Fitzpatrick, Droste get big wins at Independence

Fitzpatrick becomes first repeat winner on Deery Bros tour; Droste wins Dale Miller Memorial

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INDEPENDENCE – Scott Fitzpatrick was smiling before the question was even finished.

After leading all but the first handful of laps in Wednesday night’s IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models main event at Independence Motor Speedway, Fitzpatrick picked up his second Summer Series win of the season – and his career – and became the first repeat winner on tour this season.

He was asked what he would’ve said or done before this season if someone had told him he’d be the one to do it.

“I would’ve laughed and probably would’ve said it would be Justin (Kay),” Fitzpatrick said. “That’s really cool and really an honor to be the first repeat winner.

“My confidence is so high. Confidence in my car – I’ve got a really good car, it’s really balanced. As of late, it’s been going really well. I’ve learned a lot, bouncing ideas off (crew chief) Tyson (Gheer). We’ve got a good feeling for the car.”

Fitzpatrick left no doubt on the 3/8-mile dirt oval in Independence, pocketing the $2,000 for his efforts. After dueling with Tiffin’s Denny Eckrich for the first half of the race, Fitzpatrick found the groove he wanted and set sail to the win.

When he got his first win earlier this season at Hamilton County Speedway in Webster City, the Wheatland driver called it humbling. He repurposed that sentiment again Wednesday, but as much because of who he beat as anything else.

Fitzpatrick crossed the line ahead of Eckrich, Matt Ryan, Jeff Aikey, Cayden Carter and Tyler Bruening. The reputations and success in that top five weren’t lost on him.

“Having Denny Eckrich and Jeff Aikey behind you, two of the best Iowa dirt Late Model drivers in the history and beating them is humbling,” Fitzpatrick said.

Still, there’s a few things left to do for Fitzpatrick.

He’s certainly not balking at winning races, but he feels like there’s something left to prove in how he wins one. He hasn’t yet won a race that his teammate and friend Justin Kay was also in – Kay failed to qualify for the main event, a rarity in IMCA competition – and on top of that, he wants to go and take a win from someone. Starting up front and staying there is a feat, but he wants to get the job done on a late restart.

And in the end, he wants that Summer Series championship. He currently sits third in the series standings behind Aikey and Bruening.

“My goal is to win the Deery, and I’m set on doing that,” Fitzpatrick said. “If I could’ve had a better car at West Liberty and gone up and passed Justin, or passing Denny Eckrich for the win – I haven’t had to pass them to win a race. I want to work from sixth or eighth and pass Denny Eckrich or Jeff Aikey to win.”

 

Fitzpatrick wasn’t the only one to get a big win Wednesday night, either.

Waterloo driver Tyler Droste pulled double duty, racing in both IMCA Late Model and Modified. He ended up sixth in Late Model (in a car he thought capable of winning, if not for an overheating engine), but did himself five spots better in Modified.

Droste dominated the 25-lap, $1,000-to-win Modified main event for the Dale Miller Memorial.

“I got in my rhythm running the cushion; it was pretty temperamental – if you didn’t get in just right it would suck you over,” Droste said. “It all worked out. I’ve never been one to get nervous while I’m racing, so-to-speak. I just put (distractions) out of my head.

“I just tell myself to be smooth and run my own race, and that’s what I did.”

Miller was a coworker to Droste at Performance Bodies in Cedar Falls before his death last year. Droste’s win was met with hugs and a few tears by Miller’s family.

Wins always mean a lot, but Wednesday’s added layer put this victory in a special category for the young racer.

“Dale was an awesome guy; one of the best guys you could ever meet in your life, and it’s one thing when he passes away and it happens, but when you come to work and you’re used to giving each other crap, it’s hard not having him there,” Droste said. “It means so much. Not only was Dale a great guy, but all his friends and family, too. It’s hard to say anything about it. It’s cool to see how many people’s lives he had an impact on.”

 

INDEPENDENCE MOTOR SPEEDWAY RESULTS

DEERY BROTHERS SUMMER SERIES LATE MODELS

1. Scott Fitzpatrick, Wheatland; 2. Denny Eckrich, Tiffin; 3. Matt Ryan, Daven­port; 4. Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls; 5. Cayden Carter, Oskaloosa; 6. Tyler Bruening, Decorah; 7. Tyler Droste, Waterloo; 8. Chad Holladay, Muscatine; 9. Andy Eckrich, Oxford; 10. Travis Smock, West Des Moines; 11. Jon Passick, Waterloo; 12. Andy Nezworski, Buffalo; 13. Jay Johnson, West Burling­ton; 14. Joel Callahan, Dubuque; 15. Ryan Dolan, Lisbon; 16. Dan Shelliam, Hazel Green Wis.; 17. Ben Seemann, Waterloo; 18. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown; 19. Greg Kastli, Waterloo; 20. Curt Martin, Independence; 21. Joe Zrostlik, Long Grove; 22. Ray Guss Jr., Milan, Ill.; 23. Todd Cooney, Des Moines; 24. Richie Gustin, Gilman.

IMCA MODIFIEDS

1. Tyler Droste, Waterloo; 2. Brian Irvine, Oelwein; 3. Richie Gustin, Gilman; 4. Joel Rust, Grundy Center; 5. Ronn Lauritzen, Jesup; 6. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.; 7. Justin Kay, Wheatland; 8. Zach Less, Manchester; 9. Justin O’Brien, West Union; 10. Scott Hogan, Vinton; 11. Jason Morehouse, Evansdale; 12. Jenae Gustin, Marshalltown; 13. Patrick Flannagan, Cedar Rapids; 14. Brennan Chipp, Waterloo; 15. J.D. Auringer, Evansdale; 16. Jason Snyder, Dunker­ton; 17. Brandon Maitland, Waterloo; 18. Joe Docekal, Dysart; 19. Josh Sherbon, Cedar Falls; 20. Ed Thomas, Waterloo; 21. Tim Ward, Harcourt; 22. Jeffrey Streeter, Madera, Calif.; 23. Vern Jack­son, Waterloo; 24. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton.

 

l Comments: (319) 368-8884; jeremiah.davis@thegazette.com

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