A first time winner and an unstoppable driver make the headlines on Whelen Night!

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By DJ Everett

     We were back at it again this past Saturday for Whelen Night as the ICCU Modifieds, Cactus Petes Streets, Project Filter Bombers, Valley Office Systems Hornets, and Quale’s Electronics Stingers all were burning circles on the 1/3 mile oval!!

The first main event of the night was the Quale’s Electronics Jr Stingers.  A couple of first-time drivers took part on this night, 12-year-old and 4th generation driver JJ Haye along with 11-year-old Gracelyn Schaber both made their inaugural starts.  The green flag flew and polesitter Kaethyn Gilligan jumped out to the early lead, Kaethyn found himself out in front for most of this race as the action was picking up behind him.  The first couple of laps saw a great battle with Brayden Sweatfield and Angel Newberry while weaving through lapped traffic.  Haye and Newberry came into contact with each other bringing out the caution with Newberry limping off the track with a flat tire.  With Gilligan still leading the race, Kaili McKean started to close in.  Those two drivers also were trying to manage the lapped traffic and actually made contact with one another during the midst of it all.  McKean found a way to get by Gilligan for the lead with just a few laps to go but it wasn’t over yet as McKean found the rear bumper of a lapped car with just two to go and steam started pouring from the engine of her machine.  She was able to limp it home for her second win of 2020 over Kaethyn Gilligan who put in an amazing drive for most of that race. 

The first of two ICCU Modified main events were next.  We welcomed Lynn Hardy, Mitch Pehrson, Morgan Rasmussen, and Matt Egley all making their first modified starts in 2020.  Egley unfortunately experienced mechanical failure during hot laps ending his night early.  At the drop of the green, outside front row starter Jason Quale took command of the race.  Eric Rhead found his way to the front of the field and started battling Quale for the number one spot by lap 3, eventually getting by Quale a few laps later.  Behind Rhead, Zach Webster and Lynn Hardy were battling hard for third.  The first caution flew for a spinning Mitch Pehrson in turn 2 on lap 15.  On the restart, the battle was on for second between Quale and Hardy.  Quale got loose coming out of turn 2 which opened the door for Hardy on the inside.  The two ran side by side through turns 3 & 4 making contact with each other coming out of turn 4 and Quale would suffer a left front flat tire bringing out the caution once again.  Green flag back out and now Zach Webster was putting the pressure on Lynn Hardy for second.  The checkered flag flew and Eric Rhead made this one look easy picking up his 3rd win in 3 races.  Hardy was able to hold off Webster for second.

The Quale’s Electronics Jr Stingers came back out onto the track for their second main event of the night.  The Junior Flagger of the night, 11-year-old Parker Lopez, waved the green flag to the field and polesitter Angel Newberry led the way.  Brayden Sweatfield from the back of the pack worked his way into the top 3 behind Newberry and Utah driver Liyah Solomon.  The 3 drivers ensued in a great battle for the lead and at one point were 3 wide which put Solomon into the tires on lap 11.  With 3 laps to go Newberry had to fend off Sweatfield for the top spot.  Sweatfield made contact with Newberry’s car spinning the 2nd year driver and bringing out the caution.  Sweatfield was moved to the back of the pack as a result of the contact and Newberry re-inherited her lead.  That’s all Newberry would need for the last two laps as she drove her Heavenly Racing Jr Stinger under the checkers giving her and her team their first career win.  A very popular win for the entire team as Junior Trophy Presenter, 4-year-old Hayden Finch, handed Angel Newberry the hardware. 

The Cactus Petes Streets rolled out onto the speedway for their main event.  As the green flag flew, a battle for the lead happened quickly between Shawn Lester and Willie Dalton on lap 1.  Lester forged ahead to the top spot with Dalton staying glued to his rear bumper.  The two battled side by side periodically throughout the entire race with only one caution coming out for a spinning Mike Miller in turn 2.  Lester and Dalton were still inseparable all the way to the finish as Lester, who had mechanical failure with his machine two weeks earlier, would not be denied on this night grabbing his first main event win of the year over Dalton, Jeff Peck, Ron McClimans, and Josh Cuff.

The Project Filter Bombers were ready to put on a show for the fans and they did not disappoint.  Papa Shrek, Robin Finch led early before Redneck Racing’s Brandon Adams got by for the number one spot on lap 4.  Craig McCann followed through up into second and the battle was on between Adams and McCann.  McCann put the heat on Adams for the entire race which featured a side by side battle at times and contact with each other as well.  As the white flag flew, the two found themselves side by side again not giving an inch to each other.  They stayed that way across the finish line for the checkers and Adams edged McCann by .042 seconds giving Redneck Racing their second win in a row.

The ICCU Modifieds came out for their second main event of the night and Eric Rhead would have to work for this one.  Jason Quale grabbed the lead at the drop of the green with Rhead and Webster battling for second on lap 4.  Rhead got by Webster and was now running down Quale for the lead.  Hardy and Webster were running hard for third when Hardy’s car lost power in turns 1 & 2 coming to a stop in turn 3 bringing out the caution.  Webster made a visit to the pit area under this caution period and rejoined the field before going back to green.   Quale led on the restart and one lap later the caution flew again for Mitch Pehrson spinning in turn 2.   The green came back out with Rhead and Quale running side by side for a few laps battling for the lead.  Quale showed much strength using the high line to his advantage leaving Rhead to use the low line with Webster and Dan Root Jr running side by side for third.  Pehrson was sent spinning to the infield on the front stretch after contact with another car bringing out the caution one last time.  Pehrson’s day was filled with handling problems but did show much speed during other parts of his day. On the final restart, Dan Root Jr timed it just right and launched his machined up into the runner up spot only to lose it on the final lap when his machine lost grip and dropped two spots to Quale and Webster. Rhead seems unstoppable as he found victory for the 4th consecutive time over Quale, Webster, Root Jr, and Rasmussen.

The Valley Office Systems Hornets were the last race of the night.  Ryan Adams led the way early with Scott Gilligan in tow.  The two started to streak away from the rest of the field with both drivers putting on a great duel for the lead.  Gilligan eventually got by Adams for the top spot on lap 5.  The duo also displayed some great driving through lapped traffic for most of the race but would come to an end as they both exited the track for separate reasons handing the lead over the Shelby Dalton.  Dalton hung on to the lead and drove it all the way to the checkers over Peggy Dalton and Brayden Sweatfield.

This Saturday is Marky’s Supertow night with the ICCU Modifieds back at it again for the second week in a row along with the Denny’s Minis, Valley Office Systems Hornets, and Quale’s Electronics Jr. Stingers.  Double main events for all classes on this night!! Gates open at 5pm with McDonalds Racing at 6pm.  We will see you this Saturday for another great night of racing at Magic Valley Speedway!!

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