Louden, 03 Marcus Mikulencak, 174 Michale Pesek, 5r Ryan Doyon, 15 Bruce Beddoe
Heat 2; 77 Cody Beddoe, 58 Hunter Flanagan, 48 Chris Swenson, 9 Ray Doyon III, 97 John Witzsche, 27 Mike Morris, 24 Jim Blevins
Heat 3; 101 Tanner Whitmire, 4 Talon Minten, 24r Robby Minten, 89c(26g) JJ Jennings, 11t Tom Grothues, 25t Michael Keylich, 777 James Hanusch
Trigg Tames Street Stocks Twice.
Lake Hills Mike Trigg was the first, and only, driver to complete the weekend sweep and grab the bonus money leading flag to flag in the 20-lap Street Stock shootout. Trigg was able to hold track champ, Wade Jones at bay, then ease ahead as the race went long green laps. At the checkers it was Trigg, in the Sames Ford, 1560 Storage, Willie Cotton Race Engines, Sniper Chassis, by several lengths at the line.
After a three-car tangle on the initial start, Trigg got to turn 1 ahead of Jones, Shawn Kline, Chris Shafer and Cody Leonard. Leonard quickly got by Shafer and Kline for third until a spin on the front stretch by Matthew Hawken slowed the action. On the restart Leonard and Jones stayed door to door for second as Trigg inched ahead.
A driveshaft on track brought out a quick yellow on lap 2. Again Leonard and Jones stayed tied at the door posts while Heath Stewart got by Kline for fourth. Jones finally secured second while Stewart slipped high giving Kline the spot back. Jones now closed on Trigg for the lead, but Leonard, up top, was still looking for his chance.
At halfway it was Trigg, Jones, Leonard, Stewart and Kline the top five. Just as Trigg began to put some distance on Jones, Nathan Robbins and Cody Henderson got together to bring out a lap 15 caution. Trigg got away quickly on green while Jason Fitch got sixth from Shafer. Trigg kept increasing his advantage on his way to checkers.
“I dedicate this win to 'Reb,'” joked Trigg after I reminded him he still needed to check in before the draw closed, in a few minutes or he'd have started in the back of his heat. His draw landed him a front row starting spot in his heat race. “It was anything but easy. After last night we overtightened it up. It was a handful. It was super snug. I just had to hit my marks and those cautions were not my friend. It was still a good run.”
“We're closing in on the sweet spot here at I-37. I can't seem to find the balance at this race track. We're either free off or tight in the center. I don't know. We're getting there, but we're not there yet.”
Heaven help the competition if he ever does find it.
“One thing our car has is good forward drive. Usually when it slicks off, like tonight, it helps us. I was happy to see it slick off. It was slick, but still had grip in the center of the turn. I overtightened for that.”
“I love racing here. The track was great. The competition is the best. I think the south Texas Street Stocks are as strong as it gets. Wish I had the chance to run more, but we'll take what we can get.”
4t Mike Trigg, 41 Wade Jones, 2 Heath Stewart, 7 Cody Leonard, 11k Shawn Kline, 23f Jason Fitch, 77 Chris Shafer, 30 Bryan Meredith, 18 Shawn Moore, 20 Mike Lyon, 933 Cody Henderson, 04 Nathan Robbins, 113 Hector Aguirre, 9s Jarrett Peyton, 94 Allen Torres, 20x Jason Campbell, 00 Beau Bukowski, 28 Megan Lesturgeon, h00 Matthew Hawken, 87 Robert Danielson---dntg, 31 Jeff Hendricks---dns, 36 Frank Okruhlik---dns
Street Stock heats
Heat 1; 4t Mike Trigg, 11k Shawn Kline, 28 Megan Lestourgeon, 20 Mike Lyon, 18 Shawn Moore, 30 Bryan Meredith, 9s Jarrett Payton, 95s Sterling Tausch---dns
Heat 2; 77 Chris Shafer, 113 Hector Aguirre, 87 Robert Danielson, 36 Frank Okruhlik, 20x Jason Campbell, 00 Matthew Hawken, 31 Jeff Hendricks---dns
Heat 3; 41 Wade Jones, 7 Cody Leonard, 2 Heath Stewart, 23f Jason Fitch, 94 Allen Torres, 933 Cody Henderson, 00 Beau Bukowski, 04 Nathan Robbins
Leddy Lands Pure Stock Pay Day
Aaron Leddy(Von Ormy) spoiled the night for Dakota Heinaman and his bid for the bonus sweep money taking home the Pure Stock feature win. Leddy got by Heinaman for the lead just past halfway then held off Heinaman and Clint Montanio on a green, white, checker finish in the event shortened by time limits.
On the second try at a start to the(scheduled) 20-lap Pure Stock feature it was Heinaman into turn 1 chased by Leddy, Mason Casteneda, Montanio and Daniel Preston in the top five. Leddy stuck himself to the bumper of Heinaman while Montanio and Preston were door to door for fourth. Behind them Sean Ward, JW Blocker and Kenny Wright were three wide for seventh.
That battle came to an end with a caution when Blocker went around collecting Ward and Brandon McCall. Heinaman got a good jump on the restart leaving Leddy side by side with Casteneda. The biggest mover was Colt Beaver who started seventeenth and made his way past Preston for fifth on lap 8. Jesse Sandoval, Caitlin Leonard and drag racer, Jeff Rabedeau tangled for a lap 9 caution.
On the restart Leddy turned up the heat on Heinaman and at halfway took the high side, getting his nose out front on lap 11. Leddy secured the spot while Montanio and Casteneda were side by side for third. After a quick yellow for a bumper on track, Montanio began pressuring Heinaman for second looking on the low side. Wright and McCall tangled in turn 4 on lap 14 and brought out a red flag.
Surely after losing last nights race after his failed to start after a red, while leading, Leddy had a flashback moment. The race was cut a few laps by officials setting up the final shootout. As green waved, Heinaman ran in high, with Montanio trying to find a line low. Leddy in the Jamie Fuller owned, Reflective Wrecker, C3 Speed Horses, CNC Signs & Grafix, GM crate powered, Oval Components Chassis held off both to score the victory.
“I just kind of followed (Dakota) Heinaman the first few laps,” said Leddy. “He's always fast on the track. So I wanted to see what he was going to do and where he was quickest. I took the opportunity to take the high side and get by him once I knew the car would stick up there.”
“I was trying to protect the bottom on the restarts. He was taking the high line and getting a bit of momentum. As soon as I could back to the middle-up on the track I went back to running that line.”
“There's a little bit of info you can transfer from running the Limited Late Model, but those big tired cars have a lot more power. You tend to overdrive the Pure Stock with less suspension. They're pretty different beasts.”
“This is the first win for this car that we built last year. I've won races in a Pure Stock when the track was open before. We'll be taking this car to the big year end show in Corpus.”
93 Aaron Leddy, 441 Dakota Heinaman, 09 Clint Montanio, 28m Mason Casteneda, 20 Colt Beaver, 13j Justin Randol, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 13 Kris Workman, 5 Dillon Gaither, 88 Caitlin Leonard, 95s Jeff Rabedeau, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 25 Bobby Jack, 6 Daniel Preston, 98 Brandon McCall, 68d Kenny Wright, 73 John Ramirez, 44k Robby Minten, 7 Jesse Sandoval, 8m Joshua McCain, 889 Sean Ward, 15b JW Blocker, 38x Josh Sewell
Pure Stock heats
Heat 1; 441 Dakota Heinaman, 09 Clint Montanio, 889 Sean Ward, 44k Robby Minten, 20 Colt Beaver, 95s Jeff Rabedeau
Heat 2; 93 Aaron Leddy, 13j Justin Randol, 98 Brandon McCall, 13 Kris Workman, 38x Josh Sewell, 88 Caitlin Leonard
Heat 3; 28m Mason Casteneda, 15b JW Blocker, 25 Bobby Jack, 7 Jesse Sandoval, 87 Ben Mikulencak, 5 Dillon Gaither
Heat 4; 6 Daniel Preston, 68d Kenny Wright, 8m Joshua McCain, 53 Treyler Caulfield, 73 John Ramirez
Garner Grabs Last Lap Glory
After coming close on a few occasions during the season, Jamie Garner(San Antonio) finally cracked the winners circle, but probably lost a car in the process. Garner reeled in Trevor Bettis in the waning laps of the Sport Compact feature. Bettis, who was looking to pick up some bonus cash for the weekend sweep, saw Garner make a last lap move off turn 4 coming to the checkers. Garner got clipped by Bettis at the line, spun and hit the front stretch wall hard nearly turning over. Garner was able to get out and walk to the winners interview on the front straight.
As the 17-car field took the green it was Bettis getting a good jump into turn 1 followed by Garner and Sergio Hexsel side by side as well as Kirk Ball door to door with Gordon Dowdy. Once clearing Hexsel, Garner and Bettis began to pull away. At the midway point it was Bettis, Garner, Hexsel, Ball and Kasey Krauss in the top five.
With five to go Garner was still hanging on the Bettis' bumper, literally and figuratively, giving him a few taps along the way in the corners. As the white waved it was still either ones race. Bettis pushed up off the bottom coming off turn 4 and Garner seized the opportunity to sneak by as they raced to the line. The two made contact sending Garner, in the Austin VW around at the flagstand and into front stretch wall.
“It was very exciting,” exclaimed Garner, a former TIDA Pro Sedan driver. “We've been trying all year to win one of these races. Glad we finally got one under our belts. It doesn't look like we'll be able to make it back next week now. We had a good time.”
“He(Bettis) had been pushing coming off and I could see that. I was sticking to the bottom pretty good. On the last turn he pushed out, left me a hole and I took it. It turned out kind of alright. We''ll see if we can fix this one or have to find another one.”
“I think we do well in our VW Scirocco's because we've been doing the same thing for a long time. We haven't been switching bodies or switching brands. We've been running the same type cars for 30 years. We've got the cars figured out. I don't if we'll ever get the dirt figured out. It's definitely challenging.”
“This isn't our old TIDA car, It's one we drug out of the Austin VW junk pile and put a cage in it. I could use a Pro Sedan car right now. I have to thank Gerald Higley, Darrel Jones, my family, Joe and Adrian supply the trailer for us.”
3 Jamie Garner, 44 Sergio Hexsel, 38 Kirk Ball, 114 Kasey Krauss, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 117 Casey Lowe, 6p Jeremy Hernandez, 12 Roy Easler, 5 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 56 Treyler Caulfield, 6 Sean Terry, 13 Lizzy Blackstock, 16 Bobby Velasquez, 33 Lizzy Blackstock, 69 Felipe Ruiz, 57 Trevor Bettis---dq(rough driving)
Sport Compact heats
Heat 1; 38 Kirk Ball, 44 Sergio Hexsel, 114 Kasey Krauss, 5 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 6 Ethan Jenkins---dns, 6p Jeremy Hernandez---dns
Heat 2; 57 Trevor Bettis, 53 Caleb Dowdy, 56 Treyler Caulfield, 13 Hannah Wood, 23 Sean Terry---dntg, 33 Lizzy Blackstock---dns
Heat 3; 3 Jamie Garner, 63 Gordon Dowdy, 12 Roy Easler, 117 Casey Lowe, 16 Bobby Velasquez, 69 Felipe Ruiz
There's one more show slated for I-37 Speedway to complete the season. November 11th it's Pick-n-Pull Redneck Stress Relief with demo derby, trailer races, monster truck rides along with the Sport Compacts, Street Stocks and Pure Stocks ending the I-37 Speedway schedule.