Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings: Aug. 16

Justin Kay making his case for third Driver of the Year award in 4 years

Tyler Droste of Waterloo (92) competes in an IMCA Modified b-main during the 23rd Annual Hogan Memorial at Benton County Speedway in Vinton on Saturday, July 2, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette),
Tyler Droste of Waterloo (92) competes in an IMCA Modified b-main during the 23rd Annual Hogan Memorial at Benton County Speedway in Vinton on Saturday, July 2, 2017. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette),

Welcome to the Inside Track's Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings. Each week of the racing season, the Gazette's Jeremiah Davis will rank the area's top 10 drivers across all divisions.

Think the list should be different? Tweet him at @jeremiahdavis10, send him an email at jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com or leave a comment at The Inside Track by Jeremiah Davis Facebook page.

New this week: Dan Hovden, Mitch Hovden

Dropped out: Tyler Bruening, Cayden Carter

Others considered (in no order):  David Brandies, Luke Goedert, Ronn Lauritzen, J.D. Auringer, Nathan Ballard, Matt Ryan, Rob Toland, Mark Schulte, Kyle Olson, Johnny Spaw, Daniel Wauters, Dalton Simonsen, Richie Gustin, John Emerson, Kyle Brown, Troy Cordes, Bryce Garnhart, John Oliver Jr, Darrel DeFrance, Jimmy Gustin, Andy Eckrich, Chris Zogg, Brody Willett, Jeff Aikey, Chris Simpson, Jeremiah Hurst, Benji Irvine, Joel Rust, Tyler Bruening, Cayden Carter


Justin Kay

Late Model/Modified

Kay won the first two Eastern Iowa Driver of the Year awards given out by The Gazette. In those seasons, he was pretty much uncontested. He's not a runaway this year, but he's the front-runner for a third honor in four years. He got two more wins this weekend, sweeping Modified and Late Model at Farley. Provided he doesn't have horrendous weeks the rest of the way, he's headed toward track titles in both classes at Farley. Winning both in the same season has never been done there - and is exceedingly rare anywhere.


Tyler Droste


Some good and bad for Droste this week, but more good than bad. Yes, he missed the show at Night of 10,000 Stars in Britt, but that came a night after he got the win - and took home $3,500 for a win in Night of 1,000 Stars. At the time, that was his fourth win in four races at Hancock County Speedway. His p9 in the All-Stars race on Saturday was a nice bounce-back against some high competition. He's in the Driver of the Year discussion, too.



Tyler Soppe

Sport Mod

Despite dropping one this week, Soppe is the driver outside Kay who has the best shot at Driver of the Year at this point. He added to his win total with another at Maquoketa Speedway, and added a third at Farley and second at Dubuque to fill his weekend. At this point, the national championship is looking like it's his to lose. He's stayed consistent all summer, even through his own frustrations. He's set the bar high.  


Hunter Marriott


Speaking of setting a high bar, what a dang week-plus this guy had. He started off Speedweek with the win at Spencer mentioned last week, then followed it up with a fifth in Hawkeye Dirt Tour action at Alta, a second place in Night of 1,000 Stars to Droste, then got his second straight Night of 10,000 Stars win on Friday at Britt. He clinched the Speedweek crown with a p17 on Saturday. The guy still is rolling - and as of now my pick to win Super Nationals.


Darin Duffy


Duffy took the weekend off after several weeks in a row of multi-night racing in and out of Iowa. It was well-earned, and he isn't be the only one who has or will take a bit of a break before the specials start to roll in. Duffy has had the speed to compete anywhere and against anyone, and with his entry into Super Nationals, the Rage Chassis camp should have more than just Marriott contending.  


Tony Olson

Sport Mod

Last week, I wondered here if it was true Olson had really found a fix, or if that's just something racers say. Well, it sure looks like he backed up what he said. With wins at Davenport Speedway on Friday and Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday followed by a fourth place finish on Sunday in Vinton, the Tony Olson we've come to expect the last few years seems to have returned.


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Damon Murty

Stock Car

This week was the first I could remember in a long time in which he raced and didn't get a win somewhere - at least that I could find. He ran sixth on Friday at Marshalltown and third on Sunday in Vinton, which obviously still are strong runs. The Chelsea Charger has set a standard, and I know I keep saying it, but it feels like a shock when he doesn't win.


Dan Hovden


See, this isn't just an IMCA racing rankings. Hovden has been rock solid in his USRA B-Mod all season, and got a pair of wins this weekend at Fayette County Speedway in West Union and Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah. The win in Decorah was his fourth of the season, and padded his points lead there too. I'd love to see what Hovden would be able to do in IMCA competition - my gut tells me pretty well. 


Nathan Wood

Stock Car

Wood wasn't able to find the winner's circle this weekend either, snagging a second place finish at CJ Speedway and a fifth on Sudnay at Benton County Speedway in Vinton. Wood's consistency this year isn't a new thing, and he probably should've been recognized in these rankings way sooner than he was. 


Mitch Hovden

Stock Car

Hey look, another USRA guy - and another Hovden. Like Dan, Mitch isn't new to these rankings overall - both found the rankings last year - but finds the top 10 for the first time after his own pair of wins in West Union and Decorah. Mitch leads the points in Decorah and is second in West Union, and has been consistent himself. His class is particularly competitive up that way, so his success is no fluke.



Previous weeks: May 10May 17May 24May 31June 7June 15June 21June 28July 5July 19July 26Aug. 9

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com



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