Jul 20, 2016 at 10:09 pm | Print View
MAQUOKETA — Denny Eckrich finally feels like things are back to normal.
After a 2015 in which he was largely without crew chief and brother Doug, who was battling a severe illness, the pair are back full strength with Doug healthy — and the results showed it again Wednesday night as Eckrich led all but a handful of laps en route to his second IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models main event, taking the $2,000 check at Maquoketa Speedway.
Eckrich started on pole, but had to work around Dan Shelliam after the first five laps and never looked back once he did — even while dealing with restarts and lapped traffic.
“We’ve got the team all together. You can’t do it all yourself, and this is what it takes,” Eckrich said. “Those lapped cars could make you a half-second faster or slower than everyone else. You just have to be careful.
“I was always trying to maneuver myself and work angles like that. We did the right thing tonight with the car. We just have to get the motor better and we’ll be better yet.”
What made things even harder in that traffic was a Maquoketa Speedway surface that was largely affected by a deluge of overnight rain. It was touch and go midday that the race would even go on as scheduled, but promoter Scott Schurbon spent the day on the track trying to get it ready.
A surface that has been dry slick most of the season ended up full of moisture all night, with a hole developing in Turns 1 and 2 that drivers had to navigate.
Eckrich said tracks can’t help mother nature, and when a surface plays out like it did Wednesday night, it takes both skill and luck to get through it OK.
“At noon today we were sitting at home ready to call it a night, because we were looking at radar and it didn’t look good. But brother Doug was itching to race,” Eckrich said. “I was being patient trying to work the car through lapped traffic because you must first finish if you’re going to win it. And we did.”
Eckrich won ahead of Maquoketa Speedway season points leader Luke Goedert, Summer Series points leader and eight-time champion Jeff Aikey, Matt Ryan and Andy Nezworski.
Goedert has had a run of wins lately, and was almost all smiles in the tech area after the race. Almost because he had a shot at the win, diving inside Eckrich coming to the white flag, but slid the nose and had to back way out of it. Weekly wins are certainly worthy, but the Guttenberg driver said he proved something to himself Wednesday night by running up front all night at a Summer Series show.
It validated his year so far, in a way.
“I got beside him there toward the end, but I was waiting for a better opportunity to try to get by him. I knew it would come through lapped traffic, but I didn’t want to push it harder than I had to,” Goedert said. “On the white flag lap I got it in way too hot and about looped both of us. Luckily we both kept it straight.
“Right now I’m frustrated, but ultimately I didn’t know for sure if we could run with these guys or not. So I’m thrilled to be second, but when you’re that close you want it so much more.”
For Eckrich, it’s full steam ahead the rest of the way this season.
His fifth career Summer Series win left him thrilled, but the confidence he and his team have now is something he’ll carry forward — wherever he goes.
“We’re hitting on all eight (cylinders) but you’ve got to have luck, too,” Eckrich said. “Tonight luck was on our side. And maybe we’ve popped that horseshoe out of Justin (Kay) and got it ourselves.”
IMCA DEERY BROTHERS SUMMER SERIES
MAQUOKETA SPEEDWAY RESULTS
1. 50 Denny Eckrich; 2. 44 Luke Goedert; 3. 77 Jeff Aikey; 4. 07 Matt Ryan; 5. 7 Andy Nezworski; 6. 24 Scott Fitzpatrick; 7. 16 Tyler Bruening; 8. 15k Justin Kay; 9. 1d Ryan Dolan; 10. Z50 Joe Zrostlik; 11. 99d Darrel DeFrancce; 12. 16s Dan Shelliam; 13. 32c Chad Holladay; 14. 40 Joel Callahan; 15. 38 Jerry Miles; 16. 77s Stehpan Kammerer; 17. 48z Jon Poll; 18. P7 Eric Pollard; 19. 8m Marty Scheckel; 20, 81 Jon Merfeld; 21. 31 Tyler Droste; 22. 12d Don Pataska; 23. 15c Curt Schroeder; 24. 19g Richie Gustin.
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