April 27, 2006

Pepsi SC Speedway Kicks Off 2006 Season

by Brian Neal

Memphis, MO (April 22) - The Pepsi Scotland County Speedway finally got its 2006 season started, after mother nature rained out the first five nights of racing. Taking home feature wins on the evening were Tommy Elston (Keithís Foods Late Models), Tony Fraise (Bentz GM Country USRA Modifieds), Zack VanderBeek (USRA Stock Cars), Tony Dunker (Toni Dunker Farm Marketing USRA B-Modifieds), Nathan Wood (USRA 9:1 Hobby Stocks), Jeff Soper (Outlaw Hobby Stocks) and Brent Hartley (Hornet).

Before the night started, the drivers took their helmets through the crowd to take a collection for the family of the fallen Bleu Taylor. Bleu was taken by a heart attack during practice day on April 8. He left behind a wife and a 10-month-old baby, along with another one on the way. The crowd at Memphis was very generous, as over $1,500 was collected for his family.

The Bentz GM Country USRA Modified feature was the first race of the evening. Charles Baker and Zack VanderBeek led the field to the drop of the green flag in the 20-lap event.

VanderBeek would build up a sizable lead, until a caution on lap 9. On the restart, Tony Fraise, the 2005 track champion who started 10th, slipped under VanderBeek coming out of turn two to grab the top spot. Fraise then held off VanderBeek over the final 10 laps to claim his first win of 2006 at Memphis. Michael Long came home in third, fourth went to Kevin Peters, with Ryan Meyer rounding out the top five.

Nathan Wood took home the checkers in the new USRA 9:1 Hobby Stock class at the Pepsi Scotland County Speedway.

Up next was the USRA Stock Car 18-lap feature. Chris Wibbell and Jason Cook, the 2005 track champion, started on the front row for the event, with Cook moving out front on lap 1.

Cook, Colt Mathers and Zack VanderBeek, who started seventh, battled three wide for the top spot throughout the first half of the feature. VanderBeek would grab the advantage on lap 9, on the bottom of the speedway, and then held on for his first win of 2006 at the track.

Jeff Waterman and Brandon Symmonds took the Toni Dunker Farm Marketing USRA B-Modifieds to the drop of the green in their 18-lap feature.

Waterman moved out in the lead on lap 1, with Jim Gillenwater, who started 7th, moving quickly up to second. Gillenwater would slip under Waterman on lap two, to take over the top spot. Gillenwater continued to lead, as Tony Dunker, who started 9th, and Jack Evans, Jr., who came from 17th, moved up to put the pressure on him.

Dunker would take advantage of a restart on lap 14 to grab the lead away from Gillenwater. Dunker then held off Evans, Jr. over the final four laps to claim his first win of 2006 at Memphis.

The Outlaw Hobby Stocks had to be the best feature on the evening, as the lead was exchanged six times within the first 14 laps.

Adam Birck and Jeff Soper started the 18-lap feature on the front row, with Birck grabbing the lead on the drop of the green. Jeff Soper, who was working the bottom of the speedway, slipped under Birck, who was working the top side, on lap 5 to take the lead. But Birck would come back on the next lap to take the top spot back. That would only last until the next lap, as Soper slipped back by Birck to take the lead back. Soper and Birck would run side by side for the next six laps, before Birck took a slight advantage on lap 13.

But Soper wouldnít give up, as he slipped under Birck on the next lap to take the top spot again. Soper then held on for the final four laps to pick up his first win of 2006.

Brian Clark came home in second, Josh Soper was third, Birck held on for fourth, with Jim Lynch rounding out the top five. Josh Soper, Dresden and Jeff Soper each picked up heat race wins.

The final feature of the night was the 18-lap Keithís Foods Late Models. Chris Smyser and Dick Weber took the field to the drop of the green flag, with Smyser jumping out front on lap 1. Smyser looked to be heading for his first win of 2006 at Memphis, until a late caution on lap 14.

Tommy Elston took advantage of the restart, as he jumped to the outside of Smyser to take the top spot. Elston then held off Smyser on the final three laps to claim the victory. Thad Trump finished in third, Jeff Gerhardt was fourth, with Todd Johnson completing the top five. Heat race win went to Smyser.

Coming up next week at the Pepsi Scotland County Speedway will be another regular night of racing, as the battling for Caseyís General Stores USRA weekly and national points continues. Gates next week will open at 4:30, grandstand at 5:00, hot laps at 6:30, racing to follow.

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