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Billy Balog tops IRA Sprint Special, Jim Rhode wins second Grand National feature of 2011 at the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway!


By Jeffrey Sachse

Friday, June 17, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - The Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway held its first big special event of 2011 and fans turned out in great numbers at the traveling IRA Outlaw Sprint series made its first of two scheduled appearances this season. The program, contested on a nearly perfect racing surface allowed drivers to get the most speed possible out of third machines, with transponder times showing the cars approaching the 100mph mark on the third-mile clay oval.

Mike Kertscher turned in the fastest time of the 26 cars that were in attendance with a blistering 12.065 second tour around the track. Track conditions stayed racy throughout the evening and similar times were turned in their feature contest with 20 cars on the track for the main event which was topped by Bill Balog.

For Balog is was his fifth straight IRA Outlaw Sprint Feature tour win of 2011, edging out a hard charging Kertscher and Scotty Neitzel in a 30 lap contest which had just a two slowdowns in the event. A slow roll by Russel Borland in turn four on lap 28 would bring out the red flag and the resulting in a green, white checked finish. The two lap dash would see Balog lead the way to victory over Kertscher who had closed in on the lead prior to the red flag. The IRA Outlaw Sprints will return on Friday Night August 26th.

Jim Rhode won his second Miller Lite Grand National win of the season at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway fending off current point leader Tim Warner and Larry Richards for the win.

Mark Schultz drove to victory lane in the Total Power Sales Street Stock division. Schultz would avoid the incidents which befell several of his competitors to score the victory. Early race leader and heat winner Patty Winkler was second followed by Mike Nehmer.

Dan Juszczyk now has two wins on the season in the Leon's Service Center Dirt Devils running away with the race in a non-stop feature contest. Jason Fairbank finished a distant second with Cory Wegner third.

The IRA Outlaw Sprint main event came to the line with 20 drivers set to battle and after their traditional four-wide salute pace lap the event proceeded to thrill the fans as the drivers began their high-speed battle.

Ty Bartz would set the initial pace of the race, with Balog who started fourth working into the runner-up slot by lap two. Donny Goeden held onto the third position as laps quickly ticked by.
Bartz and Balog would dice for the lead while deep in the field Scotty Neitzel, Mike Reinke and Kertscher were dicing through traffic working their way to the front.

On lap seven drove to the outside of Bartz down the backstretch and then dove underneath him through turns three and four. Powering off the turn Balog nose ahead and official lead lap eight. Bartz would hold onto the second spot until Neitzel worked into second just past prior to halfway point.

Balog meanwhile had been extending his lead to nearly a dozen car lengths. That lead however was erased on lap 15 when the yellow appeared for a stalled car in turn three.

Underway again Balog snapped back to the lead with Neitzel, Goeden and Kertscher giving chase. Balog's pace would allow him to maintain the lead as lapped traffic began to play a factor in the closing laps. Kertscher would expertly use the traffic to advance working up to the second spot and closing within a couple car lengths of Balog. The frantic pace was slowed a final time when Russel Borland tipped onto his side in turn four with a pair of laps remaining after hooking the inside berm. The resulting two lap dash to the finish would see Balog make a perfect restart leaving Kertscher in his wake to the checkered flag. Neitzel, Reinke and Goeden would make up the top five.

Troy Weich and Don Schumacher would squared off for the opening lead as the field spread out three wide as drivers sought an early advantage in the Miller Lite Grand National main event.
Weich would come away with the top spot, with Rhode and Mike Reichenberger holding the top three spots on lap two. Rhode was quick to close in on Weich often looking to his inside as Weich preferred a higher line around the raceway.

Rhode would find the bit he needed to work past Weich on lap six, scrambling to the top spot. Brian Henry would spin in turn two on the next lap forcing the first caution to appear. Rhode was back to the lead as action resumed leaving Weich and Tim Reichenberger to battle for second. Reichenberger would claim that spot as Weich began to fall back in the running order.
Rhode, Riechenberger and Larry Richards who won the most recent feature event held down the top three at the halfway point. Reichenberger's fine run would come to an end when he slowed on the track on lap 12 forcing a caution flag.

The race resumed with Rhode having to fend off the challenges of both Richards and Tim Warner who joined the chase in the third position. Rhode would fend off several passing attempt by Richards the lead trio would line up nose to tail. Warner would make the pass into the second spot with two laps to go, but was unable to find a way past Rhode who won his second feature of the year by three car lengths. Warner, now the division point leader would scored his second runner-up finish of the year. Richards, Weich and Terry Van Roy made up the top five finishers.

The Total Power Sales Street Stock division Patty Winkler set the initial lead on lap one, with Gordy Lewis taking over the top spot on lap two. Lewis would drift high in turn two on lap four turning over the top spot to Dion Wahl who became the events third leader. Mark Schultz would work into second moments later giving chase.

Wahl would set the pace until lap eleven when he became trapped behind a lapped car allowing Mark Schultz to sneak past for the lead. The battle for third became heated with several drivers getting tangled and Wahl's machine coming to a halt in turn two on lap fifteen. Two time feature winner Jon Schultz and Jerry Winker would both restarted at the tail of the field, taking all three drivers out of the top five running order.

The five lap dash to the checkered would see Mark Schultz cruise to the win. Patty Winker who earlier won her heat race earned a runner-up finish in the main event for her best feature performance of the year. Mike Nehmer, Jeff Jungwirth earned third and fourth respectively. Jon Schultz rebounded from his earlier incident to finish fifth.

The final feature of the night was run in the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil division, and the entry level class would turn in the only non-stop main event of the evening.

Three and four wide racing at the start have become the norm in the class when the green flag falls and tonight was no exception. M.J. Brenner would trade paint on the way to the lead on lap one. Joe Minks held down second until Dan Juszczyk took over the spot on lap two. Juszczyk wasted little time working to the top spot securing the lead on the next lap.

Juszczyk would set an uncatchable pace for the balance of the event extending his lead with each passing lap. Cory Wegner would reach second by the race mid point but was unable to match the pace set by Juszczyk. Current division point leader Jason Fairbank took his turn in the runner-up slot late in the race but was also unable to close in on the lead. Juszczyk would take the win by a comfortable margin with Fairbank, Wegner, Ben Meyerhofer and Erik Kollmann comprising the top five.

Racing continues next Friday Night, June 24th when Total Power Sales and Coors Light will present Driver Sponsor Appreciation Night. All five weekly divisions will be in action and over 100 cars are expected to take to the track with Automotive Supply Company Modifieds, Miller Lite Grand Nationals, Total Power Sales Street Stocks, Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds and Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils all on hand for the evening.

Gates open at 5:00pm, with racing action beginning at 6:30pm. Adult admission is just $10, with students tickets available to those between the ages 11 and 15 at just $5. Children 10 and under are admitted free with an adult.

Also taking place this week is the final open practice session of the summer. Tuesday Night, June21st will be the last chance drivers can take advantage of a mid-week practice until September. Pit admission will be $10 for the practice session and any type of car meeting minimum safety requirements is welcome to take to the track. Grandstand admission is free. Over 30 cars have appeared at each practice so far this year.

Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway is a 1/3 mile semi-banked clay oval located at the Sunnyview Expo Center which resides near the intersection of Highways 76 and County Trunk Y in Oshkosh. Weekly racing Friday Night racing continues until September. Fans and drivers are encouraged to visit the track website at www.oshkoshspeedzone.net for additional information on upcoming racing events.