MASON CITY — In racing, there aren’t many moments like capturing your first victory, whether it's the first at your home track or the first of your career.
Josh Zieman, the grandson of Mason City racing legend Ted Zieman, captured his first ever victory when he drove to first in the Stock Cars feature. The win was just as sweet for Derek Willert, who had already won twice in his career prior to Sunday night, but never at the Mason City Motor Speedway.
Both earned their moments on this night.
“I might be able to tell you a better answer tomorrow,” Zieman said how it felt to grab his first victory Sunday night, “but I got a little choked up. I’m not real emotional in that sense, but it means a lot. I’ve worked my entire life to get to this point right here, I outworked the competition and it showed tonight.”
Until a green-white-checker at the end of Sunday’s feature, it looked like Zieman wouldn’t be the one hoisting the trophy by race’s end.
Lynn Panos had taken the lead from Jesse Brown with three laps to go and it looked like it was going to be a fight to the finish between the pair. Then a caution hit to set up a two-lap sprint to the finish.
On the restart, Zieman, who started on the outside of the second row, charged into Turn 1 and pulled even with Panos coming out of 2. Around Turn 4, he made his pass stick.
“I kind of had it planned out because I knew exactly where he was going to be,” Zieman said. “Nobody in front of me was running the high side in 3 and 4 so I knew if I at least come off next to him off of 2 that I was going to beat him because I was quicker on top and it was clear up there.”
It wasn’t locked up at that point, though, as he had to hold off both Brown and Panos at the finish line to score his first victory. Then the celebration was on.
“I think I threw my elbow out because I knew we had it,” Zieman said. “I knew I outworked the competition, but I just had to put it all together and we did tonight.”
Willert’s fight to victory lane ended up being an emotional one as well, albeit Zieman’s display post-race wasn’t going to be topped.
Willert, who has been coming to Mason City for each of the past three seasons, started from outside the front row and used a pass on Zac Smith with seven laps remaining to drive on to his first win at MCMS.
“Being in Mason City on the home track, finally being able to put on a good race is well worth waiting for, I’ll tell you that,” said Willert, who lives in Rockford. “We were in the shop this afternoon and we’re really not sure what to do. We’ve been fighting the car being loose and decided ‘Ah, heck. We’ll just run whatever’s on the car from last Friday.’ And it worked out.”
He did have to hold off Dustin Gulbrandson in the wanning laps as Gulbrandson pulled door-to-door with Willert with four laps left. Willert ended up winning by less than a car length.
“It’s a lot of concentration,” Willert said. “We just had to be patient and you had to hit your marks. We try to do our maintenance to try and keep the car where it needs to be and it seems to be working out.”
In the Modifieds, Jason Cummins stayed hot with his third win at Mason City of the season. The only tense moment of his race after he took the lead early on came when Ryan Ruter drove underneath him in the middle of Turns 3 and 4 with four to go, but Cummins got the lead right back with a move to the bottom out of 4 and cruised into victory lane.
Dustin Kruse rolled to is first feature win of the season in Mason City in the B-Modifieds and Devin Jones took home first in the Tuners.