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List of season champs grows at Hawkeye Downs
CEDAR RAPIDS - Hawkeye Downs Speedway race promoter Mike Becker said the party lasted late into the night.
A few had something new to celebrate Friday.
Three race car drivers claimed their first points championship Friday night to cap the 2012 weekly racing season at Hawkeye Downs. Thor Anderson, Brian Gibson and Shane Hanson out the finishing touches on their title-winning seasons in the late model, modified and hornet divisions, respectively.
Becker said he sees emerging talent at the track.
"More importantly, we had a lot of new faces in the upcoming ranks," Becker said. "We had several people steup up their programs. Some of them were new to Hawkeye Downs and some were veterans. I'm very pleased with everything."
Hanson was engaged in the closest points race in the six classes that run at Hawkeye Downs. He entered the season championship night tied atop the division with former stock car track champion Kurt Bohnsack. Hanson raced to victory in the final 20-lap feature for his first hornets title, matching Bohnsack with a division-best four feature wins.
"I wanted it bad, really bad," Hanson said after the race. "It feels good, really good."
Gibson started racing at Hawkeye Downs more than 20 years ago. He stepped away from racing for a few years, returning to the track as a way to cope with a personal loss. After a runner-up finish last year, Gibson won his first title by 41 points over Ryan Luedtke. He closed the season with a second-place run in the feature, winning the sportsman feature filling in to drive an injured Ben Glascock's car.
Gibson had praised his family and crew earlier in the year for their support and sacrifice so he could contend for this championship.
"That was neat," Becker said. "It was very cool team and family effort. He had a tremendous amount of support."
Like Gibson, 20-year-old Anderson improved on a 2011-runner-up finish for his first season crown. Anderson turned the tables on Brad Osborn, who missed the final week recovering from tonsillitis, overtaking the defending season points champ by 93 points. The race car driver from Bondurant devoted his summer to racing full-time at the track and earned six feature wins this season.
The accomplishments drew emotion from the drivers, their families and the crews that contributed to the success.
"There were some teary-eyed tough guys walking around the pits," Becker said. "There are some guys that poured their heart into this deal, and it was an emotional deal for more than one."
Overall, Kevin Korsmo, a Wall of Fame member and fair board member at the track, said the fresh names on the champions list is a positive for fans.
"Everybody likes to see someone new in the winner's circle," said Korsmo, who complimented Gibson on his achievement. "I think it's great for the sport to have new people winning the points championships. Those drivers really deserve it, too."
Dave McCalla and Kevin Korsmo returned to their winning ways at the track, balancing out the new blood in the trophy haul. They both dominated, as well as hobby stock champion Matt Petrzelka, who was the lone driver to defend his 2011 season points title.
McCalla, who stepped away from Hawkeye Downs to run dirt tracks last year, won his first sportsman title since 2008. He tallied a track-high 11 feature wins, pulling away by more than 100 points in the final standings. Petrzelka was the only other driver with double-digit wins, grabbing his 10th checkered flag on the final night.
Korsmo, who used to help call Hawkeye Downs races on radio broadcasts, returned to the track, running a full schedule for the first time in six years. He won seven features to win the legends division.
Korsmo teamed with Al and Dennis Diercks to help increase numbers and promote the legends division this season.
"It helps to have some nice equipment underneath me," Korsmo said. "Honestly, it was a ball of fun running legends.
"Not only did I get to go racing and get some competitive things flowing, but I got to help try to build the division. As you can see at the end of the year, we had a lot of momentum in that division."
The track seemed to pick up momentum as a whole later in the season. Participation levels and the number of drivers appeared to increased the last half of the season. Korsmo said multiple people have shown interest in competing in legends and modified divisions. He said the track is moving in the right direction again.
"The last couple races we had the highest car counts that we had all year," Korsmo said. "That helped."
The focus has already started to turn to next season. Meetings are scheduled for Sept. 10-11, 17-18 and 24-25 to address possible changes. The meetings include drivers and track officials, discussing ideas that are fresh in their minds. Each division will meet on its own night.
One of the changes that won't happen, is a return to dirt, according to Becker.
"Everybody had a lot of fun," Becker said. "We want to keep that momentum, and we want to improve anything we can."
INDEE POSTPONES CHAMPIONSHIPS
The Season Championships at Independence Motor Speedway were rained out Saturday. The event has been rescheduled for Saturday, Sept. 1.
It was the first time in eight years and the second time in track history championship night has been postponed or cancelled due to weather.
IMCA modifieds, stock cars, sportmods, hobby stocks and sport compacts will compete in feature races. IMCA late models concluded Sunday with Tyler Bruening claimed his second season points title.
Gates open at 4 p.m. with hot laps starting at 6.
General grandstand tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $7 for students ages 12 to 17. Fans 11 and younger are free when accompanied by a paying adult.
DEERY SERIES CELEBRATES 400
The Deery Brothers Summer Series will celebrate its 400th race on Saturday, Sept. 1, when it waves the green flag for the start of the Pepsi USA Nationals at 34 Raceway in West Burlington.
According to a news release, three drivers in the field from the inaugural race will be in Saturday's race. Jay Johnson, currently fifth in points, won the first tour event held at 34 Raceway April 11, 1987. Darrell DeFrance, seventh in points, is expected to make his 400th start in the series Saturday.
Points leader and two-time Pepsi USA Nationals champ Jeff Aikey is attempting to win his seventh series championship. He is looking for his second win of the season and 10th top-five.
“It's always exciting to go to the Pepsi,” said Aikey, who counts the 1998 and 1999 events among his series career-best 56 feature wins. “There's always pretty tough competition there and hopefully we'll have a good night. We'll do our best.”