By Eric Huenefeld
LOVES PARK, Ill. — Summertime at Rockford Speedway has usually been very kind to “Driver X,” Jon Reynolds Jr.
Every year, Reynolds is a force to be reckoned with during the months of July and August, winning multiple features and collecting large paydays. The summer of 2013 has not been quite as kind to Reynolds and his team, with bad breaks and mechanical problems making this summer one to forget.
But Saturday, Aug. 17, on Tebala Shrine Night, the thrill of victory returned for Reynolds and crew, and for the first time in nearly two months, Reynolds again stood in victory lane as winner of the 30-lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model feature at the quarter-mile oval.
Mike Beyer and Joel Clossey led the field to green, with Clossey slipping out to the early advantage ahead of Beyer. Behind the front-row duo, Reynolds quickly made the move forward from his sixth starting position. As the field completed lap No. 2 and headed toward the second turn, a slight slip at the front of the field would bottle up the whole pack. The end result of the bottleneck was a spin by the leader, Clossey. With the spin, Clossey headed to the tail end of the field, and Reynolds assumed the top spot. On the restart, Reynolds and Jake Gille moved ahead of the pack, with a three-way battle for third among Dave Edwards, Jerry Gille and Alex Papini developing. The three racers battled hard, with Papini even making it three-wide in turn two. Soon, though, the bubble would burst, with Papini slipping in turn three and clipping Edwards. Both cars would spin, bringing out the yellow. After the incident, Papini would “tap out,” conceding guilt in the incident, sending himself to the tail of the field while giving Edwards his spot back inside the top five.
After the lap five restart, Reynolds and Jake Gille again sailed away from the field. As the race hit the halfway point, Reynolds began to lengthen the advantage between him and Jake Gille. Soon, Jake would have his hands full with uncle Jerry, and the two would begin to duel for second spot, a battle that would rage on until the final lap. When the checkered flag flew, Reynolds hit the line in first, notching his third feature win of the year, and first since June 22. Jake would edge Jerry for second in the “Battle of the Gilles.” Papini climbed back to fourth, notching another top five and protecting his points lead. Beyer finished the race in fifth spot.
Miller Lite American Short Tracker driver Kyle Lapier has gotten into the winning groove recently. Lapier, the 2010 American Short Tracker champion, won his second-straight feature and third feature in the last four outings Saturday night, out-distancing points leader Nick Cina Jr. for the win in a caution-free 25-lap race. Lapier, who started in the 10th position, snagged the lead from outside pole-sitter, Nick Letsinger, with eight laps remaining. It was the second-straight race that Lapier had to work past Letsinger to notch a victory. Cina followed Lapier through the field, getting into second a lap-and-a-half after Lapier assumed the lead. In the race’s final laps, Cina closed on Lapier, and made a strong move for the lead as the white flag flew, but came up just shy of the win. Lapier was first to the stripe, with Cina in second and Letsinger third. Tom Gille came home in fourth, and Zach Rodriguez rounded out the top five.
The 24-car, 20-lap Rockstar Energy Drink Road Runner feature was an action-packed affair, filled with three- and four-wide racing and hard charges throughout the field. When the dust settled on the Road Runner main event, Dennis Smith Jr. stood alone in victory lane. Smith, charging from his 21st starting spot, captured his fourth Saturday night feature win of the year, ripping the lead away from Jason Van Hise with two laps to go. Van Hise, who earlier won his seventh Road Runner Challenge event of 2013, settled for second place in the feature race. Points leader Arlyn Roush finished third, advancing 20 positions in 20 laps. Not to be outdone, Terrance Robinson also advanced 20 positions in 20 laps, finishing fourth after starting in 24th spot.
Erle Hoth won his second American Super Cup Series feature of the year at Rockford Speedway, fending off a late-race challenge by Ken Jones en route to the win. Mick Ellis finished a distant third place in the caution-free 25-lap feature for the quarter-scale racers.
Upcoming at the track
“Come Sail Away” and catch one unforgettable night of racing and entertainment at Rockford Speedway, 9572 Forest Hills Road, Loves Park, Ill.
Saturday night, Aug. 24, at 7:07 p.m., it’s “Nick’s Beatin’ & Bangin’ Boat Race!” The Boat Race is a rolling demo derby featuring cars, trucks, vans and SUVs dragging boats behind them. That’s right … boats WITHOUT TRAILERS! The track surface will be covered with thousands of gallons of water, and the winner won’t be determined until “the last boat sails!” It’s also Round IV of the Cool 5 Series, featuring the NASCAR Late Models, Sportsman, American Short Trackers and Road Runners. Reserved tickets are available for this event at $15 for ages 12 and older, with reserved seating for children 11 and younger $5. Adult general admission is $12, students 12-17 are $8, children 6-11 are $5 with ages 5 and younger admitted free.
Visit www.rockfordspeedway.com or contact the Speedway Box Office at (815) 633-1500.
From the Aug. 21-27, 2013, issue