By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, July 1, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - A solid showing of dedicated fans and drivers weathered the high heat and humidity at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway as Sonntag Photography presented the Fireworks display during Sponsor Appreciation Night.
By the time features took to the track and the sun began set, the evening offered more comfortable conditions for driver's, and fans were presented some thrilling late race drama capped off by several green, white, checkered finishes.
Scott Mullen made a late race pass on Brian Drexler and survived a green, white, checkered finish to claim top honors in the feature race for the Automotive Supply Company Modified division. Over the final laps Chris Engels worked into second but was unable to steal the lead from Mullen. Drexler extended his point lead to 13 points in the title chase. Travis Spaulding who finished fifth tonight is now second in the standings.
Former Street Stock champion Tim Reichenberger nabbed his first Miller Lite Grand National Feature win of 2011.
Reichenberger made his debut with a new car sporting a Racetech Chassis several weeks ago narrowly missing a feature win on several occasions. Tonight he kept his new ride out front and captured the checkered flag comfortably ahead of Jim Rhode. Reichenberger thanked fellow competitor Brian Henry for his assistance in moving up to the Grand National division.
The Total Power Sales Street Stock division main event proved to be a wild affair with several cautions throughout the contest. The race appeared to be down to a shoot-out between Randy Rahn and Jerry Winkler. However the pair would tangle just before the white flag leaving a surprised Mike Nehmer in the lead of the contest. The race would restart only to have caution fly again as the event reached the time limit forcing it's conclusion. Nehmer was awarded the victory in the event. Jeff Jungwirth would finish second has taken the point lead by seven markers over Winkler.
In the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds it was current point leader Zeke Bishofberger also surviving a late race caution fending off the challenges of Adam Pugh and last week's feature winner Tracy Wassenberg for the victory. The win was Bishofberger's eighth feature win of 2011 at tracks in Wisconsin matching his car number.
The final feature of the evening was the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils with Dan Juszczyk making a pass on current point leader Jason Fairbank with two laps to go in the race. Juszczyk celebrated his third win of 2011 in victory lane as the lights were turned off and a fine fireworks display began.
Robby Thiel set the early pace in the Automotive Supply Company Modified main event holding Brian Drexler at bay for several laps before Drexler managed to work the high line and complete a pass of Thiel by lap three. Third place would see the position traded back and forth between Scott Mullen, Jamie Schmidt, Travis Spaulding and Chris Engels. Each would make moves to take the position briefly as they traded the spot between them.
Mullen would finally secure the third position who then set his sights on Thiel. Running the high line Mullen would power into the runner-up spot just past the halfway point. Engels was next to drop Thiel a position as he rolled into third moments later.
Out front Drexler was unable to pull away from Mullen and soon found himself having to defend the lead. Opting for the low groove Drexler would have the advantage in turns one and two, while Mullen would make big gains in turns three and four using the high line.
The pair would find themselves side by side on lap fifteen as they worked lapped traffic. Mullen would nose ahead on the next lap. The frantic battle came to an end on lap 18 when Matt Rechek spun bringing out the final caution of the race.
Mullen 's restart would be the key to a clean run to the checkered leaving Drexler to battle with Engels for the number two spot. Mullen would take the win by two car lengths over Engels. Drexler crossed the line in third followed by Schmidt and Spaulding in the top five.
With 19 cars taking the green flag, The Miller Light Grand National feature event presented it's action early in the contest as Tim Reichenberger came from his second row starting spot and made a daring three wide pass for the lead on the opening lap making a successful bid for the top spot. Once out front Reichenberger would never relinquish the top position.
A tangle between Tom Schneider and Rex Karner on lap two put the field back on Reichenberger's rear bumper but at the drop of the green he was back in command of the contest. 2010 Street Stock champion Shawn Haydon and John Schultz III would do battle for the second spot behind Reichenberger but neither could match Reichenberger's pace. The lead group remained the same after another quick yellow for a spin by Don Schumacher.
Jim Rhode seeking his third feature win of the year would move slowly forward through the field reaching the third spot behind Schultz III by lap five. The battle for second became a four way battle as Steve Schneider and Kenny Richards made it a pack style duel for the position. The hotly contested battle for second allowed Reichenberger to extend his lead with each passing lap.
Rhode would make his way into second just past the halfway point and began to pull away slightly from the group behind him. However, Rhode was unable to close the gap on Reichenberger and would trail Riechenberger to the finish.
At the checkered Reichenberger has a dozen car length lead on Rhode. Richards made a late race charge and climbed to third by the finish. Schneider held onto fourth with Schultz III rounding out the top five.
The tone of the event was set early in the Total Power Sales Street Stock feature contest. Not even a lap was complete when the first caution flew for a multi-car tangle near the front of the pack. When the dust settled Jon Ashcraft and Jon Schultz would be tangled in turn two.
Mike Nehmer would get his first taste of the lead on the restart with Mark Schultz and Patti Winkler following. Nehmer would keep his Camaro just ahead of Schultz's vintage Chevelle for the next couple laps before Schultz worked to the top spot on lap four. Jerry Winkler who won the feature last week, had just completed the pass on Patty Winkler for the third spot when she looped her ride bringing out the next caution.
The green waved again with Schultz, Winkler and Nehmer all in the thick of the battle for the lead, while Randy Rahn was working quickly through the pack. Schultz would go wide on lap eight while leading turning the top spot over to Winkler.
A tangle between Gordy Lewis and Matt Warner on lap eleven slowed the pace and bunched the field once again. Underway again, Winkler went back to setting the pace with Nehmer and Rahn following.
Rahn turning in his best performance of the year annexed second from Nehmer and then set his sights on Winkler for the lead. With three laps to go Rahn found room under Winkler and worked his way into the top spot. Winkler would rally closing back on Rahn's rear bumper looking for a way back to the lead.
Going through turns three and four headed for the white flag the pair made contact, with Rahn spinning bringing out the caution and forcing both drivers to the tail of the field. The incident gave the lead back to Nehmer with Jeff Jungwirth now in the second spot. The pair would be unable to duel for the victory however as yet another caution would fly for a spin on the backstretch. Having reached the time limit for the event Nehmer was credited with the win and Jungwirth earned the second spot. Schultz, Frank Knaus and Patty Winkler comprised the top five.
Zeke Bishofberger would start in the tenth spot in the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified main event but from the drop of the green flag he progressed steadily forward. Out front Aaron Muhle would show the way in the early going through a couple quick caution flags with Randy Kreuger holding down the number two slot.
Bishofberger would work into the third position past Rob Charapata on lap nine and he began to challenge Kreuger for second, when the next caution appeared for a spin by Mike Lemiesz.
Muhle found himself under heavy pressure on the restart and he slipped up the track allowing Bishofberger to move into the lead. Adam Pugh was next to show his speed passing several cars to place himself in contention for the win. Pugh would reach the second spot on lap 17 just prior to a spin by Muhle after contact with Kreuger while doing battle for third, which ended a strong showing for both drivers.
The race would come down to a two lap dash for the win and Bishofberger got a solid restart leaving Pugh and last week's feature winner Tracy Wassenberg to battle for second. At the line Bishofberger had a two car length advantage on Pugh who fended off Wassenberg for second. Chad Guyette would take home fourth and Charapata completed the top five finishers.
The Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil main event had only a single caution appear and that occurred at the start of the event. With the green flag in the air Ben Meyerhofer would show the way.
In typical fashion the field fanned out four wide as drivers sought an opportunity to advance their position behind the leader.
Meyerhofer opted to run a very high line around the track in effort to keep up his momentum. That line however would allow Jason Fairbank to close in using the low groove. Fairbank reached Meyerhofer's rear bumper on lap eleven and he quickly found room at the bottom to make the pass on lap thirteen. Moments later Dan Juszczyk would make a similar move to claim the second spot.
On most nights once Fairbank would take the lead he would hold it to the checkered, but tonight Juszczyk had the pace to challenge for the top spot. With two laps to go, Juszczyk worked the low line under Fairbank in turn two stealing the lead. Juszczyk would then show the way to the finish taking the victory by a car length over Fairbank. Cory Wegner would take third, Meyerhofer was fourth and Josh Roehl finished fifth.
There will be no racing on Friday Night July 8th, as Lifefest is held at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds and the event uses the raceway.
Racing resumes on Friday Night, July 15th with Budweiser Night at the races. 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 on hand for the evening.
Then on Tuesday Night, July 19th a very special program will be held. The 2011 Walk of Fame Night presented by The Galleria of Entertainment paper will honor area racing greats of the past when action took place at the former Leo's Speedway. For the program we will also turn back the hands of time for fans with reduced admission prices and special pricing on food items.
Past inductees to the walk of fame have included Leo Galicia, Dave Conger, Roger Regeth, J.J. Smith and Bob Bennett.
The 2011 Walk of Fame inductees are Leroy Dehn, Jerry Reichenberger and Erv Schmude. These drivers have been part of history for racing in Oshkosh and will always be remembered.
Walk of fame prices will see adult admission is just $5.00, with $1.00 Hotdogs, $1.00 soda and beer. Again all five divisions will be in action for this special program. Starting times both nights will see pit gates open at 4:00 PM, grandstands at 5:00 PM with racing at 6:30 PM.
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 July 2nd, 2011