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Mitch McGrath Tops Speedzone Opening Mod Main, Rhode Rockets to Grand National Victory

By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, May 6, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - Mitch McGrath and his father Joe made the trip to Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway from Waukesha, WI and the venture proved successful as the younger McGrath bested his father in a duel for the lead early in the 20 lap Automotive Supply Company Modified main event, and powered home to victory by 4 car lengths over local hot shoe Brian Drexler on opening night program presented by WAPL.

The Miller Lite Grand National division saw plenty of exciting late race action with just a single caution in their main event. Jim Rhode in just his second year in the class was able to fend off both T.J. Smith and Tim Warner as the trio fought tooth and nail in the closing laps. Rhode a former Dirt Devil competitor hung tight to the raceway and followed up his win in the final feature of the season, with a victory in this year's season opener.

The Total Power Sales Street Stock division kept fans on the edge of their seat as another three car shootout to the line took place, with the lead swapping back and forth over the final laps of the contest. Jeff Jungwirth managed to re-pass cagy veteran Jerry Winkler to grab the win after Winkler had made an inside move payoff squirting by Jungwirth in turn four with just a pair of laps remaining, but he drove wide in turn two on the next lap allowing Jungwirth to reclaim the top spot which he held to the checkered.

The newest weekly division at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway, the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds saw Zeke Bisofberger captured the victory, while Adam Broehm fended off race long challenges by Rick Fairbanks in the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil feature which ran caution free.

A field of 20 took the green flag in the Automotive Supply Company modified feature as Travis Spaulding and Joe McGrath tussled over the early lead with McGrath coming out on top. Joe's lead was short lived however as his son Mitch McGrath found room on the inside in turn three on the third trip around the 1/3 clay oval to snare the top spot. A caution would fly on the next circuit for a spin by Ed Stehula.

On the restart Mitch would outrace his father Joe, while Drexler a longtime standout performer at the Speedzone worked his way forward to challenge for the lead. Drexler would work into the runner-up slot before a quick pair of cautions occurred for a spin by Spaulding and moments after a tangle between Matt Rechek and Matt Maleport.

After those cautions the last half of the contest would run without interruption with Mitch McGrath showing the way. Drexler, running second closed briefly, but in the final five laps McGrath opened up a 10 car length lead, cruising to victory and leaving Drexler to settle for second. On the final lap Eddie LeMay Jr. made a thrilling inside pass on Tim Lemirande coming off the final turn to steal third. Lemirande would settle for fourth with Scott Mullen holding down the fifth spot. Joe McGrath would settle for sixth after having challenged his son for the lead early in the contest.

Outside front row starter Tim Warner powered past Nick Schumacher for the initial lead in the Miller Lite Grand National feature contest with 23 cars taking the green flag.

Schumacher would lose the runner-up slot moments later as T.J. Smith made an inside move payoff on the third circuit grabbing the runner-up slot. Rhode who started in the eighth position was making quick strides toward the front of the pack able to hug the bottom groove of the raceway and then power off the turns. Rhode had reached fourth by the fifth lap and moments later dove to the bottom of turn one to slip under both Warner and Smith.

Once out front Rhode began to open a small margin as Smith and Warner diced for the second position. Smith would secure the spot and began to close on Rhode when the only caution of the contest appeared on lap 17, when Ron Koenig came to a halt while trying to exit the track in turn three with mechanical trouble.

On the restart Rhode, who earlier won his heat race, focused in on setting course for a clean sweep by sticking to the low groove while Smith and Warner again did battle for second. This allowed Rhode the small amount of breathing room he needed to reach the checkered flag in first. Smith would edge out Warner for second. Warner was third with Tom Schneider and former Street Stock champion Shaun Haydon completed the top five.

In the Total Power Sales Street Stock division, on paper it would appear to be an uneventful contest showing Jeff Jungwirth as leading all but one lap of the contest, however nothing could be further from the truth as it was in fact one of the most exciting events of the evening.

Jungwirth would edge out Richard Garb for the initial lead of the race before Jeff Wicinsky spun bringing out the first caution of the night. Underway again Jungwirth again set the pace while Garb and Dan Knaus ran wheel to wheel for the second spot. Lap six proved to be Wicinsky's undoing as he and Frank Groeschel tangled on the backstretch doing significant damage to both cars.

With the green flag waving again Jungwirth went back to setting the pace while Knaus looked for a way to the front. The battle for the lead soon became a three way contest as Jerry Winkler joined the fray. Winkler with several division titles to his name set out to work on Knaus grabbing second on lap 13. Winkler then began to work over Jungwirth darting both high and low. With a pair of laps to go the red flag flew as Derek Schrauth lost control of his ride rolling over on the backstretch. Schrauth was unhurt in the incident but done for the night.

The green reappeared with Jungwirth, Winkler and Knaus all fighting for the win. In the end Jungwirth prevailed with Winkler edging Knaus for second. Randy Rahn inherited fourth on the final lap when Garb lost a wheel headed for the finish line coming to a halt just short of the finish. Dion Wahl was credited with fifth.

Joey Taycher and Rob Charapata took turns leading in the first half of the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified main event, before Bisofberger made the most of a mid race restart outgunning Taycher for the lead. Throughout the remainder of the contest Bisofberger held fast to the top spot edging away from the field. Ron Besaw would sneak past Taycher on the final lap for second. Taycher, Kevin Besaw and Chad Guyette completed the top five.

In the final event of the night Adam Broehm took an early lead over Chris Maas. Broehm was never able to extend much of a margin however as Rick Fairbanks moved into the second spot on lap five and pressured Broehm throughout the remainder of the contest. Broehm would extend a small lead until encountering lapped traffic with a handful of laps remaining in the contest which allowed Fairbanks to close on his rear bumper. Broehm was flawless in his navigation of the lap traffic however and was able to fend off a final turn passing attempt to win the contest. Fairbanks finished second by less than a car length at the line. Jason Fairbanks, Dan Juszczyk and Corey Wegner completed the top five.

The next event on the 2011 schedule is the season is Scout Night on Friday Night May 13th. Any scout in uniform will be admitted to the races free Racing will take place in all five weekly divisions 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 taking to the track.

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.

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 action begins on Friday Night, May 6th and continues until September. Fans and drivers are encouraged to visit the track website at www.oshkoshspeedzone.net for additional information on upcoming racing events.