Kennicutt overcomes transmission woes
Gothenburg driver wins at DC Raceway.
By Darin Racek
It didn’t rain Sunday at Dawson County Raceway, but the cool air was heavy with moisture, keeping the track moist and fast. Despite the sky lowering as the final races were running, all of the races were run.
Jamey Kennicutt of Gothenburg, Jay Steffens of North Platte, Sal Hernandez of Columbus and Jason Wilkinson of Oakdale kept the engines moist with fuel as they stuck their cars into victory lane.
Nineteen IMCA Northern SportMods hit the track for their 20-lap event. Vince Leibert of Lexington passed Kerry Jones of North Platte on lap two for the lead.
Heat race winner Jamey Kennicutt found Leibert and passed him on lap five. Kennicutt would pull out to a nice lead when a lap 13 caution put Colton Osborn and Belleville, KS, driver Tyler Frye on his tail. The two would battle for position, then try to take the top spot from Kennicutt.
Cautions every couple of laps would reset the field, with Osborn and Frye side-by-side. After the final lap 18 caution, the field was aligned in single file, with Frye in second spot.
A year ago this weekend, Kennicutt had a big lead in a Modified feature race that was nullified by a yellow and lost the lead, but this year is a new year, and IMCA was introduced to a new winner in the Northern SportMod division.
It turned out to be a very good night for the driver who had a broken transmission in his race car the night before and had to try four transmissions during the day Sunday before he found one that would work.
SportMod guy Tyler Frye finished in second place. Heat winner Bryan Herrick of Curtis passed Osborn for third place. James Libra of Overton took fifth place. The other SportMod heat race was won by Dan Smith of Wichita, KS.
Jim Mlady of North Platte paced the beginning of the IMCA Modified A Feature. Heat race winner Cole Hodges of Ogallala caught up with him, and the two went to battle.
Before the half way point, Hodges was able to take the lead twice, only to see Mlady take it back with the preferred line. In a few laps, Hodges would drive off of corner one, about the same time the other heat winner, Wade Cross of Phillips, broke after an earlier incident. Cross would go to the pits while Hodges would go to the end of the line, allowing Jay Steffens to be the guy to line up behind Mlady.
A lap after the restart, Steffens moved way up on the track to pass Mlady on the high side and led the last seven laps to his first win of the year. Mlady held onto second place. Scott Smith of Davenport finished in third place. Cole Hodges would come back to finish in fourth place, while Brooke Eilts of Grand Island rounded out the top five.
Years ago, then-track announcer Tom Lathen would often ask “Where’s Sal?” when Sal Hernandez could not be found on the track while racing in the old Bronco class. Both men moved out of the area, but Hernandez has since moved back to Columbus and is back to racing an IMCA Stock Car at Dawson County Raceway.
Hernandez started on the front row of the A Feature along with Dan Walker of Eddyville, and the two battled for the lead.
Hernandez would lead the first half of the race with Walker applying pressure all the way.
On lap 12, Walker came across the scoring line in first, but lost the lead again to Sal.
Brandon Clough of Wallace passed Walker to become a player then slipped off the track, losing several spots. With a couple of laps to go, the caution came out, setting up a shootout.
As Walker worked Hernandez, his motor started to overheat. The car could not muster enough power to deny Sal and his car the victory.
Heat race and cash dash winner Cale Osborn of Cozad went from sixth place to third place in the final two laps.
His brother Colton finished in fourth, ahead of Clough. The other IMCA Stock Car heat race was won by Casey Werkmeister of Maywood.
The IMCA Hobby Stocks ran a commendable feature race, starting and finishing 16 cars that went 15 laps without a caution.
Tyler Andreasen of Grand Island nearly paced half of the race, followed closely by Tiffany Bittner of Norfolk. As she tried to get by Andreasen, Jason Wilkinson got by both of them in corner three on the eighth lap.
Bittner would also get by and stayed in the tire tracks of Wilkinson, but could not get him out of the lead.
Heat winner Andreasen would finish in third place. Chuck Ledbetter of Loomis had one of his best nights in a long time, winning his heat race and taking fourth place in the feature, keeping Lonnie Greuter of Grand Island at bay for the spot.
Racing will resume next Sunday night, June 5, at Dawson County Raceway.
Joining the four regular classes will be the Outlaw Vintage Lite class. Racing that night will start at 6:30 p.m.
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