July 26, 2002; Plover, WI - For awhile it appeared that the Friday Night racing program at Golden Sands Speedway had met it's match, as a deluge of rain hit the track just after opening ceremonies. However track officials, with plenty of help from the Super Stock division took to the track in an attempt to dry the racing surface. After 45 minutes of work, the track was back in racing condition and the program was able to continue less than an hour behind schedule.
Topping the evening was Wisconsin Rapids native Mark Eswein as he stormed to victory in the Super Late Model headliner. The win was the second of the season for the division point leader. The program sponsored by Schierl Tire, is also a primary sponsor of the Eswein machine. Schierl tire got additional exposure when Keith Bohmsach, driving Eswein's backup machine, set fast time for the evening in his first career start in a Super Late Model at Golden Sands. In the Super Stock division, Tim Hintz came out on top of a tight three way battle for the victory and pulled away in the closing laps for his second victory of the 2002 season.
In setting his first career fast time behind the wheel of a Late Model, Bohmsach opted to take the Hot N' Now ultimate challenge worth $1,400 should he be able to come from the back of the pack to win the feature event. Bohmsach at one point had climbed as high as fifth before fading to a respectable seventh place finish at the checkered. In the Super Stocks it was Shawn Stelzer back atop the qualifying ranks setting his 11th quick time effort of the 2002 season. Stelzer would finish third narrowly missing the $700 challenge put out by Point Shell / Turbo Wash.
Rookie Late Model pilot Pat Williams started on the pole of the 40 lap Late Model headliner with Frank Nitzke lined up outside row one when the green flag fell.
Nitzke would use the outside line to pull ahead at the drop of the green flag as Williams slipped back in the pack on the inside lane. Before the completion of the first lap Allen Check and Mark Eswein had motored past in the outer groove to take over the second and third spots. After a brief caution on lap five, the field got back to full speed with Nitzke, Check, Eswein, Brandon Selle and Monte Gress holding the top five spots.
Check and Nitzke squared off when the green returned, Check hugged the bottom, while Nitzke preferred the outside groove. After running wheel to wheel for five laps, the next caution flew when Selle and Jeremy Lepak made contact while doing battle for position resulting in a spin by Selle in turn four on lap 10. Both drivers would restart at the back of the pack.
Selle's spin allowed Gress to move to fourth and Jeff Weinfurter to enter the top five. The lead trio of Nitzke, Check and Eswein brought the field back to the green. Check was again able to get under Nitzke and the pair again squared off for the lead. This time, Check was able to hug the very inside of the track and slowly pulled ahead of Nitzke on lap 15, Eswein followed with a similar move the following lap. The final caution of the day appeared on the next lap as dirt was kicked up onto the racing surface in turn two.
At the halfway point of the race several positions changed in the top five. Eswein was able to sneak to the inside of Check through turn two on lap 22 and powered ahead for the lead down the backstretch. At the same time Weinfurter disposed of Nitzke to climb into the third position. With Eswein and Check pulling away out front the crowd was able to focus on the battle for third between Nitzke and Weinfurter as Nitzke rallied using the outside lane in an attempt to wrestle third place away. At lap 28 of the 40 lap contest, Kirby Kurth, who had come from the tail of the field reached the top five.
With 10 laps to go Nitzke succeeded in his quest to regain the third spot, but the lead duo of Eswein and Check had pulled away. Over the final laps Eswein was able to pull away to a eight car length lead to score the victory. Check finished a solid second. Nitzke fended off a final lap challenge by Weinfurter for third. Weinfurter held fourth, with Burton Brown slipping past Kurth in the closing laps to round out the top five. Kurth, Bohmsach, Jason Weinkauf, Gress and Jeremy Lepak made up the top ten finishers.
The dice roll for the evening put the fastest Super Stocks near the front of the pack for their feature race. Mike Brooks set the opening pace at the drop of the green, with Hintz slicing through traffic quickly to maneuver into second by lap two passing Dave Neitzke to claim the position. Neitzke was losing positions in the inside lane and soon gave up the third position by lap three.
Hintz using the outside line moved ahead of Brooks going down the backstretch and held the lead position at the line on lap four. Hintz began to motor away, while Stelzer, who had started sixth on the grid, used the outside line to surpass Brooks for second on lap six. Current point leader Jason Kirsling was next to come up to challenge Brooks for position.
Tim Plowman came to rest at the top of the banking in turn one with a flat tire on lap eight, resulting in a caution which restacked the field. At the drop of the green Hintz again set the pace, with Stelzer and Kirlsing waging a war for second. Kirsling would gain the upper hand to take second and he began to pressure Hintz for the top spot. Hintz however was turning a blistering pace and would slowly pull away for Kirsling as the race rolled past the halfway point.
During the remainder of the race Hintz was able to slowly increase his lead with each passing lap. At the finish Hintz was a quarter lap out front as he took the win. Kirsling spent the final laps of the race fending off a determined Stelzer to hold fast to second and maintain his point lead. Stelzer nabbed third, Brooks and Merle Weinfurter made up the top five finishers. Steve Borski, Neitzke, and Bohmsach made up the top eight finishers.
With his performance Bohmsach became the first driver to score a top ten finish in both the Super Late Model and Super Stock division in a single evening.
Another notable performance this evening was that of Kurth in the Super Late Model division. The 20 lap semi-feature contest saw Kurth leading comfortably until he had a flat tire while circling the track under a caution with 13 laps remaining. He would make it out of the pits for the restart but back in the 14th position, seemingly unable to reach the top three which would advance to the feature this evening. Making some daring three wide passes on the outside Kurth was able to quickly move through the pack. A final slowdown with five laps to go bunched the field with Kurth now showing in sixth. Kurth again went to work passing cars and had actually gained third at the white flag. On the final lap Kurth moved into second behind winner Doug Drost. The performance of passing 13 cars in 14 laps to finish second put Kurth in the main event.
Next week, Friday Night August 2nd is the 7th Annual CARQUEST Night at the races. The show will feature four divisions of racing, including Super Late Models, Super Stocks, 4 Cylinders and 2-Man Cruisers. Time trials are set for 6:30 p.m., with the first green flag of the evening scheduled for 7:45 p.m.
A major special will take place at the track on Sunday Afternoon August 11th, as the Wisconsin Challenge Series will make it's final appearance of the season on the high-banked third-mile paved oval. The show will feature over 40 of Wisconsin's top Super Late Model pilots. The show will also feature Wisconsin Sport Trucks and 2-Man Cruisers. For the program time trials will begin at 3:30 p.m., with racing taking place at 5:00 p.m.
Golden Sands Speedway known as Central Wisconsin's Power Playground is located between Wisconsin Rapids and Plover, Wisconsin on Highway 54. For additional information please call (715) 423-4660 or consult the track website at www.goldensandsspeedway.com