BOONE, Iowa – Once he got to the front, Mike Murphy Jr. knew he had to protect the bottom.
He did, and as a result the Late Model driver from Colona, Ill., became the first champion crowned at the 30th annual IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals.
Murphy started 22nd in Monday’s Deery Brothers Summer Series main event after winning his “B” feature. He was running second by lap 14 and took the lead for good on the 34th of 50 laps after Jason Utter’s otherwise exceptional run came to a halt on the top of turn three at Boone Speedway.
Andy Eckrich led early on, restarted in the rear after getting together with a lapped car on the 13th circuit and raced his way back to second. Eckrich pulled within a car length as the race wound down before Murphy put some distance on to take the checkers comfortably ahead.
Series point leader Jeff Aikey, Darrel DeFrance and Ray Guss Jr., all two-time Super Nationals champions, rounded out the top five.
“I couldn’t believe that I didn’t get involved in any of the early yellows and that I was able to get through lapped traffic. It was one of those meant to be things,” Murphy said. “From the race here on Memorial Day, I knew I had to protect the bottom late in the race. I didn’t want any of those guys to fly by me.”
Murphy earned $2,000 for the win, along with a $600 Weekly Racing Bonus.
“With the prestige of IMCA, this is the race to win,” he said. “It’s pretty neat to be able to add my name to the list of champions.”
DeFrance started on the pole and led the first two laps before giving way to Jason Hahne. Utter took charge on lap five and brought Hahne and Eckrich along in pulling away from the pack, Eckrich edged ahead in lapped traffic but restarted at the back after the frontstretch mishap on lap 13.
Utter and Murphy crossed the stripe in a virtual dead heat before Utter’s night ended early on the other side of the track. Aikey, Craig Jacobs, Guss and DeFrance all did their best to stay close but none could find a way to challenge for the lead.
Joel Callahan was also involved in an early race incident, restarted at the back and charged back to eighth.
DeFrance started on the pole in his 401st consecutive Deery event and received numerous contingency awards, including a set of heads from Brodix. Eckrich was the $250 Sunoco Race Fuels feature qualifier drawing winner.
Qualifiers Murphy, Eckrich, Aikey, DeFrance, Guss, Callahan, Justin Kay and Jay Johnson all earned $99 Ideal Ready Mix Ironman Challenge perfect attendance cash bonuses.
Thirty cars started the Labor Day headliner. It’s the first time any Deery race has started three rows wide and 10 rows deep.
Seven drivers made their career first Super Nationals main event starts on Monday, among them Willie Gammill, the first driver from Arkansas to qualify for the Late Model show.