BEAVER DAM RACEWAY REPORT: Aug. 16, 2014
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
BEAVER DAM, Wis. - Legends division driver Jim Bucher of Richfield won his first career legends feature Saturday at Beaver Dam Raceway.
Plus, James Berkevich Jr. took over the points lead in the sports modified division with only four race weekends left in the 2014 season.
Joe McGrath (modified), Mark Baker (street stock), Kenny Richards (grand national) and Colten Van Hierden (sport modified) won the other feature races.
Berkevich trailed Jeff Schmuhl by 10 points going into the event and emerged with a two-point edge.
Street stocks were up first in the program, with Scott Riedner, Karly Stadler and Baker each winning their respective heat races.
Chris Flick, Joe Bongiorno and Mike Mueller won the legends heat races. Jeremy Schwoch and Aaron Muhle won the sport modified heat races. Richards and Don Schumacher won the grand national heat races. Kelly Brown, Nick Firari and Don Scheffler won the modified heat races.
The legends 20-lap "A" main was first, with Scott Wiegele and Nate Chitko leading the field to the green flag from the front row.
Chitko led the opening four circuits of the race before Bucher took over the lead on lap 5. Bucher led the remainder of the race, but it didn't come without a bit of flare for the dramatic in the closing laps. Bucher had a commanding lead at about the halfway point of the race, which had no cautions. But as the laps ticked away, Bucher's lead was dwindling.
Thankfully for Bucher, no caution came out and he held on for the victory. His previous best finish of the season was fourth May 24.
Clover finished second, followed by Mueller, Bongiorno and Chitko to round out the top five.
Bongiorno lost a couple tallies to his points lead from 38 to 35 over Mueller. At least seven drivers are still mathematically alive in the championship picture. Johnny Kringas, who finished 10th, is seventh in the points, 188 behind Bongiorno. And that's not counting any potential "B" mains the rest of the season in any division.
The 20-lap grand national "A" main was next, with Kelly Brown and Jeff Tondryk on the front row.
Aaron Streblow jumped from his third-place starting position to take the lead on the first lap. With the aid of a couple cautions in the early going, Streblow held off a hard-charging Richards for the top spot.
On lap 8, Streblow couldn't hold off "The Outlaw" anymore as Richards took the lead.
On lap 13, division points leader Tommy Moore, who's been the consistent driver in any division this season with an average finish of 2.7 in 12 starts, pulled off the track with a flat tire and didn't return. It was Moore's first DNF of the season and was scored with a 10th-place finish. Moore's previous worst finish was sixth (May 10).
After Richards, Streblow crossed the line in second, followed by Troy Weich, Dustin Weiss and John Stanton.
Streblow nipped some points off Moore's lead. Moore leads Streblow by 26 points. It was a 33-point gap going into the evening.
At least four drivers are still alive in the championship picture. Don Schumacher is fourth, 78 points back of Moore.
The sport modifieds were next, with Aaron Muhle and Jeremy Schwoch making up the front row.
Schwoch was in control for most of the race. A couple late cautions changed everything. The last one came with three laps to go, with Schwoch leading Berkevich, Van Hierden, Muhle and Brandon Schmitt to the green flag.
When the field came back around, Van Hierden was at the front and held on for the last two circuits.
It was Van Hierden's eight feature victory of the summer at various tracks, second at Beaver Dam.
Berkevich took second, followed by Schwoch, Schmitt and Nick Schultz.
With his second-place finish, Berkevich took over the points lead from Schmuhl.
It is still a wide-open battle in the sport modified division with at least seven drivers still in the picture. Dustin Smits is seventh, 85 points behind first.
It was a wild street stock "A" main, which started with Kyle Neuman and Chris Prust on the front row.
The race featured six lead changes, three in the first three laps. At the halfway point, the lead went back and forth between Baker and Roger Frank.
The race also had five cautions, and it was an odd night for points leader Scott Riedner, but a rough one for his challenger, Brandon Riedner.
On lap 12, Scott Riedner made a rare mistake and spun in Turn 1 to bring out a caution. It seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Brandon Riedner, who trailed Scott Riedner by eight points going into the night, to take over the points lead.
Two laps later, Brandon Riedner's engine let go, sending him off the track with an excruciating 14th-place finish, his first finish outside the top seven since May 10.
Two laps later, three cars got together in Turn 4, one of which was Scott Riedner.
On the restart with four laps to go, it was Baker, Stadler, Frank, Alex Crapser and Derek Childs, and Scott Riedner back in the pack.
A couple laps later, Crapser spun out, but the race continued. When the checkers flew, it was Baker winning the race.
Stadler finished a career-best second, with Frank, Childs and Scott Riedner.
Scott Riedner's quick work through the pack allowed him to extend his lead from eight points to 19. Childs is third, 52 points back, in a championship battle appearing to be a two-man show.
The 20-lap "A" main for the modifieds were last in the program, with Don Scheffler and Bart Sievert making up the front row.
Sievert got the early advantage, leading the first four laps. McGrath, coming from an eighth-place starting position, took over the lead on lap 5 and was strong the rest of the race.
On lap 14, what would've been a devastating blow in the championship, was waved off. Matt Rechek, the points leader by just 11 points going in, slipped up in Turn 2 in front of Jeremy Christians and the two made hard contact. But an inadvertent yellow was waved and that allowed Rechek and Christians to maintain their positions. But moments later, Rechek pulled off the course with a flat tire. He was scored with a 10th-place finish in race that featured four cautions.
Once back underway, McGrath reasserted himself as the driver in control and went on to the victory.
The big surprise was by second-place finisher Eric Mahlik.
Mahlik, who played in 13 games for the Wisconsin Badgers football team during their run to the 2000 Sun Bowl victory over UCLA, made his Beaver Dam debut Saturday. Mahlik, who lives in Green Bay, won a modified feature in June at Luxemburg Speedway. He also races at 141 Speedway and Seymour, and is a seven-time feature winner since he started racing in 2010.
Jeff Steenbergen was third for his fourth straight top-three finish. Daniel Roedl was fourth and Christians finished fifth.
Recheck lost just one point from his lead, 11 to 10. Rechek has yet to win a feature this season and has three second-place finishes.
Christians is second in the points. The top-eight in points are separated by 73 points, which makes each still in contention for the title.
Next week is Bud Night at the Races and all five divisions will be in action. $20 per car load, with main gate opening at 4:30 p.m. and racing starting at 6:30 p.m.