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Thornton Jr Dominates Opening Night

Story by Josh Reynolds


Stuart, IA (May 8) – Stuart Speedway kicked off season 55 with winners new and old taking home the hardware! Clint Luellen, Jake Benischek, Mike Nichols, Shannon Anderson and Ricky Thornton Jr took the wins on First State Bank Night at the Races.

Jake McBirnie and Shawn Cooney led the IMCA Northern SportMods to the green flag with McBirnie getting the jump to lead lap one. Clint Luellen moved into the runner up spot on lap two as Cooney and newcomer to SIS, Adam Armstrong, ran third and fourth. Armstrong passed Cooney on lap six for third, but out front McBirnie was inching away. Just past the halfway point Luellen began to reel in McBirnie and as they came to the white flag it was apparent that this was going to be a close one! Luellen swung wide coming out of turn two and low into three as McBirnie stayed true to the top side. Luellen would have the drive he needed out of turn four and took the win! McBirnie settled for second with Armstrong third, Cooney fourth and Austin Luellen fifth. Austin Luellen and Kody Havens were the heat race winners.

IMCA Sport Compacts were up next with Curtis Miller and Jake Benischeck on the front row. Benischeck took advantage of his pill draw and drove off into the sunset to take the win. John Gill finished second with Miller third, Jacob Reiter fourth and Steven Pruisia fifth. Benischeck made it a clean sweep with the heat race win as well.

Mike Nichols and Tyler Brauckman drew the first two chips for the IMCA Stock Cars, and Nichols wasted no time in getting out to the lead. Brauckman, Robert Merkle and Chris Pruitt put up a spirited battle for second with Pruitt getting the best of them on lap seven, but there was nothing slowing down Nichols on this night as he went on to take the win. This was Mike’s 11th consecutive win in 2016! Pruitt finished a strong second with Merkle third, Brian Blessington fourth and Marcus Fagan fifth. Nichols and Fagan were the heat race winners.

IMCA Hobby Stocks were up next with David Simpson and John Watson leading the pack to the green flag. Watson led over Ryan Grochala until a lap six caution for James Phillips going up and over the wall in turn two. Phillips was ok, but his night would be over. After a quick yellow on the next lap, Watson picked back up as the leader, but lurking in third was Shannon Anderson. Anderson moved by Grochala for second on lap eight, and two circuits later snagged the lead. Anderson went on to take the win over Watson, Buck Schafroth, Grochala and Jamie Schirm. Anderson and Grochala were the heat race winners.

Last but not least, the IMCA Modifieds came to the track with Matthew Webb and Dylan Book on the front row. Book led the first three laps before Josh Gilman moved into the top spot. Gilman held the lead until a lap eight caution slowed the field. Gilman would stay at the front for two more laps, and that’s when Ricky Thornton Jr took over. As Thornton Jr. was pulling away, a terrific battle for second was put on with Tim Ward coming out on top. The Arizona transplants went on to take the top two spots with Thornton Jr winning, Ward second, Todd VanEaton third, Webb fourth and Jacob Murray fifth. Murray and Thornton Jr were the heat race winners.

We’d like to thank all who came out to support the race track at our first event of the year. Next week will be T&T Siding & Scott Concrete Night at the Races. We will have our 5 regular IMCA classes and the MADCRA Mod Lites will be back in town! See you then!


Modifieds - Feature

1. 20RT    Ricky Thornton Jr

2. 4TW    Tim Ward

3. V31    Todd Vaneaton

4. 51X    Matthew Webb

5. 48J    Jacob Murray

6. 83G    Josh Gilman

7. 71    Jeff James

8. B00K    Dylan Book

9. 14B    Scott Bash

10. 5D    Devon Havlik

11. 131S    Ed Seibert

12. 15M    Shane Demey

13. 5G    Gatlin Leytham

14. 23JR    Nick Roberts



Stock Cars - Feature

1. 63    Mike Nichols

2. 22    Chris Pruitt

3. 54    Robbie Merkle

4. 92B    Brian Blessington

5. 1F    Marcus Fagan

6. 10B    Brandon Pruitt

7. 78P    Terry Pruitt

8. 25J    Josh Daniels

9. 98    Derrick Rohe

10. 12    Adam Hagen

11. 7K    Andrew Knode

12. 77X    Tyler Brauckman



SportMods - Feature

1. 3L    Clinton Luellen

2. 82    Jake Mcbirnie

3. 6A    Adam Armstrong

4. 30    Shawn Cooney

5. 3A    Austin Luellen

6. 8R    Chase Rudolf

7. 99K    Kody Havens

8. 99RE    Arie Schouten

9. 93N    Colton Nelson

10. 34    Jerry Hinton

11. 8    Dusty Masolini



Hobby Stocks - Feature

1. 78    Shannon Anderson

2. 4W    John Watson

3. 92    Buck Schafroth

4. 77G    Ryan Grochala

5. 56    Jamie Schirm

6. 7H    Adam Hensel

7. 14    Jason Day

8. 96R    Jamie Songer

9. 21    Ross Marshall

10. 38R    Aaron Rudolph

11. 7    David Simpson

12. 14B    Keith Burg

13. 7M    Matt Tiernan

14. 12    Korbin Nourse

15. 66P    Troy Phillips



Spt Compact - Feature

1. 3    Jake Benischek

2. 2    John Gill

3. 411    Curtis Miller

4. 30X    Jacob Reiter

5. 81    Steven Prusia

6. 32M    Vicki Meeker

7. 6G    Ralph Bunce

8. 1    Aaron Miller


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