June 7, 2002; Plover, WI - With a little effort on behalf of the Golden Sands Speedway drivers and officials and a little patience from the fans, the 5th Annual Scaffidi Motors Night was completed in spite of a rain delay of nearly an hour. After the track drying efforts, fans were treated to some close racing as Frank Nitzke of Berlin, rim-rode the high banked third mile oval to capture his first Super Late Model feature victory of the season, and Randy Storlie of Wisconsin Rapids scored is first Super Stock feature victory of the 2002 season just ahead of a fast closing Shawn Stelzer. Storlie's feature efforts place him atop the 2002 standings for the division. Some wild bus racing action completed the evening with a pair of heats which included three wide racing and a near roll over as a bus slid through the infield sideways.
The weekly Fan Appreciation prizes were awarded to Trenton Schneider who was the Junior Fan Club Member of the Week, Cody Thompson who won the WAL-MART Gift Certificate and Janelle Fisher who won the River City Motors Wisconsin Rapids Camber Gift Certificate.
The evening opened with Mark Eswein capturing top qualifying honors for the third straight week, besting a field of 29 Late Models. Eswein decided not to take the Hot N' Now Ultimate Challenge which was worth $700 if he chose to come from the back of the pack and win the feature. The pot continues to rise by $100 per week.
The Late Model feature saw a field of 17 cars the green flag for a 40 lap contest that was slowed by a two quick caution periods. Benjamin Brinkman sat on the pole for the start with Nitzke to his outside. When the green flag flew it was Nitzke jumping into the initial lead powering ahead on the outside. Brinkman slipped back on the inside allowing Greg Weinfurter to move into second, and Eswein, who had started sixth rumbled to third by lap two.
The first caution flew as Alan Sankey spun in turn two and the race quickly resumed. The lead trio of Nitzke, Greg Weinfurter and Eswein brought the field back to the green. It was this trio of cars that would battle the remaining distance to decide the feature and their battle brought the crowd to their feet on several occasions.
Eswein opted for the outside line to motor past Greg Weinfurter for second before the beginning of the fifth lap. This set the stage for a duel between Nitzke and Eswein that saw some of the closest, and cleanest racing by a pair of drivers this season at Golden Sands Speedway. Nitzke preferring the outside line had allowed enough room in the inside lane for Eswein to nose under Nitzke in the corners.
The pair would end up door to door by lap eight and for the next dozen laps the pair raced inches apart nearly dead even. Nitzke again gained the upper hand on lap 15, briefly assuming the lead by himself and Eswein dropped in behind to follow for a couple laps.
On lap 18, Eswein again slipped to Nitzke's inside. Unfazed by the challenges Nitzke continued to run his preferred line around the outside of the track. Again the pair ran wheel to wheel with Greg Weinfurter waiting about a car length back in third for an opportunity. For over two thirds the distance the lead pair of Nitzke and Eswein ran side by side without contact. A minor fender rub on lap 29 occurred when Greg Weinfurter attempted to use the outside groove to close on Nitzke slightly damaging the rear quarter of Eswein causing some tire smoke.
Eswein slowed momentarily allowing Greg Weinfurter to take his shot at the leader. Like Eswein, Greg Weinfurter experiments with the inside groove to try an surpass Nitzke. Even after some minor contact between the lead duo on lap 33, Nitzke was able to hang on and pace the event.
The frantic pace got a reprieve with six laps remaining when Eugene Gregorich Jr spun off the track into the sand trap in turn one. During the caution Jeff Weinfurter who was running fifth had his has drop fluid on the track forcing him to retire from the event after a strong showing.
This line up the top five with Nitzke, Greg Weinfurter, Eswein, Allen Check and last week's feature winner Jeremy Lepak in the top five spots. The race resumed with Nitzke getting a good jump of Greg Weinfurter. Greg Weinfurter has the handling go slightly amiss after the green and Eswein took advantage to the situation to run back to second with an outside pass in turn four with two laps to go.
Nitzke would race to the checkered less than a car length ahead of Eswein and the crowd heartily applauded the efforts of both drivers on the slowdown lap. On the final lap Check was able to grab third spot from Greg Weinfurter who finished in fourth. Lepak would round out the top five finishers. Brinkman finished sixth, Troy Nelson ran to seventh and defending track champion Burton Brown notched an eighth place run.
Shawn Stelzer has set fast time for every Super Stock event so far this year, and he continues to flirt with taking home the Point Shell/Turbo Wash challenge money which was up to $350 this week. Stelzer methodically worked the field in the feature race and came home second. A few car lengths away from the bonus cash. It was the second straight week Stelzer managed a second place finish after taking the challenge.
The Super Stock main event rolled to the green and would run non-stop with Mike Brooks taking the initial lead over fellow front row starter Galen Manternatch. Cale Laessig who won the season opening feature race, immediately jumped to the outside line and picked off both Manternatch and Brooks to grab the top spot before the completion of lap two. Storlie meanwhile, had started in the sixth position and had followed Laessig towards the front.
Storlie found himself moving past Brooks for second on lap five and he then set his sights on the leader. Storlie quickly closed on Laessig and was challenging for the position by the sixth round. Storlie managed to wedge under Laessig as the pair dueled for the top spot and Storlie was able to come away with the advantage by lap eight. As Brooks followed in third.
Progress further back was challenging as Manternatch and Brooks engaged in a duel for third that lasted nearly half the race. Both drivers ran to the edge of control, but neither could gain an advantage. With ten laps to go Manternatch finally secured the spot, but he was quickly overtaken by Stelzer who had methodically weaved through cars to advance from his 14th place starting position. Stelzer opted to go to the high line around the track and quickly disposed of Manternatch to grab third with eight laps remaining.
Meanwhile out front Storlie was enjoying a comfortable lead on Laessig, while Storlie now had the pressure upon him to close on the leaders. Stelzer was able to erase the distance on second running Laessig, and with a pair of laps remaining he swept to the outside to take the spot through turns one and two. The lead Storlie had built however would prove to be too big an obstacle for Stelzer to overcome and Storlie took the win some eight car lengths in the lead at the finish. Stelzer's efforts had netted him second, Laessig grabbed third over Manternatch and Scott Hamel who competed the top five.
Storlie now finds himself in the point lead, as the point leader heading into the night, Keith Bohmsach was besieged with several challenges. First he failed to qualify for the feature contest and later he was collected in an accident while doing battle for a transfer position into the feature race. As a result he fell from the point lead to fifth in the current standings.
The evening concluded with a pair of bus races and the action proved to be pretty intense as the monster sized machines rumbled around the track.
Next week is Terrace Homes Night at the Races. The show will feature Super Late Models and Super Stocks, with the exciting 2-Man Cruisers joining the action. In addition to the regular racing, the second round of the Iron Man Novelty competition will take place. The featured event of the evening will be an auto jump for distance contest. Time trials are set for 6:30 p.m., with the first green flag of the evening scheduled for 7:45 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