by Jeffrey Sachse
Action and drama abounded on Automotive Supply Company Night, with late races passes, side by side duels and a show just besting Mother Nature as Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway wrapped up its fourth show of the 20111 season with a program that should satisfy any fans need for speed.
In spite of threatening weather coming from the south, officials were able to hurry the program along completing four of the five feature before rain hit the raceway at 9:30pm. Rain began to fall just after the checkered flag had fallen in the Automotive Supply Company main event. The Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils were unable to complete their feature race and tonight's main event for that division has been added to the start of the program next week, giving the Dirt Devil class two feature races on Friday Night June 3rd.
A total of 118 cars checked into the pit area this evening. Again the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds had the highest attendance with 32 participants. For the season straight week the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified division set a track record for the class, this time moving the mark to 24 participants.
Mitch McGrath and Zeke Bishofberger would become the first repeat feature winners of the 2011 season at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway, taking top honors in the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds, and Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified divisions respectively. T.J. Smith earned his first feature win of the 2011 season in the Miller Lite Grand Nationals after a torrid three care battle with Steve Schneider and Brian Henry. Mike Nehmer, who had taken last year off from racing won his first Total Power Sales Street Stock feature by inches over Aaron Streblow.
Chris Engels would set the pace at the start of the Automotive Supply Company Modified feature contest, as a field of 20 cars took to the raceway for the event.
Engels built a small lead while the pack battled three and four wide at times deep in the field. Last week's feature winner Jeremy Christians, who earlier won his heat race and Travis Spaulding were making quick moves toward the front with Christians heading the surge forward.
On lap four, both Christians and Spaulding surprised Mike Mueller who was holding the second spot. Spaulding would shoot to his outside, while Christians opted for a position to his inside. The brief three wide battle would result in Spaulding coming away with the second spot, and Christians positioning himself into third.
Engels lead slowly evaporated with each passing lap as Spaulding closed on the lead position. On lap eight of the twenty lap contest, Spaulding shot to the inside of Engels and would come away with the lead. Further back Mitch McGrath was making progress cracking the top five and continuing to push toward the front.
At the halfway point Christians worked past Engels for the runner-up spot and started closing the gap on Spaulding. Running a slightly lower groove, Christians closed on Spaulding rear bumper and he began to challenge for the lead. With five laps to go McGrath worked into the third spot and set out after the lead pair.
As the laps wound down Spaulding and Christians briefly exchanged the lead before the lone caution of the event flew on lap 17 when Robbie Thiel spun in turn two.
The slowdown proved to be the deciding factor in the contest for McGrath who had been running third, some distance behind the lead pair. When the green flag returned he quickly jumped to the high line to pull alongside Spaulding for the lead. With two laps to go McGrath powered past Spaulding for the top spot and he would pace the distance to the checkered earning his second feature win of the year. The victory would complete a sweep of the night as he earlier won his heat race.
Spaulding would settle for second in the event, but his performance allowed him to tie Brian Drexler for the point lead. Drexler finished in the ninth spot after working into the main event by winning a consolation race. Drexler and Spaulding sit atop the standings with 150 points each.
Christians, Engels and Mike Mashl, making his first appearance of the 2011 season, comprised the top five finishers in the main event.
The Miller Lite Grand National feature event was spiced with several cautions and a three car battles for the lead throughout much of the event.
Troy Weich was out front early in the contest challenged for the top spot in the opening laps by Brian Henry. Henry would secure the lead position on lap three, while Weich, Larry Richards, T.J. Smith and Steve Schneider all fought for the runner-up slot.
The first of several cautions would appear on lap three. Racing resumed with Henry again setting the pace. Smith would be the big mover on this restart working around several cars to place himself into a position to battle Richards for the runner-up slot. On lap six Smith would take the position and began to chase down Henry who still paced the field when the next caution flag flew.
On this restart the top six drivers would break away in a pack style battle, with Henry and Smith side by side for the lead. Schneider would follow the lead pair in third.
Smith would surge ahead for the lead on lap nine, giving Schneider a shot at Henry for second. Schneider would make the high line work pulling ahead of Henry and then pulling alongside Smith as the race reached the halfway point. The momentum of the high line allowed Schneider to briefly take the top spot, before Smith rallied hugging the low line and moving back ahead.
The pair would swap the lead back and forth until the next caution flag waved on lap 11. The race went back to green and the battle between Schneider and Smith resumed. On this restart Schneider would gain the upper hand with Smith briefly fading to third behind Henry who had claimed the second spot.
On lap 14 Henry opted for the high line and would crossed the stripe nearly in a dead heat with Schneider for the lead. Caution number four appeared on the same lap again setting the stage for the positions to juggle at the front. On this restart it would be Schneider taking command with Smith making the charge forward, quickly surpassing Henry for second and then moving alongside Schneider for the lead. Smith would nose out front before the fifth and final caution flew with five laps to go setting up the final dash to the finish.
This time Smith would lead the way with Schneider seeking a way back to the front. On the final lap Schneider worked to Smith's inside down the backstretch setting up a drag race to the finish. The pair ran door to door through the final two turns.
Smith would have the momentum to reach the finish line first, less than a fender length ahead of Schneider. Henry would settle for third ahead of Terry Van Roy would finished fourth. Rick Hed, making his first start of the 2011 season at Oshkosh Speedzone finished fifth.
The Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds also had several cautions to keep the pack tightly grouped throughout the contest. Chad Guyette set the pace through some early event cautions. Ron Besaw and Zeke Bishofberger would work into second and third by the time the fourth caution of the race flew.
Bishofberger would surpass Guyette for the top spot on lap six a position he would hold for the duration of the contest. The pair would race side by side for several laps before the final caution of the race flew on lap eight.
Bishofberger would build a small lead as the race wound down with Besaw giving chase in the second spot. With a pair of laps to go Bishofberger caught lapped traffic and Besaw took advantage of the situation to close within a car length.
That was as close as it would get however, as once clear of the lapped traffic Bishofberger would sail to the checkered. Besaw settled for second followed by Travis Van Straten, Cody Hudson and Guyette in the top five.
Bishofberger holds the point lead by five markers over Kevin Bethke.
Only a single caution late in the race would slow the pace of the Total Power Sales Street Stock feature. Aaron Streblow would find himself ahead of the 22 car feature field as the race began. Streblow would be pressured by Mike Nehmer for the top spot and the pair would find themselves challenging each other for the top spot for the duration of the contest. Cory Lewis would have the best spot in the house to watch the show early on, running third behind the lead pair.
Streblow would stay on the low groove of the track with Nehmer running a higher line. The duo would swap the position several times before Streblow slowly inched away with the lead. Last weeks feature winner Jon Schultz would work into the third position just past the halfway point.
With five laps to go Nehmer would rally and repass Streblow for the top spot. To add to the drama a pair of cautions would quickly fly back to back setting up a green, which, checkered finish.
As action resumed the final time, Nehmer would get a good restart but Streblow was quick to challenge for the top spot. The pair would wind up dead even down the backstretch heading for the checkered. As they came off the final turn Nehmer moved ahead by the slimmest of margins to take the win. Streblow would finish second, his strongest run of the year at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway. Schultz ran to the wire in third ahead of Winkler and Jeff Jungwirth.
Winkler now leads the standings by a slim two point margin over Jungwirth.
The next race night on the 2011 schedule will be held on Friday Night, June 3rd. The program will be presented by Budweiser and Oshkosh Lanes. During the event the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils will have two feature races. The show will begin with a makeup feature held over from the rained out event on Friday May 27th. Their regular feature for the night will be held at the end of the program.
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.
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 28th, 2011