Tharp, Siems score first Bullring wins

The second Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod win of Brandon Tharp’s career was his first in front of his hometown crowd at Benton County Speedway Sunday night. (Photo by Jim Wittke)

VINTON, Iowa (June 13) – Brandon Tharp waited five years for his first feature win.

It took him only another eight days to earn his second.

Tharp, whose career first win came June 5 in Independence, earned his first Karl Kustoms IMCA Northern SportMod presented by Christie Door Company victory in front of his hometown crowd Sunday night at the Benton County Speedway Bullring.

Eric Alexander led at the drop of the green and was pursued by Brady Hilmer throughout the 15-lapper.

While that pair battled for the top spot, Tharp was working through the pack from a fourth row start.

A pair of late cautions bunched the field and allowed Tharp the opportunity to strike.

On the first of those two restarts, Hilmer miscued in turns one and two to bring out the caution, leaving Alexander with the lead and Tharp in the second row.

When racing resumed a final time, Tharp slid beneath the race leader entering turn one and escaped with the top spot upon exiting turn two. He then drove to victory ahead of Ben Chapman and Tony Olson. Kaylin Lopez and Joe Docekal completed the top five.

Prior to Sunday night, KISS Country 96.5 IMCA Modified driver Kip Siems hadn’t even won so much as a heat race during his career in Vinton. That all changed when the checkers flew on that 20-lapper.

Siems, who had success in the SportMod division at other venues earlier in his career, raced to his first win of any type on the Vinton quarter-mile.

Siems raced from the third row and methodically worked his way around traffic. With most of the pack hugging the infield tires on the slick, smooth surface, Siems found traction a groove higher and made his way into a challenge for the lead just past the midway point.

He found the momentum off turn four to surge past race-long leader Mike Burbridge with a handful of laps to go to drive to victory. Burbridge ran second ahead of Troy Cordes, Dylan Thornton and Derrick Stewart.

In other action, bonus money was aplenty for a pair of drivers.

Jay Schmidt earned an extra $150 from Christie Door Company for his last-lap pass on the way to victory in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars presented by Albert Auto Service.

Jason Doyle led throughout that 15-lapper before he pushed in turn two on the final circuit. Schmidt took advantage of that miscue to sneak beneath the race leader and steal the victory. Doyle held on for second ahead of Leah Wroten. Shawn Bistline ran fourth ahead of Ian Huff.

Brett Vanous picked up his first win of the season in dominant fashion in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks presented by Kwik Star. Vanous took the checkers a straightaway ahead of Jacob Floyd. Joren Fisher, Matt Brown and Dalton Weepie rounded out the top five.

For his efforts, Vanous earned an extra $200 from an anonymous donor who offered up the extra cash to anyone who could end Kaden Reynolds’ three-race winning streak at the speedway.

Logan Clausen became the first repeat winner in weekly action this season in the Mach-1 IMCA Sport Compacts presented by Auto Crafters.

Clausen raced from the fourth row and into the lead in just two laps, then held off William Michel to score the win. Lukas Rick, Zeke Wheeler and Cristian Grady completed the top five.

During intermission, a Guinness Book of World Records mark was set when a certified 2,160 lbs of candy was up-for-grabs in what was recorded as the largest candy dash in history at a race track. After the 2,160 lbs was certified, event organizer Christine Rublack collected more candy donations at the track, with an estimated 2,300 lbs of candy offered to the 215 kids who took part in the event. 

Mid-season championships highlight next Sundays racing program. In addition, Micro Sprints will return for their second visit of the season. There will also be a fundraiser for the Urbana 5 Foundation. For $1 a chance, race fans will have the opportunity to throw water balloons at a variety of drivers and track personalities.

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