BOONE, Iowa — Like the flick of a switch, Daniel Gottschalk was facing a completely different scenario.
And it was one that wasn’t having too rosy of an outcome, either.
On Tuesday night at the IMCA Super Nationals in Boone, Iowa, the Ellis driver was walking away from the field in his A-main qualifier. Then, as they normally do in a feature in Boone, the caution flag flew.
Now the Northern sport mod driver had a large field of hungry competitors hot on his tail on the restart.
So Gottschalk mashed the gas pedal and drove it hard into turn one — and things quickly went wrong.
“I threw it in and jumped the cushion,” Gottschalk said. “I hit the brake and turned off the berm and it killed the motor.”
A large contingent of drivers made their way around Gottschalk as his car coasted down the backstretch.
Soon, the other cars slowed as well for another caution — for cars at the other end of the track and not for Gottschalk.
That allowed Gottschalk to retake the front spot on the restart, and he eventually weathered the storm and finished third — qualifying for the third year in a row for Saturday night’s sport mod big dance.
“We got a break,” he said. “I guess it worked out.
“I didn’t get it started up until I was halfway down the backstretch. … I got lucky not to tear anything up.”
Gottschalk, in the running for the national championship in the Northern sport mod division, drove like a champ in the early laps. He comfortably distanced himself from the rest of the field.
But after the first lengthy caution, he said the track changed considerably in only a few minutes.
“The track went away after the long yellow,” Gottschalk said. “It was amazing how much the track dried out after that. Early, you could run the cushion.”
He also had to survive multiple restarts as well, where there was significant bumping going on as the green flag flew.
Gottschalk dropped back to fourth place at one point in the race before making up a spot to take third.
“When I was coming off four, I was all over the guy in front of me, and every restart I could motor right past him but couldn’t because I would have been docked spots,” Gottschalk said
Beloit’s Tyler Watts grabbed the final qualifying spot in the same A-main. Watts was eighth after a driver ahead of him was disqualified during post-race inspection.
The two join Ellis’ Dakota Sproul, who made the big dance on the first night of competition Monday. All three regularly compete at RPM Speedway in Hays.
The final qualifying spots for the big dance in the hobby stock and sport mod classes were scheduled for Wednesday, with it also being the first day of competition for modifieds and stock cars.
Races eventually were rained out for the day and were expected to start early today.