Opening night has a certain level of prestige that goes along with it. Proving you are the fastest right out of the box carries bragging rights and with a good car count in every class, it was gonna be very hard to win. Weather tried to hinder Gallatin Speedway for the second week in a row but the speedway would have none of it. 21 street stocks, 17 super stocks, and 21 A-mods were set to do battle. It was time for the mud flingin’ to begin.
Street Stocks were first on track with Rod Lorenz on pole. Lorenz was looking to reverse his teams bad luck that started earlier in the evening with his son Conner Lorenz blowing a motor. The green flag fell and immediately last years track champion Beau Brown stole the lead on the outside. The second place battle raged just a few feet behind Brown with a 3 wide race between Lorenz, Jeremy Castro, and Paul Lease. Castro prevailed and took 2nd, now setting his sights on Brown. A fellow Deer Lodge crusader didn’t want to be left out of the conversation, Nick Hunter now showed his face at the front of the pack. Paul Lease rooted Jeremy Castro out of second position and Castro began a descent that he could not recover from. Beau Brown was catching lapped traffic and still laying down a wicked pace. He came across two lapped cars racing side by side and without hesitation he ran between them and stretched his lead over fellow Deer Lodge drivers Nick Hunter and Paul Lease. The race was Beau Brown’s to lose, until a caution came out. As the green flag came out, you didn’t have to look too far back to see Dwayne Fowler flying around the low line, and passing cars like they were standing still. In no time at all Fowler snuck into second and looked to win the opening night at Gallatin Speedway. The white flag came out and Fowler was on Brown’s bumper, it was now a two man race. Into corner three Fowler pushed it as hard as he could to try to get around Brown but could not prevail. Beau Brown ratains the lead and takes his first Gallatin Speedway victory of 2012. Dwayne Fowler crossed the line second, Paul Lease in third, Nick Hunter fourth and Dan Bowlin snuck around a very fast, Brian Barnhardt for fifth. Pole sitter Rod Lorenz’s terrible luck continued with his second blown motor of the night. Heat race winners were Beau Brown, Dan Bowlin and Brian Barnhardt.
Super Stocks were next in line and Lighthizer started on pole with young, Jake Tucker to the outside. Green flag came out and the 88 car stole the lead without hesitation. The second place battle quickly escalated to a three wide melee with Jeremy Rieker, Carmi Wells, and Jake Tucker. Tucker came away ahead of the others and immediately challenged Lighhizer for the lead which was defended a turn later. Mark Rieker was charging hard through the pack and was finally near the front when near disaster struck. Rieker got together with Dan Guenther and both front wheels came off the ground but luckily for Rieker, all landed safely. Tucker was mimicking every move the leader made, right in his tire tracks, but the 7 of Carmi Wells was now challenging him. Justin Rieker out of Billings Montana made his way to third place and was showing some serious muscle now, and challenging for second on the low line. Now the battle was for the lead and flashes of the last two season openers were beginning to show. In 2010 Justin Rieker finished second to Troy Hyde, in 2011 second again, and now in 2012 Rieker was in the familiar spot with laps winding down. Lighthizer gave it everything but Rieker peeked high and dove low into corner three and completed the pass. A glance back to the third position showed Meirhofer battling with Wells, then last year’s track champion flew past Wells and Lighthizer simultaneously and tried to run down Justin Rieker who already had ten car lengths. Lapped traffic became a huge factor when Rieker hit a slower car and it peeled his front nose cone up making it incredibly difficult to see. White flag waved and Meirhofer could smell blood. In one lap he erased a ten car deficit and was on the leaders bumper through the last corner Justin Rieker holds on to win the opening night after being the bridesmaid the previous two years in a row. Meirhofer came across a close second, Lighthizer in third Carmi Wells in fourth Ty Clemens rounded out the top 5. heat race winners Jeremy Meirhofer and Dan Guenther
Wissota Modifieds were now in the spotlight with Kasey Brown returning to the track after a short hiatus, started on the pole. Jody Kropp had a off year last year and looked to rebound in a big way starting to the outside. The green flag waved and Kropp got the jump, but brown battled back and Emory Wells was right there with them. The top three cars were seperated by little more than a sheet of paper. Not to be outdone Erin Shane wanted to make it four racers battling it out for the top spot. Emory Wells looked to the low line and wrangled away the lead from Kropp, but Kropp stayed with the high line and hung right with him. Erin Shane made a run on Jody Kropp and nabbed second and instantaneously the yellow flag came out. When the racing resumed Wells got a lead and wanted to pull away but Chad Johnson said no, and stuck with him in the second position. The 52 of Erin Shane saw the low line was not working and moved way up to the high line and started making up time. Chad Johnson tried to get around Emory Wells but the car bobbled and actually lost time. A red flag waved for a 8 car fiasco that blocked the entire track taking out pole sitter Kasey Brown. Racing resumed once again and it was a dog fight. The top three cars, Chad Johnson, Erin Shane, and Emory Wells raced three wide for the lead. Everyone was going crazy and just when everyone thought that was as good as it was going to get, Jeremy Meirhofer showed his face. Meirhofer in just his second modified race snuck to fourth, then third and was now staring down Erin Shane and Emory Wells battling side by side. Erin Shane was still running the high line and Emory Wells low but Meirhofer ran lower and nabbed second. The white flag waved and Meirhofer was nosing ahead for the lead into the first corner when disaster struck. A slight misjudgement and the 32m’s cinderella story turned into a nightmare. Meirhofer hit a white tire while taking the lead and it sent him around. The checkered flag waved and Erin Shane grabbed another victory from Gallatin Speedway. Emory Wells second, Chad Johnson had a strong showing in third, Maurice Myre fourth and Dennis Hurd fifth after starting the evening in 20th position. Heat race winners were Emory Wells, Erin Shane, and Joey Price.
The night went by fast and there were a few hot tempers but next week looks to be even better as sprint cars visit Gallatin Speedway for the first time this season, along with street stocks, super stocks, and modifieds. The new website Gallatinspeedway.com is up and visit it for and info you might have. Thanks for reading and see you next Friday.