By Troy Harrison

Thunder Hill Speedway dropped the green on the 2012 season with a two-day afternoon show called the “Fool’s Day Meltdown,” and the quality of competitors in the pits was no April Fool’s joke.  Top IMCA drivers from five states towed to the high banks, and when the final checkered flew, Kenny Sweet took the BSB Manufacturing IMCA Modified bucks, while Kyle Vanover won the Heinen Repair Service IMCA Stock feature, Bryan LaRiviere took the Kansas National Guard IMCA Northern SportMod feature, Adam Armstrong won in BuyRaceParts.com IMCA Hobby Stocks, and Scott Spellmeier was the victor in IMCA Sport Compacts.

The first feature of the afternoon was the IMCA Sport Compact feature, as the class is newly added for 2012.  Nick Lindblad  came under heavy challenge from Marysville Kansas Scott Spellmeier.  Spellmeier was eventually able to work his way past Lindblad, but Lindblad kept the battle going.  The feature went green to checkered with no cautions, and at the line, Spellmeier held on by about a car length to become the first IMCA Sport Compact winner in Thunder Hill history.  Lindblad was second, followed by Rhonda Mewes, Jarret Beach, and Brandon Lobdell.

Then it was time for the BuyRaceParts.com IMCA Hobby Stocks.  This feature was a wild affair, with Adam Armstrong and Brian Stich bringing the field to the green.  On the second lap, Roy Armstrong dipped beneath Stich to relegate last year’s track champion to third place, where he remained until a late race caution. Contact between Stich and Roy Armstrong sent both to the back of the field.  On the restart, something happened to Adam Armstrong as his car failed to come to speed, sending drivers wheeling on both sides by him.  At this point, a surprised Ryan Gilland took the point, but Adam Armstrong’s car had found its song, and he barreled through a pack of four cars on the backstretch to move back into second.  On the closing lap, Adam Armstrong was able to make a move on Gilland, winning the race by about a bumper length.  Gilland was second, Roy Armstrong third, Jacob Crowell fourth, and Stich fifth.

The Kansas National Guard IMCA Northern SportMod feature promised to be a highly competitive one, and it was from second place on back.  Bryan LaRiviere had a Fool’s Day surprise of his own for the field.  Starting outside front row,  LaRiviere simply drove away from the rest of the pack leaving polesitter Matthew Crowell to battle with Adam Patch, Darin Nelson and Curtis Dreasher.  Crowell’s car succumbed to mechanical problems on the third lap.  Meanwhile, Kyle Olberding was quickly advancing from his tenth starting spot, working his way past Dreasher and Nelson in order to challenge Patch for second.  Those four remained in a tight contest for the rest of the race through lapped traffic while LaRiviere used traffic to extend his lead.  This one went wire to wire with no cautions, with LaRiviere taking the win, Patch second, Olberding third, Dreasher fourth, and Nelson fifth.

The next-to-last feature of the day was the Heinen Repair Service IMCA Stock Car feature, and this promised to be a competitive affair.  Lance Borgman and Kyle Vanover brought the field to the green, with Borgman catching an early lead.  Borgman slid too high on the front straightaway on the first lap, however, which allowed Vanover and Jim Powell Jr. to slip beneath.  The rest of the race was a contest between Vanover and Powell, with Powell getting next to Vanover on a couple of occasions but unable to complete the pass.  At the finish, Vanover took the checkered followed by Powell, Borgman, Eric Rempel, and Kevin Vanlaningham.

The headline race of the day featured the BSB Manufacturing IMCA Modifieds competing for $2,000 to win.  The front row of Jesse Richter and Derrick Brown brought the field to the green, with Richter taking an early edge.  This would not last long, however, as Brown eased past to take the lead.  Brown lasted three laps at the point before sliding too high out of turn four, which allowed a hard charging Kenny Sweet to get under him.  Brendon Gemmill would get past Brown a lap later, and the race settled in with Sweet leading, Gemmill trying everything to get by, and Brown running a very solid third.  A late race caution, however, would shake things up considerably.  Contact between positions 4 and 8 resulted in several cars spinning and trying to get their bearings.  As the field slowed for the yellow, Brown suddenly dropped into the infield of mechanical maladies.  On the restart, Sweet was for the first time able to get a gap on Gemmill, while Nic Bidinger made a low side pass on Jay Noteboom to move up to the third spot.  Richter had hung in and was trading the fifth spot with Tom Charles, who had advanced all the way from 16th at the start.  At the finish, it was Sweet taking the big bucks back to Wichita, while Gemmill was second, Bidinger third, Noteboom fourth, and Richter edging Charles for fifth.

Next up at Thunder Hill are two practices on April 14th and April 21st, with gates opening at 1 PM and practice from 2 PM to 6 PM.  Thunder Hill’s 19th season of Weekly Racing will kick off on April 28th