LIMA, Ohio – The first night of racing for the month of June at Limaland Motorsports Park was filled with drama and genuine emotion.
Jeff Koz, NASCAR great Ken Schrader and veteran sprint car driver Jared Horstman each posted a memorable win for themselves and the racetrack.
Koz started the evening’s feature races with a dominant showing to win the coveted Steve Brown Memorial for the Budweiser Thunderstocks. A smooth gripping racing surface was all Koz needed to roar to the front at the start and take control of the 18-lap event. Defending track champion Shawn Valenti was the only driver to challenge Koz. He finished in the runner-up position and Tony Anderson was third.
“Starting on the outside of the front row I knew that if I held my line, I’d be good because I definitely had a good car,” said Koz, after posting his second consecutive triumph in the Brown Memorial. “We had a really rough start to the season and blew a motor, so we had an old borrowed car from Tony Anderson. I always love to win these bigger money races for my sponsors and those that support me.”
The popular touring K&L Ready Mix NRA Sprint Invaders once again sported a stacked field of contenders. Former winner Butch Schroeder and veteran Jared Horstman led the field to the green at the start for the 25 laps around the quarter-mile oval. It was those two drivers that stole the show as the only leaders the race would produce.
A restart following a caution period on lap number four saw Horstman pull off a classic slide job pass through turn number two and grab the lead from Schroeder. From there, the Cloverdale, Ohio resident headed for the cushion of the track surface and by the mid point of the event he held a full straightaway advantage on Schroeder and the rest of the field.
Although Jared Horstman would never surrender the lead for the duration of the race, he felt the pressure of a closing charge from Butch Schroeder. A defining restart with three laps remaining saw Horstman able to extend his margin and roar to the first win of his career at Limaland Motorsports Park.
“It’s awesome to finally get the monkey off my back at Limaland,” said Horstman, standing aside his No. 17 orange colored machine. “I knew I had a great restart, followed Butch into the corner and if I didn’t make a move then, well who knows when it could have been. I was nervous late (in the race), but I knew I had to put the hammer down to keep these guys (Schroeder, Randy Hannagan) behind me.”
NASCAR stars Ken Schrader and Kenny Wallace joined the field with the K&N Modifieds for their 20-lap feature and both drivers prominently figured into the action. Schrader won the feature last year in his familiar Federated No. 9, while Wallace arrived at the track in time to compete after qualifying his Nationwide car in an event at Iowa Speedway earlier in the afternoon. Those two drivers along with defending track champion Todd Sherman gave the fans one of the most thrilling Modified battles of the season so far.
At the start, UNOH graduate Bob Baldwin led the opening four circuits, but a restart on lap number five saw Schrader work around him for a lead he would never surrender. By then, Indiana’s Todd Sherman was chasing Schrader and made numerous attempts to get around. At times they were in a virtual side-by-side battle that had the fans on the edge of their seats. On two occasions it appeared Sherman had taken the lead position, but he couldn’t sustain it at the start/finish line for an official lead change.
On the final circuit, Sherman made a desperation move to the top of the track and briefly lost control as Schrader rolled under the checkered flag, with Kenny Wallace slipping by for the runner-up finish.
“I don’t know what it looked like from in the stands, but it was pretty darn exciting from where I was sitting,” said Schrader from the winner’s circle. It was a repeat win for the Missouri native from last year at the track.
“That was a lot of fun,” declared Sherman, after his third place result. “I changed it up a little on the last lap, got underneath Ken, then alongside, but couldn’t finish it. These guys (Schrader, Wallace) are great ambassadors of the sport and it’s a pleasure to compete with them.”