Beaver Dam Raceway Report: April 26th - Jim Wipperfurth Memorial
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN BEAVER DAM, Wis. – A new surface; another exciting finish in the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series “A” main at Beaver Dam Raceway on Saturday, the season-opener for the series and the track. In addition, the MSA 360 Sprint Cars got the season going with a bit of late-race drama as well. For the second straight year in the Jim Wipperfurth Memorial, a last corner pass determined the winner in the IRA’s main event. This year, Phillip Mock, the 22-year-old second generation driver out of Pleasant Prairie, made a bold move on veteran sprint car driver Bill Rose in the final corner of the 30-lap feature and scored his first career series victory, a victory he’s waited four years for. “I didn’t think I was going to hold on it,” Mock said. “I’m just ecstatic right now,” he added. In last year’s event, Bill Balog pulled off a similar move coming off turns 3 and 4 to dip under Mike Kertscher and win the race by 0.009 seconds to start the 2013 season. Bill Wirth and Lance Fassbender led the field to the first green flag of the season. Wirth led the first two laps before Mock got around Wirth on the third lap. Mock was comfortably in control for the next handful of laps. The race got interesting after a botched start for the feature. Steve Meyer spun on the back straight during the first lap, inducing the yellow flag and the field had to try it again. As the field got sorted out, Balog, the six-time defending series champion and winner of four of the last five features at Beaver Dam, including three straight, had a left-front tire go down and had to go to the attention of his crew. Balog got back onto the track in time without losing any laps. He restarted the race in 20th place. The series’ all-time victories leader had a tall task in front of him. In the meantime, Mock stayed hungry, searching for that elusive first victory, something that’s gotten away from him a couple times. With eight laps to go, Fassbender was slow coming off Turn 4 while running in the top five and it bunched up the field. On the restart, Mock got the jump on the field, however he felt the car was getting away from him just a little bit. During the offseason, the track was resurfaced with new clay, which gave the drivers better traction. It was immediately a hit with the drivers. Rose said the track was the best condition it has ever been throughout his career. As the field took the white flag, Rose was on the backend of Mock’s car and made a bold move around the outside of Turns 1 and 2 as Mock tried to protect his position. On the back straight, Rose got about a car length or two distance on Mock. Heading into the final two corners, Mock drove his car into the corner deep, hoping it’d stick on the bottom as Rose rode the high line. Mock and Rose appeared to have touched as they rounded the final turn. Mock got on the gas and was able to win the drag race to the finish line for another thrilling finish. Mock beat Rose to the line by 0.222 seconds. Mike Reinke went on to take third in the feature, followed by Balog and Wirth. Ben Schmidt was sixth, followed by Jeremy Schultz, the 2013 series Rookie of the Year, Jordan Goldesberry, Russell Borland and Scotty Thiel to round out the top 10. Rose was one of the three Rookie of the Year contenders at the event. Schmidt and Thiel are the others and all posted good finishes. Balog was the event’s fast qualifier with a time of 11.772, still trying to chase down and break the track record set Sept. 29, 2011, by World of Outlaw Sprint Car star Daryn Pittman (11.275). Reinke was second quickest, followed by Rose, Scott Uttech and Meyer. Beaver Dam’s Scott Neitzel took the first checkered flag of the season, winning the IRA’s first of three heat races. Blake Nimee and Rose won the others. In the final heat race, Rose pulled off a similar move that he lost the “A” main to against Goldesberry, who dominated the heat race before Rose’s pass. Rose stuck an inside move on Goldesberry to win that race. Borland won the “B” main. Danny Schlafer was the fast qualifier in MSA 360 Sprint Car Series qualifying. The defending series champion also won one of the two heat races. Paul Pokorski won the other heat race. In the MSA “A” main, Scott Conger and Tony Wondra led the field to the green flag. Wondra led the opening lap of the 25-lap feature before Pokorski took the lead out of Turn 2. Schlafer took the lead on lap 10 and quickly got away from Pokorski and the rest of the field. Traffic became an issue in the second half of the race and it also changed the outcome of the race. While going through turns 1 and 2 with four laps to go, Schlafer caught up to a lapped car that was starting to get sideways. Trying to avoid the car, Schlafer tried to avoid the car, but was unsuccessful. He hit the car, got into the air and landed on his side. At that moment, Pokorski and another lapped car were hard on the brakes, narrowly missing each other and squeezing between Schlafer’s battered car and the outside wall. Pokorski assumed the race lead and the red flag was thrown for the wreck that claimed the defending series champion and former Plymouth Dirt Track champion. For the restart, Pokorski was ahead of Tim Haddy Sr., Neitzel, Randy Sipple and Wondra. When the red was lifted, Pokorski quickly gathered his thoughts and coached himself on how to get the best restart. When it was time for the restart, Pokorski got the jumped he needed and was off and away from the field, ultimately cruising to his first feature victory since 2012. “Not in my wildest dreams,” said the West Bend police officer of winning a heat race and the feature in the first race of the season. “I didn’t think we’d have that kind of luck.” The five-division opener is set for Saturday at Beaver Dam Raceway, featuring the modifieds, sport modifieds, grand nationals, street stocks and legends. The main gates open at 4:30 p.m. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m. $20 per car load