By Jeremiah Davis
VINTON – April in Iowa has been especially cruel for racing fans. The cold and wet weather kept any racing from happening in the state until the opening IMCA Frostbuster at Lee County Speedway in Donnellson on Wednesday night – more than two weeks after the season was supposed to have started here.
Impatience and frustration had been the winners so far this spring.
Fortunately for those who showed up to Benton County Speedway in Vinton on Thursday night, there was reward for the waiting.
A wide, racy track surface – by all accounts the best Benton County Speedway has been surface-wise in years – provided a show filled with passes for the lead and capped off by Cayden Carter passing the IMCA Modified division’s current kingpin Hunter Marriott for the win on the final lap.
Even the understated Carter, not one to get too excited about much, cracked a big smile in celebration – both of his win and being back in a racecar.
Beating a guy like Marriott is very hard to do, especially when he’s already out front.
“I was just searching for a line to catch him,” Carter said. “It’s fun to go out and lead every lap, but it’s great when you have to actually go pass them. Hunter Marriott has proved he’s the best IMCA Modified so far this year, and to be able to beat him and pass him like we did makes me think our stuff’s pretty good right now. I know it is.”
Carter’s win came in a race that seemed to belong to Marriott. The Brookfield, Mo. native took the lead a few laps in from Kyle Brown and led all but one lap the rest of the way – the final one.
With five to go, it appeared in the bag. The top five, save for Brown, were riding the bottom searching for grip while navigating the one hole that finally developed by the end of the night in Turns 1 and 2. Marriott’s lead was more than five car lengths. Over the course of the next three laps, it evaporated.
Marriott – also a guy that doesn’t get all that worked up outside a racecar – was obviously frustrated after the race, but also was pretty matter of fact about it all. Carter closed the gap, got a nose in after taking the white flag and was able to hit his marks better than Marriott.
“It’s part of the game, but you definitely don’t want to lose them like that on the last lap,” Marriott said. “Congrats to Cayden. He did a good job. I just missed it there. We’ll just have to take our loss and get on with it.
“I just missed my marks. I missed it with three to go and there again on the last lap. Just one spot out again. It’s frustrating, but you just have to remember that and not make the same mistake again. It just wasn’t our night, I guess – gave that one up.”
Marriott’s record in the last year-plus in IMCA Modified puts him in the No. 1 spot right now in the division. The competitiveness of the fields isn’t really in question, with most everyone now in a Crate engine, but his consistency of running top three and winning some of the biggest events across the country has earned him the respect of his peers.
Carter, in fact, said as much in those first remarks after his win.
Marriott doesn’t make mistakes like missing his marks three laps in a row very often, so if you want to beat him, you have to capitalize.
“I knew I was better on the bottom and got to his bumper in those last couple laps,” Carter said. “Any time you win a race on the bottom it takes a lot of patience to hit your marks every lap. The smoothest driver ends up winning. That’s what it takes.”
Carter’s last lap pass wasn’t the only last lap pass for the win Thursday night.
Joey Schaefer took the win in IMCA Sport Mod on the final lap after Boone’s John Logue Jr. had an issue with his steering box taking the white flag. While a frustrated Logue limped the car home to seventh, Schaefer motored to the victory.
Damon Murty took the win in IMCA Stock Car, adding to his cargo-ship-sized pile of victories in Vinton. Eric Stanton made it back-to-back Benton County Speedway Frostbuster victories in IMCA Hobby Stock.
BENTON COUNTY SPEEDWAY TOP 5 FINISHERS
- Cayden Carter; 2. Hunter Marriott; 3. Richie Gustin; 4. Kyle Brown; 5. Joel Rust
IMCA SPORT MOD
- Joey Schaefer; 2. Tyler Soppe; 3. Sam Wieben; 4. Joe Docekal; 5. Ethan Braaksma
IMCA STOCK CAR
- Damon Murty; 2. Todd Reitzler; 3. Brian Mahlstedt; 4. Steve Meyer; 5. Jay Schmidt
IMCA HOBBY STOCK
- Eric Stanton; 2. David Riecks; 3. Justin Wacha; 4. Brad Graham; 5. Matt Pohlman