By Ryan Clark
INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (Aug. 16) – IMCA Late Model driver Darren Ackerman has been known to excel on a dry slick race track. He proved it once again Saturday night at Independence Motor Speedway.
After taking the lead on the ninth circuit, Ackerman pulled away from the pack to win by half of a lap in the caution-free 25-lap feature.
Polesitter Rory Metcalf took the lead at the drop of the green and paced the field while Ackerman worked from a fifth row starting spot.
Ackerman made his way into the top five on lap four and then worked the low side into second on lap seven. He raced past Metcalf two laps later on his way to victory ahead of Jon Passick.
With the win, Ackerman took over the points lead heading into next Saturday’s Budweiser Season Championships. Although he is tied in the points with Curt Martin, Ackerman owns the tiebreaker with four feature wins.
What was a two-car battle throughout much of the 15-lapper turned into a thrilling four-wide finish at the line in the Karl Chevrolet Northern SportMod feature.
Brian Hilbert held the early advantage before a flat tire sidelined the leader, leaving Lucas Lundry and Kip Siems on the front row for a lap nine restart.
Lundry assumed command when racing resumed with Siems in tow. Meanwhile, Jared VanDeest and Jenae Gustin reeled in the leaders.
Siems inched ahead as the white flag waved with VanDeest and Gustin closing in. While Siems worked to hold off Lundry, both VanDeest and Gustin swept to the inside and made it four-wide across the line. Siems held on for the exciting win, his first of the season. Lundry ran second.
Jarod Weepie worked past Cole Mather for the lead following a lap six restart in the 18-lap IMCA Sunoco Stock Car feature. Weepie survived a trio of additional mid-race stoppages while Scott Pippert worked his way into the runner-up spot.
Pippert chased Weepie for a handful of laps during the final green flag run before sneaking past the leader with two laps to go. Weepie fought back on the inside off turn four on the final circuit, however Pippert held on for the win, his second straight, by less than a car-length.
Ed Thomas and Adam Johnson split time at the front of the Performance Bodies IMCA Modified feature while Vern Jackson worked his way into contention.
Jackson slipped past Johnson for the lead on the eighth circuit and then drove the high groove to victory, his first of the season. J.D. Auringer came from row five to finish second.
Shawn Kuennen made his way around early leader Randy Byerly on the third lap of the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock feature.
Kuennen showed the way while Justin Wacha worked his way into a challenge for the lead after starting in row four.
Wacha and Kuennen battled side-by-side before Wacha took the lead in the waning laps. He held off Brian Happel following a late restart to earn his second win of the year.