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VINTON — The nature of spring time racing in Iowa means smooth is fast.
While that’s always the case in racing, it becomes paramount when the tracks end up on the rougher side because of the ever-present moisture that works its way to the surface. At the IMCA Frostbuster finale Sunday night at Benton County Speedway, holes developed in Turns 1 and 3, and getting through them cleanly was the difference between fast and — for a few cars — all four tires in the air.
Las Cruces, N.M. native Johnny Scott got his second Frostbuster win in three nights by doing just that — staying smooth after taking the lead from Kyle Brown with less than 10 laps to go.
“When the track is rough like that, you’ve got to hit your marks every time because you can catch a hole wrong and your whole car comes off the ground,” Scott said. “I’m just so glad we could win from 12th.
“There’s a lot of good drivers out here in IMCA that nobody knows about, and it’s definitely a lot of fun. I enjoy racing with these guys.”
Scott backed up his win Friday night at Marshalltown Speedway ahead of State Center’s Kyle Brown — who also finished second in the IMCA Stock Car main event earlier in the night — after the pair traded the lead on three consecutive laps late in the race.
The middle lane had lost some grip as the night wore on, so whoever was able to navigate both holes would prevail down the straightaway. Scott had cleared Brown and was pulling away before a caution with four laps to go erased a half-straightaway lead and turned up the pressure.
Scott gave an exasperated laugh in Victory Lane when asked about how difficult a situation like that is, because he knew the caliber of drivers around him who were ready to pounce. Not only was Brown there for that final restart, but so was Ray, N.D. driver Jason Wolla, who’s won many big IMCA races, as well as Vinton native Scott Hogan and Des Moines driver Todd Shute.
He held on, but it was a white-knuckle variety finish.
“It’s really stressful because you know where the fast line is, but if you go in there and make one mistake, the guy behind you is going to be right there,” Scott said. “I could see Kyle. He was right there. You just have to hope you don’t mess up because it’s the difference between winning and running second. It sucks sometimes, but that’s the way it is.”
Scott and Brown did make contact more than once while racing for the lead, and it was contact in Turn 3 that allowed Scott to fully clear Brown before that final caution.
Scott said in Victory Lane that “I don’t drive like that, but it’s one of those racing deals where we were racing hard.” Brown also was second to Scott on Friday night at Marshalltown, and while he said he was initially really frustrated about the contact, he remembered a similar situation from Friday in which he was the one who got into someone else (Hunter Marriott) and was able to get the position.
Brown backed up Scott’s line of thinking that it’s hard to not make contact when the track conditions are so difficult, but it’s hard not to be frustrated after leading several laps and having a win slip away.
With Scott going back and forth between IMCA and USMTS Modified racing this summer — “We just sort of decide midweek where we want to go,” Scott said with a laugh — Brown said the last three days are a message to the rest of the class.
“I can’t be mad at Johnny, we’re just a victim of the racetrack, like everywhere with the monsoon the last week and a half,” Brown said. “We’ve got holes getting in and racing each other, and most of us are too stubborn to free our cars up for the holes. That’s just what you get.
“We’ve got our work cut out for us if we’re going to race that guy all summer. He’s quick. We’ll go back to the drawing board.”
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