By STEVE EIGHINGER
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Sure, that late model points race between Justin Reed, Lonnie Bailey and Keith Pratt commanded plenty of well-deserved attention.
And Michael Long's latest victory in the midst of another one of his trademark tears in the modified series was something to behold.
But the overriding story Sunday night at Quincy Raceways? The crowd.
More than 3,000 filed into 8000 Broadway for what co-owner Tony Rhinberger said was the largest turnout since Memorial Day weekend in 2008.
The crowds have been building since midseason, and that trend saw an exclamation point added Sunday evening.
"Quincy is still a thriving area for dirt-track racing," Rhinberger said. "There is definitely reason for enthusiasm looking to 2012 -- and we still have five weeks of racing left this year. Paul (Holtschlag, co-owner) and I are definitely excited about the momentum that is building.
"It says a lot about the race fans here when two individuals in the crowd come up Sunday night and add about an extra $500 to the prize money because they are enjoying the racing.
"Word of mouth is the best advertisement and I can see how that is helping from what fans and drivers are telling me," Rhinberger said. "There's a good racing surface here and the word continues to spread."
On the track, Justin Reed and Lonnie Bailey are tied for the late model points lead following Sunday night's feature. Reed finished fifth and Bailey sixth, and coupled with the fallout from the heat races, the two are deadlocked at 308 points. Four points back is Keith Pratt. Joey Gower and Denny Woodworth are each sitting at 301 and Matt Bailey 296.
Arguably, the tightly bunched field was trimmed to three: Reed, Lonnie Bailey and Pratt. Making up seven points or more, which is what Woodworth, Gower and Matt Bailey would have to do, is unrealistic at this point.
Next Sunday concludes the late model points season, and if it would be rained out the tie would be broken by feature wins. Reed has three points victories and Lonnie Bailey one.
Never before in the 37-year history of the track has the late model points race entered the final week deadlocked.
Ironically -- or fittingly -- Lonnie Bailey is in the thick of this historic points race. Bailey won the two closest late model finishes in Quincy history, four points over the Brent Slocum in 2004 and six points over Reed in 2009. Only three late model points races have been decided by less than 10 points.
Almost lost in that incredibly interesting points shuffle was another strong run by late-season sensation Jason Perry, who won his third main event and second straight. Perry will undoubtedly be among the trendy 2012 title picks.
Long blew the doors off the the rest of the modified feature field, posting an 11.185-second victory over Steven DeLonjay, the widest margin of victory in any feature this season.
The victory was Long's third straight -- all with DeLonjay serving as runner-up. Ironically, Long's first win in this streak halted DeLonjay's six-feature victory run.
DeLonjay may have finished second, but still increased his points lead over 2010 champ Jared Schlipman, who was fourth behind Mark Burgtorf. DeLonjay holds an 870-760 lead. Barring a major meltdown from both DeLonjay and Schlipman, no other driver is left in the running.
Burgtorf was driving a modified at Quincy for the first time since 2007. He won a heat race Sunday night, his first mod win on his home track since that same 2007 season when he also won a heat race. The 14-time late model track champ has not won a modified feature in Quincy since 2005.
Burgtorf was driving the No. 7B black mod that belonged to Craig Brooks, who lives near Mexico, Mo.
Other feature winners were Abe Huls in stock cars, Jim Gillenwater in Sport mods, Brandon Symmonds in hobby stocks and Craug Bangert in the wild things.
Huls won for the fourth time in five weeks, Symmonds for the second time in three shows and Bangert for the second straight week.