BEAVER DAM RACEWAY REPORT: Sept. 13, 2014
By NICHOLAS DETTMANN
BEAVER DAM, Wis. - With the championship still up for grabs in their respective divisions on a cool later summer Saturday night, Jeff Schmuhl and Joe Bongiorno did the easiest thing to avoid burning the batteries on their calculators: win.
Schmuhl led all 20 of the sport modified "A" main laps and held off James Berkevich Jr. for the feature victory and the track championship. Schmuhl won the title by three points over Berkevich.
"It's been a long week," Schmuhl said from victory lane, adding he and the crew put in a lot of work to get ready for the final points night of the 2014 season.
Schmuhl went into the evening with a one-point lead on Berkevich. It was a two-point gap after the heat races.
As for Bongiorno, he won the legends "A" main, passing for the lead with two laps to go and win the track championship at 15 years old after winning the division's Rookie of the Year award in 2013.
"The original plan was to lay back and keep my nose clean," Bongiorno said in victory lane. "But the crew gave me just too good of a car. It belonged in victory lane."
Bongiorno went into the feature with a 36-point lead on Mueller. He won the title by 48 points over Mueller, who finished second in the championship for the second straight season.
Also picking up feature victories in the regular season finale were Aaron Streblow (grand national), Doug Engelking (street stock) and Dave Schoenberger (modified).
The modified season championship finished in shocking and heart-breaking fashion.
Matt Rechek went into the evening with an 11-point lead over Jeremy Christians. On the second lap of the "A" main, Rechek pulled off the track with a mechanical problem and watched Christians go on to a fourth-place finish in the feature and steal the championship by five points.
It is Christians' third title in four years in the division.
In the grand national division, Tommy Moore finished second in the feature and secured the track championship. Moore won the title by 23 points over Streblow.
"I want to congratulate him on the championship," Streblow said in victory lane. "I had a lot of fun racing with him this year."
It was an emotional victory in the street stocks for Engelking as a crew member had to be rushed to the hospital last week after suffering a heart attack. The crew member was able to head home that night and was at the track Saturday.
"Last week was very humbling," Engelking said.
"We've been working hard on this car and we finally got some things figured out. We never got to check it out (last week)."
Scott Riedner won his second straight title, and gave the Riedner family its fourth in a row. Brandon Riedner won back-to-back titles in 2011 and 2012.
A pair of grand nationals heat races opened the regular season finale, followed by three legends heat races, two sport modified heat races, two street stock heat races and three modified heat races.
Kenny Richards and Dustin Weiss won the grand national heat races. Tim Vargo, Bongiorno, Chris Flick won the legend heat races. Aaron Muhle and Brandon Schmitt won the sport modified heat races. Engelking and Brandon Riedner won the street stock heat races. Christians, Jeff Steenbergen and Nick Firari wrapped up the heat race segment of the evening, winning the heat races for the modifieds.
After the intermission, the 20-lap grand national "A" main rolled off with Nick Schumacher and Dustin Weiss on the front row. Schmuacher led the first 11 laps of the feature. Streblow took the lead on lap 12 and went on to win the feature.
Streblow was followed to the finish line by Moore, Kodiak Wirtz, Tim Thompson and Schumacher.
The legends "A" main was next, with Cody Apfelbeck and Ryan Mech on the front row. Apfelbeck returned to the track after a scary crash Sept. 6.
Apfelbeck led the first six laps of the feature. Chris Flick took over the lead on lap seven. Flick and Bongiorno was even at the start-finish line with three laps to go. Bongiorno pulled ahead of Flick coming off Turn 4 and was the leader at the line with two laps to go. Bongiorno led the final two laps for the victory.
Kim Clover finished second, followed by Flick, Mech and Mike Mueller to round out the top five.
Sport mods were next, with Muhle and Gary Bauer on the front row, leading the pack of cars to the green flag. In the championship battle, Schmuhl started the feature fourth, while Berkevich was a bit further back in the field, starting ninth.
Schmuhl was aggressive, surging from fourth to first on the first lap. A caution came out at the race's halfway point. On the restart, Schmuhl and Berkevich nearly made contact, while running 1-2.
Nick Schultz finished the feature in third place. Schmitt and Kevin Tillema was fourth and fifth, respectively.
Mitchell Brockway and Stuart White led the street stock field to the green flag for the division's "A" main.
Brockway led the opening lap. Engelking moved from his third-place starting spot and into the lead on lap 2. He led the rest of the feature. Mark Baker was ready to challenge for the lead in second place, but got a flat tire with three laps to go.
Scott Riedner finished second, followed by Derek Childs, Alex Crapser and Brandon Riedner to round out the top five.
The modified "A" main rolled track side for the final event of the 2014 regular season. Firari and Schoenberger started on the front row. On the race's opening lap, Rechek went into Turn 1 and appeared to hit a bump on the race surface and went on to two wheels, but managed to save the car from flipping over. By the time, Rechek got back around to complete the first lap, he pulled his car off the track and into the infield.
Needing just a solid finish, Christians worked his way from his ninth-place starting spot into fourth and secure the championship.
After Schoenberger to the line was Firari, Daniel Roedl, Christians and Steenbergen to round out the top five.
On Saturday, the 2014 season will come to an end with the IRA Bumper to Bumper Outlaw Sprint Car Series making its fourth visit of the season. Phillip Mock won the first two visits, while Scotty Thiel won the series' last visit Aug. 2.
Main gate opens at 4:30 p.m. Qualifying starts at 6 p.m. Racing starts at 6:30 p.m. Adult admission is $20, with students age 6-11 $10 and age 5 and younger free.