Guss earns USA Nationals pole at 34 Raceway
WEST BURLINGTON, Iowa (Sept. 2) – Ray Guss Jr. of Milan, Ill., has the pole starting position for Saturday’s $10,000-to-win Pepsi USA Nationals Deery Brothers Summer Series feature, while T.J. Criss of Oskaloosa, Iowa, has already put $750 in his pocket. | Eckrich wins $10,000 feature
Guss, the defending champion and current points leader on the tour for IMCA Late Models, posted fast time before winning the first of five heat races Friday night at 34 Raceway to earn the main event pole. Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa, topped the second heat and will start outside the front row.
Lonnie Bailey of Quincy, Ill., Matt Bailey also of Quincy, and Tom Goble of Burlington, Iowa, also won heat races and will line up in the third through fifth positions respectively. Runners-up from the heats will start in positions six through 10 and third-place finishers are in the 11th through 15th spots.
Three drivers will advance from each of two 20-lap consolation races Saturday night. Five provisional starters complete the 26-car grid, including the non-qualified driver with Friday’s time trials, the hard charger from heats and consolation races, the top two non-qualifiers based on series point standings and a track provisional. Saturday’s feature will be 99 laps, in memory of former track owner and promoter Johnny Johnson who died in February.
Criss repeated as winner of the J & J Steel Ironman Challenge, contested by drivers with perfect attendance through the first 13 series events of the season.
Sam Halstead led the first circuit before spinning and bringing out what proved to be the only caution of the 20-lapper. Criss took the $750 checkers comfortably in front of Mike Garland of Morrison, Ill. Hometown driver Jay Johnson third with Matt Strassheim of Morning Sun, Iowa, and Terry Neal of Ely, Iowa, rounding out the top five.