ST. LOUIS, Mo. (Dec. 15) — It was a special night for Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., as the 25-year-old driver captured his richest career payday in Friday’s second Gateway Dirt Nationals feature at The Dome at America’s Center.
Starting on the pole, Gundaker charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, falling to fourth-starting Myles Moos of Lincoln, Ill., on the second lap. Edging ahead of Moos at the line on lap four, Gundaker led the remaining distance, outrunning second-starting Tyler Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., for a $5,000 victory in the St. Louis indoor event.
“What a night,” Gundaker said in victory lane. “This is awesome. This is unbelievable. I still can’t believe it right now. This is giving me goosebumps.
“That was a tough race. It’s hard not to watch the big board up top and see where them guys are behind you. I knew if I just got in a groove I could hold off those guys. Our car’s been good all night."
With Gundaker shooting to the front of the field on the opening lap, Carpenter slipped up in turn two, forfeiting his position to Moos. Pulling back ahead of Moos to to regain the second-place spot on lap five, Carpenter set his sights on the race leader.
As the pair approached lapped traffic, Carpenter began reeling in the No. 11 machine of the hometown driver. With the top two cars pulling away from the field at the halfway mark, the first of three yellow flags slowed the field on lap 13 of 20. His momentum thwarted, Carpenter was never able to seriously challenge for the lead, giving the edge to Gundaker at the checkers.
“I can’t thank (promoter) Cody (Sommer) and Jacob (Nord), my mom, dad, Bob, all the guys that put this on enough. I don’t think everybody realizes how many hours truly go into this. To stand in victory lane at the Gateway Dirt Nationals is unbelievable. I couldn’t be any happier."
Carpenter finished runner-up, with Chad Zobrist of Highland, Ill., maintaining his third starting spot. Eighth-starting Tanner English of Benton, Ky., finished fourth, with seventh-starting Kent Robinson of Bloomington, Ind., rounding out the top five.
Notes: The race marked Gundaker's fourth win of 2017. He has a pair of victories at Quincy (Ill.) Raceway, as well as a victory at Federated Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. ... The race was slowed by three cautions. ... The first yellow flag waved on lap 13 when Jason Feger slowed in turn one. … A yellow flag flew on lap 14 for a tangle in turns three and four that left Tyler Millwood stopped at the bottom of the racetrack; a caution fell on the ensuing restart for a pileup in turns one and two. ... The top four feature finishers are locked in to Saturday's main event.
Preliminary notes and results:
Outside polesitter Tyler Millwood shot to an early lead, with Jason Feger in tow. A yellow flag waved on the second lap when Oakley Johns spun in the bottom of turns three and four. Another yellow flag flew on the ensuing restart for a turn-two tangle involving Robbie Stuart, Ryan Unzicker and Jason Schierkolk. As the race reached the halfway mark, Feger attempted to reel in Millwood for the race lead as Schierkolk and Brent Larson battled for third. Millwood won the consolation, with Feger finishing second to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top two transfer): Tyler Millwood, Jason Feger, Jason Schierkolk, Brent Larson, Ryan Unzicker, Justin Kay, Kevin Weaver, Robbie Stuart, Brian Mullins, Robert Ardry, Oakley Johns, Farrel Skelton.
Polesitter Mike Spatola shot to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with the first yellow flag falling on lap two. Kevin Hardage spun in turn four to draw a caution on the ensuing restart. Spatola held his lead on the restart, with a three-car battle ensuing for the third-place spot. Third-running Mark Shipman slowed in turn three to draw a red flag on lap four. With Spatola leading at the halfway mark, Darrell Lanigan attempted to make his way to the front of the field, challenging third-running Rich Bell. Spatola pulled away to win the consolation, with Lanigan finishing second after a collision with Bell resulted in the driver spinning in turn four on the final lap.
Finish (top two transfer): Mike Spatola, Darrell Lanigan, Joey Coulter, Cody Holtkamp, Caleb Ashby, Kevin Hardage, Donald Johns, Benjamin Mott, Rich Bell, Billy Stile, Matt Bailey, Jason Zobrist, Mark Shipman.
Heat race notes
No heat-race victor was more pumped than Gordy Gundaker of St. Charles, Mo., who triumph in the first qualifier put him on the pole for the second 20-lap preliminary feature. “We’re starting on the pole of a $5,000 (to-win) race,” said Gundaker, who thrust his fist out his car’s window as he took the checkered flag. “After we ran all those Summernationals races (the last two years), this is what we dreamed of. We’re sitting in a good position.” … Tyler Carpenter of Parkersburg, W.Va., was also quite excited after capturing the second heat to secure the outside pole for the A-main. “Kryptonite (Race Cars) won a heat race — woo!” exulted Carpenter, who described the hardscrabble action as a “big, expensive enduro race” after finishing the distance with his car’s right-rear bodywork smashed and its roof collapsed. … Crate Late Model standout Myles Moos of Lincoln, Ill., was a bit flabbergasted after scoring a victory in the fourth heat. “I don’t know what to say,” said Moos, who purchased a Pro Power engine from Ryan Unzicker of El Paso, Ill., to go Super Late Model racing. “I’m just a Crate driver from Lincoln, Ill.” … Chad Zobrist of Highland, Ill., continued to shine on the Dome’s bullring, backing up strong performance in last year’s inaugural weekend (highlighted by a sixth-place finish in the 40-lap finale) and his third-fastest qualifying lap on Thursday with a victory in the third heat. … Derek Fetter of Troy, Mo., escaped injury when he became the weekend’s first flip victim in Heat 1. Contact from Mike Spatola of Manhattan, Ill., sent Fetter’s car sideways on the homestretch directly into the path of Cunningham, Tenn.’s Caleb Ashby, who rammed Fetter’s Pierce machine to send it into a roll. “We need a rear end, J-bar, driveshaft, and we need to do some bodywork,” said Fetter, who experienced the first flip of his racing career. “We’re trying to track a rear end down. If we can, we’ll race.” … Ashby’s car sustained significant nose damage and he was attempting to make repairs in time to run a consolation. … Jason Feger of Bloomington, Ill., appeared headed to a runner-up finish in the fourth heat when he slid to a stop between turns one and two on the final because he stalled his car’s engine. “I just slowed down a little too much,” Feger said, noting that the tight confines of the fifth-mile’s corners make stalling the motor a problem for racers. “It’s part of bullring racing.”
(10 laps; top two transfer)
Row 1: Mike Spatola, Matt Bailey
Row 2: Mark Shipman, Darrell Lanigan
Row 3: Kevin Hardage, Rich Bell
Row 4: Benjamin Mott, Cody Holtkamp
Row 5: Jason Zobrist, Joey Coulter
Row 6: Derek Fetter, Billy Stile
Row 7: Caleb Ashby, Brandon Tibaldi
Row 8: Charlie Cole, Donald Johns
Row 1: Scott Bell, Tyler Millwood
Row 2: Brian Mullins, Jason Feger
Row 3: Brent Larson, Robert Ardry
Row 4: Robbie Stuart, Jason Schierkolk
Row 5: Oakley Johns, Farrel Skelton
Row 6: Scott Crigler, Rob Toland
Row 7: Kevin Weaver, Ryan Unzicker
Row 8: Justin Kay
Rob Toland edged ahead of Tyler Millwood and Myles Moos to lead the first lap. As the field came around for the second lap, Toland came to a stop in turn four collecting several cars behind him. Another yellow flag waved on the ensuing restart when third-running Millwood spun in turn two. Ryan Unzicker retired under the caution with a flat tire. Jason Schierkolk spun in turn two to draw a caution on the second lap. Moos held the lead at the halfway mark, fighting back challenges from Jason Feger. A yellow flag waved on lap seven when second-running Feger spun in turn two. Moos led the final lap to win the heat, with Tanner English finishing second. Jeremey Sneed ran third, with Reno Markham grabbing the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Myles Moos, Tanner English, Jeremy Sneed, Reno Markham, Tyler Millwood, Jason Feger, Robert Ardry, Jason Schierkolk, Farrell Skelton, Rob Toland, Ryan Unzicker.
Polesitter Chad Zobrist took an early lead, with fifth-starting Kent Robinson slipping past Shannon Babb and Dennis Erb Jr. to run in second. A yellow flag waved on lap three when fifth-running Darrell Lanigan spun in the bottom of turns one and two. As Zobrist continued to show the way out front, a battle ensued for the third-place spot between Babb and Erb. Zobrist won the heat, with Robinson and Babb rounding out the podium. Erb finished fourth to transfer to the feature.
Finish (top four transfer): Chad Zobrist, Kent Robinson, Shannon Babb, Dennis Erb Jr., Matt Bailey, Darrell Lanigan, Rich Bell, Cody Holtkamp, Joey Coulter, Billy Stile, Brandon Tidbaldi, Donald Johns.
A yellow flag flew on the opening lap for a tangle in turns one and two involving Robbie Stuart, Jeff Herzog and Oakley Johns. Polesitter Tim Dohm edged ahead to lead the first lap, with second-starting Brent Larson spinning in turn four to draw a cautIon. Dohm maintained his lead as the race went back green, with Don O’Neal challenging Tyler Carpenter for the runner-up spot. Another yellow flag waved on lap three for a turn-four tangle involving Larson and Kevin Weaver and others. Carpenter slipped under Dohm down the backstretch on the restart, leading lap four. Carpenter pulled away late-race to win the heat, with Dohm holding on to finish second. O’Neal ran third, with Herzog grabbing the final transfer spot.
Finish (top four transfer): Tyler Carpenter, Tim Dohm, Don O’Neal, Jeff Herzog, Scott Bell, Brian Mullins, Brent Larson, Robbie Stuart, Oakley Johns, Scott Crigler, Kevin Weaver, Justin Kay.
A yellow flag waved on the opening lap for a tangle in turns three and four involving Charlie Cole and Benjamin Mott, bringing the race to a complete restart. A red flag fell on the ensuing restart when Mike Spatola and Derek Fetter collided on the fronstretch, with Fetter rolling his No. 32 machine in front of Caleb Ashby, coming to a rest in turn one. A third caution flag flew on the ensuing restart when Jason Zobrist and Mark Shipman tangled in turn two. The race was slowed a fourth time when Mott and Cole tangled in turn two, forcing the race to a single-file restart. Polesitter Hunter Rasdon charged to the lead at the drop of the green flag, with Russ King slipping under Spatola to run in third. Shooting ahead of Rasdon down the backstretch, Gordy Gundaker took the lead on the fourth lap. A yellow flag waved on lap five when Zobrist and Mott tangled in the bottom of turns one and two. Leading the remaining three laps, Gundaker won the heat. Rasdon, King and Dave Armstrong transferred to the feature.
Finish (top four transfer): Gordy Gundaker, Hunter Rasdon, Russ King, Dave Armstrong, Mike Spatola, Mark Shipman, Kevin Yardage, Benjamin Mott, Jason Zobrist, Derek Fetter, Caleb Ashby, Charlie Cole.
During Friday’s drivers’ meeting, Gateway Dirt Nationals promoter Cody Sommer addressed the reports that multiple race haulers parked across the street from the Dome were broken into overnight. He said the parking lot was under 24-hour security surveillance and more has been added. … The winners of Friday’s eight 8-lap heats will start their respective 20-lap preliminary features in a heads-up alignment. The top-four finishers in each A-main will move on to Saturday evening’s 40-lap, $30,000-to-win finale and redraw for the first eight starting spots. … The Dirt Late Model fielded increased by one, to 94 cars, with the Friday arrival of Muse, Pa.’s Bill Stile Jr., a pre-entrant who was allowed to compete despite missing Thursday’s time trials. Stile, 54, was en route from his home outside Pittsburgh when his box truck’s transmission broke at midnight Tuesday after he refueled at a truck stop in Terre Haute; he was able to get the tranny repaired late Thursday and continued on to St. Louis Friday morning. … Tim Dohm of Cross Lanes, W.Va., starts on a heat-race pole after timing second-fastest in his group on Thursday. He said he felt comfortable immediately on the fifth-mile oval. “Usually the smaller the racetrack, the better I like it,” he said. ..World of Outlaws Craftsman Late Model Series champion Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., who is driving his family-owned No. b5 in the weekend’s action, starts sixth in his heat, giving him some work to do if he hopes to transfer to a preliminary feature. He said he’s hoping that the outside of the track is wetter than it was on Thursday night because, with the top too dry to allow much traction, the bottom lane was dominant. In addition, Sheppard said that the lower lane becomes an even better option when the inside tractor tires are pushed in, which permits drivers to dip their cars’ left-rear wheels over the inside berm.
Friday’s heat lineups
(Eight laps; top four transfer)
Row 1: Hunter Rasdon, Gordy Gundaker
Row 2: Derek Fetter, Mike Spatola
Row 3: Russ King, Caleb Ashby
Row 4: Jason Zobrist, Dave Armstrong
Row 5: Charlie Cole, Kody Hardage
Row 6: Mark Shipman, Benjamin Mott
Row 1: Tim Dohm, Brent Larson
Row 2: Tyler Carpenter, Don O’Neal
Row 3: Justin Kay, Oakley Johns
Row 4: Scott Bell, Kevin Weaver
Row 5: Robbie Stuart, Jeff Herzog
Row 6: Brian Mullins, Scott Crigler
Row 1: Chad Zobrist, Dennis Erb Jr.
Row 2: Shannon Babb, Cody Holtkamp
Row 3: Kent Robinson, Donald Johns
Row 4: Darrel Lanigan, Rich Bell
Row 5: Brandon Tibaldi, Joey Coulter
Row 6: Matt Bailey
Row 1: Rob Toland, Tyler Millwood
Row 2: Jason Feger, Myles Moos
Row 3: Ryan Unzicker, Jason Schierkolk
Row 4: Tanner English, Jeremy Sneed
Row 5: Robert Ardry, Farrel Skelton Jr.
Row 6: Reno Markham
Thursday’s time trial results
Driver (car no.), hometown, time
Hunter Rasdon (R5), Jonesboro, Ark., 12.259
Tim Dohm (6), Cross Lanes, W.Va., 12.283
Chad Zobrist (78), Highland, Ill., 12.341
Rob Toland (39), Davenport, Iowa, 12.41
Gordy Gundaker (11), St. Charles, Mo., 12.45
Brent Larson (B1), Lake Elmo, Minn., 12.535
Dennis Erb Jr. (28), Carpentersville, Ill., 12.546
Tyler Millwood (31), Cartersville, Ga., 12.551
Derek Fetter (32F), Troy, Mo., 12.558
Tyler Carpenter (28), Parkersburg, W.Va., 12.561
Shannon Babb (18), Moweaqua, Ill., 12.581
Jason Feger (25), Bloomington, Ill., 12.585
Mike Spatola (89), Manhattan, Ill., 12.603
Don O’Neal (5), Martinsville, Ind., 12.633
Cody Holtkamp (23), Holts Summit, Mo., 12.671
Myles Moos (84), Lincoln, Ill., 12.672
Russ King (56) Bristolville, Ohio, 12.68
Justin Kay (15K), Wheatland, Iowa, 12.68
Kent Robinson (7R), Bloomington, Ind., 12.694
Ryan Unzicker (24), El Paso, Ill., 12.716
Caleb Ashby (61), Cunningham, Tenn., 12.757
Oakley Johns (C6), Hohenwald, Tenn., 12.782
Donald Johns (C66), Summertown, Tenn., 12.802
Jason Schierkolk (12s), Casper, Wyo., 12.805
Jason Zobrist (87), Highland, Ill., 12.814
Scott Bell (45), East Prairie, Mo., 12.872
Darrell Lanigan (14), Union, Ky., 12.876
Tanner English (96), Benton, Ky., 12.887
Dave Armstrong (6), Festus, Mo., 12.901
Kevin Weaver (B12), Gibson City, Ill., 12.913
Rich Bell (21), Sheffield, Ill., 12.932
Jeremy Sneed (24S), Bluford, Ill., 12.955
Charlie Cole (2), Wynne, Ark., 13.084
Robbie Stuart (6R), Deridder, La., 13.14
Brandon Tibaldi (119), Almo, Ky., 13.216
Robert Ardry (127), Murfreesboro, Tenn., 13.316
Kody Hardage (12H), Cannon Lake, Texas, 13.321
Jeff Herzog (11H), Herculaneum, Mo., 13.329
Joey Coulter (2), Concord, N.C., 13.353
Farrel Skelton Jr. (0F), Mount Pleasant, Tenn., 13.487
Mark Shipman (57s), Grandview, Texas, 13.517
Brian Mullins (626), Cincinnati, Ohio, 13.617
Matt Bailey (52), Highland, Ill., 13.619
Reno Markham (21m), Kingston, Ill., 13.699
Benjamin Mott (1), White Lake, Mich., 14.159
Scott Crigler (12), Alton, Mo, 14.408
11 a.m. - Pit doors open
1 p.m. - Drivers’ meeting and press conference
2 p.m. - Spectator doors open
3 p.m. - On-track activity for Late Models and modifieds
- Eight Late Model heat races (8 laps)
- Six modified consolation races (12 laps)
- Four Late Model consolation races (12 laps)
- Modified feature (20 laps)
- First Late Model feature (20 laps)
- Second Late Model feature (20 laps)
(Pits close one hour after final checkered flag)