By Lonnie Wheatley
Dodge City Raceway Park
Taylor Velasquez took quick advantage of a Zac Taylor midrace miscue to race into the lead and charged on to United Rebel Sprint Series victory lane in Saturday night's 25-lap feature event atop the 3/8-mile Dodge City Raceway Park clay oval.
While Velasquez took top Sprint Car honors, Cody Gearhart and Mike Shenberger became the season's first repeat winners in IMCA Modifieds and United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds while Michael Pepper became the sixth different winner of the year in IMCA Stock Cars.
With Velasquez starting the URSS feature outside the second row, front row outside starter Zac Taylor outdueled pole starter Darren Bowman for the lead on the opening round and set the pace in the early going with Velasquez battling past Bowman for second on the eighth lap only to have the move negated for a turn four tangle that eliminated Luke Cranston and Barry Crane.
Velasquez, a 22-year-old from Turpin, Okla. made quick work of Bowman for second on the restart and set his sights on rookie shoe Taylor. Reeling Taylor in, the door opened for Velasquez when Taylor nearly looped it coming off turn four on the 13th circuit. While Taylor saved it, Velasquez beat him in the dash to turn one and led the rest of way to snare the win aboard the Fronk Oil/Velasquez Pumping No 21x.
"I should thank him for that one," Velasquez said of Taylor's miscue.
Current URSS points leader Ray Seemann worked his way up to second over the final portion of the race but had nothing for Velasquez, with Ty Williams claiming the show position. C.J. Johnson climbed from tenth to fourth, with Taylor slipping to fifth in the final rounds.
In the IMCA Modified main event, Cody Gearhart battled into the lead on the sixth round and never looked back in the 20-lapper as he collected his second win of the year, extending his DCRP points lead in the process.
"I had a great car tonight," Gearhart exclaimed as he climbed out of his No. 1m entry in victory lane.
While Gearhart started the feature in seventh, Randy Wilson raced from his fourth starting position into the lead on the opening round with Gearhart making his way into second by the third lap.
After a caution four laps in, Gearhart and Jon Herring, Jr., put the pressure on Wilson with Gearhart muscling into the lead on the sixth round.
With Gearhart slipping away over the final 15 non-stop circuits, Herring, Jr., assumed the runner-up position when Wilson pulled to the infield with mechanical woes after eleven laps. Herring, Jr., held off 12th-starter Kenny Sweet over the final rounds for second, with Ryan Heger and Kevin Gray rounding out the top five.
Mike Shenberger made it back-to-back wins in United Wireless IMCA Sport Modifieds in spectacular fashion with a last-corner pass of Josh Appel in the non-stop 20-lapper.
Shenberger gunned into the lead on the opening round from the fourth starting position only to surrender the point soon after to Appel, who charged by on the high side on the fourth lap after starting eighth.
While Appel tried to slip away on the high side, Shenberger kept up the battle on the low side with the duo racing for the lead the entire distance. Appel momentarily surrendered the point in traffic on the 15th round, only to duck back under Shenberger exiting turn four to retain the lead.
Shenberger kept the pressure on and pulled even with Appel down the backstretch on the final round before surging ahead off the final corner to secure the win. Appel settled for second, with Matthew Crowell, 10th-starter Clay Sellard and 11th-starter Toby Witthuhn rounding out the top five.
In the IMCA Stock Car feature, Michael Pepper took command in the latter stages and then survived a late caution to pick up his first DCRP win of the year in the 20-lap feature.
After Shane Matile and Mel Law both led a pair of laps in the early going, current points leader Billy Phelps took the lead on the fifth round from the 12th-starting position. Pepper was on the move though, battling into second past the midway point and then taking the lead away from Phelps on the 15th round.
A final caution for debris set up a two-lap dash to the stripe with Pepper holding on for victory honors in front of Phelps, with Dusty Witthuhn rebounding from an opening lap spin to earn a third-place finish with Cody Zimmerman and Ron Rich filling out the top five.
DCRP FEATURE RESULTS
URSS (25 laps) — 1. 21x-Taylor Velasquez, 2. 97-Brian Herbert, 3. 1-Ty Williams, 4. E85-C.J. Johnson, 5. 86-Zac Taylor, 6. 9b-Darren Bowman, 7. 97-Brian Herbert, 8. 17-Connor Atkinson, 9. 98-J.D. Johnson, 10. 0-Steven Richardson, 11. 11k-Tyler Knight, 12. 112-Richie Dewell, 13. 80-Jerry Caldwell, 14. 11-Keefe Hemel, 15. 49-Kris Moore, 16. 9d-Lance Davis, 17. 20-Luke Cranston, 18. 30c-Barry Crane, 19. 33-Koby Walters, 20. 92-Jordan Weaver.
IMCA modifieds (20 laps) — 1. 1m-Cody Gearhart, 2. 96jr-Jon Herring, Jr., 3. 87-Kenny Sweet, 4. 3h-Ryan Heger, 5. 16-Kevin Gray, 6. 01-Jesse Smith, 7. 21-Van Gemmill, 8. 18-Austin Allen, 9. 1n-Troy Link, 10. 721-Brendon Gemmill, 11. 32-Jason Edwards, 12. 19b-Nic Baalman, 13. 3c-Casey Jo Gemmill, 14. 9-Cole Traugott, 15. 25-Kale Beavers, 16. 01c-Chris Pitts, 17. 36-Travis Simmons, 18. B38-Jimmy Berends, 19. 98-Danny Keller, 20. 7n-William Nusser, 21. G3-Troy Gemmill, 22. 01x-Beau Davis, 23. A2-Randy Wilson, 24. 96-Jon Herring.
United Wireless IMCA sport modifiers (20 laps) — 1. 83-Mike Shenberger, 2. 65j-Josh Appel, 3. 2c-Matthew Crowell, 4. 85c-Clay Sellard, 5. 10T-Toby Witthuhn, 6. 4p-Daylon Bergeron, 7. 92-Jeff Kaup, 8. 2-Colby Hagans, 9. 91-Donald Kaup, 10. 39-Brian May, 11. 11h-Henny Henderson, 12. 40d-Stephen Dent, 13. 31-Raymond Blackburn, 14. 15b-Andy Barton, 15. 44-Austin Walker, 16. 7b-Brian Peitz.
IMCA stocks (20 laps) — 1. 22p-Michael Pepper, 2. 11m-Billy Phelps, 3. 10-Dusty Witthuhn, 4. 2z-Cody Zimmerman, 5. 11-Ron Rich, 6. 2s-Reagan Sellard, 7. 96-Shane Tillery, 8. 33-Marlin Hogie, 9. 07-Justin Temaat, 10. 11j-Justin Lewis, 11. 58-Kyle Tillery, 12. 00-Shane Matile, 13. 18r-Brandon Sprott, 14. 2m-Sonny O'Hair, 15. 19-Brett Copeland, 16. 14-Brandon Fisher, 17. 9-Derrick Sprott, 18. 55-Keith Riley, 19. 88-Mel Law.
Velasquez wins URSS event at DCRP
By Lonnie Wheatley