Soppe, Olson duel at Independence Motor Speedway

Pair of top IMCA Sport Mod racers get into each other, both upset after race

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INDEPENDENCE — On a night where the IMCA Deery Brothers Summer Series for Late Models and IMCA Modifieds were supposed to be the headlining divisions at the Dale Miller Memorial, it was the IMCA Sport Mods that provided the fireworks early Wednesday night at Independence Motor Speedway.

While Eldora’s Dan Drury made the long haul to Independence after Southern Iowa Speedway got rained out and cruised to the $500 win from the front row, two of the area’s best in a Sport Mod sparred at the back half of the top 5.

Cedar Rapids’ Tony Olson and Sherrill’s Tyler Soppe — both tied for second in IMCA national Northern Sport Mod points — had a pair of run-ins that left both quite unhappy with the other.

Drury had to wait out the long main event out front while most of the rest of the pack got caught up in something or other. Getting the win was as much of a relief as not having to deal with the mess behind him.

“We hit all our marks and things went our way, I guess,” Drury said. “It’s very stressful out front during those cautions. When they throw the white and you’re halfway around to the checkers, it’s awful. It’s stressful, that’s for sure.

“Every caution you drive around the wrecked cars and see who’s in it. I saw Tony Olson was in one, and I knew that would slow him down. It’s a relief for us not to be in it, that’s for sure.”

As for Olson and Soppe, there were two incidents and two opposite points of view. The pair of racers don’t particularly like each other, and Wednesday night’s run-ins certainly didn’t change that for the better.

What can’t be disputed was in one instance, Tony Olson — who had been caught up in a seven-car wreck and had to restart from 23rd — made a pass on Soppe, slid up into him and pushed Soppe over the cushion. Soppe returned the favor in the other instance after a restart a few laps later, pushing Olson out and retaking the position.

The pair saw what happened completely differently, as could be expected. Neither minced words, either.

“I can kind of see why he wins a lot of races; he isn’t scared to shove people out of the way,” Soppe said of Olson. “I followed him through and he was shoving guys out of the way and I just followed him. I passed him, then he got in that wreck and came up through and did the same thing.

“Once you do that to me it’s fair game. If he wants to race that way, we can race that way every week.”

Olson tried to be diplomatic, but in the end couldn’t hold back some frustration.

The Independence points leader ended up rebounding from that early wreck to finish fourth behind Drury, Joey Schaefer and Ben Chapman. Soppe ended up black flagged after he got into Curt Hilmer, who then spun, in Turns 3 and 4. The black flag on Soppe merely sent him to the tail end of the field. Soppe ended up pulling off a lap later with an overheating engine.

“To get a top five off that, I’ll take it,” Olson said. “That’s how he drives everyone. I don’t like driving like that, that’s why I tried going as wide around him as I could and underneath him. He did it to a couple more cars and that’s why he got kicked off. That’s not the way we want to race.”

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

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