Auto Racing

'Clash at the Downs' set for Friday night

Big 8 Late Model Series returns to Hawkeye Downs

Brody Willett (00) puts pressure on Brian Gibson (17) on the straightaway at the third corner in the late model heat race at Hawkeye Downs last year. Both drivers are expected to compete Friday in the Big 8 Late Model Series. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)
Brody Willett (00) puts pressure on Brian Gibson (17) on the straightaway at the third corner in the late model heat race at Hawkeye Downs last year. Both drivers are expected to compete Friday in the Big 8 Late Model Series. (Rebecca F. Miller/The Gazette)

It’s time for another “Clash at the Downs” and, possibly, time for Brody Willett to pick up his first Big 8 Late Model Series win.

The Big 8 Series kicks off its season Friday at Hawkeye Downs Speedway, the home track for Alburnett teenager Willett.

This is Willett’s third season racing in the regional series, his second on a full-time basis. He finished third in the points standings last year, but still is looking for his first series win.

“He has a really good chance of winning the championship” this year, said Caleb Slouha, who does PR works for Hawkeye Downs and Willett.

The Big 8 Late Model Series holds an eight-race season around the Midwest, with events in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota. It “allows top drivers from weekly short tracks to compete under common rules, providing fans a tremendous show with big car counts and the best drivers our short tracks have to offer,” according to its website.

Friday’s event at Hawkeye Downs — dubbed “Clash at the Downs IV” — includes qualifying races at 6 p.m. and racing at 7:30, including the 48-lap Big 8 feature. The program will include the Downs’ usual weekly offerings, too.

Because the rules are the same at Hawkeye Downs and in the Big 8 series, Slouha said most of the regular Late Model drivers — guys like Brian Gibson and Griffin McGrath — will challenge the series’ regulars. He expects 20 to 25 cars challenging for a spot in the feature race, which is offering $1,000 to the winner.

Gates open at 5 p.m.

NOTES

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l All classes at Farley Speedway will run double features Friday after last weekend’s race were halted by severe storms. Hot laps begin at 7 p.m.

l Corey Dripps of Waterloo has two IMCA Modifieds feature wins at Benton County Speedway, but stands second in the points race to Jeff Aikey of Cedar Falls, 189-172. Scott Hogan of Vinton is third.

l The Urbana Five event at Benton County Speedway is set for June 10.

l The “Super Modified Weekend” at Farley Speedway — which includes at $50,000-to-win Modified Championship race — has been rescheduled for Oct. 12-13.

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