Jimmy Gustin - Photo by Dennis Daniel/DirtModifiedRacer.com
Boone, Iowa – Boone Speedway (Sept. 11, 2010) – Marshalltown, Iowa’s Jimmy Gustin fulfilled one of his racing dreams as he won the IMCA Super Nationals on Saturday night in front of a packed racing facility. Gustin was able to race past early race leader Brandon Blochlinger and speed away to victory in the 40 lap contest. The “Big Dance” as it is called, is considered to be one of the most prestigious open wheel Modified races in the country. Gustin topped a field of 273 competitors, which represented 22 states from coast-to-coast.
Gustin won Thursday night’s preliminary feature, which earned him the middle, front row starting spot in the three wide field. He was joined on the front row by fellow preliminary winners Clint Hatlestad (outside) and Kevin Stoa (pole). It took a total of 130 events, contested over 4 days, for the Modifieds before the final starting field of the best 33 drivers took to the track at almost 11:00 PM on a cool, late summer night in central Iowa. Drivers from all over the country made the trek to Boone, some with dreams of just making the show, while others dreamed of winning it. Even former winners of the event know the challenge to win this coveted event, including last year’s winner, Randy Havlik, who failed to qualify for the feature this year.
As the drivers rolled around the track in the customary three wide start for the final event of the weeklong festival of racing, thousands of fans surrounded the Speedway. The grandstands were packed and were joined by the crowded Boone catwalks, which extend from turn one, all the way down the back straight, and end in turn four. They were all eager to see the green flag wave and witness the battle that was about to unfold.
After a couple of parade laps, the yellow light was turned off and it was time to dance. As the cars took the waving green flag, they raced 4 and 5 wide through turns 1 and 2. As the cars motored down the back straight to the roar of cheering fans, it was Stoa who would emerge as the early race leader. Hatlestad had been able to settle in behind in second, while Gustin had dropped back a few spots and he looked to get into a comfortable groove. Fourth starting Blochlinger was able to use his inside row start to move into third behind the front two.
Stoa, who had been really strong in Wednesday’s first qualifying night, looked early on like he had a really good car, as he began to open a several car length lead over Hatlestad. Behind him, Blochlinger was able to squeeze by Hatlestad to take over second on lap 4 and looked to try to chase down Stoa. Behind the leaders, the cars were running 3 and 4 wide for several laps, before settling into one or two grooves of racing.
As Stoa exited turn 2 on the 8th lap, his car suddenly slowed and he pulled off the track. His dreams of winning the event for the second time in three years ended early in the event. His disappointment handed to Blochlinger, while Luke Wanniger was charging to the front from his outside 5th row starting spot and ran second. G.W Egbert, from Texas, had also charged early in the race and ran 4th followed by Reese Coffee. Gustin had settled into 6th spot but was getting pressure from Todd Shute for the spot on lap 9.
Wanniger began to pressure Blochlinger for the lead, as lap-after-lap he tried to get enough traction on the bottom groove to overtake Blochlinger, who was running more in the middle groove. Each time, Blochlinger was able to motor up the track towards the front and back straight walls and hold back the challenge. On lap 16, the front two held a 6 car length advantage over Hatlestad, Egbert, Gustin, Scott Olson and Shute. Behind this group, California’s Kellen Chadwick, who started outside of the 3rd row but patiently settled into running around 11th, was looking to battle with middle 3rd row starting Johnny Saathoff. Saathoff was able to hold off Chadwick and could see that in front of him, Shute and Olsen were battling hard. On lap 17, Saathoff was able to drive between the two and move into 6th.
Up front, Blochlinger and Wanninger continued to pull away from Hatlestad, while Gustin had moved by Egbert for 4th, followed by Coffee and Saathoff. On lap 19 of the non-stop racing, the leaders began to approach lapped traffic. Wanninger tried to dive under Blochlinger on lap 21 as they raced their way through the traffic but his bid for the lead was held back. Although battling hard for the lead, the advantage they held over Hatlestad in third had grown to 15 car lengths.
Chadwick had begun to try to make his move to charge to the front. He began to run the high groove, while most of the rest were running the middle and bottom grooves. He used the high groove to get a huge momentum run, especially exiting turn 4. His only problem was that Olson, who was in front of him, kept sliding up the track exiting the turn, forcing him to slow his momentum. Chadwick was able to get by Coffee on lap 27 to move up to 9th.
While Blochlinger continued to lead Wanninger, Saathoff was able to overtake Egbert on lap 28 to claim the 5th spot and Gustin worked his way under Hatlestad for 3rd. As the race approached the 30th lap, things were being run at an incredible pace, as ¾ of the race was now complete, all without a single caution.
The caution flag finally flew on lap 32 for, slowing the incredible pace of the non-stop action. Blochlinger had the race in his grasp and would line up for the restart alone on the front row, with the remainder of the field doubled up behind him. Behind the leader, Wanniger and Gustin lined up side-by-side, followed by Hatlestad and Saathoff.
While Blochlinger led to field slowly to the starting cone exiting turn 4, the green flew again, only to have a caution fly again for a spin towards the rear of the field. The field would line back up in essentially the same lineup and ready to get it on over the final 8 laps.
When the racing was back under way, Gustin charged by Wanniger to take over second while Blochlinger tried to speed away. Also moving up on the restart was Saathoff, as he had moved up to 4th. A lap later, Saathoff muscled his way past Wanninger into third, while Gustin set his sights on the leader.
On lap 34, Gustin made his move in turn 2 and he was able to motor by Blochlinger down the back straight-away. As Blochlinger entered turn 3 behind Gustin, his car went straight and he coasted over the burm and headed pitside. He had no brakes, ending his bid for a career-changing victory just 6 laps short of his goal. Gustin now held a 5 car length lead over second running Saathoff. Shute had been running in 5th when they restarted but was ready to challenge the leaders.
On lap 35, Shute tried to get under Saathoff for the second spot. Saathoff was able to shut the door and keep the spot. Wanninger had fell back a few spots and Olson had gotten by Hatlestad for 4th on lap 36. A lap later, it was Nick Deal who got by Hatlestad.
Up front, Gustin saw the white flag flying with a comfortable 10 car length lead. Saathoff was trying to hold off Shute. A lap later, the race was over and it was Gustin taking the checkers with one fist pumping inside his car. Saathoff won the battle for second, followed by Shute, Olson and Deal. Hatlestad brought home a solid 6th place finish, with Wanniger, Chadiwkc, Coffee and Chris Alcorn rounding out the top 10.
“I laid back for the first half of the race, trying to save my tires,” Gustin said during post race interviews. When asked about his patience, he said, “It worked out pretty good,” with a huge smile on his face. Gustin was then overrun with friends, family and fellow drivers offering him their congratulations.
Drivers, crews and fans spent weeks preparing for this annual event, getting cars ready, making travel plans and actually making the journey to Boone. After spending 4 grueling days battling for a coveted spot in the Main Event of the Super Nationals, it took only 15 minutes of racing to settle things on the track. All the preparation and journeys led to victory for only one and this year the prestige is bestowed upon Jimmy Gustin.
Official Results – 2010 IMCA Super Nationals
A Main Event – 40 Laps
1. Jimmy Gustin, Marshalltown, Iowa
2. Johnny Saathoff, Beatrice, Neb.
3. Todd Shute, Des Moines, Iowa
4. Scott Olson, Blairsburg, Iowa
5. Nick Deal, Walnut, Iowa
6. Clint Hatlestad, Glencoe, Minn.
7. Luke Wanninger, Jefferson, Iowa
8. Kellen Chadwick, Oakley, Calif.
9. Reese Coffee, Hinton, Iowa
10. Chris Alcorn, Lincoln, Neb.
11. Cale Sponsler, Grimes, Iowa
12. Paul Stone, Winton, Calif.
13. Chris Abelson, Sioux City, Iowa
14. David Murray, Oberlin, Kan.
15. Jay Noteboom, Hinton, Iowa
16. Mark Elliott, Webster City, Iowa
17. Will Brack, Mead, Colo.
18. Adam Larson, Ames, Iowa
19. Troy Cordes, Raymond, Iowa
20. Craig Reetz, Dunlap, Iowa
21. Kevin Sustaire, Emory, Texas
22. Jake Durbin, Perry, Iowa
23. Ricky Stephan, S. Sioux City, Neb.
24. Rich Smith, Davenport, Iowa
25. Chris Derenne, Luxemburg, Wis.
26. Alex Stanford, Chowchilla, Calif.
27. G.W. Egbert, Belton, Texas
28. Justin O’Brien, West Union, Iowa
29. Eric Dailey, Armstrong, Iowa
30. Brandon Blochlinger, Concordia, Kan.
31. Kevin Stoa, Albert Lea, Minn.
32. Jordan Grabouski, Beatrice, Neb.
33. Mike Molle, Glidden, Iowa