Larson first to Durbin Memorial checkers

Jeff Larson led the distance in winning Sunday’s Greg Durbin Memorial main event for Friesen Performance IMCA Modifieds at East Moline Speedway. (Photo by Nick Jensen)

By Rob Hinckley

EAST MOLINE, Ill. (July 3, 2022) – Just like any skilled veteran dirt race car driver, Jeff Larson remembered the best line around East Moline Speedway and it paid off big time Sunday evening. 

“Bone” redrew no. 1 after winning his Friesen Performance IMCA Modified heat race and rolled to a flag-to-flag victory in the third Greg Durbin Memorial. 

After waiting out a handful of cautions, the defending national champion diamoned turn one, launched the backstretch and crept through turns three and four for 25 laps en route to a $1,500 pay day plus some bonus money. That same style also carried him to the 2021 EMS track title.

Last year’s Durbin Memorial winner Travis Denning, started seventh and maneuvered by teammate B.J. Jackson for the runner-up spot on lap seven, but Larson’s familiar Bader Construction No. B1 repeatedly opened big advantages.

Denning also was second behind Eric Barnes, Greg Durbin’s brother, in the inaugural event in 2020. Barnes drew the outside pole, but dropped out with a mechanical issue and finished 18th in the 21-car field.

Jackson hung on for third in a great battle with Denning. Austin Blume used the high side for fourth followed by two-time EMS winner Mitch Morris.

Durbin’s other brother, Brandon, also succumbed to mechanical issues and was 19th. But the two brothers put on a spirited battle in heat three with Durbin beating Barnes.

Donavon Lodge made a last minute decision to compete and the veteran was the hard charger, moving from 16th to sixth and earning bonus money.

Jacob Waterman hit the cushion and got by Matt Ryan on the final lap to win his third straight IMCA Sunoco Late Model 25-lap feature. Early leader Dustin Schram, Gary Webb and Jacob Beal followed.

Logan Veloz again mastered the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods, taking the 15-lap finale. The caution-filled event finally took the checkers with veteran David Engelkens, Brad Salisberry, Jesse Bodin and Rayce Mullen in tow. 

Jon Padilla’s hard work paid off. His crew made repairs to his machine and he won the IMCA STARS Mod Lite 15-lap feature, beating the Jokers Chassis house cars of Jason Masengarb and Jacob Copley. R.J. Gonzales and Blake Gonzales followed.

The best field ever at EMS of IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks was topped by Drew Burk, taking another win over John Richardson, Randy LaMar, Logan Gustaf and Donnie Cole.

 A total of 104 cars were in the pits and the final checkered flag fell about 9:30 p.m.