IMCA Speedweek opener at Clay County sees O’Neil duplicate Spencer Stock Car heroics

Jake O’Neil returned to victory lane Monday night at Clay County Fair Speedway after topping the $5,000 to win IMCA Sunoco Stock Car main event on opening night of IMCA Speedweek. (Photo by Jim Steffens)

SPENCER, Iowa (Aug. 2) – A driver from Arizona has found a new home in victory lane at Clay County Fair Speedway.

Jake O’Neil drew the pole for Monday night’s IMCA Sunoco Stock Car main event and led all 40 laps of a fast-paced IMCA Speedweek opening event, collecting $5,000 and a starting spot in the upcoming B & B Chassis All-Star Invitational.

“It helped starting on the front row,” said O’Neil, from Tucson and also the winner of last week’s Hunting With Heroes Salute to Veterans feature at Spencer. “I wasn’t sure where to be on the race track. I could feel spots of rubber here and there on the track. The last 10, 15 laps I could feel my brakes kind of going out and I couldn’t hit her like I needed to.”

Randy Brands headed the early pursuit, giving up the second spot to Tom Berry following a lap seven restart.

Berry kept O’Neil in his sights as 13th starting Kelly Shryock and 16th starting Dallon Murty moved through the field during a long green flag run. 

The final Clay County Clash caution came as O’Neil was catching traffic with eight laps left. Shryock passed Berry on the ensuing restart, but just couldn’t catch O’Neil and settled for second.

“Once I saw Kelly down there, I knew I needed to protect the bottom pretty hard,” O’Neil said. “I appreciate him racing me clean. It was a fun race.” 

Berry, Murty and Brands were next across the stripe.

One hundred and twenty-six cars saw action at Spencer and $1,000 feature winners were Brandon Beckendorf in the IMCA Modifieds, Malik Sampson in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks and Colby Fett in the Karl Kustoms Northern SportMods.

Beckendorf, already eligible to qualify for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational, caught long-time leader Jesse Sobbing with six laps left in the Modified main, then held off the 12th starting Shryock the rest of the way.

Sobbing ended in third while 17th starting Cody Thompson and Jeremy Mills completed the top five. 

Sampson led start to finish in the Hobby Stock main, keeping Zach Hemmingsen and then 12th starting Cory Probst in check following a pair of late restarts. Probst, Hemmingsen, 10th starting Dylan Nelson and 14th starting Brandon Nielsen ran second through fifth.

John Foreman and then Jake Sachau ran at the front of the Northern SportMod field before Fett completed his drive to the lead from the 11th starting spot with six laps to go. 

He was chased across the stripe by Sachau, Matt Looft, Alec Fett and Foreman. 

R.J. Esqueda was the Mach-1 Sport Compact winner.

IMCA Speedweek continues Tuesday night with the 30th annual Harris Clash at Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Minn. IMCA Modifieds race for $10,000 to win, Karl Kustoms Northern SportMods for $2,000 to win in a program scheduled to go green at 7 p.m.

The Harris Clash will be broadcast by IMCA.TV.