Maybe, just maybe … Monday night was a turning point in the 2011 fortunes of Quincy Raceways.
Great weather, great fan turnout, even a great car count.
I remember reading a comment from blog contributor “Skipp” a few days ago that was bemoaning some of the Debbie Downer comments that had been coming in. “We’ll be on a roll before too long,” he wrote. I wasn’t sure if that was a pipe dream or a wishful forecast.
The overall car count was the highest in more than a year. The 94 in the pits were the most since the 105 for a Deery Brothers Summer Series show in April 2010. Four of the five weekly series at the track matched their season high or exceeded it.
AN OPTIMISTIC BUZZ
Beyond the raw numbers, however, was the “buzz” in the air. Yeah, a legitimate optimistic buzz. It was one of those intangibles you can’t put in the victory column or mark down on a piece of paper. And I don’t think many — if anyone — left 8000 Broadway disappointed in the 4 1/2-hour program that did not end until shortly after 11 p.m.
The most memorable race of the night might have been the stock car feature that showcased a dozen cars, by far the largest field of the season in that series. I’m not sure they knew how to handle the overpopulation, judging by the six cautions. There were eight lead changes in the race, eventually won by Kevin Tomlinson, the most lead swaps in any main event since I began tracking that kind of stuff several years ago.
NEXT WEEK WILL BE A KEY
Finally, there is a chance to have a sense of momentum at the track. The key will be to maintain this “success” two weeks in a row. Hopefully, the fans — and the cars — will back. And hopefully, it won’t rain like it had five times in the previous six weeks. And hopefully, all the cars that were tore up can be fixed, particularly Vance Wilson’s modified, which was simply a mess after a crash with Travis Griffith on the front straight of the feature.
The product was good Sunday night, with the track offering more than one groove. And for the first time in a long time walking from the pits to my car after some post-race interviews I found myself sorting through all the racing that had transpired, not thinking so much about the off-track issues that have been plaguing the track.
Normally, when I get home, my wife will always ask, “Was it a good night?”
For the first time in a long time, I answered — with a smile, “Very good.”
DELONJAY GETS MUCH-NEEDED FEATURE WIN
Steven DeLonjay said he needed to “make a statement.”
The driver some felt was the modified man to beat this season won his first feature and it could not have come at a more opportune time. He entered the night eighth in points, and while it was only Memorial Day Weekend, five weeks of points racing had been lost to the weather. And as hard as it is to believe, the dirt-track points calendar is about 40 percent over — even thought it has barely started, thanks to the elements.
“I wanted to make a statement,” he said. “I’d had only one DNF (did not finish), but had not been able to show as much consistency as I would like. Like for everyone else, it’s been tough because of the weather.”
DeLonjay withstood a star-studded modified field. The parade of drivers who finished right behind him was a virtual who’s who of the local modified world — Shawn Deering, Dave Wietholder, Ryan Meyer, Jared Schlipman and Michael Long. DeLonjay led the final 10 laps after getting around Deering, who had been in front for 14 of the first 15.
DeLonjay, who won’t turn 20 years old until December but is in his fourth year as a modified contender, has never finished lower than third in points.
“While I try and worry most about feature wins, I would have to say … anything less than a track championship this year will seem like kind of a disappointment,” he said. “I finished third in points last year after being second (in 2009), and I felt like I took a step back.”
He definitely took a step forward Monday night. After beginning the evening 55 points behind leader and defending series champ Jared Schlipman, DeLonjay is now part of a five-pack of drivers separated by only 35 points.
MONDAY NIGHT FEATURE FINISHES
Late models: 1. Denny Woodworth (1st), 2. Lonnie Bailey, 3. Joey Gower, 4. Jake Griffin.
Modifieds: 1. Steven DeLonjay (1st), 2. Shawn Deering, 3. Dave Wietholder, 4. Ryan Meyer.
Stock cars: 1. Kevin Tomlinson (1st), 2. Abe Huls, 3. Jerry Jansen, 4. Beau Taylor.
Hobby stocks: 1. Bobby Anders (4th), 2. Brandon Symmonds, 3. Steve Carlin, 4. Jake Powers.
Wild things: 1. William Michel (1st), 2. Craig Bangert, 3. Seth Woodruff, 4. Brandon Lambert.
Sprint Invaders: 1. Jim Moughan, 2. Kaley Gharst, 3. Justin Parrish, 4. Mark Shirshekan.
MONDAY NIGHT STARS AT THE BULLRING
5 Stars: Steven DeLonjay, who needed a feature win the worst way in the modified series, emerged victorious in what is arguably the toughest series at the track.
4 Stars: Bobby Anders won his fourth straight hobby stock main event and stretched his string of consecutive feature laps led to 76.
3 Stars: Denny Woodworth won the late model duel with longtime rival Lonnie Bailey to become the fourth different feature winner in as many late model shows.
2 Stars: Kevin Tomlinson ended Aaron Brocksieck’s stranglehold on the stock car series with his first feature win of the season.
1 Star: Shawn Deering, who enjoyed his strongest run of the year in the modifieds, but came up one spot shy of the checkered flag.
FAST FEATURE LAPS (for series that use transponders)
Late models: Robby Warner, 67.636 mph.
Modifieds: Shawn Deering, 64.141 mph.
Stock cars: Aaron Brocksieck, 61.420 mph.
(Note: Jim Moughan’s victory in the Sprint Invader feature included a fast lap of 70.258 mph, the quickest of the year in an series at the track.)
Late models: Joey Gower (2nd), Lonnie Bailey (3rd).
Modifieds: Steven DeLonjay (1st), Michael Long (3rd), Vance Wilson (2nd).
Stock cars: Aaron Brocksieck (2nd), Terry Houston (3rd).
Hobby stocks: Brandon Symmonds (1st), Bobby Anders (4th).
Wild things: William Michel (1st), Chuck Fullenkamp (1st).
TRACK POINTS (Unofficial)
Late models (no points Monday night): Justin Reed 42, Lonnie Bailey 41, Denny Woodworth 40.
Modifieds: Jared Schlipman 200, Dave Wietholder 181, Shawn Deering 170, Michael Long 167, Steven DeLonjay 165.
Stock cars (no points Monday night): Aaron Brocksieck 74, Terry Houston 71, Andrew Griffin 71.
Hobby stocks: Bobby Anderson 129, Steve Carlin 121, Brandon Symmonds 119, Jake Powers 111.
Wild things: Craig Bangert 123, Seth Woodruff 119, Casey Kendrick 113, Austin Uppinghouse 109.
Late models: 15 (season average 20.0, minus Deery show 14.8)
Modifieds: 18 (season average 17.8)
Stock cars: 12 (season average 7.8)
Hobby stocks: 14 (season average 12.0)
Wild things: 12 (season average 10.5)
Late models: 3 (season average 2.5)
Modifieds: 10 (season average 8.8)
Stock cars: 6 (season average 2.3)
Hobby stocks: 5 (season average 2.3)
Wild things: 1 (season average 0.8)