Tompkins Industry night at the races marked the start of the 2018 season for I-35 Speedway, two weeks later than scheduled, but it did not disappoint. The E-Modifieds were first to take to the track for their feature. Matt Dorssom jumped out to the early lead and never relinquished it taking the first checkered flag of the 2018 season. Pole sitter Chris Dishong battled young Destyn Whitney throughout the first half of the race. Both would have their issues and drop from contention. That opened the door for sixth place starter Chris Mercer to move into the second position. Gary Ainsworth ran a solid race and placed third, while Bobby Lopez and Kody Perrott made up the rest of the top five.
Sport Compacts brought a healthy field to the green flag, where David Miller III and Alvin Cooney battled early for the lead. As those two battled, Dustin Thompson bided his time, waiting for an opening. Cooney cleared Miller for the lead and Thompson followed into second. Quickly, Thompson made his move and took over the lead and would find his way to McCarthy Auto Group Winner’s Circle. Dakota Girard came on late to finish second, while early leader Alvin Cooney finished third. David Miller III and Rick Girard rounded out the top five.
The Grand Nationals provided for an interesting race between Chad Fuller and Houston Johnson. Fuller maintained the lead throughout the entire feature but Johnson never let Fuller’s advantage extend to more than a couple car lengths. Fuller would win the feature, Johnson finishing second. Billie Hoover, John Hanson and John Winslow finished third through fifth respectively.
The ULMA Late Models provided good battles throughout the race, although Aaron Marrant spoiled the party and ran away with the victory. Second changed several times throughout the race, with Dustin Hodges taking the position, followed by Walt Imhoff and Tommy Cordray.
The Pure Stocks started right where they left off last year with 2017 track champion Cletus Murray not skipping a beat and taking a convincing victory. Behind him, the battle for the rest of the top five provided some of the best racing of the night. A multi-grooved racetrack allowed the top five positions to change throughout the feature. When the checkered flag flew the rest of the top five settled itself with Cody King second, Beau Wells third, CJ Turner fourth, and Kerry Ayers fifth.
The USRA B-Modifieds would beat and bang all race long, a testament to the close racing. From the drop of the green flag, the B-Modified drivers showed they might have had a little cabin fever as the term three wide became a common occurrence, especially for seventh place starter Andy Bryant. Bryant used the low lane of the racetrack and quickly worked his way to the front of the field. Once Bryant found the lead, he began to set his pace. Behind him Daniel Harris and Cole Campbell battled side-by-side for second for several laps. Eventually both would have their issues and drop from contention. That opened up others to make their move into the top five. Ed Noll jumped on the opportunity and found the cushion, moving inside the top five all the way to second. After a late caution, Noll had one opportunity to challenge Bryant, but Bryant proved too strong. Bryant would take the checkered with Noll second. Early leader Kameron Grindstaff finished his strong run in third. Randy Ainsworth ran top five all race finishing fourth, while Jeremy Lile came from deep in the field to finish fifth.
Similar to the rest of the night, the USRA Stock Cars would battle all night inside the top five. Gary Donaldson took the early lead and set the pace. The battles behind him let Donaldson sneak away. Drivers challenged second running Jeff Dixon lap after lap, but Dixon made himself difficult to pass. Eventually Sam Scott found his way around Dixon, but not in enough time to catch Donaldson. Donaldson picked up the checkered flag, with Scott second. Dixon finished third, while Austin Bouzek and Craig Reynolds rounded out the top five.
In arguably the wildest race of the night, the USRA Modifieds produced a thriller. Ryan Schaffer jumped out to the early lead but not without many challenges from the field behind him. Early challenger Derrick Hicks tried to make a move, but Schaffer hung onto the lead. As Hicks began to fade, Austin Johnson found speed on the top side of the speedway and got to the outside of Schaffer. Johnson took the lead for a corner before bad luck struck and Johnson’s night ended with suspension failure. Just as Schaffer looked to have the feature wrapped up, a caution flew, setting up a green-white-checkered. Ryan Middaugh, involved in two cautions early in the race, had worked his way back to second. On the restart, Middaugh got to the inside of Schaffer and took the lead. With the white flag out, Schaffer tried to get the lead back, but instead ended up in the wrong direction, bringing out another caution. On the second green-white-checkered, Middaugh left no doubts and won the modified feature. Rick Bebee stayed strong and out of trouble and finished second. Houston Johnson did the same and finished third. Derrick Hicks and Shane Lawson rounded out the top five.