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: Troy Bauer
Dropped out: Hunter Marriott, Luke Goedert
Others considered (in no order): Troy Cordes, Matt Ryan, Zach Less, Bryce Garnhart, Rob Toland, Jeff Aikey, Norman Chesmore, Mark Schulte, Chris Zogg, Tyler Bruening, Dan Hovden, Leah Wroten, Kyle Olson, Matt Gansen, 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, Luke Goedert, Richie Gustin, Kyle Brown, Mitch Morris
|1||--||Tyler Soppe||Sport Mod||It's been a couple weeks - sorry y'all, I was racing go-karts - and our top two haven't won a ton in that span, which is quite the departure from April-July. But, it's not like they've lost it. Soppe was dominating at Dubuque last Tuesday and spun while leading, restarted last and made it back to sixth. He added a third and second the next two nights during the fair. Then, he was leading at Independence and got spun on the final lap, coming very close to winning on Tony Olson's turf. He did, though, get a win at Maquoketa for its fair race. They both had some rough racing luck.|
|2||--||Tony Olson||Sport Mod||Olson is out of the top spot for the first time in several weeks, and it's only because last weekend was the first time all season he didn't get a win over the course of the weekend. He did, though, go to Soppe territory at Dubuque, running fifth, and ran third two Saturdays ago at West Liberty when Indee cancelled. He's battled mechanical problems and incidents at his regular haunts, as well, battling back for a fifth and third in the last two at Benton County Speedway races.|
|3||--||Damon Murty||Stock Car||All he does is win. I think that's a lyric from some rap artist I don't remember (or, honestly, care much about). Murty got wins at Marshalltown and Vinton in the rankings' absence. And while he didn't ONLY win (c'mon, I just wanted to use the lyric, OK?) in our time off, he was damn close before an issue at Britt, as well. All roads point to Boone at this point for Murty.|
|4||+5||Justin Kay||Late Model/Modified||He reminded me Tuesday night in Tipton that he's got 16 wins this year. I gave him a hard time it was less than this point last year. He reminded me he's raced half as much this year. Then I looked up his stats since the last rankings: Two Hawkeye Dirt Tour wins (Knoxville and Dubuque), another Modified win during the Dubuque fair races and a Deery Brothers Summer Series win Tuesday in Tipton. Oh, and he was second in the third Dubuque Modified race, and fourth in the Late Model race there. It's nuts.|
|5||+5||Tyler Droste||Late Model/Modified||If not for Kay's last two weeks, this would be the guy with the most impressive run over that span. Droste won twice at Dubuque for the fair races in the Late Model, and ended up with a DNF after a good run in the Modified there. He was eighth at the weekly show in Indee, and was 11th at the Deery show in Tipton.|
|6||-1||Benji Irvine||Hobby Stock||It's really easy for me to tell racers to go race more - I don't have to foot the bill and I get paid to be at the races. But damn I wish Irvine raced more. He's fun to watch and always fast, and is in the top three nearly every time he races. He got the win Saturday at Independence in his only racing action this week.|
|7||+3||Mitch Hovden||Stock Car||Hovden went undefeated over the last two weeks at his usual haunts in northeast Iowa. He won twice at Fayette County Speedway in West Union, and once (the other was cancelled) at Upper Iowa Speedway in his hometown of Decorah. He also vaulted into No. 1 in USRA Stock Car national points. That's certainly good enough to move him to his highest ranking ever.|
|8||-1||Nathan Ballard||Hobby Stock||He says he has something else in mind, but damn I was disappointed to see him sell his Sport Mod after less than a year racing it. Granted, it's fair they don't have the manpower to run two cars, but seeing him challenge himself in a new class was fun. In any case, he got two more Hobby Stock wins over the last two weeks. We'll see what he has in store with that money from two sold racecars.|
|9||-3||Joel Callahan||Late Model||Callahan might not have won in the last two weeks (while others did, which is why he's dropped), but he was very consistent. he was fifth in Dubuque for the first fair race, then was third in the second one. He backed up both of those with a fifth in the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series race at Cedar County Raceway in Tipton. His solid runs haven't dipped in about a month.|
|10||NR||Troy Bauer||Sport Mod||What a Dubuque County Fair for Troy Bauer. He won the first night after Soppe's spin, and ran away from the field after that restart. He was second to Timmy Current the next night, then backed up those two runs with a second win in a head-to-head battle with Soppe. He's entered that zone where I'd love to see him make the haul to Independence and see what he can do on new territory.|
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