INDEPENDENCE — Promotions work.
Independence Motor Speedway promoter Mick Trier knows that and put bounties on two of the “Olson boys” earlier this week. The result was a large, excitable crowd at the dirt track Saturday night.
“I put something on Facebook and asked the fans what they wanted,” said Tony Olson, who had the bounty on him in the Sports Mod class. “Everyone said, ‘Go to the back and make it a good show for us.’ I knew from Thursday on that no matter what the track looked like, I was going to do it for the fans, try to have some fun and make it a good show.”
Olson started 22nd and took the first half of the 20-lap feature to find a line of sight.
“The dust made it hard,” Olson said. “I had to hang back and wait until I could see in front of me. Once I hit the top 10, it was like, ‘All right, let’s see what we can do.’”
Olson quickly moved into the top four and finished third after running out of space and time.
“I thought I might get a shot in the final few laps,” he said. “But there wasn’t enough room down low to make it work. I didn’t have a clean pass at him, so I settled into second/third and kept the car in one piece so we can move on to tomorrow.”
Luckily for the Olsons, Tony’s bounty money stayed in the family with his cousin Kyle taking the checkered flag.
“I’ve never had a bounty on me,” Kyle said before adding with a smile, “I have collected Tony’s before.”
“It’s cool seeing him win,” Tony said. “Tonight the car was amazing, I just ran out of laps.”
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The other “Olson” with a bounty on him was the baby racer of the bunch, recent Kennedy graduate Kaden Reynolds.
“I decided to do it right before the heat race,” Reynolds said. “I figured you only get the opportunity so many times in your life, so why not take it.”
Reynolds started 21st in the Hobby Stock feature and passed eight cars on the first lap.
“The car was perfect and I never really messed up,” Reynolds said. “I had a car on my outside the whole race.”
That was until a triple restart left Reynolds with one remaining challenger, Brett Vanous of Quasqueton. Vanous has spent most of the last decade racing at both Indee and Vinton and understands the challenges that come with a bounty.
“Sometimes it’s bad for the guy with the bounty,” Vanous said. “Everyone takes a crack at them and makes it tough. The way I drive doesn’t change a whole lot.”
Vanous took “his crack” at Reynolds, who had taken the lead with two laps to go following the final restart.
“Someone came on the bottom and passed us down there on the last lap,” Reynolds said. “There was a little contact but it’s a race, so you can only do so much.”
Vanous had started 11th, but was focused on first place.
“I got into second on the final restart,” he said. “I glued myself to him and waited to take a chance if I got one.”
On the white flag lap, Vanous made his move.
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“I just kept right on his tail and going into (turn) three and four they had the tires (barrier) pushed out a bit,” he said. “I think he steered around that a little too far and tailed out a little bit. You just have to stick your nose in there and hope it sticks. It stuck and I beat him to the next corner. With two to go, you just have to take a chance if you get it and if it doesn’t work, you’re back where you started.”
While he was unable to collect his third win at Indee through three weeks of racing, Reynolds did consider the night a learning experience.
“This is a pretty good positive,” Reynolds said. “Starting 21st and finishing second. Passing a car per lap is pretty good.”
As for Kaden’s missed opportunity to block the bounty on him, elder cousin Tony had sage advice.
“It’s not about money, it’s about making the fans happy,” Tony said. “We’ve had a great year so far and we just tried to keep the car in one piece and not try to wreck it.”
Other feature winners were Chuck Fullenkamp, who was in town for a youth baseball tournament and decided to bring his Sports Compact; Chad Dugan of Waukon in the Micro Mods; Brennan Chipp of Dunkerton in the Modifieds; and Cole Mather of Fairbank in the Stock Cars.
Racing Hall of Famer Gary Crawford also saw his 16-year-old grandson earn his first victory in the IMCA Late Models feature after the youngster started racing locally at 14.