EAST MOLINE, IL – The smile lit up the cockpit of the No. 15K and then in front of the large crowd at East Moline Speedway.
Justin Kay found one track he had not won at in 2021 and picked a great night, leading all 56 laps of the Salute to Gary Webb Eriksen Chevrolet IMCA Late Model special Sunday evening.
“It’s pretty cool. It seems like we win a lot of the races that are salutes. I’ve raced a lot of laps with Gary so I hope to keep this going.”
The race on the tight quarter-mile oval was only slowed three times by caution in the first 10 laps. The last 46 circuits were all under the green flag.
“I’m a little winded. That was a long green flag run there at the end.”
The Wheatland, Iowa pilot started on the pole, thanks to drawing the “1” pill in the redraw, and blazed every lap to beat track champion Andy Nezworski, Fred Remley, Matt Ryan, Jacob Waterman and 18 others.
Nezworski started fourth and quickly showed his power, moving to the runner up spot early. Remley moved from his ninth starting spot to hold off fifth starting Ryan, who battled most of the race with Joe Zrostlik and Gage Neal before the latter two faded some.
For the winner, running out front is not always an advantage.
“I honestly wasn’t sure where to be on the race track. It felt good on the top of (turns) one and two, felt good on the bottom of three and four. It seemed like the middle worked for a little bit.”
Kay’s victory also unofficially put him in the IMCA Late Model national points lead.
Troy Cordes visited and paced all 20 laps of the J&J Camper Sales IMCA Modified finale. The Dunkerton, Iowa ace outran Travis Denning, Brandon Durbin, Eric Barnes and Donovan Lodge.
Legacy Corporation IMCA SportMod hotshoe Tony Olson also made his first 2021 appearance and held off Logan Veloz for the 15-lap win. Jarett Franzen, Trey Grimm and David Engelkens followed.
Mike Zemo, Jr. made it nine wins at EMS in 2021. He took the lead early to win the 12-lap Weekend Performance IMCA Mod Lite feature over Jon Padilla, Brandon Freeburg, Mike Morrow and Rob Guss.
Jeff Delonjay made the visit from Quincy worth the ride with the 12-lap Riverbend Pizza Place Sport Compact victory. Jimmy Dutlinger, Drew Wise, Cyle Hawkins and Steven Spiker followed.
Ben Hamburg drove the car his dad did at one time at EMS to the win in the Nostalgic Stock Car Racing Club 12 lapper. He beat Ray Guss, Jr. Terry Mattly, Mark Claeys and Andrew Hamburg.
The event also played host to the 2021 EMS Hall of Fame induction. The ceremony, held during intermission, featured Pat Tuttle, Terry Ryan, Mike Kulhavvy, Denny Anton, Rob Toland, Gary Oliver, Ron Williams and Jack Lueth all being enshrined into the Hall.
A total of 98 cars were in the pits and the final checkered flag fell about 9:15 p.m.
The 2021 season continues this Sunday Sept. 26 with Open Wheel Madness, featuring the Sprint Invaders and USAC D2 IMRA Midgets. Sprint Invaders will be racing for $2,500 to win.
IMCA Modifieds and IMCA SportMods also are in action and are invited to run topless. Sport Compacts are included and are invited to run without front fenders, or “sleeveless.”
Gates open at 4 p.m. Hot laps are at 5:15 with racing to follow.
For more information, log on to the East Moline Speedway Facebook page or call 563-343-8250.
(Photos by Nick Jensen/Jensen Racing Photos [click HERE for more])
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