By Ryan Clark
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (June 21) – Plain and simple, Jenae Gustin has Independence Motor Speedway figured out.
The Marshalltown driver raced to her second straight victory and her fourth win in the last five weeks in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod division Saturday night. To top off the win, Gustin took home extra cash as the SportMods were featured in the Saturday Showcase, a monthly spotlight with increased prize money for a select division.
Outside front row starter Lucas Lundry held the early command while Gustin made her way through traffic from a fifth row starting spot. Gustin raced the low groove into contention as she settled into second after just four laps.
A short time later Gustin reeled in Lundry, who was also running the low side of the speedway.
Unable to make her bid for the lead in the bottom groove, Gustin went to work a groove higher than the leader. She and Lundry jockeyed for position and swapped the lead numerous times before she was able to break free with just a few laps to go.
Once out front, Gustin set sail to win the 15-lapper by a straightaway margin. Lundry ran second ahead of Jim Aschenbrenner.
Entering the evening, Justin Wacha had one career IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature win to his credit. By night’s end, he earned the first win of his career on the Independence oval.
Jim Ball and Chad Albert battled for the lead throughout the first half of the 15-lapper while Benji Irvine made his way to the front on lap 10 after starting in row five.
Running the low groove, Wacha also marched to the front and settled into second with five laps to go. He closed the gap on the leader before pressuring Irvine with two laps remaining.
Committed to the low side, Wacha surged ahead off turn four on the final lap to score the exciting win. Irvine finished second ahead of Jeremiah Wilson.
Darren Ackerman continued his recent dominance in the IMCA Late Model division. He took advantage of a mid-race restart to drive to his second straight win and third victory in four weeks.
Sean Johnson took control at the drop of the green and quickly pulled away from the field. Johnson built a straightaway lead and was hiding in lapped traffic until the event’s only caution slowed action on lap 13.
Johnson held the point when racing resumed while Ackerman restarted fifth. Ackerman surged into third shortly after the green flag waved and then into the runner-up spot on the 16th of 25 laps.
Ackerman chased Johnson until he was finally able to sneak beneath the leader as the white flag waved. Ackerman led the final circuit to take the win. Johnson and Jon Passick completed the top three.
Troy Cordes dominated the 20-lap Performance Bodies IMCA Modified feature for his first local win of the year.
Cordes, who started in row six, settled into the top four by the time the yellow flag waved on lap four. He took one more lap before making his way around Ed Thomas to secure the lead. Cordes drove away from the field to take the checkers by more than a straightaway ahead of J.D. Auringer. Tyler Droste finished third.
In only his second appearance of the season, Brian Irvine came away with his second victory in the 18-lap IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature.
Irvine, who started 12th, survived a slew of early cautions and took over the lead on lap six. He led the remainder of the event to win in convincing fashion ahead of Jarod Weepie and Phil Holtz.