Chris Simpson makes late pass, scores win at Cedar County Raceway

by Ryan Clark

TIPTON, Iowa (June 1) - Chris Simpson gave up the pole position to his brother Chad Simpson following the Fast Dash invert draw, then passed him late in the 35-lap feature to score the thrilling win when the Dart Corn Belt Clash Late Model Series presented by Cen-Pe-Co Lubricants invaded Cedar County Raceway.

Chris Simpson, who won the eight-car, eight-lap Fast Dash, drew a "2" on the invert draw, giving second place Dash finisher Chad Simpson the pole position for the main event.

Chad held the point at the drop of the green flag and quickly extended his lead over the field running the high groove of the lightning-fast 1/4-mile oval. He was nearly a straightaway ahead of Chris by the time the leader encountered his first bout with lapped traffic 10 laps into the event.

Four laps later, as Chad came upon heavy backmarkers that were running two cars wide and three rows deep, the only caution flag of the event waved when Justin Jaggers slid off the front stretch without a point of re-entry.

On the restart, Chad again went to work on the top side of the speedway as Denny Eckrich battled Chris for second. Eckrich made his way into second a short time later and then dropped to the low side as he ran down the race leader.

With 10 laps remaining and the leaders again working through lapped cars, Eckrich worked the low side of Chad as the leaders went three-wide with a lapped car in turns three and four. Exiting the corner, Eckrich bobbled and allowed Chad to sneak away, while Chris closed the gap once again for second.

Chris quickly worked past Eckrich and went to the high side of the speedway while Chad dropped to the low groove in traffic. Chris reeled in the leader and engaged in a wheel-to-wheel battle for the lead in traffic in the waning laps. Chris Simpson took the advantage off the final turn to score the win in a thriller, his second career series win and first of the season.

The Cedar County event marked the first of three straight days of action for the Corn Belt Clash. Thursday, June 2, the series will travel to Fayette County Speedway as the West Union oval hosts its sixth event in series history, the most of any track. The three-day swing wraps up at Mississippi Thunder Speedway in Fountain City, Wis., on Friday.

FEATURE (35 laps, with starting positions)

1. (2) 32 Chris Simpson (Oxford)

2. (1) 25 Chad Simpson (Mt. Vernon)

3. (4) 50 Denny Eckrich (Tiffin)

4. (5) 98 Jason Rauen (Farley)

5. (6) 58 Dave Eckrich (Cosgrove)

6. (10) 77 Kurt Kile (Nichols)

7. (14) 56 Andy Eckrich (Iowa City)

8. (3) 20 Jake Meier (Tipton)

9. (19) 28X Justin Mitchell (Cedar Rapids)

10. (7) 31 Jason Utter (Columbus Junction)

11. (12) 21H Brian Harris (Davenport)

12. (11) 28C Terry Neal (Ely)

13. (15) 33 Nick Marolf (Moscow)

14. (22) 9T Tim Isenberg (Marshfield, WI)

15. (18) 1M Rob Moss (Iowa City)

16. (24) 71 Andrew McKay (Eden Prairie, MN)

17. (20) 3 Kevin Sather (Ankeny)

18. (13) 15H Jeremiah Hurst (Dubuque)

19. (21) 5M Mike Fryer (Freeport, IL)

20. (23) 61 Jon Rogers (German Valley, IL)

21. (25) 22 Jill George* (Cedar Falls, IA)

22. (8) 32J Justin Jaggers (Wyanet, IL)

23. (17) 15K Justin Kay (Wheatland)

24. (16) 88 Kevin Kile (West Liberty)

25. (9) 3X Skip Frey (Ely)

(*Jill George was the provisional starter, based on final 2010 points)

First heat (10 laps) - 1. Chris Simpson; 2. Jaggers; 3. Frey; 4. Hurst; 5. Rogers; 6. Kay; 7. 18 Dustin Hapka (Grand Forks, ND); 8. 45H Todd Hansen (Muscatine).

Second heat (10 laps) - 1. Meier; 2. Dave Eckrich; 3. Kurt Kile; 4. Andy Eckrich; 5. Fryer; 6. Mitchell; 7. 25S Chris Smyser (Lancaster, MO); 8. George.

Third heat (10 laps) - 1. Chad Simpson; 2. Rauen; 3. Neal; 4. Marolf; 5. 45 Mike Klinkkammer (West Branch); 6. 56W Gary Webb (Blue Grass); 7. 9 Bobby Hansen (Center Point); 8. McKay

Fourth heat (10 laps) - 1. Denny Eckrich; 2. Utter; 3. Harris; 4. Kevin Kile; 5. Moss; 6. Sather; 7. Isenberg.

First B Feature (10 laps) - 1. Kay; 2. Mitchell; 3. Fryer; 4. Rogers; 5. Hapka; 6. George; 7. Hansen; 8. Smyser (DNS).

Second B Feature (10 laps) - 1. Moss; 2. Sather; 3. Isenberg; 4. McKay; 5. Webb; 6. Klinkkammer; 7. Hansen.

Fast Dash (8 laps) - 1. Chris Simpson; 2. Chad Simpson; 3. Meier; 4. Denny Eckrich; 5. Rauen; 6. Dave Eckrich; 7. Utter; 8. Jaggers.