By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, August 19, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - It had been three weeks since racing action had taken place at the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway and the anticipation was high as well over 100 drivers checked into the pit area to do battle on Fan and Driver Appreciation Night. The program, presented by Shoreview Lanes and B-104 was a celebration of speed and fun that provided not only great racing but free corn and beverages for fans after the races, as well as a kid's ride along event where children got to ride with their favorite drivers. The evening was simply fun from any perspective.
This was especially true for those drivers which found the combination to reach victory lane during the program. In the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds, Eddie Muenster of Green Bay appeared headed to comfortable victory, but a late race caution would bunch the field and create a two lap dash to the checkered. Muenster with ten area championships in the Modifieds was able to fend off both visiting racer Craig Priewe who is a standout performer from Beaver Dam Raceway and Tim Lemirande who was seeking his third straight feature win. In the final turn all three cars became momentarily tangled but all three were able to reach the finish line with Muenster scoring his first win of 2011 by less than a car length.
In the Miller Lite Grand Nationals, Tim Reichenberger took an early lead while Tim Warner worked methodically through traffic and into second place. Lap after lap Warner cut into Reichenberger's lead, but as the race neared the final five laps Reichenberger was able to increase his gap and comfortably took his third feature win of the season in the non-stop contest. For Warner it was his third runner-up finish of the season.
In a very similar race Trevor Schmidt got to the front of the pack early on in the Total Power Sales Street Stock division while Jerry Winkler worked through traffic into the second place slot. Winkler would manage to close briefly but over the closing laps Schmidt would prove to have the speed to reach the finish line first grabbing his initial feature win of the 2011 season at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway.
The evening concluded with the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil division again turning in a well run feature. Steve Lemay would fend off a last lap challenge by Dan Juszczyk and come home with the win by a car length over Juszczyk. The victory would mark Lemay's second trip to the winner's circle this season.
After a couple false starts the Automotive Supply Company Modifieds would have only caution flag fly after the first counted green flag lap. John Schultz would take the opening lead, hugging the low line while Matt Rechek ran the middle groove and Travis Spaulding preferred the high line at the trio went wheel to wheel around the raceway during the first lap. Eddie Muenster would follow Schultz in the bottom groove and advance to second before the start of lap two. Schultz would drift slightly off the bottom allowing Muenster to wedge underneath and after a brief battle Muenster would become the second leader of the event before lap three began.
Jamie Schmidt performed a similar move in the next turn and found himself in the second spot. Spaulding still using the high line would advance as far as third before he began to slip back just after the halfway point. Meanwhile Craig Priewe had been working the middle lane of the raceway to his advantage moving up to fourth by lap ten and then working past Spaulding on the next circuit.
Out front Muenster maintained a four car length cushion on Schmidt, with a full straightaway back to Priewe. The laps quickly clicked off however with two laps to go Schultz went for a spin in turn two bunching the field.
On the restart Muenster got a good jump taking control of the lead, while Priewe worked past Schmidt for second. Tim Lemirande also joined the fray and soon the top four cars were doing battle for the lead. Schmidt fell back slightly on the final laps as Muenster, Priewe and Lemirande all headed to the final two turns nose to tail. The three all made contact briefly, but each driver got their car headed the right direction for a drag race to the checkered. Muenster was first to cross the stripe by a half car length over Priewe who had a similar margin over Lemirande. Schmidt held on for fourth just ahead of Brian Drexler who had passed several cars on the final restart to reach fifth. Drexler now holds a 8 point lead heading into the final night of racing over Lemirande. Muenster is third in points, 12 markers back, while Spaulding sits fourth in the standings 17 points back from first place.
The 20 lap Miller Lite Grand National division would see Tim Reichenberger slice through the field on the opening lap and place himself on the rear bumper of early race leader Dion Wahl by lap two. After a brief battle Riechenberger would annex the top spot and begin to pull away from Wahl who now had his hands full with Tom Schneider as they did battle for the second position.
Schneider would work past Wahl and attempted to close on Reichenberger as he grabbed the runner-up spot on lap four. Further back Tim Warner had been picking off cars lap after lap, hugging the low groove. Warner would reach the third position on lap five.
At the halfway point the lead trio of Reichenberger, Schneider and Warner were nose to tail doing battle for the lead position.
On lap 12, Warner would successfully work past Schneider for the second spot, but the battle allowed Reichenberger to pull out a six car length advantage. Warner would erase the gap and get as close as Reichenberger's rear bumper with five laps to go, however over the final laps of the contest Reichenberger was able to slowly pull away from Warner taking the victory by eight car lengths. Schneider held onto third followed by Richards and current point leader T.J. Smith. Smith's margin now stands at 8 points over Warner with two point nights remaining. The top five drivers which also includes defending champion Larry Richards, Jim Rhode and Terry Van Roy are all within 20 markers of the point lead.
The Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified race was unsettled during it's opening rounds with three cautions in the first three laps all for minor incidents including an errant infield tire which was knocked onto the raceway rolling the length of the front stretch much to the amusement of the crowd. During the cautions Adam Pugh had worked to the lead, however after the caution on lap three, current point leader Zeke Bishofberger managed to work to his inside and steal the top spot.
With the field now settling in Bishofberger would hold the top spot while Pugh had his hands full fending off the most recent feature winner Rod Solem. That battle for second allowed Bishofberger to extend his lead. Rick Kretschman would clip a tire on lap 9 and spin bringing out the fourth and final caution of the event.
Bishofberger would again show the way when racing resumed with Pugh and Solem resuming their side by side battle for second. Pugh would gain the upper hand in that battle for the runner-up spot and he would close the gap with five laps to go when Bishofberger wiggled coming off turn two. Pugh would get within a couple car lengths but could get no closer with Bishofberger taking the victory. Pugh would settle for second followed by Solem, Tracy Wassenberg and Joey Taycher comprising the top five.
The victory allowed Bishofberger to extend his point lead to 46 markers over Kevin Bethke who had mechanical difficulties in the heat and had to borrow a car for the feature. Bishofberger mathematically locked in the division title as the Sport Modifieds have only one point night left. Bethke and Pugh however are just nine points apart for second in the standings.
The Total Power Sales Street Stock division again provided fans some great racing action with plenty of fender rubbing as the field sorted out in the early stages of their feature contest. Nate Gross was out front on lap six when the lone caution of the event appeared for a tire knocked onto the racing surface. Under caution Gross headed to the pit area turning the lead over to Trevor Schmidt who had been running second. When the green flag flew Schmidt went back to the lead, while Mike Nehmer worked the high line past Dan Knaus for the second spot.
Deeper in the field Jerry Winkler was advancing toward the top spots using both the high and low lines to snake through traffic. By lap 7 Winkler had caught the lead trio. Hugging the bottom line Winkler worked past Knaus and came alongside Nehmer to battle for second. Nehmer preferring the high line would rim ride around the track, while Winkler stayed tight to the bottom grove. The pair would run door to door for several laps before Winkler would gain the upper hand.
The battle between Winkler and Nehmer allowed Schmidt to gain a straight-away advantage which Winkler now sought to erase. With no cautions to aid in the effort and Schmidt turning flawless laps the final half of the contest Winkler was unable to close and Schmidt took the win comfortably. Winkler would claim second followed by Nehmer and Mark Schultz. On the final lap current point leader Jeff Jungwirth muscled by Knaus for the fifth spot. On the evening Winkler managed to cut into Jungwirth's lead and cut the margin to 10 points. Two point nights remain for the class.
Joe Minks would set the pace early in the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devil feature which was slowed by just two cautions, the first of which appeared on lap four. On the restart Steve Lemay would charge to the top spot a position he would hold for the duration of the contest.
Ben Meyerhofer would reach second on lap five holding the position briefly until Dan Juszczyk would grab the position coming off the second caution on lap six.
Lemay was able to hold the lead for the duration of the contest including a last lap challenge for the victory by Juszczyk. Juszczyk earned second followed by Meyerhofer, Josh Roehl and Jason Fairbank. Fairbank continues to hold the lead in the season long standings by 13 points over Juszczyk.
Next week marks the final appearance of the IRA Outlaw Sprints this season at the Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway. The 800hp winged machines will navigate the banked third-mile clay oval at over 100 m.p.h. A field of nearly 30 cars is expected including Billy Balog current series point leader and winner of June 17th event at the Speedzone.
The Miller Lite Grand Nationals, Total Power Sales Street Stocks and Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils will also be on hand with a full point night for those divisions as the title chase nears the wire.
Adult tickets for the special event are $20, with student tickets for students ages 11 to 15 at the discounted price of only $10. Children 10 years of age and under are admitted FREE with an adult.
Grandstands Open at 5:00pm with racing set to get underway at 6:30pm.
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 August 20th, 2011