Thursday, July 25, 2013

1972 - 'Injun' Joe leads Boone charge

Boone, Iowa (July 25, 1972) – “Injun Joe” Merryfield cut the pack off at the pass as he captured the 1972 Short Track Grand National Championship for super late models at the Boone Speedway Tuesday night.

Running before a full-house crowd, Merryfield, Des Moines, pressured Boone Speedway regular, Denny Hovinga, Laurens through much of the race, taking the lead for good with less than two laps remaining.

Hovinga chose to run the tight inside groove on the dry track, which proved costly ($250, the difference between first and second place, to be exact).

Merryfield was challenging on the outside as he and Hovinga moved up to lap Dan Nesteby, Waterloo. Nesteby was given the pullover flag, and he went to the inside of the track as ordered. Unfortunately for Hovinga, that was also where the Laurens driver was running, and Merryfield went to the outside in the first turn of the next-to-last lap for the lead.

Hovinga and Bill Barthelmes, Troy Mills, had staged a duel for the lead midway through the race pulling away from the rest of the field. Then one of several red flags came but as a car quit on the track, and the restart put Merryfield and other back up near the leaders.

After the restart Hovinga was leading, with Dr. Al Mayner, Winthrop, running second. Merryfield got by the “Flying Physician” into second, and the race between he and Hovinga was on.

Often running side by side, the two continued their battle and Merryfield went inside once as Hovinga broke out of his usual groove and the Des Moines driver was in the lead.

However, the red flag came out just as Merryfield made the move, and the restart was lined up according to the last completed lap, putting Hovinga back in front.

Merryfield kept the pressure on Hovinga until the opportunity to pass came when Hovinga was boxed behind Barthelmes, and then moved out. The two cars came out of the fourth turn of the last lap side by side, but Merryfield had the power down the chute to win by two car lengths.

Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley, finished third, Ed Sanger, Waterloo, was fourth and Earl Tice, Ames, came in fifth.

Joel Rasmussen, Ames, was eligible for the pole position, which gave him his choice of starting position. He took the outside, which didn’t turn out to be the best choice.

Rasmussen didn’t get as good a jump as the other cars in the front two rows when the green flag went in the air and he dropped back into the pack in the first turn.

As the 33 cars, which started three abreast, dove into the first number two corners, one of the front-runners crossed up and there were cars flying in every direction. Rasmussen had the sheet metal on his car bent up in that fracas, but the basic machine survived and he stayed in the running. Bill Martin, Council Bluffs, was knocked out of the pole position and on the restart Rasmussen was able to move out in front.

He lost the lead to Barthelmes, and then Hovinga went by, Rasmussen finished the race in eighth place. The third Ames driver, Del McDowall was forced out of the race with mechanical problems.

Ramo Stott, Keokuk, managed to squeak into the championship event after the first lap accident. Stan Stover, Reinbeck, was knocked out in the accident, and was unable to come back out, which made Stott eligible for the race as first alternate. Stott, who spun out in the Monday night qualification races and failed to qualify in that race, tried again Tuesday.

With 13 cars running (12 cars from the B-Main qualified for the 50-lap championship race), Stott had a flat tire and went into the pits, changed tires and came back out. He was promptly black-flagged since pit stops were allowed only in the feature, so he had to settle for a final position one place out of qualification until Stover was unable to make the restart of the feature.

Later in the race, as the cars circled the track waiting for a restart, the drivers got jumpy and Ron Tilley, Council Bluffs went crossways in front of Stott. The Keokuk driver slammed into his and Stott was then hit from behind by George Barton, Ankeny.

Stott came out of the accident in running condition, but the collision weakened the steering sector on his car, which is owned by Sanger, and it later broke, putting Stott out of the race.

Weedon, who had raced away from the field Monday night in his heat face until tire trouble put his out of the event, came back to do the same thing in the B-main - only this time without car trouble.

Arnie Braland, Boone, took the first lead in that race, but the Weedon pushed his smooth running Mustang past Braland on the fourth after three laps and moved away in the remaining 22 circuits of the oval.

Results –

B-Main (20 laps)

1. Ron Weedon, Pleasant Valley
2. Arnie Braland, Boone
3. Bruce Sommerfeld, Fort Dodge
4. Wayne Meyer, Algona
5. Dwight Engleen, Ogden
6. John Carlson, Ankeny
7. George Barton, Ankeny
8. Leonard Woodard, Des Moines
9. Darwin Madden, Boone
10. Gordon Simpson, Marshalltown
11. Fred Knapp, Des Moines
12. Don Christensen, Harlan

Grand National (50 laps)

1. Joe Merryfield, Des Moines
2. Denny Hovinga, Laurens
3. Ronnie Weedon, Pleasant Valley
4. Ed Sanger, Waterloo
5. Earl Tice, Ames
6. Arnie Braland, Boone
7. Arlo Dorenbush, Boone
8. Joel Rasmussen, Ames
9. Henry Smidt, Iowa Falls
10. Dan Nesteby, Waterloo
11. Ron Tilley, Council Bluffs
12. Ken Davidson, Des Moines
13. Kenny Farrell, New Hampton
14. Bill Barthelmes, Troy Mills
15. Gordon Simpson, Marshalltown

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