Auto Racing

Iowa hotshoe driving car to beat in sport compact class

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Apr. 22, 2019 2:10 am

QUINCY -- At some point, Barry Taft envisions moving up from the sport compact class to stock cars or maybe a modified.

Taft's sport compact rivals undoubtedly hope that decision comes sooner, rather than later.

Taft won his second straight sport compact feature of the season Sunday night at Quincy Raceways and looks like the man to beat -- again -- in that division.

Taft has established himself as the top gun in West-Central Illinois, Northeast Missouri and Southeast Iowa. He's coming off a 2018 season that saw him win track titles at Quincy, Memphis, Mo., and Iowa outposts in West Burlington and Donnellson.

"I wasn't planning on racing as much as I did last year, but we'll have to see what happens," said Taft, who finished last season No. 3 in the IMCA sport compact national rankings.

Taft's most recent victory in Quincy also extended a rather unusual streak for the 26-year-old from Argyle, Iowa. Taft has won at least one feature at 8000 Broadway in seven straight racing months, a streak that started in April 2018. No other Quincy driver can claim that accomplishment.

Taft is rapidly running out of goals to reach in the sport compacts. That's why he's looking into changing classes -- maybe.

"I may move up. I'm not sure to which class," he said. "If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't."

Taft won nine Quincy features a year ago, the second-best total among all drivers in all classes. Only Dave Wietholder's 11 modified victories were more.

"I never give up," Taft said. "Even if I get tore up, I keep after it."

Taft, who led the final five laps of Sunday's main event, held off charges from Jake Houston and Dylan Schantz to secure the victory. Taft owns a 77-73 advantage over Kim Abbott in the points race.

Other Sunday night feature winners included Denny Woodworth in the crate late models, Michael Long in modifieds, Daniel Fellows in sport mods, Craig Bangert in stock cars and Logan Cumby and Matt Wenture in the two-man cruisers.

Woodworth held off challenges from runner-up Darin Weisinger Jr. and Melvin Linder to win a second straight crate late feature. Woodworth (150), Weisinger Jr. (125) and Linder (125) are the points leaders.

Long's first appearance of the year at Quincy saw him win in flag-to-flag fashion over Tommy Sheppard Jr. and Chris Spalding. Fourth-place Davie Wietholder (135) is the modified points leader over Spalding (120).

Fellows also recorded a feature victory in his first appearance of the year at the track, turning back Tanner Klingele and Austen Becerra. Becerra (78) and Klingele (77) sit atop the points.

Bangert held off Michael Larsen and Beau Taylor for his first stock car win. Taylor (67) and Larsen (65) are leading the points pace.

Notable

º The first Night of Destruction of the season is set for 3 p.m. Saturday. Pits open at noon, gates at 2 p.m. Eight different classes are set for competition. Pit passes are $20, adult admission $15, seniors $13, ages 11-17 $10, ages 6-10 $5 and those 5-under free.

º The Lil' Bullring has a May 4 practice scheduled prior to its May 11 opener. Times and other details are still to be announced.

º The first major event at Quincy Raceways will be the May 5 appearance of the MLRA late models in a $3,000-to-win show. The MLRA cars will also be in town Sept. 1 for a $5,000 to win event.