Uneasy rests the crown.
Four new drivers will hoist first-place trophies in 2009 following Friday’s Championship Night at the Boone County Raceway in Albion.
In fact, only one of 2008’s defending champs finished in the top five of their respective classes this season. That turnover was inevitable in the Hobby Stock division, as 2008 winner Bryan Molt moved to Late Model competition, and LM class, where Mark Lueken competed on an abbreviated scale in 2009. However, ‘08 Modified champion Jason Gaver finished well down the point standings this time around, leaving only Humphrey’s Randy Hooker in serious contention for another title in Street Stock competition.
In the tightest of the BCR’s four point battles, Jason Wilkinson of Neligh edged by Hooker in the final two weeks of the season, then roared to an impressive victory in Friday’s feature event to win the title by four points.
Nic Kimmel of Norfolk, runner-up to Molt a year ago, also won a Championship Night feature and took the Hobby Stock title by 19 points over Albion’s Brad Bittner.
The other two classes were classic runaways in 2009. Osceola’s Dylan Smith, also a 2008 runner-up, dominated all summer in Modified racing and finished 42 points in front of Jared Hoefelman of Columbus. Norfolk veteran Robert Osborne, fifth in ‘08, took an early-season lead in the Late Model division and was never seriously challenged over the second half of the season, also winning by 42 points over Jim Johnson of Plainview.
A fifth champion was crowned Friday with the Holt County Sprints making the final appearance in their abbreviated BCR slate. Brant O’Banion of Norfolk nipped Gary Reber of Gregory, SD for the top spot in 2009.
Championship action began August 21 with the Hobby Stock feature race. Kimmel (17k) took no chances of seeing his point lead diminish, scoring a wire-to-wire victory.
Bittner (12) rode hard on the Norfolk driver’s bumper through the first half of the race, but Kimmel didn’t blink and eventually pulled away to a comfortable margin. Bryant Borer (7B) of Petersburg made a strong late charge to pass Bittner, but didn’t have enough to catch the winner.
Brent Jochum (4J) of Norfolk finished fourth and Elgin’s Robbie Evans (27) rounded out the top five.
In the Street Stock feature event, Wilkinson (52) jumped immediately to the lead from his outside pole position and it looked like game over as he quickly opened a straightaway-length over Hooker (25). After a midrace caution closed the field, Hooker pushed and prodded Wilkinson to the end, but didn’t have enough to overtake the leader.
Troy Bergman (31B) of Columbus took third, followed to the line by Albion’s Mark Hooker (30) and Jason Frisch (71) of Hoskins.
There was little drama in the Modified feature. As had been the case all season, Smith led early, often and at the finish line. Three early cautions gave the field numerous chances, but the Osceola driver quickly pulled away each time.
Tyler Iverson (98T) of Albion stormed into second place through the second half of the race and, while he had nothing for Smith, opened a sizeable advantage over third-place Steve Reynolds (96R) of Springfield, SD by the checkered flag. Albion’s Lueken (12) finished fourth and Hoefelman (15H) took fifth.
The upset of the night came in the Late Model feature event. Osborne (35), looking to cap his ‘09 title with another victory, held a strong lead until a caution with 13 laps remaining. Following the restart, Johnson got a good run on the leader and assumed the top spot. The Plainview driver pulled away as Osborne cautiously wheeled to a runner-up finish.
Greg Krohn (20) of Albion placed third, solidifying his second straight top five point finish. Norfolk drivers Chad Jensen (73) and B.J. Haase (21) rounded out the top five.
That left the sprint feature, where heat race winners Jamie Turpin (32) of Bassett and Doug Lovegrove (44) of Waverly again led the pack. Turpin scored the feature win, with Lovegrove second and Chad Humston (1M) of Giltner third. O’Banion (47), on the strength of a fourth-place finish, won the season title over Reber (8R), who finished ninth Friday.
With point racing completed, the local summer stock car season will conclude Friday, August 28, with the annual Boone County Raceway Shootout at the fairgrounds track in Albion (8 p.m.).
Complete Race Results & Top 10 Point Leaders in Print & Online Editions of Albion News.
(Check out the photo gallery from Championship Night under the Sports tab)