BILL BALOG CHILLS FOES, BECOMES FIRST BUMPER TO BUMPER IRA SPRINT REPEAT WINNER IN 2016
May 14, 2016; Beaver Dam, WI – Bill Balog, a seven-time Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint series champion, and a transplant of North pole, Alaska found himself in victory lane after a dominating performance on a very cold night at Beaver Dam Raceway.
The chilled fans witnessed Balog dominate the 30 lap A-main to become the first repeat winner of the 2016 season for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints, the victory was his 78th career A-main win in IRA competition.
It was fitting then that instead of champagne being sprayed as a means to celebrate victory, that Mother Nature provided a fitting backdrop in the form of a brief snow shower during the winner’s interview.
“It’s pretty awesome!” exclaimed Balog of the win. “We have not been going that good of late. I have to thank Scott Boyd (track owner) and Carolyn (track manager) for putting this thing on. They could have easily canceled this event and I know this wasn’t the most lucrative night for them. We got to race and I really appreciate them for that”, noted Balog.
“I really have to thank my crew and Hans (car owner) it was a rough morning for us. We were able to get it done tonight. We raced last night in Indiana and didn’t do that good. We got back here and started working on this car. We were a little late getting here it was a lot of running around”, concluded Balog obvious pleased with those efforts.
A hearty showing of fans braved extremely cold and windy conditions where the temperatures struggled to reach even 40 degrees with wind chills well below freezing. Thankfully the show was extremely fast paced and the final checkered flag flew just after 9:00pm.
On this evening only Scotty Thiel seemed to have the pace to match Balog. Thiel had briefly challenged for the top spot near the mid-portion of the race, twice working to Balog’s inside. Those challenge fell short for when the leaders reached lapped traffic Balog turned up the pace leaving Thiel in his wake.
Balog would take the checkered flag by a comfortable margin while Thiel found himself engaged in a late race war with Jeremy Schultz for runner-up honors. The two traded the spot during the closing laps with Schultz successfully working by Thiel with less than two laps to go and then fending off Thiel’s rebuttal to earn the second place position. Thiel would settle for third.
Schultz was quick to acknowledge the fans for their part on the program during his interview.
“I have to thank the fans for coming out tonight and braving the cold weather, it was pretty miserable for everyone tonight. I thank you all it’s appreciated”, Schultz shouted.
“We worked pretty hard on the car all night to get it tuned in, it was a little tight. There was enough to get around Scotty (Thiel) at the end, but we couldn’t keep up with Bill at the beginning. We made a bunch of big strides on the car and it’s going the right direction”, noted Schultz on the run.
Thiel echoed the statement of Schultz. “First off I have to thank all you fans for coming out and freezing your butts off. We were getting a little cold sitting in the race car but you guys are diehards,” exclaimed Thiel. “A podium finish finally this year feels pretty good. The team has been working really hard and we’ve been fighting a lot of bad luck but things are coming around. We had a shot at the lead for a little bit. Bill (Balog) got around the lapped cars and walked away from us. We’ll see what we can do next week at Wilmot”, concluded Thiel.
For both Schultz and Thiel it was their first podium performances of the 2016 season.
By virtue of a pill draw to create the invert for the start of the main event Balog found himself on the pole for the contest with Schultz to his outside.
At the drop of starter Jim Barr’s green flag, Balog immediately blasted into the lead while Thiel worked his way under Schultz for the second spot. On lap four the first caution of the contest flew when Matt Vandervere looped his car in turn four.
The lead trio of Balog, Thiel and Schultz again showed the way while Phillip Mock and Ben Schmidt ran fourth and fifth respectively.
On lap eight Vandervere’s ride again fell short on traction, spinning in turn one. He would retire from the contest and action again quickly resumed.
Balog got a solid restart with Thiel working hard to match his pace. Thiel had managed to reel in Balog as they began to reach lapped traffic at the halfway point of the contest.
Once the duo began to work past lapped machines Balog began to stretch his lead and by lap 20 he had placed several lapped cars between himself and Thiel who was now having to fend off the challenges of Schultz.
Schultz was able to grab the runner-up spot before the final slowdown of the contest.
A final caution flew with just under 10 laps to go in the event when Mike Reinke suffered a flat tire while doing battle for position inside the top ten. His crew quickly serviced his car under caution and he resumed the event from the tail of the field.
Balog again wasted no time in bringing the field up to speed on the restart as he opened a small lead on Schultz who precariously held onto the second position as Thiel worked both high and low in effort to try and advance.
On lap 25 Thiel was able to snag the position but by now Balog was opened a large lead. With Balog sailing off in the distance fans attention turned to the battles for second between Thiel and Schultz, and for fourth between Steve Meyer and Schmidt.
As the while flag flew Schultz gained the upper hand on Thiel to garner second but from the newly gained position he was barely able to witness Balog take the checkered a quarter-lap ahead. Schultz held on for second repelling a last ditch effort from Thiel. Thiel settled for third.
Fourth place came down to the final lap as Schmidt, wheeling the Ozzie Weisner owned #73 machine normally driven by Todd King. Schmidt managed to put a thrilling pass on Meyer to secure the spot earning fourth.
Meyer who had stayed in the top five all evening earned a solid fifth place showing.
Scott Biertzer who advanced seven positions during the contest finished in the sixth spot. Mock crossed the line in seventh followed by Dave Uttech in eighth.
Reinke, whose flat tire was the final caution of the contest made an impressive charge from the tail of the field up to ninth. Kyle Marten completed the top ten finishers.
In earlier action the B-main settled the balance of the field with the father and son team of Dennis and Kris Spitz showing the way around the track. On this evening the younger generation got the upper hand with Kris besting his father Dennis for top honors. Vandervere, Wayne Modjeski and Jereme Schroeder completed the top five. The final transfer spot came down to the final turn when sixth running Josh Walter was tagged by Jake Blackhurst spinning in the final corner. Michael Decker who had been running behind the pair, slipped past for the sixth spot.
In heat race action each winner captured the victory with dominating performances. Victories went to Meyer, Mock and Blake Nimee.
The night began with 26 drivers checking in to qualify. Schmidt turned in the fast lap of the evening with a 12.927 second orbit of the banked third-mile clay oval. He was the only driver to crack the 13 second barrier this evening. Thiel was second quick with a 13.124 second effort and Schultz was third fast with a 13.167 second effort.
The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints will be back at Wilmot Raceway on May 21st in a co-sanctioned event with the All-Star circuit of Champions.
For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com or by logging onto the series Facebook page at www.facebook.com/irasprints the series is also on twitter at #IRA_sprints.
The IRA Sprints are presented by its long time supporting series partners. The series support is led by title sponsor Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, and associate series partners Hoosier Tire, Osborn & Son Trucking, TW Metals, Cummins Onan, and Twin Lakes Marine.
Upcoming 2016 Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series Events:
5/21/2016 – Wilmot Raceway – Wilmot, WI
5/22/2016 – Angell Park Speedway – Sun Prairie, WI
5/27/2016 – Oshkosh Speedzone – Oshkosh, WI
5/29/2016 – 141 Speedway – Francis Creek, WI
410 Sprints | IRA Interstate Racing Association
Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 17B-Bill Balog; 2. 5J-Jeremy Schultz; 3. 64-Scotty Thiel; 4. 73-Ben Schmidt; 5. 85M-Steve Meyer; 6. 4B-Scott Biertzer; 7. 1M-Phillip Mock; 8. 68-Dave Uttech; 9. 02-Mike Reinke; 10. 99-Kyle Marten; 11. 7-Scott Uttech; 12. 14AJ-Wayne Modjeski; 13. 23D-Trey Datweiler; 14. 80K-Mike Kertscher; 15. 23-Russel Borland; 16. 79-Blake Nimee; 17. 94R-Rob Pribnow; 18. 2W-Scott Neitzel; 19. 41-Dennis Spitz; 20. 12W-Josh Walter; 21. 4K-Kris Spitz; 22. 43-Jereme Schroeder; 23. (DNF) 12-Michael Decker; 24. (DNF) 53W-Bill Wirth; 25. (DNF) 10V-Matt Vandevere
Behling Racing Equipment B Feature 1 (10 Laps): 1. 4K-Kris Spitz; 2. 41-Dennis Spitz; 3. 10V-Matt Vandevere; 4. 14AJ-Wayne Modjeski; 5. 43-Jereme Schroeder; 6. 12-Michael Decker; 7. 25-Jake Blackhurst; 8. 12W-Josh Walter
Weld Racing Products Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 85M-Steve Meyer; 2. 73-Ben Schmidt; 3. 99-Kyle Marten; 4. 17B-Bill Balog; 5. 68-Dave Uttech; 6. 23-Russel Borland; 7. 25-Jake Blackhurst; 8. 41-Dennis Spitz; 9. 14AJ-Wayne Modjeski
DMI Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 1M-Phillip Mock; 2. 02-Mike Reinke; 3. 4B-Scott Biertzer; 4. 94R-Rob Pribnow; 5. 64-Scotty Thiel; 6. 2W-Scott Neitzel; 7. 12W-Josh Walter; 8. 43-Jereme Schroeder; 9. 12-Michael Decker
All Star Performance Products Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1. 79-Blake Nimee; 2. 80K-Mike Kertscher; 3. 7-Scott Uttech; 4. 5J-Jeremy Schultz; 5. 23D-Trey Datweiler; 6. 53W-Bill Wirth; 7. 10V-Matt Vandevere; 8. 4K-Kris Spitz
Osborn & Son Qualifying: 1. 73-Ben Schmidt, 12.927; 2. 64-Scotty Thiel, 13.124; 3. 5J-Jeremy Schultz, 13.167; 4. 17B-Bill Balog, 13.245; 5. 94R-Rob Pribnow, 13.422; 6. 53W-Bill Wirth, 13.470; 7. 68-Dave Uttech, 13.471; 8. 02-Mike Reinke, 13.492; 9. 10V-Matt Vandevere, 13.608; 10. 23-Russel Borland, 13.623; 11. 4B-Scott Biertzer, 13.724; 12. 79-Blake Nimee, 13.767; 13. 85M-Steve Meyer, 13.796; 14. 1M-Phillip Mock, 13.820; 15. 7-Scott Uttech, 13.913; 16. 99-Kyle Marten, 13.981; 17. 43-Jereme Schroeder, 14.000; 18. 80K-Mike Kertscher, 14.107; 19. 25-Jake Blackhurst, 14.131; 20. 2W-Scott Neitzel, 14.153; 21. 4K-Kris Spitz, 14.212; 22. 41-Dennis Spitz, 14.355; 23. 12W-Josh Walter, 14.477; 24. 23D-Trey Datweiler, 14.680; 25. 14AJ-Wayne Modjeski, 14.690; 26. 12-Michael Decker, 14.707