INDEPENDENCE - For Independence, the prep football season opener bore little resemblance to its winless 2016 campaign.
Even in defeat, a clear message was sent that there are brighter days ahead for the Mustangs.
Independence nearly matc ... »
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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.
New this week: Chris Simpson, Luke Goedert
Dropped out: Joel Callahan, Troy Bauer
Others considered (in no order): Troy Cordes, Matt Ryan, Zach Less, Bryce Garnhart, Rob Toland, Jeff Aikey, Mark Schulte, Chris Zogg, Tyler Bruening, Dan Hovden, Leah Wroten, Kyle Olson, Cayden Carter, Sam Wieben, Johnny Spaw, Jim Hanson, Troy Hovey, Joel Rust, Ronn Lauritzen, Daniel Wauters, Brian Irvine, J.D. Auringer, Jeremiah Hurst, Dalton Simonsen, Jenae Gustin, Corey Dripps, Ben Chapman, Hunter Mariott, Richie Gustin, Kyle Brown, Mitch Morris, Troy Bauer, Joel Callahan, David Brandies
|1||+1||Tony Olson||Sport Mod||It's funny how social media works. The top two guys in this poll, for the most part, just strap in and race, while the Internet goes nuts. Olson vs Soppe didn't get a head-to-head this week, but Olson retook the lead with a pair of wins. He got win Nos. 22 and 23 at Independence and Vinton, breaking a losing streak he hadn't seen in a long time. As much as winning is great, it was also a psychological boost.|
|2||-1||Tyler Soppe||Sport Mod||Soppe got a win this weekend, too, taking Sport Mod at the One Night Stand at LaSalle Speedway, then ended up second at Dubuque Speedway on Sunday to Troy Bauer. He falls to second purely on wins overall and this week. These two are virtually even in every sense - they're just a few points apart in the national standings, and it's as close as it gets on track.|
|3||--||Damon Murty||Stock Car||Ho-hum. Just another week of racing three times with a worst finish of second. Murty won at Marshalltown Speedway on Friday, was second at Independence, then was second again at Benton County Speedway on Sunday in Vinton - which is a disappointment for him, in all honesty. He was super consistent in July, and it's carried over.|
|4||--||Justin Kay||Late Model/Modified||Kay had an up-and-down racing week. To begin, he pulled off the double at the One Night Stand at LaSalle Speedway, winning both IMCA Modified and Late Model. That feat was something he'd never done before this season, and he's managed to do it four times this year. Unfortunately for 15k fans, his MLRA results didn't match up. He was 13th in Farley and 16th in West Liberty.|
|5||--||Tyler Droste||Late Model/Modified||Just one race for Droste this week after a busy pair of weeks before that. He had plenty of issues at Independence Motor Speedway on Saturday night, working from the back of the pack after getting torn up a couple times to finish fifth. He's found trouble - or it's found him, however you want to look at it - a bunch this season in what's been an oddly rough IMCA Late Model class.|
|6||+1||Mitch Hovden||Stock Car||Hovden padded his USRA Stock Car points lead with another pair of strong runs this weekend. He had a win streak broken at Fayette County Speedway, finishing third, but extended one at Upper Iowa Speedway in Decorah, picking up another win. The racing at both tracks is constantly close, so winning as much as he has speaks volumes.|
|7||-1||Benji Irvine||Hobby Stock||Irvine has for sure not finished in the top 2 at some point this season at Independence Motor Speedway, but I can't remember when. Yeah, I could look it up. Point is, you can just about bet the house that he'll be in the hunt whenever he shows up. He was second again Saturday night, a week after winning.|
|8||NR||Chris Simpson||Late Model||You can't get much better than $20,000 in two days around here. What an incredible pair of nights Simpson had at Farley Speedway and West Liberty Raceway, dominating both nights and firmly protecting home Iowa turf against the traveling Open Late Model guys. Drinks are on Chris this week, y'all.|
|9||-1||Nathan Ballard||Hobby Stock||Ballard ran second in his lone start this weekend, once again at Benton County Speedway in Vinton. He did announce another win, though, in that his wife, Steph, is expecting their second child. I gave him a hard time at Hawkeye Downs on Friday, asking if that's why he sold his Sport Mod. He laughed at me. It's unclear yet what they'll do, but hopefully racing his Hobby Stock more is on the list.|
|10||NR||Luke Goedert||Late Model||Goedert's run that started midseason hasn't really let up. He went to Marshalltown for one of their few Late Model shows this season, and ran second. Then he won again at his home track at Maquoketa Speedway and backed that up with a win at Quad City Speedway in East Moline. He's finishing the season strong.|
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