Notebook: Aftermarket Nationals, Hogan Memorial on tap this weekend

Modified racers shooting for $10,000 at Farley Speedway on Friday and potentially $5,000 on Sunday at Benton County Speedway in Vinton

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Eastern Iowa race fans are often treated to big-money racing events over the course of the summer, but not often do they get two in one weekend.

Thursday and Friday night mark the fourth annual Aftermarket Nationals at Farley Speedway, which pays out $10,000 to win in Modified, and $2,000 to win in Sport Mod – with IMCA rules, but no crate engines allowed in either class. Then, on Sunday, the 22nd annual Hogan Memorial will be held at Benton County Speedway in Vinton, with potentially $5,000 to win in IMCA Modified, $1,000 to win in IMCA Stock Cars and $750 to win in both IMCA Sport Mod and Hobby Stocks.

The pair of events draw racers from all over Iowa and from out of state chasing the big money, but it’s been the home-grown racers who have dominated both events in the recent past – and kept that money and pride in Eastern Iowa.

“(The Hogan Memorial) has gotten to be where a lot of good cars show up that night, and to me it means more to keep the winner being a person who runs Vinton normally or knows the Hogan family,” said IMCA Modified racer J.D. Auringer. “It feels good to win a big race when all those big guys show up. It feels good to still be able to beat them at your home tracks.”

With potentially $15,000 on the line over the course of three days – and coming off $10,000, $5,000 and $5,000-to-win races in the IMCA Cheesehead Triple Crown in Wisconsin – the pressure and attention to detail among Modified racers is as high as any point in the season.

Auringer has three career Hogan Memorial wins – second all-time to Scott Hogan (4), whose parents, Dick and Janet, the race is run for – including the last two in a row. The Waterloo driver has a great personal stake in the Hogan, given his friendship with Scott and their family, and seems to always be in the hunt.

He laughed when asked if that’s a coincidence or not. To ask everyone else, it most definitely isn’t.

“I’m not sure (what the deal is). It’s a big race for me. I’ve been friends with the Hogan family and Vinton is one of my favorite racetracks,” Auringer said. “The last couple years have been good to us.”

While Auringer won’t be at both events, Dunkerton's Troy Cordes will be – as will a host of other racers. Kyle Brown, Hunter Marriott, Zach Less and Richie Gustin are names likely to run both. Nebraska racer Jordan Grabouski, USMTS regular Zack VanderBeek and potentially North Carolina racer Kyle Strickler – who ran last year’s Hogan Memorial – are also among those fans can see at the Aftermarket Nationals at least.

 

Cordes is the only driver with wins in both events, having won the Hogan Memorial in 2003 and the second annual Aftermarket Nationals in 2014.

They’re a pair of races that mean a lot to the guys in this area, and continue to grow in significance.

“We always look forward to (Aftermarket Nationals). Farley is one of my most favorite tracks and we run well there. We’ll see what happens there,” Cordes said. “And every year, (the Hogan Memorial) just keeps growing and growing. They get more sponsor money for it and everybody – whether you win or get last – gets more money. They put a lot into it, and it means a lot to everyone.”

So who’s the man to beat this weekend? Auringer going back-to-back in Vinton puts him near the top of both lists. Cordes said he’s going to the Hawkeye Dirt Tour race in Britt on Tuesday – with his Open motor in – with the express purpose of preparing for this weekend, and his list of wins at both tracks is long.

But with the aforementioned names and many others unconfirmed coming to town, it seems to be wide open – especially at Aftermarket Nationals.

“Friday is anybody’s deal there. There’s going to be a ton of great cars at Farley,” Cordes said. “That’s a deal where you need some luck and run well in both heats (on Thursday) to try to get locked in. If you have to run a (B-main), you’re behind the 8-ball already. It’s tough passing that caliber of cars to get to the front.

“Sunday, the local guys are really, really good down there (in Vinton). Scott (Hogan) runs good every week, Ronnie (Lauritzen) runs good every week. J.D. (Auringer) has won that thing a few times and always finds something for that deal. There’s a ton of people who can win it.”

INDYCAR TEST AT IOWA SPEEDWAY

In advance of the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway, the IndyCar Series will make a trip to the 7/8-mile oval in Newton for some precious preparation.

Series drivers will converge on Iowa Speedway on Wednesday for a scheduled test in preparation for the switch this season from a night race – the last several years – to a race run in the heat of the day. Drivers have said with Iowa Speedway’s rough surface, the heat of the day will have a major effect on handling and tire degradation.

The test is open to the public with free admission from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. Viewing will be from the RV Hill on the backstretch. Fans are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, food and drinks as the concourse and grandstands will not be open for the test.

FLECK GETS WIN AT ELKHART LAKE

Cedar Rapids driver Dudley Fleck has been in Victory Lane many, many times in his racing career – whether in a Late Model at Hawkeye Downs Speedway or elsewhere – and the veteran racer added to his win total over Father’s Day weekend.

Fleck made the trip to Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., for a two-day event. He and his wife Wendy celebrated their 10th anniversary with a win in the Formula Atlantic Class on the first day, and a second-place finish the second day.

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

 

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