Technology, and a technicality, determined the winner of the IMCA Late Models “A” feature at Off Road Speedway in Norfolk on Saturday night.
For the past couple of years, area tracks have been using transponders in the cars to help determine the order of the cars during each race — including the order of finish. The devices, which are to be mounted in a specific location, emit a unique radio-frequency identification code that is detected by radio receivers located at strategic points around the track.
In the IMCA Late Models feature Saturday, the most closely contested race of the night, Justin Kay of Wheatland, Iowa, chased Hoskins’ Eric Vanosdall for 16-straight laps — attempting numerous “slide job” efforts in turn four, all unsuccessfully, until the final lap when Kay’s car got enough traction on the bottom of the track to edge Vanosdall at the finish line by a few inches.
“I typically never do any slide jobs; it was a little bit based on the way the track was,” Kay said. “I wasn’t good enough off turn four to do it in one and two, which is where I really needed to do them at.”
Unfortunately for Kay, the transponder in his car was not located in the proper position and, as a result, Vanosdall was determined to be the feature winner. Kay received second place with Blake Anderson of Omaha taking third.
“Usually I have my own hard-wired one in there, but I took that out and put it in my modified (car); the rule is different at different places, so I didn’t realize that you’re supposed to have them on the mid-plate, and I had mine right behind where the front bumper mounts,” Kay said. “That’s about two feet of difference, and that’s about how close that race was. But that’s all right — that was one of the funnest races I’ve ever had, so even getting second is special.”
Based on the weather report in eastern Iowa, Kay had traveled over seven hours to compete at Off Road Speedway in an attempt to have the opportunity to race.
“It looked like rain all weekend back home,” he said. “To run for the points, we need the nights. We raced last night and tonight, and tomorrow night I’ve got to be in East Moline and race there.”
Vanosdall was well aware of Kay’s successful background as a driver but was still surprised at the number of slide job his competition attempted.
“Usually after one or two (tries), they break the momentum enough that they can’t make it back up. But he’s obviously very fast,” Vanosdall said. “He’s been a several-time national champion. He wins a lot of races every year; he’s an excellent driver and an excellent person.”
“We’re just happy we can win for our sponsors and, although that’s not the way we want to win, Justin had a good run and it was tight, really close, at the finish,” Vanosdall added. “Our season has been terrible with a lot of things breaking; we’ve raced six times and our best finish was a third. It’s always nice to have something go right.”
Tiffany Bittner of Hampton won the IMCA Stock Car feature, holding off several attempts by Platte Center’s Austin Brauner to pass on the inside of turns three and four during the final few laps. TeJay Mielke of Norfolk took third place.
In the IMCA Sport Mods feature, Wes Hochstein of Randolph finished just ahead of Spalding’s Robbie Thome, whose slide job effort in turn three came up just short of taking over the lead. Finishing third was James Roebuck of Genoa.
Neligh’s Cameron Wilkinson took the lead with an inside move in turn four with nine laps remaining in the IMCA Hobby Stock feature and sped away from the field for the win. Nate Buck, also of Neligh, and Lance Mielke of Norfolk took second- and third-place, respectively.
Stanton drive Parker Vollbrecht won the IMCA Sport Compacts feature, finishing ahead of Ramsey Meyer of Pierce and Mark Benedict of Norfolk.
On Saturday, June 1, the Off Road Speedway will host the Super Late Model cars along with a regular slate of racing.