By LONNIE WHEATLEY
Special to The Hays Daily News
DODGE CITY, Kan. (April 12, 2014) - Experience prevailed in Saturday night's Dodge City Raceway Park season opener as Ponca City, Oklahoma's Van Gemmill emerged with the 20-lap IMCA Modified feature victory atop the 3/8-mile clay oval.
While Gemmill took the Modified win, other opening night winners at DCRP included Michael Shenberger in the IMCA Sport Modified ranks, past track champion Perry Misner in IMCA Stock Car action, Cody Davis in Thunder Cars and reigning champion Jarett Lunow in Hornets.
Although Gemmill started the night's IMCA Modified feature from the front row outside, the racing veteran of 47 years fell back in the early going before working back forward and taking the lead on the seventh round.
"I really struggled early, I just couldn't get into a rhythm," Gemmill commented.
After falling back to fifth at the outset behind Ryan Heger, Nick Link, Austin Allen and Mike Martin, Gemmill found that rhythm and charged from fifth into the lead in just four laps after a lap three restart.
Gemmill had company up front though with defending opening day race winner Cody Gearhart moving into second and pressuring the leader the rest of the way.
Gemmill rode the high side of the track to perfection over the last half of the race to secure the win by four car-lengths over Gearhart.
"I knew he was there for sure, he's a good racer," Gemmill explained.
Ryan Heger, who topped last year's season-ending Jerry Soderberg Memorial championship finale, took the final step of the podium after leading the initial half-dozen circuits with Nick Link and 12th-starter Mike Wadel rounding out the top five.
Cole Traugott was sixth with defending track champion Austin Allen slipping to seventh after challenging for the lead in opening handful of laps. Mike Lunow was eighth with William Nusser and Kevin Gray completing the top ten.
In the 20-lap IMCA Sport Modified feature, Woodward, Oklahoma's Michael Shenberger assumed the point on the third lap when early leader Austin Walker looped it coming off turn four then outlasted defending track champ Jeff Kaup much of the way before securing the win.
Shenberger took the point from the third starting position with fellow Woodward shoe Kaup making his way from 11th to second in just eight laps. The duo raced side-by-side much of the way with Shenberger on the high side and Kaup down low before Shenberger finally opened up several car-lengths in the final handful of laps.
Shenberger survived dangerously low oil pressure to preserve the win after posting two DCRP wins in 2013 with Kaup settling for second. Tristan Barton was third with Andy Barton and Randle McRoberts rounding out the top five.
Starting ninth in the 20-lap IMCA Stock Car feature, 2012 DCRP track champion Perry Misner from Garden City, KS, needed just nine laps to race into the lead en route to his first win at the track since last July.
Misner took the lead away from early leader Shannon Maughlin before racing on to the checkered flag ahead of Reagan Sellard, who wrestled second away from Maughlin in the final rounds. Maughlin was third in front of Rich Wadel with Michael Pepper rebounding from heat race issues to charge from 16th round out the top five.
In the Thunder Car ranks, Cody Davis rebounded from a winless 2013 campaign to wire the field in the 15-lap main event. The Bucklin, KS, racer raced from the front row outside and had the field covered all the way for his first DCRP win since the 2012 season finale.
Davis was chased to the line Tobby Schield with Dan Rogers, Will Bauer and defending track champion Dustin Walker rounding out the top five.
On the inner asphalt oval, Jarett Lunow picked up right where he left off by winning the 12-lap Hornet feature. The defending track champion from Dodge City raced around Jarred Nightengale on the fifth round en route to the victory after winning five of seven features last year. Nightengale crossed the stripe in second with Kohl Ricke in third.
Action continues at Dodge City Raceway Park next Saturday night, April 19, with full slate of championship event action including a $750-to-win IMCA Great Plains Stock Car feature event.
Dodge City Raceway Park - April 12 Results:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 1m-Cody Gearhart, 2. 25-Kale Beavers, 3. 1n-Nick Link, 4. 7n-William Nusser, 5. 2L-Tracy Link, 6. 57-Joel Lane, 7. 36-Travis Simmons.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 44-Mike Lunow, 2. 80m-Mike Wadel, 3. 21-Van Gemmill, 4. 9-Cole Traugott, 5. A2-Randy Wilson, 6. 16-Kevin Gray, 7. B21-Chadd Brown.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 3h-Ryan Heger, 2. 18-Austin Allen, 3. 01-Jesse Smith, 4. M15-Mike Martin, 5. 88j-Jack Kirchoff, 6. 01x-Beau Davis.
"A" Feature (20 Laps): 1. 21-Van Gemmill, 2. 1m-Cody Gearhart, 3. 3h-Ryan Heger, 4. 1n-Nick Link, 5. 80m-Mike Wadel, 6. 9-Cole Traugott, 7. 18-Austin Allen, 8. 44-Mike Lunow, 9. 7n-William Nusser, 10. 16-Kevin Gray, 11. 01-Jesse Smith, 12. 25-Kale Beavers, 13. A2-Randy Wilson, 14. B21-Chadd Brown, 15. 36-Travis Simmons, 16. 88j-Jack Kirchoff, 17. M15-Mike Martin, 18. 57-Joel Lane, 19. 01x-Beau Davis. DNS: 2L-Tracy Link.
IMCA Sport Modifieds:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 92-Jeff Kaup, 2. 44-Austin Walker, 3. 81T-Tristan Barton, 4. 63-Don Kaup, 5. 22x-Randy Shenberger. DNS: 7b-Brian Peitz, 31-Raymond Blackburn
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 22-Randle McRoberts, 2. 65j-Josh Appel, 3. 83-Mike Shenberger, 4. 10T-Toby Witthuhn, 5. 37-Bart Baker, 6. 39-Brian May, 7. 33-Jason Lunow.
Third Heat (8 Laps): 1. 56m-Mike Appel, 2. 07-Andy Barton, 3. 21j-Jeremy Sigler, 4. 19-Bryan Harkness, 5. 12-Kevin Tabor, 6. 55d-Don Strecker.
"A" Feature (20 Laps): 1. 83-Mike Shenberger, 2. 92-Jeff Kaup, 3. 81T-Tristan Barton, 4. 22-Randle McRoberts, 5. 37-Bart Baker, 6. 44-Austin Walker, 7. 33-Jason Lunow, 8. 56m-Mike Appel, 9. 39-Brian May, 10. 21j-Jeremy Sigler, 11. 12-Kevin Tabor, 12. 55d-Don Strecker, 13. 10T-Toby Witthuhn, 14. 63-Don Kaup, 15. 65j-Josh Appel, 16. 22x-Randy Shenberger, 17. 07-Andy Barton (DQ). DNS: 19-Bryan Harkness, 7b-Brian Peitz, 31-Raymond Blackburn.
IMCA Stock Cars:
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 55h-Ron Hartman, 2. 17m-Shannon Maughlin, 3. 20m-Perry Misner, 4. D44-Randy Dowell, 5. 2s-Reagan Sellard, 6. 11J-Justin Lewis, 7. 96-Shane Tillery, 8. 33-Marlin Hogie.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 19-Brett Copeland, 2. 11-Ron Rich, 3. 80-Rich Wadel, 4. 58-Kyle Tillery, 5. 52T-Whit Taylor, 6. 70-Karson Love, 7. 22-Michael Pepper, 8. 10-Dusty Witthuhn (DQ).
"A" Feature (20 Laps): 1. 20m-Perry Misner, 2. 2s-Reagan Sellard, 3. 17m-Shannon Maughlin, 4. 80-Rich Wadel, 5. 22-Michael Pepper, 6. 10-Dusty Witthuhn, 7. 58-Kyle Tillery, 8. 11j-Justin Lewis, 9. 11-Ron Rich, 10. D44-Randy Dowell, 11. 96-Shane Tillery, 12. 19-Brett Copeland, 13. 70-Karson Love, 14. 55h-Ron Hartman, 15. 52T-Whit Taylor. DNS: 33-Marlin Hogie.
First Heat (8 Laps): 1. 91d-Cody Davis, 2. 22-Dan Rogers, 3. 72T-Tobby Schield, 4. 58r-Rob Sellard, 5. 17-Will Bauer, 6. 7-Tom Reed.
Second Heat (8 Laps): 1. 31d-Dustin Walker, 2. 2m-Matt O'Hair, 3. 87-Norman Carr, 4. 75x-Duane Mathes, 5. 45p-Michael Penrod. DNS: 007-Bryan Habiger.
"A" Feature (20 Laps): 1. 91d-Cody Davis, 2. 72T-Tobby Schield, 3. 22-Dan Rogers, 4. 17-Will Bauer, 5. 31d-Dustin Walker, 6. 58r-Rob Sellard, 7. 7-Tom Reed, 8. 87-Norman Carr, 9. 75x-Duane Mathes, 10. 007-Bryan Habiger, 11. 2m-Matt O'Hair. DNS: 45p-Michael Penrod.
First Heat (6 Laps): 1. 4J-Jarred Nightengale, 2. 7-Jarett Lunow, 3. 29-Brandon Bogner, 4. 10-Marci O'Hair, 5. 18-Kohl Ricke, 6. 19c-Cheryl Copeland, 7. 21s-Mandy Switzer.
"A" Feature (12 Laps): 1. 7-Jarett Lunow, 2. 4J-Jarred Nightengale, 3. 18-Kohl Ricke, 4. 29-Brandon Bogner, 5. 10-Marci O'Hair, 6. 19c-Cheryl Copeland, 7. 21s-Mandy Switzer.