The Bandits tried to get in and out of Hawkeye Downs Speedway in Cedar Rapids, IA on June 9th without incident, but Mother Nature had other ideas. Severe weather, including a tornado warning, forced Bandit promoters to halt the event mid-way through. “We gave it our best shot, but during the first Challenge race, we had to postpone,” Bandit General Manager Jason Johnson said. “The most important thing is keeping everyone safe, including the Bandits and our fans.” But, before the postponement, there was some great racing action.
During the day, the sun was out, giving hope that the hot Iowa weather was going to really fire up these big rigs and let the fans see some great racing. In addition to the racing, the Minimizer Fan Series Truck Show welcomes truckers to bring out their rigs at each event to show them off and direct attention towards the trucking industry. With about 20 trucks on the lot, including some really nice rigs brought out by one of the event sponsors, Cedar Rapids Truck Center, this was a chance for the fans to get an up-close look at some sweet working rigs.
After capturing the first race, last year’s winner Tommy Boileau seemed to be on his way to being the first two-time champion at Hawkeye Downs. Things got really going when the father and son duo of Craig and Tyler Kruckeberg rolled out for the second heat and did some great side-by-side racing. Craig prevailed over his son, pulling in front of Tyler with a couple laps to go, and never relinquishing his lead. Tyler gave it all he had, sliding his #54 Kenworth out of Turn 4 almost sideways, pushing it right to the finish, but couldn’t catch the #55 Ford L9000, driven by his father.
The final heat race brought out the fastest group of qualifiers and featured the 2017 defending points champion Ricky “Rude” Proffitt (#14) and newcomer and dirt track legend Mark Noble (#74). Noble pulled out in front to lead the race, but Rude, a seasoned Bandit, ran him down and captured the third heat. The Bandits could sense the excitement of the crowd and were ready to get the popular Bandit Shootout underway.
The shootout didn’t disappoint, as it had some of the best racing of the night, complete with some bumping and banging. The highlight of the race came when Scott Treadway (#4) got a nudge from Tommy Boileau (#16) coming out of Turn 4. The crowd went wild as Treadway’s Western Star slid backwards across the finish line to win that leg.
One for the show – or should we say for the photo finish – was when Craig “The Godfather” Kruckeberg (#55) pulled off one of the closest finishes in Bandit history, edging out Mark Noble (#74) by just 4/100th’s of a second. That Ford nose had its advantage, and what it lacks in aerodynamics, it makes up for in nostalgic looks! The Godfather was eventually eliminated and Justin “Boost” Ball (#17) pulled out another win in the shootout race. One very happy and lucky fan, chosen to represent Justin, walked away with a crisp $100 bill just for cheering on his favorite driver.
The competitors for Challenge Race #1 rolled out, but when the threat of severe weather presented itself, Bandit officials had to put a halt to the event. “Without bad luck we’d have no luck at all,” said Brian Madsen – Bandits Race Director, who had to deem the night a washout as emergency staff evacuated the remaining crowds into the storm shelters at the track. With a tight July schedule and weekly racing at Hawkeye Downs underway, both parties agreed on a makeup date of Sunday, July 29th, for the continuation of the event.
General Manager Jason Johnson said all tickets, including wristbands, will be honored at the gate, which will open at noon on July 29th. And just in case you didn’t get the chance to see the Bandits during the initial race, he’s welcoming those to come out if they didn’t have a ticket initially for a $5.00 admission pass to see who will claim the $10,000 first place prize.
Next up for the Bandits is their first-ever stop in Pennsylvania. They’ll be at Lake Erie Speedway in North East, PA on Saturday, July 7th, and then at Salem Speedway in Salem, IN on Saturday, July 14. For more information or to purchase tickets for any upcoming Bandit Big Rig Series events, visit them online at www.banditseries.com.