BOONE, Iowa – Ricky Thornton Jr. and Jeff Mueller dominated their respective stock car qualifiers Saturday afternoon to lock themselves into Sunday’s finale during the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s at Boone Speedway.
Saturday afternoon’s events were originally scheduled for Thursday, but were pushed to Saturday afternoon due to continued interference from Mother Nature. The top-four finishers in each qualifier automatically locked themselves into Sunday’s championship feature.
In the first feature Thornton started on the outside of the front row alongside polesitter Nick Strobbe. Thornton and Strobbe battled for the lead on the opening lap, with the duo crossing the start/finish line in a dead heat.
On the second lap Thornton completed the pass on the outside, taking the lead at the exit of turn two. He continued to hold the lead until the first caution of the flag waved with 18 laps left.
Thornton held serve during the restart, but behind him Curt Lund had made his way from fifth at the start to second. Another caution flag with just shy of 10 to go brought out the caution again, but Thornton again held serve during the restart that followed.
Three more cautions and subsequent restarts gave his competitors a chance to challenge, but Thornton drove away each time to easily claim the victory and advance to the stock car championship feature Sunday.
Thornton opened the week by winning the late model championship feature Monday and has since followed it up by qualifying for the modified and stock car main events. He attempted to race into the stock car feature Thursday, but flipped his car in his heat.
“It’s been good,” Thornton said of his week. “We changed the gears and everything after the heat race hopefully to get it a little better for the feature and it definitely worked.”
Lund finished second ahead of Derek Green and Ryan Harris, all of whom earned starting positions in Sunday’s championship feature as a result.
The second stock car qualifier began with Mueller rocketing off into turn one and immediately gapping the field behind him. He continued to lead the field until the first caution of the race waved for a pileup in turns three and four.
At that point Mueller was leading Damon Murty, Cayden Carter, Justin Temeyer and 20th-place starter Jeffrey Larson, who was sitting one position out of a transfer spot in fifth.
When the green flag waved again Mueller again pulled away, but behind him the battle was on for the transfer spot as Larson moved around Temeyer to take fourth.
Another caution with eight laps left set up another restart, but the result was much the same as Mueller got a good jump. The caution waved before the end of the lap and the field lined back up for another attempt at the restart.
This time the field got back underway cleanly and Mueller continued to maintain his stranglehold on the field. He cruised to the victory to punch his ticket into the Super Nationals, with Carter, Larson and Murty following him to also earn starting spots in Sunday’s finale.
“The cautions were killing me. I was screwing up every other lap too, which wasn’t helping,” Mueller said. “I felt like I was going to give it away at some point. We’ll take it.”
First Qualifier: Ricky Thornton Jr., Curt Lund, Derek Green, Ryan Harris, Justin Luinenburg, Mike Nichols, Rod Richards, Jared Siefert, Tyler Pickett, Troy Burkhart, Tejay Mielke, Troy Swearingen, Mike Albertsen, Mike Petersilie, Jay Schmidt, Eric Rempel, Bruce Plumisto, Mike Van, Genderen, John Oliver Jr., Nick Strobbe, Tommy Fain, Derek Moede, Randy Brands, Dale Eaton, Brock Badger, Tony Schlei, William Gould, Todd Gereau, Shawn Ritter, Jacob Dahle.
Second Qualifier: Jeff Mueller, Cayden Carter, Jeffrey Larson, Damon Murty, Joe Schmit, Travis Barker, Justin Temeyer, Chad Hertel, Casey Woken, Bob Daniels, Billy Wade, Donavon Smith, Benji Legg, Jacob Flickinger, Pete Alexander, Corey Piffer, Austin Gray, Shane Ebaugh, Bryce Carey, Austin Brauner, Jason Ward, Blake Peeler, Barrett Wagoner, George Egbert III, Robert Waechter Jr., Justin Nehring, Chase Alves, Scott Davis, Andrew Burg, Chris Oliver.
Every night of the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals fueled by Casey’s on Sept. 7-13 will be broadcast live via SPEED SPORT TV affiliate IMCA.TV. Check out all of our coverage of the IMCA Speedway Motors Super Nationals on our coverage index page!