Opening Night w/Eco-Mods @ I-37 Speedway 3/19/22
By JM Hallas
Pleasanton, TX.,(March 19th, 2022) Spring has (almost) sprung. Only hours away.
It was time once again for the I-37 Speedway season opener on the ¼ mile, semi-banked, dirt oval, just south of San Antonio. After loosing “The Frostbuster,” a non-points race last month to weather, tonight would kick off the season in the IMCA Modifieds, Sport Modifieds, Factory Stocks, Sport Compacts and Go-Karts, plus the Eco-Mods. The Late Model have the night scheduled off, but hit the track next Saturday (3/26).
The “beer virus” once again scuttled the yearly awards banquet so class champions and top finishers were recognized during intermission in front of their piers and fans in stands. Class champions; Ryan Doyon(IMCA Modifieds), Brandon Brzozowski(Late Models), Sterling Tausch(Limited Modifieds), Dakota Hurley(Factory Stocks), Ryan McDonald(Sport Compacts),
Maupin Takes Modified Money
As the IMCA Modified 20-lap main fired off it was Jared Maupin off turn 2 with the lead trailed by Chris Morris, Cameron Starry, Robert Liese and Ryan Doyon in top five. Cody Tidwell quickly moved up getting by Schroat and Liese bringing Doyon along.
After a quick spin and caution, Morris began his challenge on Maupin for the lead, throwing everything but the kitchen sink at him. Morris tried diving in low and got alongside Maupin, but Maupin held him off. Another quick spin-caution set up a repeat of Morris trying to stick the nose inside Maupin on the restart, to no avail.
Behind the lead battle Tidwell and Doyon were wheel to wheel for third after Starry pitted. Tidwell would secure the spot. Up front the fight raged on with Morris now trying to go into turn 3 high, then dive the middle trying to get under Maupin off turn 4. Maupin held his line in the upper middle and kept Morris behind.
Lap 16 was an OMG moment after DJ Schroat tagged the front stretch wall and sat crossways just past the flag stand with the leaders just coming off turn 4 at full pace. Maupin was able to adjust and miss Schroat fairly easy. Morris, shielded from view by Maupin’s car, was forced to make a last second move to avoid t-boning Schroat. The crowd gave a collective gasp as the two barely touched rear quarter panels.
The top three broke away quickly back under green with Morris still trying to dive in under Maupin. Morris got his best chance on lap 18 getting door to door with Maupin on the back stretch, but Maupin ran his line to hold him back. Morris tried to sail it across the bottom in 3-4 on the final lap, but it was Maupin(Weslaco) in the Skip and Cheryl Gray owned, Grays Recycling, crate powered, Kraft Chassis hanging on for the victory.
“I felt him(Chris Morris) back there a few times,” said Maupin. “It was pushing me. I just told myself, ‘don’t mess up.’ What scared me was in turns 1-2 when he’d peek inside me. I didn’t know if I needed to change lanes and what I’m doing. I just held on, trying not to spin my tires and took the victory.”
“I know his stuff is good. It looked like he was really fast in the heat race. We were terrible. We went back and threw everything at it. It just panned out.”
“We don’t get time to make adjustment to the second car. What’s in it, is what we’ve got. I did give me an idea of what line was good and where to avoid. So there’s a little bit of help running in two cars.”
“That was kind of a scary deal. It’s hard to see what’s in front when you’re behind another car.” Maupin added about the lap 16 caution. “I didn’t really see it, it happened really quick. I don’t know how anyone behind me was able to miss it.”
Price Chevrolet IMCA Modifieds
bd1 Jared Maupin, 94 Chris Morris, 17 Cody Tidwell, 5r Ryan Doyon, 77 Robert Liese, 10 Robert Walton, 5 DJ Schroat, 741 Cameron Starry, 56 Gilbert Amezquita, m17 Joey Whitehead
IMCA Modified heats
Heat 1; 94 Chris Morris, 741 Cameron Starry, 77 Robert Liese, m17 Joey Whitehead, 10 Robert Walton—dns
Heat 2; 17 Cody Tidwell, 5r Ryan Doyon, bd1 Jared Maupin, 56 Gilbert Amequeta
Torres Overcomes Trouble for Tally
The 20-lap Limited Modified feature had a bit of everyting despite a short field. On green it was Craig Oakes first into turn 1 chased by Allen Alexander, Trent Beaver who got by Robby Minten and Allen Torres. Beaver then picked off Alexander for second bringing Minten along to third. Alexander fought back with Torres joining them going three wide for the position. After some contact, Torres secured the spot.
Minten took fourth as Alexander slowed and fell back. Bryce Beard then pressured and swapped fourth with Minten. By halfway Oakes was pulling away from Beaver with Torres, Minten and Beard in the top five. Torres was able to run down Beaver and get by just as caution waved for a spin that also erased Oakes’ big lead.
Then things got crazy.
On the restart Beaver tried a dive bomb move into turn 1 making contact with Oakes who went around collecting a few others. Oakes was forced to pit with a flat, Beaver sent to the tail, leaving Torres on point for the restart. No sooner than green waved, Minten would spin to bring the yellow back out.
After changing a flat, Oakes rejoined the pack, ran down Torres under caution and drilled him in the left rear. One problem, I think he got the wrong guy. Somehow Torres was able to continue despite the damage, though the handling looked go away some.
Finally back under green, Torres continued to lead with Alexander getting past Beard for second, followed by Beaver to third. Minten tried to take fourth, but made contact with Alexander sending him around for a late yellow. On the green, white, checker finish, Torres(San Antonio) was able keep Beaver at bay to score the win in the Tom Grothues owned, MG Building Supply, 24/7 Towing, Mission Racing, IRP FX Chassis by Jason Ingalls.
“I tried to take out my Factory Stock with a brand new motor, less than 20 laps on it and broke a push rod & rocker arm in hot laps,” replied Torres. “So Tom(Grothues) told me to drive his Limited Modified. We started 3rd in heat and finished 2nd place in that heat.
“We took the dry setup off and loosened up the car and it felt better than the heat race. It took me half the race to get it going to be able to contend for the top 3.”
“On a restart (Trent)Beaver went all kamikaze in turn 1 to take out Oakes and I went low to avoid them both. Oakes mistook me for taking him out and retaliated in an unsportsmanlike manner on the track. That was uncalled for regardless who took who out. After that my car was junk. I had hell trying to keep it from spinning out. The car was doing what it wanted and I was just along for the ride, but we managed to overcome it and walk away with the win.”
State Farm Insurance Limited Modifieds
11t Allen Torres, 14 Trent Beaver, 99 Allen Alexander, 95 Sterling Tausch, 2b Bryce Beard, 9 Robby Minten, 53 Craig Oakes(BF), 77 Cody Beddoe—dns
Limited Modified heats
Heat 1; 53 Craig Oakes, 9 Robby Minten, 14 Trent Beaver, 95 Sterling Tausch
Heat 2; 99 Allen Alexander, 11t Allen Torres, 2b Bryce Beard, 77 Cody Beddoe
Preston Powers to E-Mod Payday
The south Texas Eco-Mods made an appearance at I-37 Speedway after a debut run last year. The 15-lap feature saw Jeff Markert first into turn 1, but it was Gilbert Perez getting the advantage on lap 1. Markert, Daniel Taylor,
Cooper Koliba and Daniel Preston completed the top five. Preston, who had trouble in the heat, began picking them off getting by Koliba, Markert and Taylor for second.
Perez did a half spin on lap 4 with Preston pouncing on the opportunity
and snagging the top spot on lap 5. Perez kept the pressure on Preston while Koliba got third from Markert. Preston started to ease ahead until contact with a lapped car allowed Perez to close the gap with three laps to go.
Perez got wheel to wheel with Preston as the flagman showed two to go. Preston(Corpus Christi) was able to hang to the spot on the final two circuits to score the win in the Ace Transmission, John Lieta Farms, Jordan Equipment Company, Dark Horse Racing Shocks, WRT, Magnum Services, crate powered Rush Chassis.
“I broke in the heat so I didn’t get much time on the track to get a feel for the car,” said Preston. “So I went out for the feature kind of blind. After the first couple of turns in the feature I knew I had a good car and just needed to maneuver around the field.”
“Once I got to second I buckled down to try to catch Gilbert(Perez)Then next thing I know I see him coming back on the track from the infield. I knew he would be fast and just tried to run my race and keep my momentum up. I heard him come up close to me a few times and saw his nose but I just kept my head down and tried to run my race.”
“This E-Mod class is just a blast to run. With the rising cost of everything in the country this economy class just makes sense to me and my program. I enjoy traveling to racetracks and supporting when I can and hope to make it back here in the E-Mod soon.”
6” Daniel Preston, 3 Gilbert Perez, 04 Cooper Koliba, 95 Jeff Markert, 59b Brianna Witzsche, 68t Daniel Taylor
Heat 1;3 Gilbert Perez, 95 Jeff Markert, 04 Cooper Koliba, 68t Daniel Taylor, 59b Brianna Witzsche, 6” Daniel Preston
Starry Stars in Factory Stocks
At the start of the 20-lap Factory Stock feature polesitter, Edward Oakes got loose into turn 1 clipping Cameron Starry with both going around in front of the field. Several others took some minor damage in the mayhem, but everyone was able to continue.
The next start saw Cody Tesch grab the point ahead of Starry, Dillon Gaither, Mike Lyon and Nathan Oakes. Starry began challenging Tesch for the lead and was door to door when a spin brought out the yellow. On the restart Starry kept the pressure on as Jared Maupin, who started last after heat race problems, took fifth from Lyon.
Maupin picked off another spot from Kasey Krauss before another spin slowed the action. Once back to green, Starry looked low on Tesch and got under him on lap 6 to take the lead. Maupin used the opportunity to take over second and look low on Starry briefly for the lead. Jose Lopez was trying to exit while E. Oakes was trying to avoid him collecting Krauss for a caution.
On the restart coming to halfway it was Starry, Maupin, Tesch, Gaither and Lyon in the top five. The top four broke away with Tesch putting the heat on Maupin. As the white waved, Starry(Corpus Christi) had a four-car advantage in the Stealth Pump & Well Services, Ace Transmission, Don Wilde Racecraft, Darkside Coastal, 89 Motorsports, 1st Class Towing, Allgayer Inc., Club 20 Shocks, Best Engines, Outlaw Chassis taking the victory.
“It was a very good race,” exclaimed Starry. “Close knit competition from everyone here. The track was super slick and pretty much one lane. Whoever could get down to the bottom, in the best and exit the best and keep it as smooth as possible was going to be good.”
“My motto is always think there’s someone behind me. Just hit my marks the best I can every single lap. As long as you don’t make a mistake and push it every single lap you’ll be alright. That’s worked for me the last couple years.”
“I knew Jared was back there and that he was fast. He pulled up beside me once under caution. It showed who was back there and what to expect. You know how some people drive and their tendencies. I knew he would keep it clean and race me as hard as he could. If I just kept it on the bottom and made no mistakes, it would be hard from him to get by me.”
“Time on the track helps running two cars, but they’re two totally different animals. With the modified even if it’s a bottom dominant track, you can try to make the top work for a few laps. In the Factory Stock you have to be perfect every single lap. If it’s a bottom track and you come up off it, it will take some time to get back going again. The modified you can drive harder, try different lines. It just helps you see how the track is changing.”
(Did I mention he’s just a teenager.)
“This was my first time racing that car,” said runner-up Maupin. “I didn’t get to make any laps in the heat due to a transmission issue. I just tried to do everything I could to hold the bottom. Cameron was just hitting his marks and walking away slowly. My plan, was go where they’re not coming from the back.”
741 Cameron Starry, 91 Jared Maupin, 747 Cody Tesch, 99 Dillon Gaither, 20 Mike Lyon, 21 Nathan Oakes, 4d Paul Reyes, 15L Daniel Lopez, 00 Zach Freeman, 15 William Cavender, 53k Kasey Krauss, 29 Jose Lopez jr., 53 Edward Oakes, 94 Allen Torres—dn ***Tire samples sent off
Factory Stock heats
Heat 1; 53 Edward Oakes, 747 Cody Tesch, 20 Mike Lyon, 29 Jose Lopez jr., 00 Zach Freeman, 15L Daniel Lopez, 91 Jared Maupin
Heat 2, 741 Cameron Starry, 99 Dillon Gaither, 21 Nathan Oakes, 53k Kasey Krauss, 4d Paul Reyes, 15 William Cavender, 94 Allen Torres—dns
Schoenfeldt Scores B Factory Feature
In the 12-lap B Factory Stock feature Ronnie Schoenfeldt took command early getting out front of Emma Hendricks, Jerry Miller, Robert Keylich and Johnny Johnson. The field quickly sorted out until Miller and Keylich swapped third. Schoenfeldt(Helotes) motored away to full straightaway advantage over Hendricks easily taking the checkers in the SoTex Motorsports, Gaither Motorsports, Triple A Foundation Repair, Bear & Son Construction, Longs Machine Shop, Spreen Carburators, “Frankenstiened” engine, 2015 Outlaw Chassis.
“For the most part I just wanted to get going,” replied Schoenfeldt. “This is only the third time I’ve run this car and I just needed to see what it would do. It was pretty much try to get out front, hold my line and let’er rip. We were able to do that. I knew I had a bit of a lead since I didn’t hear anyone, kind of what my wife might says. I just knew that what I was doing what working for me.
“I ran Sport Compacts for almost four years. It’s a big learning curve in the Factory Stock. Absolutely nothing transfers from the two, I don’t care what anyone says. I guess the only thing you take from the other, is learning how to drive in traffic. Lucky we didn’t have much of that tonight.”
B Factory Stocks
98 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 8e Emma Hendricks, 75 Jerry Miller, 49k Richard Keylich, 43 Johnny Johnson
B Factory Stock heat; 98 Ronnie Schoenfeldt, 8e Emma Hendricks, 75 Jerry Miller,49k Robert Krylich, 43 Johnny Johnson
First I-37 Speedway Sport Compact Win for Sitterle
The Sport Compact feature saw Jamie Garner lead into turn 1, but it was Justin Sitterle coming off turn 4 with the lead. Garner fell I line second with Ryker Hernandez, John Thomas and Joshua Garcia in pursuit. Hernandez tried looking high, then low on Garner second with Thomas lurking, waiting for an opening.
With the fight for second, Sitterle built a safe lead until a spin brought out a lap 7 caution with another a couple laps later. Back under green Garner tried the high side but couldn’t get by as Sitterle crept ahead. By lap 19 Sitterle(Floresville) had a five car length lead coming to his first I-37 Speedway victory in the Lone Star Chassis, Honda Mike Performance, Acura Integra.
“Any day that you’re lined up against Jamie(Garner) you know it’s going to be a good race.” commented Sitterle. “You just have try to be patient and take your shots when you can. I knew he would be a contender from the start. It was a matter of trying to get around him, stay focused, keep calm and stay out front.”
“I never saw him once out front. It wasn’t until after the race that someone told me that he was creeping up on me a little bit. Something told me in the back of my head that I needed to go.”
“I’ve won before at Texana, but that was last year when they had a special event for us. This is my first ever win here at I-37 Speedway. I’ll be here all year running for the points championship.”
88 Justin Sitterle, 33 Jamie Garner, 55 Ryker Hernandez, 9t John Thomas, 12 Courtney McCall, 21t Shaun Tracy, 32 Joshua Garcia, 76y Donald Lewis, 70 Rod Tait
Sport Compact heats
Heat 1; 9t John Thomas, 55 Ryker Hernandez, 21t Shaun Tracy, 76y Donald Lewis, 70 Rob Tait
Heat 2; 33 Jamie Garner,88 Justin Sitterle, 32 Joshua Garcia, 12 Courtney McCall
Adult Predator(top 3); Andy VanBlarcum, Keihl VanBlarcum, Noah VanBlarcum
Senior Division; Charles Flanagan, Blaine Markgraf
Junior Division; Ava Montamayor, Cecelii Johnson, Cheston Markgraf
Youth Division; Mariana Almeida