One Last Hoorah in McCool
By Anthony Ainslie
Race Dates: 10/19 & 10/20/13
Saturday and Sunday were the final days of racing of the 2013 season at Junction Motor Speedway. The Barb Nunnenkamp Memorial McCool 100 not only marks the end of the JMS season but also the end of the racing season in Nebraska. Over the course of the two-day event, seven classes of racecars took the track one last time before the offseason. The track was dry and slippery on both nights, and it proved to be quite a challenge for many drivers. The stage was set for the final two nights of the 2013 Nebraska racing season, and a great amount of drivers suited up and pulled the belts tight one last time.
Back by popular demand, the 2-man cruisers took the track for their final show of the 2013 season on Saturday night. The cruisers made appearances at the Junction with the ASCS sprint car series and during the “King of the Hill Late Model Shootout,” and they have become a favorite division by the fans in the McCool 100. In the cruiser feature event, many teams had difficulties dealing with the dry slick conditions. Along with mechanical issues, five cautions slowed the race down. One development in the cruiser division was Allen Zimmerman. After operating a push truck at Junction Motor Speedway all year, Zimmerman made his big return to racing by teaming up with Miah Slough and entering the familiar number 83Z car in the race. Zimmerman and Slough didn’t have the best of nights. The 83Z spit out the driveshaft with six laps remaining in the race. One team that avoided all the accidents was the team of Sam Schwebach and Andy Dunbar. The pilots of the 27S out of Derby, Kansas started at the front and led flag to flag. Schwebach and Dunbar dominated the cruisers when they showed up during special events at JMS, and they closed out a great year of racing with another victory at the Junction.
One of the greatest parts of the weekend was that for the first time in three years, the stock car division returned for one night only. On Saturday, the stock cars took center stage for a 15-lap main event. Two favorites, Tejay Mielke and Doug Adamy, battled it out for the second position throughout the feature. Adamy finished second at the end of the race, and Mielke placed third. While those two were at each other for the runner-up spot, Andy Wilkinson was the head of the class. Wilkinson’s number 15 has not raced at Junction Motor Speedway since 2009, but Wilkinson still showed the fast way around the Junction. Andy Wilkinson led flag to flag and won the first stock car main event at Junction Motor Speedway in three years.
On Sunday, the 4-cylinders took to the track for their McCool 100 main event. Early on, Dan Alt was out in front with Joe Baker behind him. Alt’s lead didn’t last as the 31 machine spun in turn four while leading with nine laps remaining. That gave the lead to Joe Baker. Troubles also plagued the 21R of Cameron Meyer. The reigning champion of the McCool 100 for the 4-cylinders suffered from a flat tire with four laps left while battling up front. Meyer’s crew got the tire fixed, and Meyer managed to finish 12th. Meanwhile, it was all Joe Baker up front. After having success at I-80 Speedway during the regular season, Baker took the checkered flag at the McCool 100 in the final 4-cylinder event of the year.
The Bmod class was one of four classes that ran both days of the McCool 100. Saturday night saw the 9 of Mitch VanEngen lead the way in the feature event. Tony Rost made a late charge, but the 69 from Utica only made it to second place. Mitch VanEngen won in dominating fashion on night number one for the Bmods.
After racing completed on Saturday, saddening news was heard. The racing community suffered a great loss. After being taken to a hospital after a crash in the Bmod feature on Saturday, Junction Motor Speedway was devastated to hear that the Nebraska racing world lost Brent Drohman. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Drohman’s family, and JMS wishes the best for the Drohmans.
Before Sunday’s Bmod feature event, a special parade lap was dedicated to Drohman. Brent’s brother, Jeff, was the guest flagman for the race, and the Bmods perform a “missing man” salute during their parade laps. After Jeff Drohman waved the initial green flag, Mitch VanEngen was out in front like he was the night before. It wasn’t until a restart with seven laps to go that a new face was in the lead. Tony Rost made a pass on VanEngen on the inside of turn one and never looked back. Tony Rost took the checkered flag on night number two for the bmods at the McCool 100.
The hobby stocks took to the track for two feature events over the weekend. On Saturday night, former hobby stock track champion, Jason Wilkinson, led the way. Timothy Miller, driving Jason Kohl’s number 27, gave Wilkinson a charge for the lead late in the race, but the 52JR of Wilkinson was just too fast. Wilkinson took the checkered flag in the hobby stocks’ first feature event.
In Sunday’s feature, Wilkinson was once again the head of the class. Jason Kohl was driving the 27 car on this night, and just like Timothy Miller the night before, Kohl was at the front challenging Wilkinson for the lead. A scary incident came with 13 laps to go in the race when Roy Armstrong caught the wall on the backstretch and barrel rolled the 6R from Beatrice an estimated five to six times. Fortunately, the safety equipment did its job, and Armstrong walked away from the crash under his own power. When racing resumed, Wilkinson was still out in front. The race came down to the final lap. Wilkinson was the leader as the white flag came out, but as Wilkinson exited turn two, the 52JR suddenly slew down. That allowed Jason Kohl and Adam Armstrong to get buy. Wilkinson’s car eventually got back up to speed, but third place was all he could get after his problem on the backstretch. Jason Kohl went on and took the checkered flag. It was an unsuspected finish to a wild weekend of hobby stock racing at Junction Motor Speedway.
The modifieds had two features over the weekend as well. Saturday’s 20-lap feature saw Chris Alcorn out in front in his familiar orange number 3 for the majority of the feature. Behind Alcorn, Jacob Anson was hot on Alcorn’s tail, but the Albion, Nebraska 13J of Anson only managed to cross the finish line in second. Alcorn was on a rail on Saturday night. The Lincoln, Nebraska driver led all but the first two laps, and took the checkered flag in the first modified feature.
Sunday’s 25-lap modified feature saw Alcorn out in front again, but this time, things played out differently for the number 3 of Alcorn. Ten laps into the race, Alcorn’s tires couldn’t take the slippery conditions of the track, and Alcorn’s left rear tire shredded into pieces. That gave the lead to the 69 of Andy Gregg from Hastings. Tire problems also plagued the 14 of Matthew Kiner. Kiner was on the way to a top five finished until he cut a tire with seven laps to go. After a crash late in the race that collected Andy Wilkinson, Mike Lineberry, Jacob Anson, Dana Dankert, and Evan Hansen, Andy Gregg was out in front with the 81 of Mike Densberger and the 4X of Kevin Larkins behind him. Despite their efforts, Larkins finished second with Densberger finishing third. Neither one of them caught the 69 of Andy Gregg. Gregg was a weekly driver at the Junction in 2013, and he looked good on Sunday holding off some of Nebraska’s best modified drivers for the win in the McCool 100.
The late models had two features showcasing some of the best Grand National late models in Nebraska. Saturday’s 25-lap main event saw lead changes early in the race between Alan Reinart from Downs, Kansas, and Troy Daly from Omaha, Nebraska. Daly took the lead from Reinart two laps into the race and managed to lead until 17 laps to go. That was when Cory Dumpert took the lead over for good. The big incident came with 14 laps to go when Rece Vaught flipped his number 20V machine. Fortunately, Vaught escaped the crash without any severe injuries. After the mess was cleaned up, Cory Dumpert continued to dominate the feature. Dumpert took the lead with 17 to go and led the rest of the way to the victory.
The late models closed out the 2013 season with their 30-lap McCool 100 finale. In the feature, Troy Daly and Cory Dumpert swapped the lead back and forth. Daly led the opening ten laps, and then Dumpert took the lead away with 20 laps to go. With 15 laps to go, Daly retook the lead from Dumpert while the two of them were in lapped traffic. However, Dumpert caught Daly and passed the 23 from Omaha with 11 laps to go, and the 77 of Dumpert led from there on out. Dumpert was sporting a decal showing his respect for the late Brent Drohman on his late model on Sunday, and Dumpert took the checkered flag and swept both feature events in the late model division at the McCool 100.
On behalf of Delmar Friesen and the entire JMS staff, thank you to all the fans for coming out for the two days of the Barb Nunnenkamp Memorial McCool 100. Thank you to all the drivers for coming out and making it a great two-day show. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Brent Drohman’s family. JMS hopes for the best for them. It was tough to race over the two days, but the racing was good on both nights, and the fans were treated to some very good racing. And so, that wraps up the 2013 season at Junction Motor Speedway. It was a great year of racing that feature unforgettable special racing events and great battles for the track titles. Who knows what will be in store for the Junction in 2014? We hope to see all of the great fans back in the grandstand, as we get ready for the 2014 racing season at Junction Motor Speedway.