Notebook: Jeff Aikey running strong, eyes eighth Deery Bros title

Late Model legend added to his Summer Series all-time wins lead on Friday, doesn't want to stop racing anytime soon

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Jeff Aikey is a seven-time IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models champion. That’s the most all-time.

Jeff Aikey has won 67 Summer Series races in the series to date, over the course of 30 seasons since its inception in 1987. That’s the most all-time.

Jeff Aikey won the Summer Series race on Friday at Iowa State Fairgrounds Speedway in Des Moines, and padded his points lead just a bit over Tyler Bruening, putting him one step closer to an eighth title.

Jeff Aikey isn’t slowing down, and even as difficult as the series has become, his red No. 77 still is the one to beat most nights on the Summer Series.

“We drew (No.) 1 on Friday, and that helped, but we had to stay there. I started 16th at Maquoketa and finished third. My car is pretty damn good right now,” Aikey said. “It’s getting tougher and tougher. Everybody has picked the pace up in the Deery Series. It’s tough.

“My year is going pretty damn good, I think. I had a couple shows we didn’t do real well in, but if we’d been better there, I’d be leading the points by a long ways.”

This season has been consistent for Aikey, who’s led the Summer Series points since the second race, but hasn’t produced a ton in the win department. Still, Aikey has no qualms about his results, as he leads the Summer Series standings by six points ahead of Bruening. Sure, he’s a guy who is only out to win — after seven titles, points racing isn’t his thing — figuring the series standings will sort themselves out if he does so.

But ultimately, his Gheer’d Up Racecar — co-owned by he and Dwain Homolar — has been fast all year. The pair have been racing together since 1995, and to still be this fast and this competitive among the group of racers who compete in the Summer Series is something Aikey takes great pride in.

“I don’t get nervous anymore. I doesn’t bother me. I go night to night and I always go to win,” Aikey said. “All we’ve got around here (with high stakes) is the Deery Series. I don’t go weekly racing anymore because it doesn’t pay enough, and you can’t afford to go all the time. I’ve raced so long, I don’t care much about racing weekly anymore.”

So no, Aikey is not racing as much as he used to, and weekly racing isn’t something he’s all that interested in anymore. But it’s not like he’s stepping away any time soon. He’ll be in Tipton on Tuesday night for the Summer Series race, and no doubt will predict to anyone who listens that he’ll be the one on the front stretch celebrating when it’s done.

Aikey heard fellow Late Model legend Ray Guss Jr. was stepping away, and was kind of blown away. There’s still too many races to win — starting with Tuesday, he said — and fun to be had for Aikey to even consider that now.

“I’m going to race until my guys want to quit. They must want to race; we’re putting a new car together,” Aikey said. “I don’t know how (Guss) can say he’s going to quit. What the hell else is he going to do? I don’t know what the hell else I’d do. I love it. Dwain (Homolar) still loves it. We’ve been together since 1995. We’re still after it.”

DEERY BROS IN TIPTON

The IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models makes its annual return to Tipton this week, set for a doubleheader with the IMCA Modified Hawkeye Dirt Tour on Tuesday night at Cedar County Raceway.

The quarter-mile track ceased weekly racing after last season, but has run specials and been primarily a testing track for racers this year. This marks the sixth straight year both series have visited Tipton. Nate Bueseling got the Summer Series win in 2011, followed by Kevin Kile, Brian Harris and back-to-back wins in 2014 and 2015 by Justin Kay. Ron Barker won the first HDT feature held at Tipton, in 2011. No HDT driver has been able to repeat at Cedar County Raceway as Barker has been followed to Victory Lane by Milo Veloz Jr., Darin Duffy, Jesse Sobbing and Colt Mather last season.

The two traveling IMCA series return for the popular doubleheader event with their points leaders running well. Aforementioned Summer Series points leader Jeff Aikey is seeking back-to-back wins, and HDT points leader Chris Abelson is trying to get over the hump of back-to-back runner-up finishes to Wheatland driver Justin Kay in the last two races. Sioux City’s Abelson leads the HDT points by 20 ahead of Grundy Center’s Joel Rust.

Summer Series racers are chasing $2,000 to win, while HDT drivers are chasing $1,000 to win. Pit gates open at 4:30 p.m. and the grandstand opens at 5 p.m. Hot laps are at 6:45 p.m. with racing to follow.

GUSS TO RETIRE AFTER 2016

The dirt Late Model world will see one less legend on the track next season. Ray Guss Jr. said last week 2016 will be his last season, telling his hometown newspaper, the Dispatch-Argus, that “I’m getting up there in age. I always figured this day was going to come.”

Guss retires as a three-time IMCA Late Model national champion — winning three straight from 2010 to 2012 — and a two-time IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series champion in 2010 and 2011. The Milan, Ill., driver has amassed nearly 400 feature wins in his career, including 31 in Summer Series competition — putting him second all-time on that list.

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

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