Sunday, June 19, 2016

1976 - Davis, Hoffman take Fairgrounds’ features

Des Moines, Iowa (June 19, 1976) - Bill Davis won his second straight sportsman feature and defending late model point champion Don Hoffman finally got one under his belt Saturday night in the stock car races at the State Fairgrounds.

Davis of Des Moines led all but one lap of the 14-lap feature, shortened one circuit because of a spin by point leader Rick Merryfield in the first turn of the 15th and final lap. Merryfield was awarded fourth place.

Larry Embrey of Grimes challenged Davis the entire race, leading the fourth lap, but eventually finished second with Dave Farren of Des Moines third.

Merryfield’s spin proved beneficial to Davis, whose 1970 Camaro’s radiator was boiling over as he received the first-place trophy to the cheers of the 8,425 fans.

“I lost the fan belt on the last restart (on the eleventh lap),” explained Davis, who won $305 for the feature and first heat triumphs. “I don’t know how much farther it might have run.”

The final restart was the result of Jerry Campbell’s collision with the front straightaway wall when he tried to pass Farren. “I guess there just wasn’t enough room to pass,” said Campbell of the accident which badly damaged the front end of his 1970 Camaro.

Davis has had little success in his new Camaro this season but that has changed the last few weeks.

“We changed the car around a little,’ Davis said, “And it just keeps getting better and better every race.”

Hoffman is another driver with a new car, and he’s also made several changes on his 1970 Pizza Hut Nova before finding the winning combination for the first time this season at the Fairgrounds’ one-half-mile dirt oval.

“We’ve had our problems,” Hoffman said, “We’ve been experimenting with different stuff so we knew it would be slow coming along.”

Hoffman’s crew apparently has found a near-perfect setup because he led all 25 laps and had a full straightaway lead at the finish ahead of second-place George Barton of Ankeny. Ken Davidson of Indianola was third, followed by Dave Chase of Council Bluffs and Karl Sanger of Waterloo.

It was Hoffman’s fourth feature victory this year and second this week - he won at Oskaloosa Wednesday night.

“The car is just now starting to come around,” Hoffman added. “We figured if we got the engine working, everything else would work itself out.”

The feature and first heat victories were worth $610 to the Des Moines driver.

It took six restarts before the sportsman 12-lap consolation race got underway. Half of the 16-car starting field was eliminated by spins and collisions in the dry, slick turns.

But Rex Carter of Adel outlasted them all to take the victory with Cal Swanson of Reinbeck second and Steve Osborn of Des Moines third.

The 6-lap late-model consolation went to Lefty Robinson, who was followed by Jim Wilson and Fred Knapp, all of Des Moines.

Results -

Sportsman –

1. Bill Davis
2. Larry Embrey
3. Dave Farren
4. Rick Merryfield
5. Glen Woodard
6. Del McDowall
7. Virgil Webb
8. Cal Swanson
9. Denny Rosenberg
10. Howard Smidt

Late Model -

1. Don Hoffman
2. George Barton
3. Ken Davidson
4. Dave Chase
5. Ed Sanger
6. Bill Rice
7. Joe Merryfield
8. Galen Schaefer
9. Bill Beckman
10. Mike Dibben

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