Modified Madness full of fender benders
In racing there is a saying, “rubbing is racing,” which reminds drivers that a little tap here and there is just part of the race.
Yet when the rubbing is out of control, a race can turn into a marathon of wrecks, yellow lights and frustration for everyone at the track.
Two of the main events at Hayden Speedway’s IMCA Modified Madness race were such the case Saturday night.
“Having 15 cars entered in a race is beautiful to watch if the racing is going well,” said Yampa Valley Auto Racing Association President Justin Gallegos. “But not when they are in the pits broken by the end of the race.”
According to Gallegos, big turnouts on race night resulted in the most cars competing at the speedway in four years.
“We are starting to get a reputation as a good place to come,” he said. “That is great, we just have to adjust better to the number of cars.”
The two most crowded races were the Street Stock and IMCA Modified classes with 15 and 13 entries in the main event respectfully.
At the beginning of the Street Stock race Gallegos turned to other officials and said, “This could mean trouble.”
His prediction was proven correct as two laps into the race, six cars were involved in an accident that put three of them into the pits for the rest of the night. One lap on green after the first wreck, two more cars collided, putting each other out of the race. Much of the same continued throughout the race and it took 45 minutes to get the cars through 15 laps of green light racing.
When the checkered flag finally went down, eight of the starting 15 cars were in the pits. Matt Jensen was the winner/survivor of the Street Stock main event.
“We had a fair amount of inexperienced racers in that race and with one bad decision from a driver driving over his head it can end up bad,” Gallegos said. “There will need to be a change of structure if we keep drawing this many cars. The Board of Directors plan on meeting soon to look at making it safer for our drivers.”
Among revisions Gallegos suggested that there be qualifying rounds for the main event if there are too many cars.
Lloyd Powers of Baker and Associates Racing suggested that the race track get another traffic light to place on the third or fourth turn to give drivers a little more time to know if the next lap will be green.
“When there is so much traffic on a small track the drivers can’t be looking back at the flag man the whole time,” said Powers. “If something happens in front of them on turn three and they are trying to look around at the first turn they don’t have time to react.”
The most anticipated main event of the night was the IMCA Modified race but with 13 cars starting in the race, people were holding their breath after watching the slower Street Stocks have so much difficulty.
There were several spinouts early in the race, which are expected in the speedy modified class. What wasn’t expected were the difficulties that were coming from the restarts. On the first yellow, cars started hitting the gas anticipating a green flag and it wasn’t thrown, which caused the front cars to break and the back cars to have to swerve to get out of the way.
On the second yellow, driver Mike Christianson drove under the car in front of him. After realizing his car was done, Christianson’s reaction was a highlight for the crowd during a yellow-flag-infested night at the speedway. Several times he stood on top of his car and yelled his not-fit-to-print dislike about being finished for the night.
“In the IMCA class drivers were biting at the bit to get going off of the yellows and sometimes ignoring the flagger,” said Gallegos. “It got pretty ugly with the confusion and of drivers over anticipating the flag.”
A teammate of Christianson, Powers saw the incident a little differently.
“Everyone in the IMCA class hit somebody on Saturday and most of it was during the restarts,” Powers said. “I don’t think there is just one person to blame, but it was frustrating for everybody. The speedway shouldn’t hold another big event like this until it is sorted out how to make something like that more racer friendly”.
The Hayden Speedway was given good reviews from the IMCA national magazine and it may have been part of the reason that cars came from Alamosa, Utah and Wyoming to race, making it such a big event.
Doug Tiffany led throughout the race but on the last lap, Justin Yeager took the lead. The yellow 33 car of Yeager is from Rock Springs and the driver is currently ranked in the top 15 nationally in the IMCA standings.
Other winners in main events were Scott McKinney in the sport stock class, Steve Anthony in super street and Justin Gallegos in super truck.
Unofficial awards from Craig Daily Press go to the tow truck crew as “Bussiest on the Track” and the “Keeping the Crowd Awake” award goes to Gary Lewis as his right front tire bounced into the crowd.
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