Three first-time winners top opening night at Independence

INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (April 26) – Of the 103 drivers signed in for opening night, three who had never previously won at Independence Motor Speedway ended the evening in victory lane.

Joel Callahan redrew the pole position for the 25-lap IMCA Late Model feature and quickly pulled away from the field when the green flag waved. Callahan maintained a straightaway lead over his nearest pursuer despite heavy lapped traffic.

Callahan’s lead disappeared when a lap 21 caution flag bunched the field and placed Tyler Bruening on his rear bumper for the ensuing restart. Callahan pulled away when racing resumed, notching his first win on the Independence oval. Bruening finished second ahead of Drew Johnson.

Shawn Ritter topped a field of 28 Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMods to earn his first win in Independence. Ritter raced into the lead at the drop of the green and maintained the point through a pair of early cautions in that 15-lapper

When racing resumed for the final time on lap four, Ritter pulled away from the pack and beat Danny Dvorak to the checkers to score the milestone win. Jason Doyle finished third.

Troy Hovey held off early pressure from Blake Cole and then Norman Chesmore and Jarod Weepie late to earn his first win at the speedway in the 18-lap IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature.

Hovey took the early lead while Cole remained within striking distance. Mechanical problems sidelined Cole with five laps to go, allowing Chesmore and Weepie the opportunity to contend for the lead. Hovey denied all challenges to score the win ahead of Chesmore. Weepie finished third.

Ronn Lauritzen took the early lead in the Performance Bodies IMCA Modified feature and held off a hard-charging Scott Hogan to earn the opening night win in that 20-lap event.

Hogan made his way around Joe Docekal for the runner-up spot following a late restart, but Lauritzen proved to be too strong on his way to victory. Hogan and Docekal completed the top three.

Defending IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock track champion Benji Irvine raced to his second straight season opening win.

From a third row starting spot, Irvine quickly worked past Jacob Keiser for second and then chased leader Marcus Wayne before taking the top spot on lap five. Irvine pulled away from the field to take the win in the 15-lapper ahead of Keiser and Shawn Kuennen.

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