VINTON, Iowa – Ray Guss Jr.’s 2011 season is looking a lot like his 2010 campaign.
The Milan, Ill., veteran repeated as IMCA’s national Late Model champion while defending track titles at Davenport Speedway, Jackson County Speedway and Quad City Speedway. His edge over runner-up Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, was 816-810 while Terry Neal of Ely was another five points off the pace in third. Andy Eckrich of Iowa City, Iowa, and Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, rounded out the top five.
Guss led all drivers in the division with 16 feature victories and earns a $5,500 share of the $21,300 point fund to be paid this fall to the top 20 finishers in the final point standings, which become official on Sept. 26.
Cooney, the 1997 and 2002 national champion, was a 15-time feature winner and paced points at both Hamilton County Speedway and the Iowa State Fairgrounds Speedway.
Neal won a dozen times and reigned again at Dubuque Speedway. Eckrich was champion at both Farley Speedway and West Liberty Raceway.
Rookie of the year Travis Denning of Sterling, Ill., was 31st in the national point race.
Jay Stewart of Blair, Neb., won a second straight Shelby County Speedway crown and Denny Woodworth of Mendon, Ill., ruled at 34 Raceway.
First-time track champions were Jon Passick of Waterloo at Independence Motor Speedway and Justin Reed at his hometown Quincy, Ill., Raceways. Reed had four feature wins to Lonnie Bailey’s one to get the tiebreaker nod at Quincy.
National standings are based on drivers’ best 20 finishes out of their first 55 starts. Bonus points, equal to the average weekly car count at tracks holding a minimum of eight sanctioned events, are awarded to track champions.
The higher average is used to award bonuses when drivers won more than one track title; pro-rated bonuses are given at tracks where fewer than eight weekly events were held.
Guss got the maximum 20 points for his Davenport title, Cooney 16 points for his Hamilton County prize.
IMCA’s regular weekly season for Late Models ran from April 22 to Aug. 28. Point fund checks will be presented during the national awards banquet in Lincoln, Neb., in November.
The first IMCA Late Model driver to earn three local track titles in the same season last year, Guss can complete his repeat of 2010 by winning the Deery Brothers Summer Series championship. He’s leading the tour point race with five events to go.
TOP 20 IMCA LATE MODEL POINTS STANDINGS
1. Ray Guss Jr., Milan, Ill., 816;
2. Todd Cooney, Des Moines, Iowa, 810;
3. Terry Neal, Ely, Iowa, 805;
4. Andy Eckrich, Iowa City, Iowa, 781;
5. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa, 760;
6. Nate Beuseling, Silvis, Ill., 752;
7. Stephan Kammerer, Blue Grass, Iowa, 747;
8. Dennis Woodworth, Mendon, Ill., 740;
9. Ryan Griffith, Webster City, Iowa, 736;
10. Tyler Bruening, Decorah, Iowa, 735;
11. Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls, Iowa, 728;
12. Matt Ryan, Davenport, Iowa, 726;
13. Jay Stewart, Blair, Neb., 725;
14. Keith Pratt, Mendon, Ill., 711;
15. Lonnie Bailey, Quincy, Ill., 703 (2 wins);
16. Kyle Wahlert, Des Moines, Iowa, 703 (1 win);
17. Gary Webb, Blue Grass, Iowa, 702;
18. Jason Hahne, Webster City, Iowa, 694;
19. Ryan Giles, West Des Moines, Iowa, 692;
20. Chad Cooney, Des Moines, Iowa, 683