DUBUQUE — Justin Kay almost didn’t make the trip to Dubuque Speedway on Sunday night.
Kay won the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models main event on Friday night at Farley Speedway, spent Saturday working on the farm and originally planned for the same thing Sunday.
He probably owes some farming friends visiting from Kansas a beverage or two because Kay’s evening began with the rig leaving the shop in Wheatland at 5 p.m. — rolling into the pits at Dubuque right as hot laps started — and ended with the No. 15k in Victory Lane for the 21st time in Summer Series competition.
“I love this place,” Kay said in Victory Lane. “We had a couple people show up from Kansas doing some test stuff for farming, and they wanted to see a race. So we decided to go. I’m glad we did.”
The two-time Summer Series champion bookended the Highway 20 Triple Crown with victories, missing out on the $500 bonus for amassing the most points in the three-day race weekend because he didn’t race Saturday night at Independence Motor Speedway.
Kay will take the $4,000 total for the two wins, though. The Triple Crown championship went to Cayden Carter, with whom Kay raced hard for the lead through the first 35 of the main event’s 50 laps. Toss in Summer Series rookie Jake Neal, who finished second, and the three drivers put on a show for five or so laps following a Lap 29 restart.
Carter ended up fifth, but got high praise from Kay, who hammered home the point several times — both in his Victory Lane interview and to friends, family and fellow racers afterward — how much fun it was to race with both of those guys the way they did for as long as they did.
“Top, bottom, wherever; racing with Jake and Carter was so fun,” Kay said. “Carter is fun to race with right now. He’s improved a lot this year. It’s fun to be racing up front with different people. Him and Jake — Jake’s new to the Deery series — it was just a blast like that. And if you look at the top three cars, it didn’t look like we touched each other. That makes it even better, having that respect for each other that some people don’t have.”
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Kay’s praise for Carter was not lost on the young racer from Oskaloosa, who also races in the IMCA Modified and Stock Car divisions at various times and tracks.
Carter was a rookie in the Summer Series last season, and while he hasn’t won a main event yet, he’s come close multiple times. As an accomplished go-kart racer and having won several races in Modified and Stock Car already, Carter wants to check off a Summer Series win in the worst way.
He could take solace in his Triple Crown title — won by three points over Independence race winner Richie Gustin — and pointed to Kay as an example of how success can manifest itself with more time at the track.
“We’ve just got to get a little better,” Carter said. “It gets frustrating. I think once we get one, that second one will come a little easier.
“It means a lot for him to say (those things) because Justin’s put his time in with the Deery Brothers series and he was in the same shoes as me his first couple years, racing against veteran guys.”
Kay’s win moved him to sixth all-time on the Summer Series wins list, behind Jeff Aikey (68), Ray Guss Jr. (31), Curt Martin and Mark Burgtorf (26 each) and Gary Webb (22). He also became the first repeat winner in the five-race-old season, which is a refrain anyone who’s followed the Summer Series for the last five years knows well.
A Summer Series title isn’t really in his sights anymore, though. Like last year, Kay said Sunday night he’s focused on finding as much fun as he can wherever he goes.
It’s a good thing he listened to his friends, because he found it Sunday night at Dubuque.
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“Coming here makes a huge difference,” Kay said. “(Crew chief) Tyson (Gheer) gave me a great car to drive, so that makes it easier for me. We had extra help with Tyler (Madigan) tonight, so it makes all of it work. It’s just awesome to do this.”
IMCA DEERY BROTHERS SUMMER SERIES
DUBUQUE SPEEDWAY RESULTS
1.15k Justin Kay, Wheatland; 2. 14j Jake Neal, Omaha, Neb.; 3. 07 Matt Ryan, Davenport; 4. 32c Chad Holladay, Muscatine; 5. 10c Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa; 6. 58 Jeremiah Hurst, Dubuque; 7. 21m Luke Merfeld, Dubuque; 8. Z50 Joe Zrostlik, Long Grove; 9. 99 Jesse Sobbing, Malvern; 10. 19g Richie Gustin, Gilman; 11. 44 Luke Goedert, Guttenberg; 12. 45 Curt Martin, Independence; 13. 40 Joel Callahan, Dubuque; 14. 10t Jeff Tharp, Sherrill; 15. 23 Paul Conrad, Colo; 16. W Gary Webb, Blue Grass; 17. 15c Curt Schroeder, Newton; 18. K1 Kyle Krampe, Baxter; 19. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown; 20. Lyle Klein, Sherrill; 21. 56d Travis Denning, Sterling, Ill.
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