CEDAR RAPIDS - The Cedar Rapids Rampage were taking a long, uncomfortable glance towards 0-4.
Three third-quarter goals by the visiting Harrisburg Heat flipped a Cedar Rapids halftime lead into a two-score deficit.
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FARLEY — Two weekends ago, Farley Speedway had four Late Models come to race for that Friday night’s weekly race program.
It was the low point for car count at a facility bought over the offseason by Farley Speedway Promotions’ ownership group of Joel Callahan, Jason Rauen and Roger Simon, and brought about several changes in pricing and policy at all three FSP tracks — including West Liberty Raceway and Dubuque Speedway.
The latest came Monday, with a change to the annual Aftermarket Nationals.
Farley Speedway’s annual event, which touted its “No Crates” policy as an event for the Open motor crowd, has been amended to allow Crate engines to run in 2017.
In an announcement on Facebook, FSP said IMCA Crate engines will be allowed in both Modified and Sport Mod classes for the event that runs June 28-30, but that “no spoilers will be allowed in the IMCA A-Mod or IMCA Sport Mod class,” in an effort to even out the competition across the board. A lack of significant car count, FSP promoter Ed White said, was what went into the decision, which was made Monday afternoon. While White couldn’t remember the tracks specifically, he said this has been done in similar events other places.
White said the decision for this event to allow Crates every year going forward isn’t set in stone, but that if it was successful, they would stick with it.
White also said Monday, when asked about FSP’s decision-making process, that the ownership group and White all put a lot of thought into their choices for the track — all in an effort to make their endeavor sustainable.
“All these moves are really thought through — what makes sense and what doesn’t make sense,” White said. “It’s been in conversations in the last week with the amount of entries we have of Open motors.It didn’t seem to be a lot of interest. After conferring with 30 teams at least, they all thought we’d have better entries if we opened it up to Crates.
“Car counts equates to people in the stands. It adds a lot.”
White said after discussions with dozens of racers as well as comparing with other tracks and their structures, the decision was clearest about the payout structure and admission prices.
“Payout, pay structure had been the same for the last 15-20 years, and that was one of the things I brought back to ownership, and they all agreed it had been stagnant,” White said. “Other tracks didn’t charge a registration fee, so we eliminated that also. Basically most of it was input from drivers.
“We looked at admission prices the same as the payout, and thought it would be good to do both at the same time.”
FSP tracks’ payout increased across the board, with a bonus thrown in depending on car count. IMCA Late Models now pay $800 to win, $500 for second and $150 minimum to start the main event. Modified winners now get $450, Sport Mod $300, Stock Car $300 and Sport Compact $125.
On the payout scale FSP posted on its social media sites, there also was highlighted a bonus for the 20th-place finisher, who would receive $500 in Late Model, $300 in Modified, $150 in Sport Mod and Stock Car and $100 in Sport Compact in an effort to entice more cars to make deeper fields. Additionally, the minimum to start would increase by $50 for each class if 25 or more cars are entered.
It’s rare for racecar drivers to agree on a lot, but the increases were well-received on social media and in person, White said.
After that low point two weeks ago, Farley, for example, saw an increase from 33 cars to 44 this past Friday — specifically a boost from four to 15 in Late Model. Dubuque saw an increase from 43 to 47 in its regular IMCA classes, with 13 Late Models this Sunday as compared to eight last Sunday.
Transponders, required now at all three FSP tracks, were reduced to a $5 rental as well.
FSP also decided to reopen the famed backstretch parking for fans after it was closed at the beginning of the season to park haulers there. Haulers now park in the infield again, and admission was changed from $12 to $10.
White said he’s trying to be more visible and more accessible at the track for people who might have questions, all in an effort to improve things across the board.
“When you talk to 20 drivers, you’re going to get plenty of different recommendations, but out of the 20, maybe 18 of them thought pay structure had something to do with (low counts),” White said. “I’m trying to make myself a lot more available.
“I’m around and can be talked to at any time (at the track). The owners don’t get involved in day-in, day-out stuff; that’s what they hired me to do.”
GASE RETURNING TO HAWKEYE DOWNS FRIDAY
For the second straight week, a former Hawkeye Downs Speedway regular-turned-NASCAR racer will be back to race a Late Model at his home track.
Last week it was Landon Cassill; this week it’s Cedar Rapids native Joey Gase.
Gase returns for his yearly visit on Iowa Donor Network night, which benefits a well-documented personal and professional crusade for the young racer. Gase’s familiar No. 35 Late Model will be in action for the third straight year at this event. He won the first trip back two years ago as well as last year, and said he has his eyes set on another.
Gase will commute back and forth from Iowa Speedway on Friday to race at his home track. He’ll have a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series practices — one at 1 p.m.; the other at 4 p.m. — before heading back to Cedar Rapids.
GUSTIN TAKES $50,000 AT CEDAR LAKE
Marshalltown driver Ryan Gustin continued his run of big wins this season with the biggest payday of his career on Sunday.
“The Reaper,” as he’s known by his fans, won the USMTS Modified Masters event at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis., on Sunday, pocketing $50,000 following the 70-lap main event.
Gustin had to survive a delay first, though. Racing began Saturday night, but rain halted the main event 24 laps in. Racing resumed at 11 a.m. Sunday and Gustin rolled his way to the big payday. It was the second marquee USMTS race Gustin won this season. He was victorious at the King of America race, paying $10,000 to win, in March.
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