Fantastic finishes highlight season opener at Benton County Speedway

Nathan Ballard hit milestone win number 50 in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock division Sunday night during the season opener at Benton County Speedway. Ballard is the all-time wins leader in the division at The Bullring. (K&M Photography photo)

VINTON, Iowa (April 21, 2024) – If Sunday night’s IMCA Weekly Racing season opener was an indication of things to come, it’s going to be an exciting year at Benton County Speedway.

Multiple events were decided by late-race passes as fans were provided with 109 race teams in action on the fast, multi-groove quarter mile in an efficient show that took just over three hours to complete.

The IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars presented by Christie Door Company led the list of exciting finishes at The Bullring as 18 entries competed in the first night of action.

Gage Neal, Dustin Griffiths and John Oliver Jr. shared time out front throughout the 20-lapper before Kaden Reynolds made a last corner pass to work the low side by Oliver to score the opening night win. Kyle Olson raced from a fifth row start to finish third ahead of Jay Schmidt.

Reynolds, who started eighth and raced to his career 10th Stock Car win on the Vinton oval Sunday night, was also the winner on championship night last season.

The story was similar in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks presented by iHeart Radio. 

Bradly Graham, who was in search of the opening night victory for the second straight season at the speedway, led much of that 15-lapper. While he paced the field, ninth starting Nathan Ballard worked through the pack.

Ballard was able to use lapped traffic to his advantage late by shooting low in turns three and four on the final circuit to steal the lead and eventual victory. Justin Wacha and Joren Fisher chased the lead pair to the checkers.

The all-time leader in Hobby Stock wins in Vinton, Ballard celebrated for the 50th time in his weekly racing career at the speedway.

In other weekly action, Dallon Murty put on an impressive display in the 20-lapper for Friesen Performance IMCA Modifieds presented by Wright Way Trailers.

Pole-sitter Troy Cordes held the early advantage while Murty raced the top side from a third row start. Once in second, Murty quickly gobbled up the advantage Cordes built and then motored into the lead around the midway point to drive to victory.

Tim Ward came from a fourth row start to finish second ahead of Cordes. Ben Chapman, who started 15th after being unable to start his heat, drove to an impressive fourth place finish.

Shane Paris made it look easy in the 15-lapper for Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods. 

From his pole position start, Paris powered away from the field to score the impressive win, his first in Vinton, ahead of Tony Olson, Kyle Olson and Brady Hilmer. Paris became the 75th different SportMod winner in track history.

Defending track champion Lukas Rick made his way around Jake Anderson midway through the Mach-1 IMCA Sport Compact 12-lap feature to motor to opening night honors. Anderson, Cristian Grady and Spencer Roggentien completed the top four.

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