26th Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic Results September 27, 2003
Aikey, Barker and Moyer Take 26TH Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic Honors
Two weeks after qualifying events were held, the 26th Annual Yankee Dirt Track Classic finally wrapped up the 2003 Farley Speedway season on Saturday September 27th. Twice delayed by rain showers, almost a hundred drivers returned to the high banked half-mile to divide up the more than $70,000 purse left to pay out. Jeff Aikey and Ron Barker both topped off stellar seasons by adding their second Yankee Dirt Track Classic trophies to their 2003 Farley and Dubuque Speedway track championships while Bobby Moyer collected his first victory in the prestigious event. After collecting $15,000 plus lap leader bonus money, Aikey’s first duty as 2003 Yankee Dirt Track Champion required him to draw the winner of the Iowa/Illinois Taylor Insulation SPI Pace Truck, awarding the 2003 Ford F150 Super Crew 4x4 to Joe Kosiski. Former Yankee Champion Kosiski was qualified for the 26th Annual event but was unable to compete in the rescheduled event due to previous commitments.
Aikey started the event 28th after engine troubles on his qualifying night forced him to use a provisional reserved for the top six in the Farley Speedway points standings. Rookie Dan Shelliam led the 30 car field to the green flag after claiming the Fast Dash ahead of Steve Boley. Shelliam dominated the first quarter of the event, pacing Darren Miller and Ray Guss Jr before a lap 23 restart saw Guss dive under Shelliam and Miller for the lead. Four laps later Shelliam cut a left rear tire, triggering a huge pileup underneath the flag stand that sent Dave Eckrich on his roof and at least seven drivers to the pits for repairs. All drivers emerged uninjured and after a 20 minute red flag to clean up the mess, racing resumed with Guss at the point ahead of Miller and Aikey. Guss was able to keep Aikey at bay until mechanical woes on lap 34 ended the 1992 Yankee Champion’s bid for a second title. Aikey went unchallenged after inheriting the lead, despite several caution flags that allowed Miller and eventual second place finisher Dennis Erb to stay close. The most serious of those cautions resulted when Darrall Lanigan’s mount failed, sending the Kentucky driver hard into the turn 1 wall. Lanigan also emerged unhurt after the scary incident. Gary Webb persisted on the bottom of the racetrack throughout the 100 lap event to post third ahead of 26th place starter Darrall DeFrance and Miller.
Ace Ihm rebounded from his qualifying night troubles to post the 25 lap Auto Acres Late Model Feature event. Ihm timed inside the top five back on September 14th but an opening lap accident forced him to start the Auto Acres non-qualifiers race in the last row. Ihm marched through the field without the aid of a caution to take the lead away from Mark Merfeld on lap 17. Three laps later the only caution came out for contact between Merfeld and Tom Cannon, allowing Jeremiah Hurst to advance from twelfth at the start to finish second. Both drivers opted to forego their Auto Acres Feature winnings for a starting spot in the 100 lap Yankee Dirt Track Classic, with Dana Wells, Robby Moss and Ed Sanger rounding out the top five.
Unable to get past Johnny Spaw during the QuarterMaster Modified Fast Dash, Barker started the 25 lap main event on the outside front row. Wasting no time in disposing of Spaw, Barker took the point before the conclusion of the second lap. Unchallenged for the remainder of the event, Barker missed a great race behind him as teammate Steve Johnson, Mark Schulte and Steve Wetter battled for the runner-up position. Wetter separated himself from the pack following a mid-race restart while Johnson rode the cushion to edge Schulte late in the race ahead of fifth place finisher Dan Bohr.
Bobby Moyer finished out his season on a high note one week after sweeping the Pro Stock portion of the 7th Annual Liberty 100 by performing the same feat during the Yankee. Moyer was challenged only once all night when Gary Crawford dove across his bow and into the lead during the second attempt to get the race underway. Less than a lap later caution once again slowed the race, putting Moyer and Crawford back side-by-side on the front row. Moyer prevented Crawford from repeating the move and lead all 20 laps of the caution filled race. Crawford rebounded from an early flat tire to finish second while Jeff Valentine overcame an early spin to take home third.
100 Lap Yankee Dirt Track Classic Late Model Feature
1. 77Jeff Aikey, Cedar Falls IA
2. 28e Dennis Erb, Carpentersville IL
3. 56 Gary Webb, Blue Grass IA
4. 99d Darrell DeFrance, Marshalltown IA
5. 32d Darren Miller, Chadwick IL
6. 21 Luke Merfeld, Dubuque IA
7. 21h Brian Harris, Davenport IA
8. 28 Jeff Bair, Solon IA
9. 45L Jeff Laue,. West Burlington IA
10. 79 Darren Mish, Dickeyville WI
11. 25h Kerry Hansen, Spencer, WI
12. 12t Jeff Tharp, Dubuque IA
13. 08 Mike Miller, Leaf River IL
14. 18z Rusty Zook, Riverside IA
15. 41j Jeremiah Hurst, Dubuque IA
16. 29 Darrall Lanigan, Union KY
17. 50 Denny Eckrich, Tiffin IA
18. 56e Andy Eckrich, Cosgrove IA
19. 12 Ray Guss Jr, Milan IL
20. 27s Dan Shelliam, Hazel Green WI
21. 58 Dave Eckrich, Oxford IA
22. 3 Josh McGowan, Vinton IA
23. 45 Curt Martin, Independence IA
24. 9 Bobby Hansen, Center Point IA
25. 11 Steve “Ace” Ihm, Kieler WI
26. 99 Johnny Johnson, West Burlington IA
27. 8b Sonny Findling, Kirksville MO
28. 25x Chad Simpson, Marion IA
29. 00 Mitch Johnson, Fargo ND
30. 26 Steve Boley, West Liberty IA
Auto Acres 25 Lap Late Model Feature
QuarterMaster Modified 25 Lap Feature
Pro Stocks 20 Lap Feature