WEST BURLINGTON, Iowa — Paul Nienhiser had been knocking on the door of his first Sprint Invaders win with car owner Scott Bonar, and Saturday he busted it down at 34 Raceway.
Nienhiser had registered some podiums in the No. 50, but Saturday marked his first win with the team. It was his second career win at 34 Raceway and his third overall with the series.
Tasker Phillips, who won the dash, started outside row one and led Nienhiser and McKenna Haase early in the 25-lap feature. Phillips got into lapped traffic by the eighth circuit, and Nienhiser reeled him in, catching him behind a lapper to surge into the lead.
Haase challenged for second at that point, and she and Phillips came together. Phillips rolled to a stop ten laps in, bringing a caution flag. Meanwhile, Nienhiser had made enough contact with the lapped machine of Wyatt Wilkerson to dent his top wing.
Nienhiser maintained the point on the restart, while Ball briefly got by Haase for second. Haase battled back on the low side, regaining the spot. Meanwhile, Ayrton Gennetten, who had to pass seven cars in the B main to gain the final transfer, had moved up to fifth (from 16th) by lap 13.
Rob Kubli flipped several times 16 laps in. Haase had been gaining on Nienhiser and challenged for the lead a couple of times. Nienhiser would keep the lead on the restart and sailed to the win.
Following Nienhiser across the line were Haase, Ball, Ryan Bunton and Chris Martin.
“I told Scott (Bonar) before the race I thought that (lapped traffic) would play to our advantage,” said Nienhiser. “When you’re leading the race and they’re side by side, it’s not ideal. This just felt like a win that had been a long time coming, especially at Burlington. I’ve lost track how many times we’ve run second. I’m happy for him and Matt and everyone on this race car. It was kind of a love tap (his contact in traffic). It looked worse than it was.”
“I was trying to be patient through the middle of the race,” said Haase. “But once (Nienhiser) he got into lapped traffic and I saw what he was doing, I thought for sure we could have passed him. Unfortunately, that red came out, and we really didn’t need that at all. He changed his line after that. I tried to do what I could, but it just wasn’t enough. I wish we could have come out on top. I hate to be this close.”
Feature (25 laps): 1. 50, Paul Nienhiser, Chapin, IL (4) 2. 55, McKenna Haase, Des Moines, IA (1) 3. 5J, Jamie Ball, Knoxville, IA (6) 4. 6R, Ryan Bunton, Morton, IL (10) 5. 44, Chris Martin, Ankeny, IA (9) 6. 3, Ayrton Gennetten, Gravois Mills, MO (16) 7. 40c, Cody Wehrle, Burlington, IA (5) 8. 22, Riley Goodno, Knoxville, IA (3) 9. Colton Fisher, Mediapolis, IA (18) 10. 88, Dustin Selvage, Indianola, IA (10) 11. 35, Josh Higday, Des Moines, IA (11) 12. 13, Brayden Gaylord, Wever, IA (13) 13. 22L, Ryan Leavitt, Knoxville, IA (20) 14. 69, Justin Buchholz, Davenport, IA (19) 15. 81, Tanner Gebhardt, Burlington, IA (14) 16. 8L, Tom Lenz, Strawberry Point, IA (15) 17. 29w, Wyatt Wilkerson, Morning Sun, IA (7) 18. 83, Rob Kubli, Milo, IA (17) 19. 7TAZ, Tasker Phillips, Pleasantville, IA (2) 20. 76, Brad Comegys, Bondurant, IA (12) DNS – 99J, Josh Schneiderman, West Burlington, IA.