Oshkosh, April 29- Oh, What a Night!
Season openers have a way of getting out of control sometimes, and with 171 cars in 6 divisions filling the pit area at the Oshkosh SpeedZone Raceway on Friday night, one could only hope for the best.
The veteran staff at the Zone was up to the challenge and an entire program was complete in 3 ½ hours. The drivers also did their job to near perfection with all 6 very competitive features run in just under an hour. There were only a handful of cautions during the entire night, compliments of a very smooth, fast track.
The Street Stock division started the feature portion off with a caution on the opening lap. After the restart, it was a non-stop contest with defending champion, Steve Gawaresky, drawing the pole, and quickly setting the pace. After a few laps, Gawaresky was opening a lead and proceeded to run alone the entire distance at the front. Lexii Ashcraft, Jason Fairbank, Jesse Krahn and Frank Knaus were in a tight battle behind for much of the race.
Gawaresky got a good start on the season picking up the Kim Parson Memorial Trophy for his first win of his title defense. Krahn won the battle for the runner up spot with Ashcraft taking third. Frank Knaus, Shawn Haydon and Dan Knaus rounded out the final finish.
Another defending track champion, Travis Van Straten started the feature in the season row and was in the lead after the opening lap. Ryan Blank, Dan Nelson, Jerry Winkler and Joe White bunched for a runner up battle while Van Straten just pulled away from the field on his way to collect his fist Zone feature of the season. Blank and Wheeler had a great battle for second place with Winkler taking the spot at the finish with Blank, in his first run in the Stock Car division, settled for a strong third place finish. Joe White, John Heinz and Brandon Czarapata rounded out the top six.
With a stout 46 car field in the IMCA Modified division, it was atough go making the main event, with 24 cars on the grid. Steve Schneider took command at the start from the front row with Mike Wedelstadt, Benji LaCrosse, Jeff Steenbergen Todd Dart and Ed Lemay right behind.
Schneider opened a lead over the first few laps with LaCrosse moving into the runner up spot on lap 6, and closed in on the leader. For 8 laps, LaCrosse ran outside of Schneider and it was back and forth for the lead. A lapped car on lap 15 messed up the momentum briefly, which was all Schneider needed to regain the lead and move on to collect his first feature win of the season. LaCrosse could not get back to the leader and finished right behind in second. Defending champion, Marcus Yarie, had to make the main through the consy, and made an exciting run from the back of the field through traffic and ended up taking third at the finish. Wedelstadt, Ed Lemay and RC Withwell rounded out the top six.
Chris Budzban grabbed the lead in the IMCA Sport Mod main and was able to put distance on the field over the first half of the race. Tom Schneider, Kevin Bethke and JJ Andersen battled for the second spot. Once Schneider settled into the runner up spot alone, he slowly started to cut into the lead that Budzban had established and after lap 10, was getting to within striking distance. Lapped traffic also cane into the picture as the leaders had to move through traffic. On lap 15, Schneider was able to pull alongside Budzban on the front chute and after 2 more lap, was in control. Not to be outdone by his brother Steve, Tom ran to his first feature win of the season and the pair shared victory lane after their back to back victories. Budzban took a close second place finish with Andersen and Bethke holding down the top 4 spots. Defending champion, Jeff Schmuhl, finished 5th and Wyatt Block took 6th.
The Grand National feature saw Tim Doehling grab the top spot ahead of Nick Schumacher and Dan Schumacher with Brian Vinney and Dan Schumacher behind over the first few laps. Larry Richards worked from the middle of the field and took over the runner up spot on lap 8, and running the outside line, closed in on the leader. For the final 6 laps, the pair ran side by side with Doehling holding the top spot at the line. At the white flag, Richards was scored as the leader and it was a drag rave to the finish line with the initial call giving Doehling the victory, but Doehling acknowledged Richards was inches ahead at the line and officials agreed that Richards was indeed the winner of the opening night contest. Doehling was the runner up with Vinney taking third, Jeff Richards fourth with Nick and Don Schumacher rounding out the top six.
Chris Maas sat on the pole for the Dirt Devil finale with Mike Meier, Anthony Fletcher, Tayler Becker and Kasey Gross behind. The pack stayed tight throughout the race with Gross making his way into third by lap 4, making a tight three way battle for the lead. Meier was in the thick of the battle when suddenly lost power and in an attempt to coast off the track, could not quite make it and forced only the second caution during all of the features for the night, setting up a 4 lap dash to the finish. Mass was able to hold off Gross to collect his first feature win of the season. Rick Fairbank took third followed by Joe Minks, Fletcher and Becker.
Racing will continue every Friday night through Labor Day at the SpeedZoine with racing at 7 PM.
20 Lap Feature l Steve Schneider, Chilton 2, Benji LaCrosse, Green Bay 3. Marcus Yarie, Wausau 4. Mike Wedelstadt, Fremont 5. Ed Lemay 6, RC Withwell
8 Lap Consy First l. Brian Drexler, Oshkosh 2. Josh Long, Green Bay
Second l., Yarie 2. Mitch Stankowski
Thhird l. Jay Matthias, Green Bay 2. Mike Klenz
8 Lap Heats First l. Dan Roedl, Beaver Dam 2. Shawn Kilgore. Luxemburg
Second l. Brian Mullen, Seymour 2. LaCrosse
Third l. Withwell 2. Wedelstadt
Fourth l. Todd Dart, Algoma 2. Schneider
Fifth l. Jeff Steenbergen 2. LeMay
IMCA STOCK CARS
15 Lap Feature l. Travis Van Straten, Hortonville 2. Jerry Winkler, Oshkosh 3. Ryan Blank, Greenville 4. Joe White, Green Bay 5. John Heinz, Green Bay 6. Brandon Czarapata, Pulaski
8 Lap Heats First l. Van Straten 2. Czarapata
Second l. Paul Holschuh, Green Bay 2. White
Third l. Blank 2. Winkler
IMCA SPORT MODS
20 Lap Feature l. Tom Schneider, Chilton 2. Chris Budzban, Luxemburg 3. JJ Andersen, Green Bay 4. Kevin Bethke, Neenah 5. Jeff Schmuhl, Beaver Dam 6, Wyatt Block, Shawano
10 Lap Consy First l. Brekken Kleinschmidt 2. Jason Ebert
Second l. Brandon Schmitt 2, Scott Besaw, Omro
8 Lap Heats First l. Brock Saunders, Appleton 2. Brian Bruechert, Kewaunee
Second l. Tom Schneider 2. Andersen
Third l. Bethke 2. Kelsey Hayes,
Fourth 1. Scott Reidner 2. Budzban
15 Lap Feature l. Steve Gawaresky 2. Jesse Krahn 3. Lexii Ashcraft 4. Frank Knaus 5. Shawn Haydon 6. Dan Knaus
8 Lap Consy l, Dan Knaus 2. Mark Schultz 3. Zach Spangenburg
8 Lap Heats First l. Jeremy Kemnetz 2. Alex Crapser
Second l. Jeff Wicinsky 2. Ashcraft
Third l. Jeff Jungwirth 2. Frank Knaus
15 Lap Feature l. Larry Richards, Montello 2. Tim Doehling, Winneconne 3. Brian Vinney 4,Jeff Richards 5. Nick Schumacher 6. Don Schumacher
8 Lap Heats First l. Tim Reichenberger 2. Doehling
Second l. Larry Richards 2. Rich Garb
Thhird l. Jeff Richards 2. Vinney
15 Lap Feature l. Chris Maas 2. Kasey Gross 3. Rick Fairbank 4. Joe Minks 5. Anthony Fletcher 6. Tayler Becher
8 Lap Heats First l. Fairbank 2. Jordan Klemmer
Second l. Gross 2. Mike Meier