Eastern Iowa Driver Rankings: May 17

Soppe holds top spot after top 5 at Super Weekend in Farley

Oxford's Chris Simpson (32) races inside Joel Rust (26j) during their IMCA Modified heat race at Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Jeremiah Davis/The Gazette)
Oxford's Chris Simpson (32) races inside Joel Rust (26j) during their IMCA Modified heat race at Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday, April 22, 2017. (Jeremiah Davis/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: Darrel DeFrance, Bryce Garnhart

Dropped out: Troy Cordes, Damon Murty

Others considered (in no order):  David Brandies, Luke Goedert, Benji Irvine, Tyler Bruening, Ronn Lauritzen, J.D. Auringer, Nathan Ballard, Matt Ryan, Rob Toland, Mark Schulte, Chris Zogg, Mitch Hovden, Kyle Olson, Cayden Carter, Johnny Spaw, Troy Hovey, Daniel Wauters, Jeremiah Hurst, Dalton Simonsen, Richie Gustin, Kyle Brown, Ricky Thornton Jr., Troy Cordes, Damon Murty

1 Tyler Soppe Sport Mod Through the first half of the $20,000-to-win Sport Mod main event at Farley Speedway's Modified Super Weekend, it looked like he was driving straight to the front. He started 14th after transferring in from an LCQ and made it to the top 5 before halfway. He stalled out there, though, and came home fourth after racing hard for third. A $3,000 payday for fourth doesn't suck, either.
2 Chris Simpson Late Model/Modified Simpson was the only locally-based driver contending for the win in the $50,000-to-win main event at Farley's Super Weekend. He also happened to be the only Late Model convert in contention for the win. He never seriously challenged for the lead, but was right with the top group of drivers (hold that thought) behind eventual winner Kyle Strickler. His success racing a car he's not used to was impressive.
3 Hunter Marriott Modified Marriott is one of the most consistently successful drivers in an IMCA Modified right now, and if he's second, it's only to the next guy on this list. Marriott gets the boost, though, because he had the better finish at the Super Weekend. He contends he was quicker on track than Strickler at the end of that race, but Strickler was smoother. Right or wrong, there's no doubt he was right there for the win.
4 Johnny Scott Modified Scott made the Modified Super Weekend main event interesting with 10 laps to go, throwing multiple slide jobs on Stickler, and nearly making the last one stick. While he settled for third in the race, his run of IMCA finishes in Eastern Iowa in the last several weeks validate his status here - regardless of what comes next and where he races.
5 Justin Kay Late Model/Modified For all you crate vs open motor people: Kay was the top finishing open motor at the Modified Super Weekend, finishing 14th at Farley Speedway. He won his LCQ and ran a solid race, but couldn't move much higher than where he finished. It'll be interesting to watch which he races more this summer, his Late Model or Modified. It seems like he's having more fun in the Mod, but that's just an observation.
6 Jeremiah Hurst Late Model No wins for Hurst this weekend, but he was in contention all weekend, racing three times. He was sixth at Davenport Speedway on Friday, fourth at the Night of Thunder at Maquoketa Speedway on Saturday and third in the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series race on Sunday at Quad City Speedway in East Moline, Ill. He battled for the lead in that race, too. A Deery win seems inevitable if he can keep running this consistently.
7 Tony Olson Sport Mod This is where I say, from an objective observer standpoint, I would have loved to have seen him race the Super Weekend show at Farley, but he had his reasons for sticking with weekly racing, and no one else's opinion on it matters but his. That said, he looked like his usual dominant self at his old haunts. He won at Davenport (on his 30th birthday) and Independence, and then was second to his cousin Kyle on Sunday at Vinton.
8 Darrel DeFrance Late Model Some Victory Lanes are just cooler than others. Seeing the Iron Man of the Deery Brothers Summer Series hold a stogie and get emotional over his first Summer Series win since 2013 was a fun story to be able to tell. He led every lap at Quad City Speedway and held off Jesse Sobbing on the final lap. He earned it in every way. 
9 Tyler Droste Modified He didn't miss qualifying for the Modified main event by much on Friday night, starting third in his LCQ on Saturday night - which was the transfer position. Unfortunately for him, he went backward in that LCQ and missed the $50,000-to-win main event. He didn't race his non-qualifier feature, either. Count on him to regroup and be competitive soon, but no doubt it was a frustrating weekend.
10 Bryce Garnhart Modified Not every Modified driver raced in Farley this weekend. In fact, weekly racing advocates had to feel good about the fact that so many like this guy stuck with them. Garnhart has been really competitive regardless, and was very much so at his weekly tracks. He was second at Davenport on Friday, fourth at the Night of Thunder at Maquoketa on Saturday, and closed the weekend with a win at Quad City Speedway.


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



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