Willy Kraft - Photo courtesy of Darin Short
West Burlington, Iowa (July 4, 1988) - Willy Kraft enjoyed a perfect evening of racing Saturday, but in the flick of an eye his domination nearly turned to disaster.
, driver led from start to finish of
every race he ran to take home the checkered flag as the United States Auto
Club late models invaded 34 Raceway for the second stop on their Iowa
Firecracker Jamboree tour. However, it was the final seconds of the feature
race that nearly saw Kraft's triumph tumble to tragedy. Minn.
Kraft led the first 39 laps of the 40-circuit feature with virtually no trouble, but two-time defending USAC national champion Billy Moyer of
, began to close fast during
the final three laps. Kraft still had a comfortable lead entering the final
turn when the engine of Batesville,
Steve Keppler blew near the finish line. Marion
Kraft slowed noticeably while Moyer forged ahead, diving inside, and the two passed under the checkered flag nose to tail.
Completing the top 10 were Larry Phillips of
defending champion Ken Essary of Springfield, Mo. ; Ray Guss Jr. of Galena,
Tommy Joe Pauschart of Milan, Ill. ; Charlie Sentman of Carlisle,
Johnny Johnson of Wapello; Jeff French of Waveland, Ind. ;
and Dick Potts of Urbandale ,
In all, 29 drivers from as far away as
and Arizona vied for a share
of the $53,000 purse. The second annual event attracted a standing-room-only
crowd, one of the largest in 34 Raceway history. Wyoming
The evening belonged to Kraft, who nearly lapped the field in his heat race before running away with the main event. Kraft started on the pole of the feature and quickly built a large lead. After four laps his blue and yellow No. 83 was already into lapped traffic, with Phillips and Moyer in hot pursuit.
Phillips began charging 10 laps into the race and he and Kraft took off away from the rest of the pack. Phillips nearly passed Kraft on the inside on lap 21. However, Phillips was forced off the top of turn 2 on lap 31, and by the time he regained control Moyer had passed and Phillips was out of the picture.
That turned the race over to Kraft and Moyer for the final nine laps. The two passed through the final group of slower cars on lap 38, leaving Kraft with an eight car-length lead and a clear track ahead for the final two circuits.
That is, until Keppler's trouble on the final straight. Keppler had the only difficulty as the race was contested under the green flag from start to finish for the second straight year.
Essary, Potts, Kraft and Guss earned heat victories while Phillips won the last-chance qualifier. Moyer was tops in time trials, breaking the track record by more than a full second for the second straight year, touring the 3/8-mile oval in 15.539 seconds.
Feature races only were conducted in 34 Raceway's four other regular classes, with triumphs belonging to Danny Fielty of
(hobby stock), Donnellson's David Buford (pro stock), Lance Stott of Burlington ,
(sportsman) and Carthage, Ill. 's
Bill Dusenbery (super modified). Burlington