September 6, 2002; Plover, WI - Good things come to those who wait, Golden Sands Speedway wrapped up it's weekly Friday Night Racing season in dramatic fashion as it presented it's rain delayed Copp's Mid-Season event which had been scheduled for early July. The show, delayed by a couple months saw a thrilling duel for the checkered in the Super Late Model division, a point chase settles in the Super Stocks at the final checkered and a new first time champion crowned.
In Super Late Model action it was Mark Eswein of Wisconsin Rapids a two-time track champion, squaring off with Gary Back of Vesper who won the Wisconsin Challenge Series title last week, in a battle that waged for nearly 30 laps in the 50 lap headliner. Though official laps are scored at the start finish line the pair swapped the lead dozens of times during the contest. With a pair of laps to go Eswein go the momentum to pull ahead and claim his second win of the season by a car length. That victory was icing on the cake for Eswein who had locked up his third track title in the past four years this evening when he qualified for the main event.
In the Super Stocks, Jason Kirsling and Tim Hintz had been fighting tooth and nail for the point lead the past several weeks, going into the event, Kirsling held a slim three point advantage, but after qualifying the paid were virtually deadlocked. The season title would be decided in the feature race. Kirlsing had led much of the contest but was passed in the waning laps by Keith Bohmsach who would go on to score his fifth feature win of the season. Kirsling however would reach the strip in second, just ahead of Hintz who would place fourth. That effort however gave the title to Kirsling by a mere six points.
In the 4 Cylinder division Jason Bell would claim the feature win by a car length over Keith Writz, but Wirtz's second place effort secured the season title for the division.
The Super Late Model contest would treat fans to some fantastic side by side racing and it began with the drop of the green flag. Frank Nitzke and Judd Brandl, who started on the front row would find themselves doing battle for various positions throughout much of the race. For the start of the event the duel was for the top spot, as Nitzke, running his preferred outside groove surged ahead to lead the opening rounds. Nitzke would clear Brandl for the lead. Brandl however had his hands full with Back who would move to his outside on lap two and claim the runner-up spot. Back would then switch lanes moving back to the bottom of the track in effort to close on Nitzke.
Through out much of the season Nitzke was able to fend off his rivals using the outside groove, but Back would prove to be too much of a challenge and he would slip past Nitzke for the top spot on lap five. Eswein meanwhile was also making forward progress, maneuvering back Brandl for third on the same lap, and then catching and passing Nitzke for second the following round.
On lap eight there was a wild crash on the front stretch as Chris Bires, who transferred into the feature with a strong second place showing in the semi-feature, got off the racing surface and smacked the safety barrels just below the flagstand. Bires was unhurt but his car was too damaged to continue.
Underway again Back would set the pace, with Eswein, Nitzke, Brandl and Jeff Weinfurter in tow. Eswein would manage to pull alongside Back on the outside on lap ten. Running side by side, Eswein nosed ahead by a couple inches for the lead on lap 12, while Back continued to fight for the lead. Back would again gain the upper hand at the line on lap 16 as he hugged the bottom of the track as he nosed ahead pacing four laps at the stripe. Eswein would mount another charge going back to the lead on lap 20. For the next several laps Eswein and Back would thrill the crowd as they raced inches apart. Back would take the lead by inches in the turns, with Eswein powering back to the lead on the straights using the momentum of running the outside line.
Weinfurter meanwhile was putting on a passing display behind the duo as he got past both Brandl and Nitzke to take the third position. Weinfurter seemed to have a car which could possibly catch the leaders but moments later Weinfurter's run would come to an end on lap 32 when his engine came unglued oiling down the track in turn two. Allen Check, running just outside the top five had nowhere to go and slid in the fluid and into Weinfurter's stalled machined. Both drivers were uninjured but there evening was done.
At the point the caution appeared Eswein had been ahead giving him the lead and a brief reprieve from Back's charge. Nitzke, Brandl and Brand Selle, who was having a great run, rounding out the top five. Jeremy Lepak, who won the semi-feature had come from the tail of the field and was running six with the green returned.
With fifteen laps to go, fans saw to side by side battles and Eswein and Back resumed their struggle for the lead, while three car lengths back Nitzke and Brandl were engaged in similar battle for third. With nine laps to go, the caution appeared again as Greg Weinfurter and Troy Nelson got tangled.
Eswein again was leading when the caution came and Back would begin chasing the top spot again when the race resumed. Eswein got a great start and would give Back the bottom line for the remaining distance. Though Back would again pull alongside Eswein, Eswein would finally surge ahead with two laps to go, taking the win by a car length. Nitzke prevailed in his battle with Brandl to earn third. On the final lap Lepak would also move up a spot taking fourth, with Brandl running acrossed the line in fifth. Benjamin Brinkman rounded out the top six finishers.
The Super Stocks presented themselves with a 17 car contest that would got 35 laps. Dave Nietzke and Justin Woller made up the front row and did battle on the opening lap for the top spot. Woller would inch ahead on the outside for the opening lead. Any hope for Neitzke to gain the lead from Woller evaporated when he expired a motor on lap three going down the backstretch forcing the first caution. The green flag would return with Woller, this year's season champion in the Street Stock division at State Park Speedway in Wausau, holding the lead. Mike Brooks would run second and Kirsling who had started sixth already showing in the third spot.
Woller would gain the upper hand at the drop of the green, but Brooks would make a successful bid for the lead on lap five taking the top spot. Kirsling meanwhile shot to the outside lane he would drop Woller another notch on the next lap to run second. The very next lap Woller had a similar fate as Neitzke, expiring and engine heading into turn one and forcing the second yellow to appear.
Underway again it was Brooks out front with Kirsling closing in. Brooks became the third leader to have problems as he pulled to the infield off the backstretch on lap eight, turning the lead over to Kirsling. Cale Laessig, Tim Hintz and Keith Bohmsach would tail at the strip starting lap nine.
Kirsling was setting the pace, but it was Bohmsach on the charge slipping to the inside of Hintz of third on lap 14 and a lap later he would surpass Laessig for second. Though Kirsling was able to fend off the challenges of Laessig moments earlier, he was unable to fend off the charge of Bohmsach.
On lap 16 Bohmsach blasted into the lead. At almost the same moment Galen Manternatch dropped Hintz a position to take third. Once out front Bohmsach was able to easily pull away from the field behind. Kirlsing began to slow a bit allowing the duo of Manternatch and Hintz to close the gap.
In the waning laps however Hintz was unable to to find a way but Manternatch and he was never able to reach Kirsling to do battle for the position and the title. Bohmsach was eight car lengths ahead of Kirsling when the checkered fell. Kirsling was second, Manternatch third, Hintz fourth and Tim Plowman reaching fifth ahead of last week's feature winner Jim Cormack who rounded out the top six.
Eric Nelson paced the first four laps of the 4 Cylinder feature which included just a single caution on lap two for a spin. Jason Bell would charge into the lead on lap five and proceeded to pull away from the field. Doug Adams spun off the backstretch and got stuck on the lip of the track forcing the second yellow on lap eight.
When racing resumed Bell again pulled away from his rivals. Keith Wirtz would claim third at the halfway point with ten laps in the books. Witz then chased down Kyle Davis for the runner-up spot and secured that position on lap 13. Wirtz then slowed closed on Bell and was up on his rear bumper when the final caution appeared for a pair of cars spinning in turn four with four laps remaining. Over the final laps Bell was able to repel the challenges of Wirtz and he took the win by a car length. Keith Kemnetz took third, Adams recovered to charge to fourth and Davis rounded out the top five.
Golden Sands Speedway will host one final show this season as the Eve of Devastation returns to the raceway for it's annual night of mayhem on Friday evening, September 13th. Evens will included the final point night for the 2-Man Cruisers, the crowning of the Iron Man Competition Champion, Bus Races, Lawn Mover Races, A Jump for distance, various rocket engine powered machines including a jet powered outhouse and many more activities. The event will get underway at 6:30 p.m.
Golden Sands Speedway "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