Lexington Raceway crowns 2017 season champions

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August 20, 2017  |  by Jamie Legates | Lexington Clipper-Herald

Josh Leonard of Gibbon, Neb., was the track champion and NeSmith Weekly Racing Series national champion.
Josh Leonard of Gibbon, Neb., was the track champion and NeSmith Weekly Racing Series national champion.
It was a night filled with tradition and festivity as Lexington Raceway concluded their regular season racing and the points race was finally decided. Drivers in each class were brought out and introduced to the crowd before each feature race, along with their families and crew mates, as fans cheered for their favorites and thanked them for their efforts over the season.

Starting position for the feature races were determined by the leaderboard, rather than the usual heat race system. Fans were also treated to a dash for cash race in the hobby stock class, as well as an impromptu golf cart race featuring drivers and crew members from all classes.

IMCA Hobby Stocks led the way with the most heated race for first on the line, and one of the most exciting races of the night. The pack began with 12 cars and after the many cautions, mishaps and malfunctions, only eight would cross the finish line. Early in the race following a collision with Nate Refior in the No. R89, Allyn Myers in the No. 99m sustained heavy damage requiring track staff to help remove parts of his car so that he could continue the race. Around the halfway point, Zach Olmstead in the No. 98z, who had made his way from the back of the pack into first, had a flat tire causing a caution and sending him to the back of the pack after a quick change in the pits. Olmstead would earn another caution for jumping the gun on the restart, and then again was given a warning on a second attempt at a restart. Olmstead would make his way back into the top three with five laps to go, when the No. 1j of Jacob Egge and No. 5 of Chuck Ledbetter would get caught up on the back side of the track landing Ledbetter on his side. During the red flag, fans cheered when it was announced that both drivers were okay, but both left the track with the assistance of the workers on site. In a surprise last ditch effort, Olmstead would take the lead away from Luke Wassom in the 2w and went on to win the feature race.

The IMCA Modified class had the closest point race going into the night with a two way tie for first between Scott Smith in the No. 50 car, and Jay Steffens in the No. Xii. Through most of the feature race, the two battled for first place with Smith leading the way throughout most of the race, but in a bold move with limited laps remaining, Steffens would take the lead, the win, and the track championship in his class.

NeSmith Late Models had two feature races this week as they made up a race for points, then another for the championship feature race to finish off the track’s point season. In the first feature the points leader, Josh Leonard in No. 85 would take an early exit as he stalled out with apparent engine issues that sent him off the pace. Leonard was not able to return to the race. Kyle Berck in the No. 7 car would come from last place and be the first to cross the finish line with No. 20v of Rese Vaught close behind. The official results show that Berck was disqualified from the competition, making Vaught the winner. Track officials were unable to comment on the reason for the disqualification. The drivers took a brief break on the track after the first feature, as pit crews refueled the cars, and drivers stretched their legs to prepared for the final push for track points. In a surprise switch, Leonard would switch cars with Berck and would take the track in the No. 7 car to defend his place in the points standings. With heated competition in the middle and back of the field, Leonard led the way from the drop of the green flag and finished the race in first place in both the feature and points standings.

Official feature race winners and final points leaders were as follows:

IMCA Hobby stocks brought Meyers of Berwyn across the finish line in third, Wassom of Broken Bow in second, Olmstead of Overton finishing in third. Hobby stock champion, Wassom ends the season with 422 points, with Travis Kernick of Kearney in second with 395 points and Refior of Sutton in third with 390 points.

The Sport Compact class had Merle Johnson Jr. of Bertrand finish in third place, second going to Justin Smallcomb of Gibbon, and Travis Thelander of Blue Hill would take the checkered flag. The season ends with Thelander on top of the points heap with 388, followed by Smallcomb with 378 points, and Johnson rounding out the top three with 323 points.

In IMCA Stock Car action, Jed Williams of Shickley would finish third, with James Sheldon of Kearney in second and Mike Nichols of Harlan, Iowa taking first place. Nichols finished the season with 440 points, Sheldon in second with 387, and Darin Racek in third with 364 points.

The IMCA Northern SportMod feature race saw Craig Howard of Lexington finish third, Cole Egge of Kearney finishing second and Jacob Olmstead of Overton taking the checkered flag. Jacob Olmstead finishes the season with 414 points, Bryan Herrick of of Curtis maintained his second place position with 386 points, and Cole Egge rounds out the top three with 382 points.

Brandon Spanjer from Crete finished third in the IMCA Modified feature race, with Smith of Davenport second, and Steffans of North Platte in first. Steffens’ win crowns him points champion this season with 396 points. Finishing just one point behind is Smith with 395 points, and rounding out the podium in the points race is Charles Stryker of Eddyville with 377 points on the year.

In the NeSmith Late Model feature race number one, Colin Safranek of Merna crosses the finish line in third, Dylan Schmer of Aurora in second, and Rese Vaught of Aurora in third. Feature race number two saw Vaught finish third, Schmer second, and Leonard of Gibbon crossing the finish line in first. Leonard maintained his lead in the points standings with 581 points, Denton Duncan of Ravenna second with 551 points, and Safranek finished the season with 530 points.

Trophy presentations will be made at the final race of the season, the Connie Jewett Memorial Race on Saturday, Sept. 16. Drivers will be competing for over $5,000 that will be added to the purse that night, and are still able to add points to their national standings.