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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: Mitch Hovden
Dropped out: N/A
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, Troy Bauer, Richie Gustin, Kyle Brown, Mitch Morris
|1||--||Tony Olson||Sport Mod||I'll be honest, if the rankings had come out on Wednesday this week instead of Thursday (thanks to Deery Bros coverage), Olson would not have been No. 1. But combining Benton County Fair and Davenport Speedway wins, plus a third at Independence with traveling to Maquoketa Speedway and finishing second, he stays here. He only finished second among seven cars, but he made the trip and ran the race. That leads me to...|
|2||--||Tyler Soppe||Sport Mod||...why Tyler Soppe stays at No. 2. After three wins in three days at Farley Speedway, Maquoketa Speedway and Dubuque Speedway, it seemed like a no-brainer since he made it to 19 wins. But what could've been a classic Soppe vs Olson battle at Maquoketa on Wednesday night was cancelled when Soppe decided not to race. I'm sure he had valid reasons - without a full field, the night wasn't going to help with national points, after all - but it was super disappointing not to get to see them race on Soppe's home turf. Hopefully they can soon.|
|3||--||Damon Murty||Stock Car||Murty was talking earlier this season, when he was chasing his 200th IMCA win, that he hadn't had the start to 2016 he wanted. Well, a few months later and I think it's safe to say he's corrected whatever "slow" start he thought he had. He got a second straight win at Marshalltown Speedway on Friday, and still sits atop the points at the postponed Stock Car shootout in Osky.|
|4||+1||Hunter Marriott||Modified||Marriott made the haul from his summer shop in West Union up to the Dakota Mod Tour, and made the haul back with hardware and quite a bit of cash. He only got one win in the week up there, but finished in the top five all but one race. He was second and third in the final two Mod Tour races at Southwest Speedway and Dacotah Speedway, making him the 2016 Dakota Mod Tour champion. Not too shabby.|
|5||+1||Benji Irvine||Hobby Stock||Irvine's run at Fayette County Speedway on Friday night was a blast to watch. He had a rough heat race and started in the last row of his feature, but that was barely a deterrent. He drove from the back to the front with just one caution, and ended up second. With a caution, it was likely going to be a win. He did himself one better the next night in Indee, taking the win at Independence Motor Speedway.|
|6||+2||Joel Callahan||Late Model||Callahan had probably the best week of anyone in an IMCA Late Model in Eastern Iowa. He took $2,000 for the Tri-Track Challenge win at Farley Speedway, was fourth in the second leg of the Challenge at West Liberty, then was second at Dubuque on Sunday. He didn't have a great Deery show at Maquoketa, finishing 14th, but overall he's been very solid the last few weeks.|
|7||--||Nathan Ballard||Sport Mod/Hobby Stock||Ballard got three wins over the last week, though, as I told him when he asked, only two count for the rankings - which is why he stays put. He won Hobby Stock at the Benton County Fair, then won the Demo Derby the next night (sorry, Nate, still doesn't count), and wrapped up the week with a win Wednesday night at Maquoketa - though with a very small field. The car is fast.|
|8||+1||Luke Goedert||Late Model||His grin after running second to Denny Eckrich on Wednesday night at Maquoketa Speedway said everything about his last several weeks. The Guttenberg driver has a streak going in weekly shows at Maquoketa, where he won again Saturday, and was also third at Dubuque on Sunday. His consistent runs up front have been a pleasant surprise, and he shows no signs of slowing down.|
|9||+1||Justin Kay||Late Model/Modified||Ho-hum, just two wins, a second place and seventh over the last week for the defending Gazette Driver of the Year. He took Late Model at Davenport and was third in the same class at West Liberty for the Tri-Track Challenge the next night. But it was his Modified win - by about a country mile - that was most impressive this weekend. He's getting better and better in that Modified.|
|10||-6||Tyler Droste||Late Model/Modified||It's a long fall for Droste this week, but only because of what the other guys have done, and not because he ran poorly. He was fifth at Farley, third at Independence and fifth at Dubuque over the weekend. But the Deery show at Maquoketa on Wednesday was one he'll like to soon forget, taking a DNF after a few incidents. His, uh, spirited, comments on Facebook said it all.|
|10a||NR||Mitch Hovden||Stock Car||Yeah, yeah 10a is cheating but I don't care, they're my rankings. Hovden sneaks in because of wins at both Fayette County Speedway and Upper Iowa Speedway, but specifically his run on Friday night. He and Kevin Donlan raced side by side for the final 10 laps in West Union, he was cleared with two to go and stole the win back off the final corner. Amazing piece of driving, and I couldn't leave him out because of it.|
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