SPRING VALLEY, Minn. — The Deer Creek Speedway was able to conquer Mother Nature for the opener of the 15th annual Featherlite Fall Jamboree on Thursday night, but were unable to beat the clock.
After a three-hour rain delay that would have forced less-prepared dirt tracks to pull the plug on the program, the crack staff at ‘The Creek’ were able to return the track surface to racing condition and the show went on … for a while.
Five USRA B-Mod heat races were in the books when the rain began to fall around 7 p.m. With a midnight curfew looming, the five 15-lap heat races for the USMTS Modifieds were completed and two USRA B-Mod “B” Mains were wrapped up before the on-track action was halted.
Four Real Racing Wheels “B” Mains and the “A” Mains for both classes will be completed Friday evening with a start time set for 6 p.m. That will be followed by the complete, regularly-scheduled Friday night program of qualifying races and main events.
For their patience during the weather delay, fans were treated to some wild action on the track. A smooth, wet, sticky surface provided high speeds all the way around the high-banked three-eighths-mile oval but also made for difficult passing for some.
Others, however, were able to maneuver their way through the field and put themselves in enviable positions going into tomorrow’s feature races.
An impressive high-side move around defending Featherlite Fall Jamboree winner Joey Jensen earned sixth-starting Tommy Weder Jr. a win in PBM Performance Products Heat Race #4 and the most passing points of the six heats.
Rodney Sanders, Tim Setzer, Jeremy Payne, Joe Duvall, Ryan Gustin, Mike Sorensen and Corey Dripps filled out the rest of the top eight in passing points and will redraw for the first eight starting spots in the $3,000-to-win make-up feature Friday.
Setzer is making his maiden voyage to the Deer Creek Speedway and finished third in JRi Shocks Heat Race #2 after starting 10th on the grid.
Sanders, who sits third in the points standings, won the final heat race to give himself the best starting spot of the three drivers contending for the USMTS National Championship. Points leader Johnny Scott finished second in his heat race and will start tenth in the postponed main event.
2010 USMTS National Champion Jason Hughes escaped disaster when he was sandwiched in a three-wide battle exiting turn 4 on the second lap of the opening heat race. The front end of his #12 Hughes Racing Chassis launched into the air, but he was able to continue despite significant body damage.
After starting 10th, however, he was only able to manage a sixth-place finish and will start fifth in the second Real Racing Wheels “B” Main. Best case scenario, a win would give him the 14th starting spot in the 40-lap “A” Main. Worst case scenario, he is guaranteed a provisional starting spot (if needed) in the last row of the 30-car field.
Friday’s first main event carries a $3,000 top prize and pays a minimum of $450 to each of the 30 starters. Following the completion of the postponed activities from Thursday night, the USMTS Modifieds will hit the track again with a full complement of heat races, “B” Mains and a feature race will pay $4,000 to the winner and $550 for each of the 30 starters. Gates open for the fans at 4 p.m. and the first green flag waves at 6 p.m.