Total posts: 3279
posted August 29, 2001 04:01 PM
Toland takes national I.M.C.A. Sunoco Late Model championship
VINTON, Iowa (Aug. 28) - Rob Toland set the tone for his 2001 campaign with three victories during the first weekend of the season.
He never slowed down, leading the standings from the first green flag to the final checkered and winning the I.M.C.A. Sunoco Late Model national championship with 797 points.
Runner-up honors went to Justin Wells of Crane, Mo. Defending champion Jason Friesen of Sutton, Neb., was third.
Rounding out the top five were rookie of the year Jeremiah Hurst of DeWitt, Iowa, and Gary Russell of Biggsville, Ill.
Final races of the season were held Sunday night.
Following an ambitious schedule, Toland won 16 feature events, at six different tracks. His 50 outings took the Hillsdale, Ill., veteran as far away from home as US 30 Speedway in Columbus, Neb.
"We wanted to race three nights a week and just do the best we could," said Toland, also in the hunt for the Deery Brothers Summer Series crown. "The national championship was a goal we talked about before the season and we geared up for it. We sold and bought everything to race I.M.C.A. races this year and got a couple spec motor cars together."
Toland won the track championships at the East Moline, Ill., Speedway and at Jackson County Speedway in Maquoketa, Iowa.
"We had two weekends (April 27-29 and July 20-22) when we won three races in a row. Those were two weekends that were highlights of the year," he said. "And we ran a Deery show at Webster City when Jeff Aikey, Darrel DeFrance and I swapped the lead back and forth about three times. That was another fun night of racing."
Toland had the luxury of wrapping the title up early. That meant he didn't have to fret about how Wells and Friesen ran after his drive shaft broke early in Sunday's finale.
"We had kind of a dry spell the last couple weeks but thank goodness we won enough races to get it done," he said.
Wells counted 13 feature wins in 29 starts, and track titles at the Joplin, Mo., 66 Speedway and Monett, Mo., Speed-way among his accomplishments.
Friesen made a strong bid for another crown, with 12 wins in 25 starts. He was also the top driver for the third straight year in the Challenge Series held at tracks in Nebraska and Kansas.
Quick to impress, Hurst won 11 of his 30 I.M.C.A. Sunoco Late Model starts this year. Russell racked up seven wins, along with the track championship at 34 Raceway in West Burlington, Iowa.
Other former national champions joining Friesen in this season's top 20 were 1997 king Todd Cooney of Des Moines, Iowa, in sixth place; 1993 titleist Darrel DeFrance of Marshalltown, Iowa, in 10th; and 1998 champ Mark Burgtorf of Quincy, Ill., in 12th.
The top 15 drivers receive shares of a post-season point fund and drivers' number of feature wins were used in breaking two ties. Burgtorf was placed ahead of Thad Wilson of Moline, Ill. Mike Cothron, also of Moline, got the edge for 14th ahead of Joplin, Mo's., Bill Street.
Tracks running the I.M.C.A.-sanctioned Late Models have until Oct. 1 to report any errors/corrections in the weekly race reports they file with I.M.C.A. National and local track standings become official that day.
National I.M.C.A. Sunoco Late Model Top 20 Standings
1. Rob Toland, Hillsdale, Ill., 797;
2. Justin Wells, Crane, Mo., 794;
3. Jason Friesen, Sutton, Neb., 791;
4. Jeremiah Hurst, DeWitt, Iowa, 774;
5. Gary Russell, Biggsville, Ill., 768;
6. Todd Cooney, Des Moines, Iowa, 766;
7. Terry Schlipman, Mendon, Ill., 765;
8. Ken Essary, Galena, Mo., 762;
9. Doug Nigh, Maquoketa, Iowa, 759;
10. Darrel DeFrance, Marshalltown, Iowa, 756;
11. Brenton Slocum, Burlington, Iowa, 753;
12. Mark Burgtorf, Quincy, Ill., 752 (3 feature wins);
13. Thad Wilson, Moline, Ill., 752 (2);
14. Mike Cothron, Moline, Ill., 750 (3 feature wins);
15. Bill Street, Joplin, Mo., 750 (1);
16. Jason Bahrs, Colona, Ill., 749;
17. Rick Wages, Colona, Ill., 747;
18. Kevin Blum, East Moline, Ill., 744;
19. Shane Essary, Aurora, Mo., 736;
20. Lonnie Bailey, Quincy, Ill., and Darrell Mooneyham, Verona, Mo., both 735.