Beaver Dam Raceway Report: May 10, 2014
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
BEAVER DAM, Wis. - This time, Warren Ropp was able to hold off a hard-charging challenger.
Ropp of Kalona, Iowa, led each of the 20 laps in the legends "A" main Saturday at Beaver Dam Raceway, holding off Eric Barth for just about the entire race.
"It's been a long time coming," Ropp said.
Also picking up "A" main feature victories was Brian Gilles (grand national), Noah Schepp (modified), Jon Schultz (sport modified) and Scott Riedner (street stock).
And speaking of Riedner, the defending track champion, also led each of the 20 laps in the street stock "A" main, but he also had to withstand a heated challenge from Roger Frank, last week's feature winner.
"I just had to keep it on the bottom," Riedner said.
Ninety-three cars made their way through the pit gates, just like in last week's opener.
The evening started as usual with the ceremonial lap during the National Anthem. However, during the ceremony, grand national driver "Top Side" Tommy Moore followed the line of last week's feature winners holding a black flag out the driver's side window. The move was done in honor of Bruce Mueller, long-time engine builder in Wisconsin, who died Saturday morning. Mueller is the owner of B&B Racing Engines and founded the company more than 40 years ago.
Mueller was 67.
The grand national division heat races were first to roll track side with Aaron Streblow and Jeff Steenbergen picking up the victories.
Sport modifieds were next with Michael Plate Sr. and James Berkevich taking the checkered flag in their respective eight-lap heat races. Also picking up heat victories were Frank, Riedner and Doug Engleking (street stock), Barth, Ethan Ross and Vince Bartolotta (legends), and Matt Rechek, Will Sorce and Joe McGrath (modifieds).
Sorce picked up a surpring victory in his heat race because race leader Jeremy Christians, last week's feature winner, spun the middle of turns 1 and 2 after taking the white flag, and had a dominating advantage.
Ropp almost won his heat race, but he slipped up coming out of Turn 4, which allowed Ross to dip his car underneath Ropp's and steal the victory.
After the intermission, the grand nationals were first on the track for the "A" mains.
Kodiak Wirtz and Dustin Weiss led the field of 16 cars to the green flag. Wirtz led the opening four laps of the feature. Steenbergen, last year's sport modified track champion, took the lead on the fifth lap and was in control until the last lap, the last two corners.
Steenbergen got loose coming off Turn 2 after taking the white flag, which allowed Gilles to catch up to Steenbergen. When they approached Turn 3, Gilles stayed on the gas just a bit longer than Steenbergen which allowed him to muscle his car into the inside. The two were side-by-side working through turns 3 and 4 until Gilles got the edge and beat Steenbergen to the line for the victory.
Roger Lee took third, followed by Wirtz and Don Schumacher to round out the top five.
The sport mods were next, with Tim Sheppard and Plate leading the 17-car field to the green flag. Plate led the first lap, then Dustin Smits had a hold of the lead for the next two laps.
Jeff Schmuhl took the lead on lap 4 and led until Schultz overtook him with two laps to go. Schultz won the race, with Schmuhl taking second.
Smits went on to finish third, followed by Brandon Schmitt and Berkevich to round out the top five.
Riedner and Mitchell Brockway led the 20-car street stock field to the green flag for the division's "A" main. Brockway was hoping Saturday was the day to score career feature victory No. 1. David Kinjerski was another first-time feature winner hopeful and flirted with taking the race lead.
Six cautions marred the street stock "A" main. With nine laps to go, the pink flag signifying the time limit had been reached was displayed. That meant the next flag, the yellow or checkered, was going to end the race.
Riedner and Frank got locked into an exciting battle as the unknown of whether the race would go the full distance hung over the one-third-mile dirt oval. The division did get the full 20 laps into the books, and it was an exciting bout for the victory.
On every lap after the pink flag, Frank was glued to the back bumper of Riedner. The savvy veteran never flinched.
"I didn't know Roger was there," Riedner said. "I just went as fast I could."
Riedner added he didn't think about the pink flag or if another caution was going to come on. He just had to run his race, he said.
Riedner hung on for the victory, beating Frank to the line by just 0.079 seconds. Chad Hummelmeier was third, Mark Baker was fourth and Jesse Krahn was fifth.
Ropp and Tim Vargo were 1-2 as the 19-car legends "A" main hit the stripe for the start of the 20-lap feature.
Ropp took the lead right away and never relinquished it. However, it wasn't smooth sailing for the veteran.
Barth started the feature in ninth place and by the third lap was already knocking on the bumper of Ropp.
"There was only one line and it was low," Ropp said. "I just couldn't screw up."
For the next 17 laps, Barth did all he could to make Ropp slip up. Ropp didn't break, going onto his first feature victory in about four or five years, he said.
"He was faster than I was," Ropp said of Barth, adding he was nervous starting up front because "there's only one way to go: backward."
To end the evening, the modifieds hit track side with Ben Godlewski and Schepp leading the 21-car field to the green flag for the "A" main.
Schepp, like Ropp and Riedner, led the feature from start to finish.
On the last restart, Rechek, last week's second-place finisher in the "A" main, made a challenge at Schepp, but to no avail.
Rechek finished second to Schepp. Brian Crapser was third, Andrew Araco was fourth and Christians was fifth.
Next week, the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series returns to the track for its second of five visits to the track. On April 26, Phil Mock won his first career feature, making a last-corner pass on Bill Rose for the victory. In addition, the street stocks, legends and grand nationals will be on-hand. Pits open at 3:30 p.m., main gate at 4:30 p.m. and racing at 6:30 p.m.