By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, May 20, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - The most favorable weather conditions of the young 2011 season resulted in season high car counts and crowds as B-104 presented Kid's Ride Along Night at the Raceway. A total of 129 cars checked into the pit area lead headed up by the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds which had 35 participants. The Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified also set a track record for the number of entries with 23 drivers checking in for the program.
The evening also resulted on the closest finish of the year with Jon Schultz topping Total Power Sales Street Stock division by a foot over Jerry Winkler, who was the feature winner last week. Jeremy Christians overcame his string of bad luck which had included a blown engine, by dominating the non-stop Automotive Supply Company Modified feature race, winning the race by nearly a half lap over Eddie Muenster. The Miller Lite Grand National division saw Kenny Richards make his first appearance of the year payoff with a trip to victory lane. The evening concluded with Steve Lemay taking his first win of the year by a slim margin over Jason Fairbank.
Through three weeks this season there have been no repeat feature winners in any class in some incredibly competitive fields.
The Automotive Supply Company Modified feature contest roared into action with Tony Wedelstadt and Jeremy Christians doing battle for the top spot coming off their front row starting berths.
After a lap of side by side racing Christians grabbed the upper hand with Wedelstadt settling into the runner-up slot. Hometown racer John Schultz found himself running in the third slot with Tim Lemirande and Eddie Muenster holding down slots in the top five.
With two very distinct grooves developing, one high around the outside of the third mile clay oval and the other right on the inner edge of the raceway, drivers were divided in their choices as to which lane to run, making for some exciting passes mid field. Meanwhile out front Christians opened up a 10 car length lead by the halfway point in the contest.
Christians continued to dominate as the race neared the closing laps with Wedelstadt unable to match Christians pace. The third position however soon became hotly contested as a handful of cars sought the position. Schultz, Lemirande, Muenster, Travis Spaulding and Mike Klenz fought pack style for the position with the spot swapping back and forth between them.
It would be Muenster who established control of the position with six laps to go and quickly set out to close the gap on second running Wedelstadt. Muenster took advantage of lapped traffic finding a hole to work to the inside of Wedelstadt and charging into second on lap 17 of the 20 lap event.
There would be no time however to cut into the huge half-lap lead Christians had built, and with no cautions to slow his pace Christians easily lead to the checkered. Muenster would settle for a distant second followed by Lemirande, Spaulding and Klenz. Wedelstadt who spent the majority of the race in second faded to sixth at the finish.
Brian Drexler, last week's feature winner holds the top spot in the standings by eight markers over Spaulding.
The Miller Lite Grand Nationals had 27 drivers show for the evening, with the field narrowed to 20 contestants for the feature contest.
Jeff Steenbergen would take the initial lead from his pole starting position but would fall from the contest with mechanical problems while setting the pace coming to a halt as lap three way about to begin. This turned the lead over to Troy Weich who had worked into the runner-up slot prior to Steenburgen's misfortune.
With the green waiving Weich would set the pace with Will Schumacher, Tim Reichenberger, John Schultz III and Kenny Richards who had started twelfth already into the fifth slot.
Weich working the low groove continued to set the pace, but Richards was quickly advancing. Schumacher and Reichenberger had been in a battle for second when they drifted apart coming off turn four. Richards would dive between the pair and power past both slicing down the middle heading on the front stretch, taking second position on lap five.
Weich continued to fend off the challenges of Richards who had closed on his rear bumper, while Schultz III and Reichenberger followed. Tim Warner who had won the consolation race just moments before the start of the feature contest and had started in the tail of the field reached the top five by lap seven. Warner continued his charge moving into the fourth spot before the caution flew on lap 8.
With the green flag in the air Weich continued to fend off Richards who worked both high and low searching for a way to the top position. Weich was still in command at lap ten when the third caution of the contest flew when Jim Rhode who won the feature on opening night came to a halt in turn one.
As soon as the green flag dropped this time however, Richards used the high line to sweep past Weich for the top spot. Warner dropped Weich another position moving to second with six laps to go, but by now Richards had built up a dozen car length lead. Weich's pace began to slow allowing Brian Henry to claim the third position moments later. Weich would drop from the contest on the next lap with mechanical difficulty ending a strong run.
Richards would set the pace to the finish taking the checkered flag by a comfortable margin over Warner. Henry who also came from the consolation race laid claim to third over last week's feature winner Tim Simon. T.J. Smith completed the top five.
Warner hold the top point position by four points over Smith three nights into the 2011 season.
The Total Power Sales Street Stock feature started 21 cars with Richard Garb grabbing the opening lead. Brian Vinney Jr. and Jon Schultz followed. Schultz would work under Vinney Jr. for the second spot before the conclusion of lap three.
A quick caution on lap six would bunch the field and as action resumed, Garb found himself under immediate pressure from Schultz. Shultz would work the low groove coming away with the top spot on lap seven with Garb fighting back as the pair tossed the lead back and forth. Meanwhile last week's feature winner and current point leader Jerry Winkler had come from mid-pack into the third slot.
The battle for the lead soon became a three car battle as Garb, Schultz and Winkler contested the position. Garb continued to run the high line with Schultz hugging the bottom as the pair continued to run side by side with the race passing the halfway point.
Schultz would steal the top spot on lap twelve leaving Garb and Winkler to duel for second. After several laps of side by side racing Winkler would emerge with the second spot as the race wound down.
Winkler would find room in the low groove with Schultz running slightly higher on the raceway as the pair ran door to door for the top spot as the final caution of the race occurred due to a spin in turn two.
With the contest resuming, Schultz went back to the lead with Winkler continuing to pressure. Schultz would opt for the high line high with the momentum enough to fend off Winkler's challenges. Winkler would dive to the bottom one final time coming off turn four, but Schultz had enough momentum to reach the finish line first by less than a fend length. Garb finished third followed by opening night feature winner Jeff Jungwirth and Mark Schultz in the top five.
Winkler who had one win and a pair of runner-up feature finishes hold the point lead by a single marker over Jungwirth.
The seasons largest turnout of Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds resulted in 23 cars taking the green flag in their main event.
The lead swapped hands early in the race with Ron Besaw and Mike Dauphinais taking turns out front, before Joey Taycher became the third different leader by lap four.
A lap five caution bunched the field with Cody Hudson and Tracy Wassenberg chasing Taycher at the drop of the green.
Wassenberg running the outside of the raceway would work to the lead a position he would hold for the duration of the contest on lap eight. Kelsie Hayes made a late race charge working into second place with three laps to go, but there was no catching Wassenberg who scored his first career feature win at the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway. Hayse would claim second followed by Hudson, Rod Solem and Rob Charapata.
Last week's feature winner Kevin Bethke continues to hold the point lead by a single marker over Zeke Bishofberger.
There would be just a single caution to slow the pace of the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil main event and Steve Lemay would pace every lap of the contest. That lead was never secure however, for the majority of the contest Rick Fairbank held tight to his rear bumper. Jason Fairbank would replace his cousin Rick in the second spot as the race wound down, taking a shot at Lemay's lead position.
Lemay would hold fast to the lead however taking the win by a car length over Jason Fairbank, with Rick Fairbank, Dan Juszczyk and Joe Minks comprising the top five finishers.
Rick Fairbank holds the top spot in the point chase with Jason Fairbank just one point back. Juszczyk hold down third just two markers from the lead point position.
The next race night on the 2011 schedule is on Friday evening May 27th as Automotive Supply Company presents the program. All five weekly divisions will be in action to start off the Memorial Day weekend.
Well 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.
Drivers and fans are reminded an open practice will take place this Tuesday evening May 24th. Any type of car equipped with a roll cage and having the proper minimum safety equipment may take to the track which hosts practice in open sessions from 5:00pm until 9:00pm.
Practice admission to the pit area is just $10, while fans may enjoy coming to the track to watch the activities free of charge in the grandstand area.
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.
This article was posted to the website on May 21st, 2011