August 23, 2002; Plover, WI - There were several unexpected happenings at Golden Sands Speedway, on Channel 9, Marathon Travel VIP, Fan Appreciation Night. In addition to tons of prize giveaways to the fans who have supported the speedway which included a trip for two to the Bahamas, fans also took home weekly prizes like the WAL-MART gift certificate winner Danielle Zimmerman and Junior Fan Club Member of the week, Katrina Schoenstene.
Fans were also surprised to see the "Sands Buggy" safety vehicle back in action. The buggy, which was run over by a racing bus the prior Friday evening participated in opening ceremonies.
There was also some new faces in victory lane. In Super Late Model action, Todd "The Gun" Stapleman of Wautoma, captured his firs feature win at Golden Sands since May of last year. Stapleman, running only occasionally at Sands this year charged through traffic to get to the lead and then saw his nearest rivals fall by the wayside has he cruised home for the victory. In Super Stock action, it was former Legends race, turned Super Stock rookie Galen Manternatch pacing much of the contest to record his first career feature win. Keith Wirtz, used a win in the 4 cylinder main event to take over the point lead in the division with two points nights remaining.
In preliminary action, two-time track champion Mark Eswein set the pace turning a just .003 second faster than Jeff Weinfurter last week's feature winner for quick time. Eswein opted not to take the Hot N' Now Ultimate Challenge which was worth $1,800 but indicated he would do so if he set fast time during one of the final two programs. In the Super Stocks, it was Shawn Stelzer setting fast time for the 14th time this year, but he too opted not the take the challenge from Point Shell /Turbo Wash which was up to $900.
With action delayed by a few minutes for sprinkles in time trials, everything was back on schedule for the feature races. The 40 lap Late Model main event had so much passing throughout the contest it was hard at times to keep up with who was in what position.
Wayne Cottrell, a veteran racer who only recently returned to racing here at Golden Sands found himself racing Greg Back for the opening lead as the pair tossed the top spot back and forth. While Cottrell stayed low on the track, Back used the momentum of the outside lane to pace the first two laps, before Cottrell inched ahead on lap four. Cottrell cleared Back moments later which allowed Benjamin Brinkman to contest the runner-up spot in the low groove.
Meanwhile Stapleman was making some decisive moves back in the field using both the upper and lower grooves to advance, reaching fifth by lap 10. Brinkman was still working Back for the runner-up spot and was finally able to take the spot on lap 12 and he set out after Cottrell. Stapleman was still surging forward eclipsing Check for fourth and then getting under Back for third with an inside pass on lap 16.
On lap 18 the first of two yellow flags appeared when Monte Gress spun in turn three. When action resumed Stapleman immediately shot to the outside of Brinkman for the runner-up spot and he began to run down Cottrell for the lead position. While Stapleman was making his moved Chris Weinkauf was following in his footsteps moving by Brinkman for third. Stapleman reached the front of the pack on lap 22 with an outside pass of Cottrell. Two laps later Weinkauf motored past Cottrell for second. Cottrell would give up several more positions in the next few laps, but little did he know at the time he would quickly gain those spots back.
Stapleman was feeling the pressure from Weinkauf with a dozen laps remaining when Weinkauf suddenly shot up the track and began to slow his pace. He would head for the pits on the next lap ending a fine run. This allowed fast qualifier Eswein to take the second spot temporarily. Check had managed to get under Eswein on the next circuit, but the pair touched ever so briefly resulting in Eswein spinning to the inside of turn two and resulting in the final caution of the race with seven laps left in the event. As a result of the contact both drivers had to restart the race at the tail of the field. As a result Cottrell found himself back into the second spot. During the caution Jeff Weinfurter who had climbed to third fell from the race with engine problems.
As a result of the shakeup it was Stapleman, Cottrell, Brinkman, Troy Nelson and Back in the top five. In the dash to the checkered Stapleman was able to pull away from the field as Brinkman challenged Cottrell for the runner-up spot when two laps remanined. They were dead even at the lind as the white flag flew. Stapleman was first to the line for the win some six car lengths ahea of Brinkman who nosed ahead of Cottrell for second through the final two turns.Cottrell would settle for a solid third. Nelson laid claim to fourth and Back rounded out the top five. Clint Sillars making a rare start finished sixth, followed by Eugene Gregorich Jr., and Eswein who received from his earlier spin to finish eighth.
With two point nights remaining Eswein increased his point lead to 57 markers over his nearest rival Jeremy Lepak. Lepak who had cut that lead to ten points heading into this evening, was unable to compete tonight as he was at another raceway making a successful qualifying attempt into a NASCAR RE/MAX Challenge Series race. It is now very likely that with another top five feature finish, that Eswein will lock up his third track title in the past four years at Golden Sands Speedway.
In the Super Stock main event contested at 25 laps, Galen Manternatch and Matt Raykowski would duel for the opening lead. Manternatch hugging the inside surged ahead for the opening lead, while Raykowski struggled to keep pace on the outside, falling back into the field. On lap three, Dave Neitzke was able to surpass Raykowski for the runner-up spot and moments later Merle Weinfurter dropped Raykowski another spot to claim third on the sixth orbit of the high-banked third mile paved oval.
Manternatch was setting a quick pass which allowed him to stay just ahead of a field which was doing battle throughout in a two wide formation. Keith Bohmsach was one of the first to break through the pack reaching fifth on lap ten and then surpassing Chris Brooks for fourth on the fifteenth circuit. Bohmsach and Weinfurter were doing battle for the third spot when the events only caution appeared as Tim Plowman spun down the backstretch with ten laps remaining.
The field lined up with Manternatch, Weinfurter, Neitzke, Bohmsach and Brooks in the top five. When the green flew Neitzke got a slow start allowing Manternatch and Weinfurter to take off from the pack. Brooks was next to surpass Neitzke to take third and Jason Kirlsing who had started deep in the field scrambled to fourth on the same lap.
Manternatch meanwhile was out front pulling away from Weinfurter by a couple car lengths. The battle for second really began to heat up when Brooks attempted to get to the outside of Weinfurter for second and Kirsling came up alongside him on the inside making it a three way tussle for the runner-up spot. Brooks found the outside groove was the faster way around the track and moved into second with four laps to go. Kirsling quickly switched lane and also went around Weinfurter with a pair of laps remaining.
Over the final two rounds Manternatch drove a flawless line and reached the finish line four car lengths ahead of Brooks who was able to fend off a last lap challenge to retain second. Kirsling claimed third and narrowed the gap in the point standings to a mere three markers behind Tim Hintz. Weinfurter, Jim Cormack and Bohmsach made up the top six finishers.
A multi-car tangle scattered the field on the opening lap of the 4 cylinder contest. Torey Nitzsche who was competing in a borrowed race car pace the opening. Dale Louze and Mark Anhalt dueled for second behind Nitzsche after the second caution for a spin by Corey Davis.
Anhalt took the top spot on lap six and found himself having to defend the lead from Doug Adams, Louze and Keith Wirtz who set fast time. Wirtz when to the extreme high side of the track to clear the cars in front of him with five laps to go. Wirtz would take the win by a quarter lap, with Anhalt taking second. Louze finished in the third spot after a solid showing. Jason Bell, Adams and Nitzsche finished in the top six.
Next Friday evening's show will be the 7th Annual Coca-Cola Season Championship races featuring Super Late Models, Super Stocks and 4 Cylinders. However, the final point show will be on September 6th as the track will present the rain delayed Copp's Food Stores Mid-Season program that was to have been contested back in July. That event will conclude the Friday Night racing season with Super Late Models, Super Stocks and 4 Cylinders.
A special invitational for Super Stocks and Mini-Stocks will take place on Sunday Afternoon, September 8th. Pit gates will open at 1:00 p.m., with Time Trials at 3:30 p.m. and racing at 5:00 p.m.. The event which will see a 40 lap feature contest for the Super Stocks, will pay $800 to win and $160 to start. Cars must bring their hometrack rulebook. Cars from CWSSA, Dells, Kaukauna, 141 Speedway, Jefferson, Columbus and other tracks featuring a Super Stock / Street Stock car may compete. Cars will run on the D2563, D2562 type Goodyear tire.
Mini-Stocks will compete in a 30 lap feature paying $500 to win and $75 to start. Cars must run on the Sumitomo 200 tire. Tires are available by calling (800) 428-8355.
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