May 1, 2003

USMTS Event Helps Pack Grandstands For Scotland County Speedway Opener

The United States Modified Touring Series invaded the Scotland County Speedway in Memphis Saturday, April 26, for the first of two visits this year.

Friday morning showers dumped more than two inches of rain on the speedway leading to some rutty conditions on the speedway. Six yellow flags would slow the racing action down, but fans were still treated to some great modified action as 48 cars checked in for the racing action on this beautiful Saturday evening.

The first Haulmark Trailers heat race took to the track and Jason Hughes raced his Hughes Chassis modified to the front from the fifth starting spot to take the win. Al Hejna in his new Skyrocket Budweiser modified started tenth and finished second giving him the Home Pride Companies Passing Points Award for the evening.

Second heat race saw Gary Blackburn take the top spot with Jim Lynch running second. The third heat race went to Ryan Meyer from the fifth spot over Tommy Myer from the pole. Fourth heat race action would see Kelly Shryock win over Bruce Hanford. The final heat race went to Mike Hejna over Robbie Verbeck.

That sent the top 12 cars to the Midwest Motorsports A-main. The rest, over the 36 cars went into the two Harris Auto Racing B-mains. Bret Frieden would beat Jim Sandusky to the checkers while Darin Walker started 11th and beat Darin Thye to the top spot.

That set the stage for the 25 lap main event. As introductions were being read track officials did try and blade the rough spots off the track. The track was decent around the top and the bottom were several drivers would run. The drivers that thought they needed to run through the middle where the drivers that ended the evening in the infield. Fourteen cars did finish the event.

Al Hejna used the front row outside spot to his advantage and led all the laps en route to his first ever win and picked up his $2,000 paycheck for the win. Hejna's first win did not come easy as he had to deal with Kelly Shryock, Bruce Hanford, Darin Walker, and brother Mike Hejna on several occasions as the field did get bunched several times due to the yellow flags.

Hejna would lose the top spot one time to Mike and Bruce Hanford coming out of turn two, but would make a three wide battle in three and four and mash the gas and sling shot past both drivers out of turn four.

Mike broke something on the front of his car three laps later ending his evening. Tommy Myer found a good line around the speedway late after getting a flat early and going to the back along with Justin Boney. Tommy Myer worked his way back to third, while Boney would get fifth and maintain his current USMTS point lead.

Bruce Hanford closed out with another strong finish to take second while Robbie Verbeck would take the fourth spot.

Next up for the USMTS will be a two-day stop at the Godfrey Speedway in Godfrey, IL Thursday and Friday May 1-2. This race will be two complete shows paying $2000 on Thursday and $2500 on Friday. For more information on the USMTS call 515-832-7944.

The opening night at SCS featured three other classes of race cars. It was the #40 car of P.J. and Rick Hudson that got by the father son team of Danny and Scott Kirby on the final lap to win the cruiser main event.

Chris Wibble was well on his way to winning the hobby stock feature race. Wibble had more than half a lap lead on the rest of the field when he rolled the #52 car in turns three and four bringing out the red flag. Wibble was unhurt in the crash.

Jim Walker of Mystic, IA took advantage of Wibble's misfortune as he outdistanced the rest of the pack to take the checkered flag. He battled past Jeff Soper (43s) of Kahoka and the #2 car of Tony Becerra to pick up the win. Locals Mark Holt and Doug Small finished seventh and eighth in the contest while Brandon Elenbaas finished in 13th place.

Nineteen cars showed up for the stock car class and virtually every one of them made a run at the front of the pack in the exciting feature race. Michael Browning of Edina was the first race leader as the 13 car led the way for the opening circuits. He had to fight off Brad Pinkerton in the 17P and Zack Vanderbeck in the 33Z.

None of that trio would figure into the final as Ryan Cook passed them all by as he went underneath the pack in turns one and two to pull into first place at the halfway point of the race.

Flat tires took their tolls on Pinkerton and Mike Robisnon. The later was able to get the 78R back onto the track courtesy of a yellow flag. Robinson, last year's leading winner, made a charge from the back of the pack and pulled within striking distance before another flat took him out of contention late in the contest.

Ryan Cook, Robinson, Jason Cook and Browning put on a show in the final four laps as the four cars swapped spots often going three wide before Robinson fell off the pace with the flat. Browning got collected in a get together with another car sending him back to finish eighth. Even without the hard luck for the other drivers Ryan Cook had the car to beat as he took his first win of the year. Jason Cook was second followed by 2002 track champion Josh Walker (78), Les Blakely in the 87 car and the 4X of Bob Lynch.

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