By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, September 2, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - The 2011 Champions at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway were crowned a bit unexpectedly. A line of severe storms which rocked the Fox Valley Area had left thousands of people without power and left many people having to clean up after the storm's aftermath. Though there remained a slim possibility that the track would have been able to present the championship races, with the prediction and potential for additional severe weather track officials called off the scheduled events planned for the evening.
As such Mother Nature put the conclusion on the points chase which had waged throughout the 2011 season and some of those were extremely close.
A lucky 13 races counted toward the Total Power Sales Street Stock championship, the closest of the 2011 point chases. Jeff Jungwirth of Oshkosh was declared the champion in the division by a mere 4 points over Jerry Winkler having accumulated 501 points to Winkler's 497. It was the first career track title for Jungwirth who has finished fourth in the 2010 title chase. Jungwirth won the season opening event and spent the rest of the season becoming one of the most consistent drivers in the class as he had finished in the top five in the feature on 9 of the 13 nights. For Winkler who tied Mike Nehmer and Jon Schultz for the most wins on the season with three victories, it was his second straight points runner-up finish. Jon Schultz would finish third in the standings with 468 points. Frank Knaus was fourth overall with 450 markers and Mark Schultz completed the top five with 439 points.
The next closest title chase was the Miller Lite Grand National division. Menasha's T.J. Smith, scored his first career Oshkosh Speedzone title. At 18 years of age, Smith is already a two-time champion in the division at the nearby 141 Speedway. Like Jungwirth in the Street Stocks, Smith's key to success was consistency throughout the year. He captured one victory during the year but often avoided the DNF's which caused many of his nearest rivals to play catch-up throughout the year. Smith who had finished 5th in the standings in 2010, amassed 479 points this season. Six more than points runner-up Tim Warner who had earned 473 markers. Defending division champion Larry Richards came home with a third place point performance this season grabbing 466 points. Jim Rhode who tied Tim Reichenberger with the most victories on the year having earned three wins came home fourth in the standings with 462 points. Terry Van Roy was fifth overall with 451 markers.
Eight points was the margin of victory in the 2011 title chase in the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds, matching the number on Brian Drexler's championship machine. The hometown driver clung tenaciously to the point lead while his nearest rival Tim Lemirande put on a ferocious late season charge. Lemirande threw down the gauntlet with two wins and a third in the final three weeks of the season but Drexler managed to squeeze out enough speed from his ride to win the title with 407 markers to Lemirande's 399 after 11 point nights for the modified division. Eddie Muenster earned third in the standings with 395 points and Travis Spaulding took fourth with 390 points. Mike Klenz comprised the top five with 388 markers. All totaled only 19 points separated the top five.
Though the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil division is considered the entry class at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway. Driver's of the front wheel drive 4-cylinder machines proved their skill week in and week out with many of the main events going green to checkered. Jason Fairbank and Dan Juszczyk emerged as the drivers to watch with Fairbank getting the advantage early with a pair of feature wins. Juszczyk closed during the second half of the season scoring three victories, but it was Fairbank who logged in the most points taking the champion by 10 markers. 513 for Fairbank and 503 for Juszczyk. Cory Wegner earned third spot in the final standings with 482 points followed by Josh Roehl with 474 and Erik Kollmann earning 464.
The Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified division title was the only class where the championship was decided heading into the final night. Zeke Bishofberger put up a healthy 46 point lead over Kevin Bethke earning the first ever Sport Modified title at the raceway. Bishofberger pulled in 434 points to Bethke's 388. Adam Pugh rallied to third in the final standings with 379 points. Mike Dauphinais finished fourth with 326 markers and former Street Stock competitor Mike Lemiesz completed the top five performers with 285 points.
The drivers will be honored for their efforts at the awards banquet to be held in January of 2012 at the LaSure's Banquet Hall.
With the championship chase complete attention now turns to the WAPL / LaSure's Banquet Hall Speedzone Fall Classic. Five divisions will be in action during the two day special with IMCA Type Modifieds, IMCA Type Sport Modifieds, Grand Nationals, Street Stocks and 4 Cylinders. Racing action will begin at 6:00pm on Friday evening, September 9th with qualifying heats. On Saturday September 10th beginning at 3:00pm the feature events will take place along with semi-feature and qualifying races.
Adult admission for the special is $15 per day, with student tickets going for $10. Children under the age of 10 are admitted free.
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 September 3rd, 2011