(WINSTON, Mo.) – Drivers, staff and fans all tried to ignore its looming presence on Missouri One Call Night at the Races, but once the USRA classes hit the I-35 Speedway, it became evident the full moon wanted to affect the racers.
After jumping to the early lead in the USRA B-Modified feature, Chase Galvan found himself the leader on a lap six restart. In turn one of that restart, Daniel Harris threw a big slider on Galvan, clearing him for the lead. Galvan crossed over to fight back when Harris lost grip on the exit of turn two and spun down the track. Galvan and Harris made contact, all but sending Galvan up and over, while collecting half the field behind him. The incident handed the lead to Eddie Schwope Jr. Schwope paced the early laps of the restart before Tyler Cadwallader began to challenge on the inside. The two battled for several laps, allowing Blake Piece to close the gap. As the two battled, they were focused on each other, leaving a hole for Piece on the outside. Pierce snuck around both, taking the lead. He paced the remaining laps to pick up his first career win. Schwope finished second, Cadwallader third, Randy Ainsworth fourth and Garrett Hill fifth.
The USRA Modified feature also felt the effect of the full moon as cautions flew consistently throughout the race. That did not phase race dominator, Dennis Elliott, as he cruised to his sixth trip to McCarthy Auto Group Winner’s Circle. Elliott used his experience on restarts to capture a five to sixth car length lead before turn one, allowing him an unchallenged route to the win. Tyler Hibner battled hard with Mark Schafman to finish second. Smokin’ Hot Summer Series Champion Schafman finished third in his return to I-35. Darren Shaw finished fourth, while brothers Austin and Houston Johnson exchanged sliders in the final laps before Austin took the final position in the top five. Chris Mercer created one of the more dramatic moments of the night when he rolled his car off the turn one banking during his heat. To everyone’s surprise, Mercer made the grid for the start of the feature and finished 12th.
The calmest race of USRA action, saw the young Austin O’Neal capture his first Stock Car win at I-35 Speedway. O’Neal ran the race unchallenged from behind as Butch Bailey, Jeff Dixon and Cletus Murray all battled for second. Bailey won the battle to finish second. Dixon finished third, Murray fourth and Kristchon Hisel fifth.
The E-Modifieds witness another driver add their name to the multiple race winner list, as Steven Makar dominated the feature on his way to his second win of the season. Shaunie Lanning made some impressive passes on her way to a second place run. John Ross continued his run of solid finishes in a third place run, while Shawn Burns and Anthony Hill rounded out the top five.
Ron Hill picked up his tenth win of the season in the Pure Stocks and did it in dominating fashion. Beau Wells had a solid run to finish second but did not have quite enough for Hill. Young D.J. Barnes finished third, Gary Akers fourth and Rylee Fuller fifth.
The Sport Compacts saw John Willard win his eight of the season. Although, David Miller III and Steven Bunton gave him everything he could handle. The two could not make a run stick and on the last lap battled it out the line for second. Bunton nosed ahead for second, sending Miller to third. Jason Teel and Toby Teel rounded out the top five.
In another caution filled race, the Grand Nationals welcomed an 11-time winner in Houston Johnson to the Winner’s Circle. Johnson avoided the lap one, turn one spin of John Hanson that set up his win. Travis Walker finished second, Hanson third, Chad Fuller fourth after leaving the race as the leader with a flat tire and Chris Kline fifth.
Jack Simmons picked up his second win this season when the Midwest Outlaw Vintage Racer’s hit the track. Lonnie Farley finished second, Dennis Fair third after battling back from an early spin, Andrew Buffington fourth and Steve Tanner fifth.
The Midwest Lightning Sprints quick feature saw Bobby Layne win his sixth of the season. Kyle Lewis finished second, Jeff Bard third, Tyler Murrey fourth and Jay Taylor fifth.