[Text is a special contribution from Linda Mansfield]
Gas City I-69 Speedway closed its 2019 season by presenting 120 laps of hot stock-car feature action spread over five divisions during the second half of its first annual “Fall Festival of Speed” Sunday. After a great deal of close competition accented by some beating and banging, Duane Chamberlain won the 25-lap late model feature and Clayton Bryant won a similar main event for UMP modifieds to highlight a program that attracted nearly 100 race cars. Chamberlain took $1,500 home to Richmond, Ind. for his day’s work while Bryant, of Fort Wayne, Ind., earned $1,000 for his feature victory.
Track champion Andy Bishop of Gas City won the 25-lap feature for street stocks and thunder cars, while Bill Lewis of Fountain City, Ind. took the top honors in another 25-lapper for super streets and sportsman drivers. James Headley of Marion, Ind. closed the show at the quarter-mile clay oval by winning the 20-lap feature for hornets/compacts.
Chamberlain only led the last two laps of the late model feature and the rear end of his Weber Motorsports #20C was crumbled in the victory lane photos, but he didn’t seem to mind.
The battle that initially had everyone’s attention was the one between polesitter Chad Finley of Saint Johns, Mich.; Chamberlain, and Rusty Schlenk of McClure, Ohio. Finley led the first eight laps with Chamberlain on his rear bumper until Schlenk passed Chamberlain to take over second on lap nine. Schlenk got under Finley in Turn 3 on lap 15 to take the lead, but Finley retook command on the following lap by diving under Schlenk in Turn 4.
Schlenk got the lead back on lap 19 by dipping under Finley in Turn 4 and led through lap 21, but then he got into a lapped car, hit an infield tire in Turn 2, and stopped in Turn 4 to bring out a yellow with 21 laps down. He had to retire after that and ended up 16th.
Schlenk’s departure put Chamberlain on Finley’s bumper for the restart. That pair made contact in Turn 4 on lap 23 and on the frontstretch on lap 24, which was when Chamberlain finally wrestled the lead away from Finley. Devin Shiels of Britton, Mich. saw an opportunity at the same moment and also passed Finley to nail down the runner-up honors at the end. He was just 0.380 behind Chamberlain at the checkered.
Finley finished Third followed by Joe Godsey of Bedford, Ind. and Eric Spangler of Lake City, Mich. The latter had started 13th in the 20-car field.
It took three attempts to get the UMP modified feature underway. Track champion Scott Orr of Columbia City, Ind. led the first lap before Todd Sherman of Churubusco, Ind. got under him in Turn 2. Bryant, who drives the Kingsland Motor Company #114, moved into Second on lap three and Sherman, who won at Gas City on Sept. 13, had to fight Bryant off repeatedly.
On lap 17 white smoke began pouring out of Sherman’s car in Turn 4. When the Fourth-place driver, Tim Wilbur of Coldwater, Ohio, stopped on the backstretch with 18 laps down to bring out a caution, Sherman headed for the pits due to his mechanical difficulties. He was credited with 16th.
Bryant inherited the lead with Sherman’s departure and he led the rest of the way much to the delight of his backers, which include Premier Signs, Apache Propane, BZ Enterprises, J&A Innovations and Sport Form.
Luke Hubbell of Ada, Mich. passed Orr for Second on lap 21, and on the next lap Ryan Ramseyer of Bluffton, Ind., who had been Fourth, spun in Turn 4 to bring out another yellow. Hubbell did his best to catch Bryant in the waning laps but finished just 0.316 of a second behind him. Orr held on for Third. Jerry Bowersock of Wapakoneta, Ohio finished Fourth and Tony Anderson of Lima, Ohio turned an 11th place starting spot into a Fifth-place finish.
Bishop, the track’s street stock champion, led all 25 laps of that feature in the Thompson Trucking #14. David Short of Winamac, Ind. ran in Second place from laps two through seven until Mike VanderMark Jr. of Cedar Springs, Mich. dipped under him in Turn 4 for that position and the eventual runner-up honors.
Chris Tippit of DeMotte, Ind. was penalized two positions for jumping a restart with nine laps down, nudged the Third-place car of Short off the track and into the infield off Turn 4 on lap 13, and finished Third.
Even the ending was not without drama, as Tim Bennett spun in Turn 2 and his car caught on fire on the backstretch to bring out a red with two laps to go. Luckily he wasn’t hurt. Kory Conner of San Pierre, Ind. ended up Fourth and Shawn Valenti of Fostoria, Ohio placed Fifth in a race that still had a car spinning after the checkered waved.
Another car #14 sponsored by Thompson Trucking and driven by Bill Lewis of Fountain City, Ind. led all 25 laps of the super street feature to win handily over Anderson, who ran in Second place the whole race. Jeff Matheny of Centerville, Ind. passed Teri Lynn Murphy of Holland, Ohio for Third on lap 16 and finished in that position. Murphy hung on for Fourth followed by Dan Wooten of Greenville, Ohio, who started last.
Jimmy Watters probably had to count all the fillings in his teeth after something broke on his car and he hit the frontstretch wall hard and head-on with 13 laps down while running Fifth. He climbed out quickly and was more concerned with the damage his car sustained than anything else.
The track’s hornet champion, James Headley Jr. of Wabash, Ind., didn’t compete on Sunday because he had his appendix removed last week, but it seemed fitting that his father won the last race of the year at Gas City in that 20-lapper since he was the most colorful driver at the track this season.
Headley started 13th in the “Outlaw” car sponsored by Dudding’s Heating and Cooling, Garriott Electric, Edwards Automotive, and TJR Trucking, but he was already Fifth by lap four after passing Charlie Teegarden to the outside in Turn 3.
Polesitter Jacob Beard of Columbia City, Ind. led the early going and was holding off Josh Gamblin of Kokomo, Ind. and Jason Spencer of Columbia City, Ind. at the halfway point until things got a bit hairy. Gamlin got into a tire marking the track in Turn 4 to end that battle and bring out a yellow, as he plummeted from Second to 13th. That moved Headley up to Fourth for the restart, and he passed Jerald Owens to the outside in Turn 2 on lap 11 for Third.
Gamblin’s day went from bad to worse on lap 12 when he flipped hard in Turn 4 to bring out a red. Luckily he got out of his car under his own power.
Headley dipped under Spencer for Second on the frontstretch two laps later, and he got the lead from Beard with a similar move in Turn 4 on the following lap. Spencer passed Beard for Second on lap 18 on the backstretch to finish in the runner-up spot two laps later. Beard finished Third, Jerald Owens placed Fourth and Randy Brommer of Columbia City, Ind. came home Fifth.
Headley had a horn in his car and he blew it a couple of times during the race and in victory lane. He said he bought it at the James Dean Swap Meet during the area’s recent James Dean Festival.
Fans can get more information about Gas City I-69 Speedway during the off-season on its website at GasCityI69Speedway.com.
Late Model Group 1 Qualifying: 1. Collin Shipley, 13.355; 2. Chad Finley, 13.476; 3. Joe Godsey, 13.560; 4. Eric Spangler, 13.710; 5. Jeremy Creech, 14.112; 6. Dan Richardson, 15.448.
Late Model Group 2 Qualifying: 1. Devin Shiels, 13.027; 2. Matt Shipley, 13.411; 3. Chad White, 13.441; 4. Jace Owens, 13.918; 5. Scott Robertson, 14.042; 6. Josh Robertson, 14.382; 7. Jeff Sommers, 15.730.
Late Model Group 3 Qualifying: 1. Duane Chamberlain, 13.018; 2. Rusty Shlenk, 13.134; 3. Ky Harper, 13.866; 4. Jeff Robertson, 14.111; 5. Troy Worrick, 14.274; 6. Shawn Crouch, 14.653.
Late Model Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Chad Finley, 2. Joe Godsey, 3. Bryan Clendenen, 4. Collin Shipley, 5. Eric Spangler, 6. Jeremy Creech, 7. Dan Richardson.
Late Model Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Matt Shipley, 2. Devin Shiels, 3. Chad White, 4. Jace Owens, 5. Josh Robertson, 6. Scott Robertson, 7. Jeff Sommers.
Late Model Heat 3 (8 laps): 1. Duane Chamberlain, 2. Rusty Shlenk, 3. Ky Harper, 4. Troy Worrick, 5. Jeff Robertson, 6. Shawn Crouch.
Late Model Feature (25 laps): 1. Duane Chamberlain, 2. Devin Shiels, 3. Chad Finley, 4. Joe Godsey, 5. Eric Spangler, 6. Matt Shipley, 7. Ky Harper, 8. Chad White, 9. Colin Shipley, 10. Jeremy Creech, 11. Troy Worrick, 12. Jace Owens, 13. Jeff Robertson, 14. Josh Robertson, 15. Scott Robertson, 16. Rusty Schlenk, 17. Dan Richardson, 18. Jeff Sommers, 19. Shawn Crouch, 20. Bryan Clendenen.
UMP Modified Group 1 Qualifying: 1. Jerry Bowersock, 14.121; 2. Bub Roberts, 14.151; 3. Clayton Bryant, 14.352; 4. Ryan Ramseyer, 14.426; 5. Andy Sherley, 14.468; 6. Andy Bishop, 14.577; 7. Troy Cattarene, 14.737; 8. Aaron Orr, 14.903; 9. Percy Gendreau, 14.906.
UMP Modified Group 2 Qualifying: 1. Tony Anderson, 13.908; 2. Todd Sherman, 14.031; 3. Scott Orr, 14.423; 4. Dylan Caldwell, 14.439; 5. Tim Wilbur, 14.468; 6. Justin White, 14.560; 7. Josh Betts, 14.586; 8. Jessica Sroufe, 14.857; 9. Bruce Hogue, 15.318.
UMP Modified Group 3 Qualifying: 1. Luke Hubbell, 13.983; 2. Cole Sink, 14.180; 3. Joe Brosseau, 14.225; 4. Jimmie Haager, 14.392; 5. Hillard Miller, 14.485; 6. Bill Griffith, 14.511; 7. Brandon Archey, 15.328; 8. Mike Miller, 15.358.
UMP Modified Heat 1 (8 laps, 5 qualified): 1. Clayton Bryant, 2. Bub Roberts, 3. Jerry Bowersock, 4. Ryan Ramseyer, 5. Aaron Orr, 6. Andy Bishop, 7. Percy Gendreau, 8. Troy Cattarene, 9. Andy Sherley.
UMP Modified Heat 2 (8 laps, 5 qualified): 1. Scott Orr, 2. Todd Sherman, 3. Tim Wilbur, 4. Tony Anderson, 5. Dylan Caldwell, 6. Josh Betts, 7. Justin White, 8. Bruce Hogue, 9. Jessica Soufe (DNS).
UMP Modified Heat 3 (8 laps, 5 qualified): 1. Jimmie Haager, 2. Luke Hubbell, 3. Joe Brosseau, 4. Cole Sink, 5. Bill Griffith, 6. Hillard Miller, 7. Brandon Archey, 8. Jason Jones, 9. Mike Miller.
UMP Modified B Main (10 laps, 5 qualified): 1. Andy Bishop, 2. Percy Gendreau, 3. Hilard Miller, 4. Josh Betts, 5. Andy Sherley, 6. Brandon Archey, 7. Mike Miller, 8. Bruce Hogue, 9. Justin White, 10. Jason Jones, 11. Troy Cattarene (DNS), 12. Jessica Sroufe (DNS).
UMP Modified Feature (25 laps): 1. Clayton Bryant, 2. Luke Hubbell, 3. Scott Orr, 4. Jerry Bowersock, 5. Tony Anderson, 6. Bub Roberts, 7. Cole Sink, 8. Aaron Orr, 9. Hillard Miller, 10. Andy Bishop, 11. Percy Gendreau, 12. Dylan Caldwell, 13. Joe Brosseau, 14. Andy Sherley, 15. Ryan Ramseyer, 16. Todd Sherman, 17. Tim Wilbur, 18. Jimmy Hager, 19. Bill Griffith, 20. Josh Betts.
Street Stocks/Thunder Cars Heat 1 (8 laps, 5 qualifed): 1. Andy Bishop, 2. Kory Conner, 3. Mike Fincher, 4. Josh McCord, 5. Marty Harkinson, 6. Blake Creech, 7. Shane Hillman, 8. Eric Sandlin.
Street Stocks/Thunder Cars Heat 2 (8 laps, 5 qualified): 1. David Short, 2. R.J. Akers, 3. Jason Fritz, 4. Dustin Marcum, 5. Jacob Steinway, 6. Steve Tanner, 7. Larry Persinger, 8. Tim Bennett.
Street Stocks/Thunder Cars Heat 3 (8 laps, 5 qualified): 1.Mike VanderMark Jr., 2. Shawn Valenti, 3. Dalton Bishop, 4. Chris Tippit, 5. Greg Marlow, 6. Wryan Collis, 7. Greg Long.
Street Stocks/Thunder Cars Feature (25 laps): 1. Andy Bishop, 2. Mike VanderMark Jr., 3. Chris Tippit, 4. Kory Conner, 5. Shawn Valenti, 6. Mike Fincher, 7. David Short, 8. Dalton Bishop, 9. R.J. Akers, 10. Greg Marlow, 11. Steve Tanner, 12. Dustin Marcum, 13. Jacob Steinway, 14. Wryan Collis, 15. Marty Harkinson, 16. Greg Long, 17. Josh McCord, 18. Shane Hillman, 19. Larry Persinger, 20. Tim Bennett, 21. Jason Fritz, 22. Blake Creech (DNS), 23. Eric Sandlin (DNS).
Super Streets/Sportsman Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Bill Lewis, 2. Tony Anderson, 3. Jimmy Watters, 4. Terri Lynn Murphy, 5. Tim Murphy, 6. Dan Wooten.
Super Streets/Sportsman Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Jeff Matheny, 2. Robert Pardo, 3. Jeremy Creech, 4. Corey Wooten, 5. Mark Wooten.
Super Streets/Sportsman Feature (25 laps): 1. Bill Lewis, 2. Tony Anderson, 3. Jeff Matheny, 4. Terri Lynn Murphy, 5. Dan Wooten, 6. Tim Murphy, 7. Jeremy Creech, 8. Jimmy Watters, 9. Corey Wooten, 10. Robert Pardo, 11. Mark Wooten (DNS).
Hornets/Compacts Heat 1 (8 laps): 1. Jason Spencer, 2. Charlie Teegarden, 3. Jacob Beard, 4. Donnie Huddleston, 5. Matthew Baker, 6. Brad Evans, 7. James Headley, 8. Brian Isley, 9. Tracy Runyan.
Hornets/Compacts Heat 2 (8 laps): 1. Josh Gamblin, 2. Jerald Owens, 3. Dustin Franks, 4. Phillip McCord, 5. Carl Cordes, 6. Joey Eastes, 7. Jesse Arenas, 8. Randy Brommer, 9. Mark Casto.
Hornets/Compacts Feature (20 laps): 1. James Headley, 2. Jason Spencer, 3. Jacob Beard, 4. Jerald Owens, 5. Randy Brommer, 6. Matthew Baker, 7. Brian Isley, 8. Phillip McCord, 9. Dustin Franks, 10. Joey Eastes, 11. Car Cordes, 12. Jesse Arenas, 13. Brad Evans, 14. Josh Gamblin, 15. Donnie Huddleston, 16. Charlie Teegarden, 17. Tracy Runyan (DNS), 18. Mark Costo (DNS).