Beaver Dam Finale Preview
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
BEAVER DAM, Wis. - It all comes down to this. One race to decide a track champion in five divisions.
And all five divisions are still up for grabs, which means the points leader going into the finale may not be the champ when the dust settles.
There are two battles to watch this Saturday, with racing starting promptly at 6:30 p.m. And it's the usual $20 per car load. So pack them in for what expects to be a wild night of racing.
The first battle to watch for Saturday night is in the Performance Motor Sports Sport Modified division where Jeff Schmuhl holds only a one-point edge on James Berkevich Jr. Berkevich lost his slim points lead last week with a sixth-place finish in the "A" main. Schmuhl finished second.
It's been a fun back-and-forth battle between Berkevich and Schmuhl. Berkevich has nine top-five finishes in 12 "A" main starts this season, but no "A" main victories. He does have three heat victories to his credit. Schmuhl has just six top-finishes in 12 starts. However, he has two victories and four second-place showings, which has kept him in the hunt throughout the season. Nick Schultz is still mathmatically eligible. He will need Schmuhl and Berkevich to not show up for the finale in order to have a shot. If Schmuhl and Berkevich show up and start the feature, Schultz would be eliminated.
The other battle to watch Saturday night is in the Weld Specialty Supply Modifieds where Matt Rechek leads Jeremy Christians, the 2011 and 2012 track champion, by 11 points. Noah Schepp and Andrew Araco could still sneak into the championship picture if it's a rough night for Rechek and/or Christians.
This season, Rechek has been able to hold onto the points lead for most of the season despite not winning an "A" main. He started the season with back-to-back second-place finishes and a third. Since then he's only posted three top-five finishes in nine starts. Christians' lone victory was the season opener May 3. He did miss one of the July doubleheader races because he was racing elsewhere. Christians has nine top-five finishes this season.
The modifieds' top six of Rechek, Christians, Schepp, Araco, Dave Schoenberger and Brian Crapser as it stands going into the finale have a good chance of shuffling when the final checkered flag flies.
Tommy Moore has a 22-point edge over Aaron Streblow in the Taco Bell Grand Nationals. That championship turned in favor of Moore on Aug. 9. Moore won the "A" main, while Streblow finished 16th. Moore has a division-leading five "A" main victories and has no DNFs. His worst finish is 10th on Aug. 16.
Streblow has finished second in seven of 14 "A" mains this season. But he also three finishes of 10th place or worse.
Joe Bongiorno, in just his second year of dirt legends racing, needs to just finish in the top 12 of the "A" main to clinch the championship in the Choice Insurance Legends. He leads Mike Mueller, who finished second in last year's points battle to Joe Johnson, by 35 points.
Bongiorno has two "A" main and three heat victories this season and has been one of the division's most consistent drivers. Outside of a DNF on July 25, the young driver's worst finish is seventh twice. Mueller has six heat victories, second most in the division to Ethan Ross (eight).
All signs are pointing toward Scott Riedner for a second straight title in the NAPA Street Stocks. But Brandon Riedner is ready to pounce if something happens.
The Riedners are separated by 20 points going into the finale.
For Scott Riedner, outside of an opening night 15th-place finish, the veteran hasn't finished worse than fifth in the following 12 "A" mains. Brandon Riedner has four finishes outside the top five in that span. Both have won six heat races this season as well.
The track will close for the season Sept. 20 with the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series, plus the modifieds, grand nationals and legends in a bragging rights event.