By Jeffrey Sachse
Friday, July 15, 2011 - Oshkosh, WI. - After a one week break in the action, the roar of the engines were heard again at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway. Fans who attended Budweiser Night at the Races were treated to several dramatic finishes during the course of the evening including some thrilling moments during the feature events.
In the Automotive Supply Company Modified division, Tim Lemirande appeared to be enroute to scoring his first feature victory of 2011 as he was able to fend off a hard charging Jamie Schmidt in the closing laps of the contest. However, races are not over until the checkered flag falls and with five laps to go in the contest Lemirande suffered mechanical problems giving the lead to Schmidt who then held on for his first main event win of the year.
The Miller Lite Grand National main event would see Jim Rhode snare the lead as the final lap began in the event, rim riding his way to victory over Tim Reichenberger who had been seeking his second straight win. It was Rhode's third feature checkered of the 2011 season.
Rob Charapata avoided the miscues of many of his rivals in the Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modifieds and mastered the restarts in the time-shortened 16 lap contest to earn his first victory of the 2011 season at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway.
Jon Schultz bested visiting driver Trevor Schmidt taking the lead on the final lap of the Total Power Sales Street Stock main event to score his third victory of 2011.
Cory Wegner was second crossing the line in the Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils, but was awarded the win as the first place car did not meet technical specifications for the class. It was Wegner's first feature win of the 2011 season.
John Schultz would show the way at as the initial green flag waved in the Automotive Supply Company Modified feature race. Tim Lemirande began to immediately pressure for the top spot and would work past Schultz for the lead on lap two. Jamie Schmidt and Chris Engels would fight for the third position with Schmidt getting the upper hand. Schmidt would clear Engels and wasted little time in reeling in Schultz to battle for the second spot.
After a brief battle Schmidt found himself in the runner-up position giving chase to Lemirande. Most of the field would work the high line around the track with the exception of Mike Klenz who found enough bite at the bottom of the turns to advance. Klenz would reach the third spot by lap five.
Out front Lemirande set a pace that allowed him to slowly extend his lead moving out to a six car length advantage over Schmidt by the halfway point of the race as most of the passing was taking place behind the top five cars which were now all using the high line around the track.
A caution would appear at the halfway point erasing Lemirande's lead but when racing resumed Lemirande went back to setting the pace. Lemirande survived yet another restart moments later when Rick Robbins came to a halt on the track.
Again Lemirande would get a solid restart and it appeared his pace would be enough to carry him to his first win this season. Fate, however, had different plans and would strike in the form of broken throttle linkage forcing Lemirande to roll to a halt thereby giving up the lead and creating a caution with five laps to go.
The caution bunched the field for the five lap dash to the checkered, with Schmidt now in the lead while Klenz and Engels did battle for the second spot. A final yellow appeared with three laps left when Schultz spun setting up a final sprint to the checked flag.
Schmidt would make an excellent restart leaving the field to battle for second. Engels and Klenz resumed their battle for second but neither would have the speed to catch Schmidt in the final laps. Schmidt would take the win by two car lengths over Klenz. Engels, Mitch McGrath and Eddie Muenster comprised the top five finishers.
Brian Drexler holds a 14 point lead over Travis Spaulding in the season point chase.
The Miller Lite Grand Nationals fanned out three and four wide at the drop of the green flag in their main event. One quick caution on lap two restacked the field and when the green flag flew again it was John Schultz III setting the pace. His lead would prove brief as Steve Schneider would run the low groove making the line work to his advantage and replacing Schultz III in the top spot. Tom Schneider would follow through into second.
The Grand Nationals were able to find three different grooves to race and the field would often fan out three wide as everyone sought a way to the front of the pack.
Terry Van Roy would be among those charging toward the front reaching the third spot by lap eight.
At the halfway point it was the Schneider's holding down the top two spots with Steve ahead of Tom by six car lengths. Van Roy continued in the third spot followed by Kenny Richards and Schultz III.
Van Roy continued his march forward working past Tom Schneider just prior to a caution which would appear on lap eleven when current point leader Tim Warner suffered a flat and spun in turn one.
The yellow flag put the field on Steve Schneider's rear bumper. On the restart Schneider resumed control of the event while Van Roy had his hands full with Tim Reichenberger who made an excellent restart advancing several positions. After a brief battle Reichenberger established himself in the second spot.
Schneider's hopes for a victory vanished on lap fourteen when his car lost speed and began to slow on the track turning the lead over to Reichenberger who was seeking his second straight win. With Schneider dropping from the contest, Van Roy advanced into the second spot with Jim Rhode who had already won two features this season sitting in the third position.
As the race resumed Reichenberger's lead was in jeopardy as Van Roy using the low groove would move alongside Riechenberger in the turns. Rhode would make it a three wide battle for the top spot with a pair of laps to go. Van Roy would hug the bottom groove, with Reichenberger in the middle lane and Rhode rim riding around the track. The trio would toss the lead back and forth before Van Roy bobbled coming off turn four headed for the white flag losing several spots in the process. This left the battle to Rhode and Reichenberger for the win. The pair were dead even heading into the final turns. In the drag race to the checkered Rhode would win by less than a foot with Riechenberger finishing second for the third time this season. Larry Richards would work by his son Kenny for third over the final laps. Kenny Richards would earn the fourth spot and Brian Henry rounded out the top five finishers.
T.J. Smith now has the point lead by two points over former leader Tim Warner.
The Leon's Frozen Custard Sport Modified feature event was an unsettled contest sprinkled with cautions throughout its duration. The event became an exercise in knowing how to make solid restarts when the green flag would return after each caution.
Randy Kreuger would be the early race leader challenged by Rob Charapata. Charapata would make his way alongside Kreuger but a second caution on lap four ended the battle with Kreuger still ahead. On the restart Charapata got a good jump on Kreuger bolting into the lead, leaving Kreuger to battle with current point leader Zeke Bishofberger for second.
Several more cautions would slow the event on the way to the mid portion of the contest and each time Charapata would hold fast to the lead. Bishofberger and Adam Pugh would prove to be the biggest challenges to Charapata's lead as the pair would swap second position each putting the pressure on Charapata after restarts.
Charapata had stretched out to a eight car length lead before the final caution of the event would fly when Andrew Popke hit a tire and spun coming off turn four. With the event nearing the time limit, a green, white, checkered finish would determine the event winner. On the restart Charapata got a solid start leaving Pugh and Bishofberger to battle for the second position. Charapata would take the win by a car length over Bishofberger. Pugh would cross the line third followed by Kevin Bethke and Chad Guyette in the top five.
Bishofberger again extended his point lead and now is on top by 26 points.
Richard Garb and Jim Pollnow swapped the lead during the opening laps of the Total Power Sales Street Stock feature race before Garb secured the position on lap two. A spin by Matt Schultz on lap three would bunch the field and with action underway again Garb found himself pressured by Frank Knaus for the lead while visiting driver Trevor Schmidt worked his way into the third position.
Garb was able to fend off the challenges of Knaus and resume command of race. Schmidt meanwhile worked the low line around the raceway using it to his advantage displacing Knaus in the second spot and then moving alongside Garb to challenge for the top spot when a spin by Lexii Ashcraft on lap eight halted the action.
Schmidt and Garb resumed the battle for the top spot as the race passed the halfway point. This time Schmidt would gain the upper hand. Jon Schultz, who had already won two features during the 2011 season, had slowly worked forward since the drop of the green and found himself working past Garb for the second spot by lap fourteen. Schmidt's advantage would shrink with each passing lap and Schultz would reach Schmidt's rear bumper with a pair of laps left in the contest. Using the high line Schultz would draw even with Schmidt going down the backstretch on the final lap. His momentum off turn two would propel him to the lead as the pair reached the final two turns. Schmidt would opt for the low line and draw even coming off turn four, but Schultz again had the momentum in the high groove reaching the line first for the victory.
Schmidt has a successful showing in his first appearance of 2011 taking runner-up honors. Garb would settle for third ahead of Mike Nehmer and Jerry Winkler who rounded out the top five.
Jeff Jungwirth continues to lead the point battle over Winkler by seven points.
The Lynn's Service Center Dirt Devils presented the final event of the evening, a contest slowed by just three caution flags for mechanical problems. Mechanical issues would strike down current point leader Jason Fairbank who would drop from the event late in the contest.
Michael Frelich paced the opening rounds of the event as several cars including Fairbank, Erik Kollmann and Jasper Drengler advanced through the field.
Fairbank would make a pass on Frelich to take the lead briefly before Drengler took over the top spot.
Fairbank began to lose speed just before the halfway point and he started to lose positions. Kollmann meanwhile had caught Drengler and briefly took the lead before Drengler took back the top spot.
A pair of quick cautions would appear with five laps to go. Drengler would lead the way to the finish but his car did not meet technical specifications for the Dirt Devil division. This gave the official win to Cory Wegner who had crossed the finish line second after taking the spot in the closing laps. Kollmann, Josh Roehl, Ben Meyerhofer and Dan Juszczyk were the official top five finishers.
In spite of his mechanical issues Fairbank still holds the point lead but the gap has closed to just four points over Dan Juszczyk.
The next racing program at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway will be on Tuesday Night, July 19th. The show is a very special program as The Galleria of Entertainment paper will present the 2011 Walk of Fame Night.
The program 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 for their efforts and entertainment they provided.
The evening will also see a special rollback in pricing as admission is just $5.00, with $1.00 Hotdogs, $1.00 soda and beer. All five weekly 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 16th, 2011