By Ryan Clark
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (May 3) – Matt White made his first career visit to Independence Motor Speedway a memorable one as the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock driver used a late race pass to drive to victory Saturday night.
White rolled off 10th on the starting grid and worked his way through the field while pole-sitter Brian Happel held the lead. Happel was pestered by Jamie Whitaker and Jacob Keiser as White made his way into the top six before the race’s first caution on lap 10.
White powered into the runner-up spot one lap after racing resumed and just before the final caution on the 11th circuit of the 15-lapper. White took two laps following that restart to work past Happel on his way to the win. Happel ran second ahead of teammate Chad Albert.
Jenae Gustin also earned her first Independence win, that coming in the 15-lap Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod feature.
From a second row start, Gustin quickly worked the low side into the lead and pulled away from traffic. She survived a trio of mid-race cautions to maintain the point while Alex Zwanziger made his way through the field.
Ed Thomas and Dennis Betzer shared time at the front of the 20-lap Performance Bodies IMCA Modified feature while Troy Cordes and J.D. Auringer positioned themselves to challenge after mid-pack starts.
Cordes snared the lead just prior to the first stoppage on lap five and Auringer followed him to the front a few laps after racing resumed. Auringer restarted on Cordes’ rear bumper following the final caution with four laps to go.
Auringer challenged to the inside of Cordes, but was unable to work past the leader until he surged ahead as the white flag waved. Cordes stayed close over the final lap, but Auringer held on for the exciting win. Scott Hogan ran third.
IMCA Sunoco Stock Car driver Paul Shepherd hadn’t visited victory lane in Independence since 2006, the year he was the IMCA Hobby Stock track champion. He changed that Saturday night.
Shepherd, who started 13th, quickly worked through the pack while Blake Cole led the 17-car field. Shepherd was running third when the caution flag waved just prior to the midway point of the 18-lapper, placing him outside of row two for the ensuing restart.
Shepherd slipped by Jarod Weepie shortly after racing resumed, then made his bid for the lead with five laps to go. Shepherd pulled away in the waning laps to secure the win ahead of Weepie and Phil Holtz.
Tyler Bruening survived numerous stoppages to score his first win of the year in the IMCA Late Model division. Pole-sitter Bruening held nearly half a track lead by the time first-year Late Model driver Tyler Droste made his way into the runner-up spot with nine laps to go in that 25-lapper.
Bruening masterfully worked lapped traffic to score the win by over a straightaway ahead of Droste. Darren Ackerman, who started 20th, came home third.