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Neal, Barker steal wins in Indee Open Series opener at
Independence Motor Speedway
by Ryan Clark
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (May 2) – Late race drama provided for a pair of exciting finishes in the Climate Seal Insulation Indee Open Series opener at Independence Motor Speedway.
For late model driver Terry Neal, patience was definitely a virtue as he was triumphant after problems sidelined a pair of leaders. In modifieds, Ron Barker made an impressive pass in the waning laps to take top honors in that division’s main event.
Brian Harris assumed command at the on-set of the 40-lap late model headliner. Harris took charge from his second row starting position and was followed to the front by Neal, who started one row behind him. Outside front row starter Jeff Bair ducked in behind the leaders to settle into third.
The leaders separated themselves from the field and quickly entered lapped traffic, encountering their first backmarker on the fifth lap around the fast 3/8-mile oval. The three drivers remained nose-to-tail for much of the first half of the event until Neal worked his way under Harris after 10 laps. The two battled side-by-side for the lead until the first caution flag was displayed on lap 14.
Harris restarted the event in the lead with the rest of the field in two-wide formation behind him. Bair edged ahead of Neal when racing resumed and the two continued to run in that order until a pair of cautions just past the midway point.
At that time, Harris maintained his stay out front as Bair and Neal ran door-to-door behind him. Bair moved into second on the 23rd lap and remained there until lap 30. As the leaders exited turn four, Harris slowed and entered the infield with mechanical problems ending his strong run at the front and giving the lead to Bair in the process.
Bair led for just two laps when a flat tire forced him to the pits. His stalled car on the back stretch forced the field to yellow one final time, setting up an eight-lap dash to the finish.
Due to the loss of the leader, Neal and second-running Chad Simpson realigned side-by-side for the race’s final restart. Neal rocketed into the lead when the green replaced yellow and led the remaining eight laps to drive to victory. Simpson and Darrel DeFrance rounded out the top three after respective fourth and fifth row starts.
The win was Neal’s fourth victory in the last five series events dating back to last season.
Mark Schulte and pole-sitter Dennis Betzer ran side-by-side at the front of the pack during the early stages of the 25-lap modified feature. Schulte settled into the lead on the fifth lap and veteran Layne Meyer made his way past Betzer for second just one lap later.
Running the high groove, Meyer worked his way into a door-to-door battle for the lead with Schulte as the leaders exited turn two on the 12th lap. Meyer secured the top position the next time past the flag stand as veteran Ron Barker gained on the leaders.
Meyer settled into the low groove as Barker went to work on the high side, making his way around Schulte on the 18th circuit. Barker proved to be fast in the high groove and reeled in Meyer three laps later, however he miscued exiting turn four on lap 22 allowing Meyer to extend his lead.
A caution flag moments later allowed Barker to restart the event on Meyer’s rear bumper for a three-lap charge to the checkers.
On the restart, Meyer moved to the high side exiting turn four anticipating Barker to continue his run at the top. Barker, however, snookered Meyer and shot to the bottom when the green flag waved and ultimately took the lead at the flag stand.
Left on the high side entering the first set of turns, Meyer was unable to gain on the new leader as Barker raced to the series opening victory. Meyer and Schulte followed Barker to the checkers.
In other action, first-year driver Quinton Miller took the lead at the drop of the green in the 15-lap hobby stock feature. He paced the field for the first half of the event until John Meyer worked his way to the front on lap eight.
Meyer led the remaining seven laps uncontested to score the victory. Josh Irvine, who started eighth, raced through the field and made a last-lap pass to score runner-up honors ahead of Miller.
The next event on the Climate Seal Insulation Indee Open Series schedule is set for Tuesday, May 22, at Fayette County Raceway in West Union. Competing that night will be late models, modifieds, stock cars and B modifieds. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with hot laps at 6:30 and racing at 7.
First heat – 1. 28C Terry Neal, Ely; 2. 88 Kevin Kile, West Liberty; 3. 4D Rick Dralle, Waterloo; 4. 27B Travis Smock, Independence; 5. 2P Jon Passick, Waterloo; 6. 9 Bobby Hansen, Center Point; 7. 14B Levi Benn, Dyersville; 8. 17A Jamie Aikey, Cedar Falls.
Second heat – 1. 99D Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown; 2. 25 Chad Simpson, Mt. Vernon; 3. 24 Brian Harris, Davenport; 4. 77 Jeff Aikey, Waterloo; 5. 43 Jeremy Grady, Story City; 6. 77X Kurt Kile, Nichols; 7. 4B Brian Lillie, Independence; 8. 37 Roger Ciesielski, Waterloo.
Third heat – 1. 45 Curt Martin, Independence; 2. 0 Jeff Bair, Solon; 3. 19 Darin Duffy, Hazleton; 4. 11 Ace Ihm, Hazel Green, Wis.; 5. 145 Dale Hackwell Jr., Washburn; 6. 27 Darin Burco, Independence; 7. 22 Jill George, Cedar Falls; 8. 4 Leon Thomsen, Waverly.
Feature – 1. Neal; 2. Simpson; 3. DeFrance; 4. Duffy; 5. Martin; 6. Grady; 7. Kevin Kile; 8. Ihm; 9. Hackwell; 10. Smock; 11. Passick; 12. Benn; 13. Ciesielski; 14. Thomsen; 15. Bair; 16. Harris; 17. Jamie Aikey; 18. Kurt Kile; 19. George; 20. Lillie; 21. Burco; 22. Dralle; 23. Jeff Aikey; 24. Hansen.
First heat – 1. 26P Kevin Pittman, Waterloo; 2. 21 Layne Meyer, West Union; 3. 00 J.D. Auringer, Waterloo; 4. 85 Johnathan Thimmesch, Aurora; 5. 2 Joey Schaefer, Waterloo; 6. 41P Keith Pittman, Waterloo; 7. 67 Randy Coghlan, Toddville; DNS 11B Mike Burbridge, Delhi.
Second heat – 1. 7II Mike Hejna, Clear Lake; 2. 27M Mark Schulte, Delhi; 3. 91 Shawn Ryan, Waterloo; 4. 18 Skip Culbertson, Dubuque; 5. 9 Leon Wilson, Hopkinton; 6. 19D Darin Duffy, Hazleton; DQ 30 Mark Massey, Worthington.
Third heat – 1. 70 Jerry King, Waterloo; 2. 37B Ron Barker, Dubuque; 3. 7C Nate Caruth, Ames; 4. F7 Patrick Flannagan, Cedar Rapids; 5. 11S Dion Speed, New Hartford; 6. 93K Jeff Kriz, Waterloo; 7. 93 Craig Haupt, Sumner.
Fourth heat – 1. 57B Dennis Betzer, Central City; 2. 00X Jeff Schroyer, Marshalltown; 3. 33 Steve Wetter, Platteville, Wis.; 4. 7J Jacob Seegmiller, Dubuque; 5. 31 Corey Dripps, Waterloo; 6. 1D Mel Saffran, Farley; 7. 22P Dave Plum, Waterloo; 8. 14B Shane Burbridge, Manchester.
First B feature – 1. Keith Pittman; 2. Massey; 3. Schaefer; 4. Duffy; 5. M. Burbridge; 6. Wilson; 7. Coghlan.
Second B feature – 1. Dripps; 2. Speed; 3. Haupt; 4. S. Burbridge; 5. Kriz; DQ Saffran; DNS Plum.
A feature – 1. Barker; 2. Meyer; 3. Schulte; 4. Hejna; 5. Betzer; 6. Kevin Pittman; 7. Caruth; 8. Wetter; 9. Seegmiller; 10. Duffy; 11. Dripps; 12. Culbertson; 13. Thimmesch; 14. Flannagan; 15. Keith Pittman; 16. Massey; 17. Speed; 18. Schaefer; 19. Haupt; 20. Schroyer; 21. King; 22. Auringer; 23. Ryan; 24. S. Burbridge.
First heat – 1. 35 Josh Irvine, Oelwein; 2. 24R Kevin Robinson, Dewar; 3. 73 Quinton Miller, Independence; 4. 18 Chris Luloff, Independence; 5. 4 Russell Damme Jr., Waterloo; 6. 115 Nate Sweerin, Waterloo; 7. 12oz, Gary Gates, Waterloo; 8. 20B Matt Burmeister, Waterloo.
Second heat – 1. 78 Matt Brown, Dysart; 2. 8 Bill Meyer, Sumner; 3. 24J John Meyer, Independence; 4. 1S Greg Sweerin, Evansdale; 5. 62G Adam Gebel, Dysart; 6. 48 Travis Michels, Hazleton; 7. 88S Jim Ball, Independence.
Feature – 1. J. Meyer; 2. Irvine; 3. Miller; 4. Brown; 5. G. Sweerin; 6. Robinson; 7. Luloff; 8. Ball; 9. Burmeister; 10. N. Sweerin; 11. Damme; 12. B. Meyer; 13. Michels; 14. Gebel (DNS); 15. Gates (DNS).