Guss edges Neal, wins IMCA's weekly crown
By Bill MartinIMCA Late Models
Two points made the difference as Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., earned his first national IMCA Late Model championship and Terry Neal was runner-up for the fourth time in six seasons.
The division leader with 19 feature victories, Guss also became the first IMCA driver to win three local Late Model track titles in a single season. He’ll get a $5,500 share of the $21,300 point fund to be paid this fall to top 20 finishers in the 2010 point standings.
Neal won 17 features and a single track crown. Both drivers got 20 bonus points, Guss for his Davenport Speedway crown, Neal for his Dubuque Speedway title, making the two point totals at the top of the standings 819-817. Rounding out the top five are a pair of former national champions, Darrel DeFrance and Todd Cooney, and Dennis Woodworth. Rookie of the year Andy Eckrich was sixth.
Third in both the 2008 and 2009 national campaigns, Guss also paced points at Jackson County Speedway and Quad City Speedway as well as Allstar Performance Illinois State standings. He’s got the upper hand in the Deery Brothers Summer Series and is in position to become the fourth driver to win national and series championships the same season.
Neal, the Iowa state king, had finished a single point behind Kevin Blum last year and was second to DeFrance in 2007 and to Rob Toland in 2005. Both those titles were determined by the tie-breaking number of feature wins.
Cooney won his division-best 15th career track championship at the Iowa State Fairgrounds Speedway. DeFrance topped standings at Hamilton County Speedway and Mark Burgtorf reigned at Lee County Speedway as both drivers won their 12th career track crowns. Neal’s title was his career 11th.
Gary Russell ruled at 34 Raceway for the fourth time in his career. First-time track kings were Tyler Bruening at Independence Motor Speedway, Eckrich at West Liberty Raceway, Charlie McKenna at Farley Speedway, Jay Stewart at Shelby County Speedway and Woodworth at Quincy Raceway.
IMCA’s point season for Late Models ran from April 23 to Aug. 29. National standings are based on drivers’ best 20 finishes out of their first 55 starts. Bonus points, equal to the average weekly car count at tracks holding a minimum of eight sanctioned events, are awarded to track champions.
The higher average is used to award bonuses when drivers won more than one track title; pro-rated bonuses are given at tracks where fewer than eight weekly events were held. Track officials have until noon on Monday, Sept. 27 to notify IMCA of corrections affecting their top 15 before 2010 point standings become official.