West Burlington, Iowa (October 19, 1996) - Hosting its final day of racing in 1996, 34 Raceway was treated to the QMI/USMS Ultimate 100, which concluded in a 50-lap feature Sunday afternoon.
And with the temperatures soaring into the 60s and the sun shining bright, the day became perfect for Ray Guss Jr.
Guss, a native of Milan, Ill., took home a $20,000 paycheck with a victory in the feature race.
“It was a beautiful day today,” Guss said. “It was the only way to end the season. Last year I heard about them putting up $10,000 for the winner in modifieds, so I figured I had to come down here and race. It was the first time I had ever raced a modified and before today, it was the only time I had won with a modified.”
Guss led the race from start to finish from his pole position. Guss won the pole when he placed first in Thursday's 25-lap feature.
His main competitor was Johnny Saathoff, who had won Saturday's 25-lap feature and began the race on the outside. Saathoff, who resides in Beatrice, Neb., had been coming off a win at the Gold Rush in Amarillo, Texas - earning $25,000.
After two caution flags on the first lap, Guss took off from the green flag and grabbed an early lead. Saathoff failed to keep up and Guss led the first 10 laps by nearly three seconds.
“He got on a good line,” Saathoff said of Guss' early start. “On that rubber track, you have to keep a perfect line and try not to get too high and abuse your right rear tire.”
Saathoff was nearly passed by Kevin Gundaker during the fifth lap but was able to hold off Gundaker by going high as he did in Saturday's win.
Guss compiled larger leads as the race lengthened but each time he expanded his lead it was shortened by one of the seven yellow flags. In addition, a red flag was pulled when Wayne Brooks' car crashed into Bruce Hanford's car, sending both racers to the pits.
Guss said he was able to hold his lead by driving low on the track. “The track definitely had the rubber on the bottom,” he said. “The trick was getting a lead and saving your right rear. I knew Sunday, after racing Saturday night the rubber would be taken off the track.”
Guss had faced a few problems prior to his races at 34 Raceway. Guss had been at Amarillo, Texas for the Gold Rush and finished 10th.
“I was in two of (Saathoffs) shows in Texas and Nebraska and I would have a good run and then things would go wrong,” Guss said. “I'd be racing good in the B main and then I'd break. I broke in Nebraska and then got 10th in Texas.”
Guss, a former NASCAR Central Region champion, usually races a late model. “This is only the second time I've won in a modified,” he said. “And both times have been at 34 Raceway.”
Guss finished second in Saturday night's feature in late models and was able to watch Saathoff win to see how his competition races. “I watched (Steve) Boley and Saathoff and saw how they were running,” he said. Mark Noble finished third while Bob Timm placed fourth in a tightly contested race. Boley was fifth.
1. Ray Guss Jr.
2. Johnny Saathoff
3. Mark Noble
4. Bob Timm
5. Steve Boley
6. Steve Kosiski
7. Gus Hughes
8. Russ Olson
9. Dan Chapman
10. Ron Jones
11. Kelly Shryock
12. Tim Donlinger
13. Randy Zimmerman
14. Jeff Morris
15. Kevin Gundaker
16. Chuck Mayerhofer
17. Mike Spaulding
18. David Bice
19. Joe Kosiski
20. Wayne Brooks
21. Bruce Hanford
22. Bryan Collins
23. Ryan Dolan
24. John Allen