BEAVER DAM RACEWAY REPORT: Aug. 2, 2014
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
BEAVER DAM, Wis. - A handful of drivers found victory lane for the first time Saturday night at Beaver Dam Raceway.
That was mixed in with a busy night for the safety crew as there were four rollover crashes, including three with the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series.
Among the first-time winners was Scotty Thiel with the IRA Sprint Cars and 20-year-old Taylor Scheffler in the modified division, adding to that family's legacy on the dirt.
Thiel dominated in the series' third trip to the track of the season. He led all but one of the 30-lap "A" main and it was the first lap. Throughout the feature, he was the class of the field, needing less than four laps to stretch his lead to a full straightaway.
"This team worked really hard all week long," said Thiel after winning his first career feature.
Bill Rose, a former World of Outlaw regular and IRA rookie, was second, followed by Jason Johnson, Blake Nimee and Scott Neitzel. Rose was second in the series' first visit in April.
"We hope it's soon," said Rose when asked if he is close to his first series victory.
As for the regular divisions, in addition to Scheffler, Ethan Ross and Tommy Moore won their respective "A" mains. All three of those "A" mains put on a show for a good crowd.
For the 30-lap IRA "A" main, Nimee and Thiel were on the front row.
Bill Balog, the series' six-time defending champion, was absent from the event as he was competing in a sprint car event in Knoxville, Iowa.
Balog entered the evening with a 300-point lead in the standings over Rose.
Nimee led the IRA's first lap and Thiel led the remaining 29. At the halfway point, four of the top-six drivers were in the hunt for their first career IRA Series victory (Thiel, Rose, Nimee and Ben Schmidt).
At lap 10, Mock's quest for a three-peat was finished when he pulled off the race track.
The last restart was on lap 14 and Thiel quickly pulled away from the field and cruised to his first IRA victory.
Dustin Weiss and Kenny Richards won the grand national heat races after IRA Series qualifying. IRA qualifying was paced by Travis Whittney with a best-lap time of 12.317 seconds. Mike Reinke was second (12.584), Jordan Goldesberry (12.595), Steve Meyer (12.618) and Tommy Sexton (12.664).
In all, 95 cars were in the pit area for the evening, with two "B" mains necessary to set the "A" mains.
The legends were the next division after the grand nationals to do its three heat races.
Chris Flick, Frankie Hoch and Johnny Kringas won the legends' heat races, with the top five advancing to the "A" main. For Hoch, it was her first career checkered flag.
The IRAs were next with three heat races, 10 laps each, wit top five advancing.
Jeremy Schultz, Thiel and Nimee won their respective heat races.
Going into the evening, Phil Mock was trying to make it three in a row at Beaver Dam, having won the other two visits by the series this season. Mock was running second in the second heat race with one lap to go, but pulled off the track, forcing him to come through the "B" in order to get into the show.
Modifieds were next and they ran three heat races with top five advancing. Jeff Steenbergen, Matt Rechek and Don Scheffler won their respective races.
The legends "B" main was next, with Nathan Chitko and Jim Bucher starting on the front row for a 15-lap dash. The top five advanced to the "A" main. Vince Bartolotta won the race, with Bucher, Chitko, Mark Ritger and Chris Hoedel rounding out the top five and advance to the main event.
The IRA "B" main followed, with Goldesberry and Meyer starting on the front row. It was a 12-lap sprint, with the top-seven advancing out of 14 cars. Goldesberry won the shootout. Meyer was second, followed by Scott Biertzer, Bill Wirth, Matt Vanderere, Dennis Spitz and Mock.
The first "A" main was the grand nationals.
Will Schumacher and Don Schumacher started up front for the 20-lap "A" main.
It was good battle between the two for the first handful of laps. Moore took over the point on lap 4.
At the halfway point of the race, the top-two in the points were bumper to bumper, with Moore ahead of Aaron Streblow.
Streblow led lap 11 and Moore retook the lead on lap 12. From there, it was a thrilling back-and-forth battle, with Moore using the top line, while Streblow kept his car pinned to the low line.
With five laps to go, the two caught up to slower traffic. It forced the two to get single file and Moore held off Streblow for the victory, his fourth of the season and third in four races. Streblow was second, followed by Dan Schumacher, Todd Ascherien and Weiss.
The legends "A" main was next to roll trackside, led by Eric Barth and Ryan Mech on the front.
It was Barth's first race since a scary rollover crash May 24, seven races ago.
Barth led the first two laps, then Justin Pearson led the next three.
Joe Bongiorno took over the lead on lap 6 and from there, it formed into a close battle between Bongiorno and Ross.
Ross led laps 12-15, before Bongiorno took over on lap 16. He appeared on his way to a second straight victory, but he slipped up in Turn 4, which allowed Ross to go underneath Bongiorno and win the race to the finish line.
If that sounded familiar, it should. The same thing happened May 17. Bongiorno was the leader going into the final two turns, but bobbled coming out of Turn 4 and Ross capitalized.
"That was a heck of a race," Ross said, adding he had a flashback of the May 17 race during the late stages of the race. "We were running each other really hard, but clean."
For Ross, it was his fourth feature victory of the season. In addition, it was his third straight top-three finish.
Bongiorno was second, followed by Kringas, Flick and Tim Vargo. For Kringas, it matched his season-best finish, and for Vargo it was his first top-five finish of the season.
After the IRA's 30-lap main event, the modifieds were ready to finish off the evening. And just like the other divisions, they put on a good show for the fans.
Kelly Brown and Don Scheffler started the 20-lap feature on the front row.
Brown led the first half of the race. On lap 9, Scheffler pulled off the track while running in second place. From there, it was up to the defending track champion's nephew to overtake Brown.
Taylor Scheffler took over the lead at the race's halfway point and put together an impressive show for his first career victory.
Scheffler held off Steenbergen, Jeremy Christians and Brian Crapser, three of the toughest drivers at the track, for the victory. Steenbergen has won a grand national and sport modified track championship at Beaver Dam, Crapser has won his fair share of races, and Christians is a former modified track champion.
Brown was fifth.
"It's great," Scheffler said of winning his first feature. "We've been trying really hard to get one."
Moore only added a point to his lead, now leading Streblow by 13 points. Nick Schumacher is third, 44 points behind Moore.
Bongiorno opened up a gap in the legends points battle. Mike Mueller had a mechanical problem with eight laps to go while running in the top five and wound up finishing 18th. Bongiorno leads Mueller by 28 points. Flick is 36 behind Bongiorno, Ross is 81 points back and Kim Clover is fifth, 100 points back.
Things were already tight in the modified points picture and it stayed that way.
Rechek bounced back from a pair-of-pair DNFs with a seventh-place finish Saturday and leads Christians and Noah Schepp by seven points. Andrew Araco is fourth, 15 points back, then it's a tie for fifth between Dave Schoenberger and Crapser, 16 points behind Rechek.
Next on the schedule is Fan Appreciation Night. Gates open at 4:30 p.m., but the cars and stars of the track will be in the parking lot with their cars before that, ready to meet their fans. $20 per car load. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m.