August 15, 2003; Plover, WI - The 2003 racing season at Central Wisconsin's Power Playground begins to wind down with two more Friday evening point shows before the big Wisconsin Challenge Series championship Night concludes the regular racing action on the high-banked third mile oval.
On this evening fans were treated to racing in three different classes, plus the always popular Bus Races during an evening presented by Mid-State Truck. Highlighting the action was a duel between top two point earners in the Super Late Model division, Mark Eswein of Wisconsin Rapids and Allen Check of Shantytown. Check who currently sits second in the point chase to Eswein would have the upper hand this evening, sprinting to victory ahead of Eswein by just over a car length. For Check, it was his third win of the season here at Golden Sands Speedway.
In the Super Stock division, Jim Cormack of Stevens Point got out to an early lead in the non-stop feature contest. He then was able to fend off chief rivals Galen Manternatch and Jason Kirsling to score his first feature win of the 2003 season. Rounding out the evening's program was the Pure Stock division, which saw it's largest field to date take to the track. When all was said and done, Brad Guralski, a regular in the 2-Man Cruiser class, had converted his car to a Pure Stock this evening and came away with his first career checkered in the class.
In preliminary action both fast qualifiers, Greg Back in the Super Late Models, and current point leaders Shawn Stelzer in the Super Stocks declined their respective challenges. If either driver had accepted the challenge to start in the back of the field and win the race they were eligible for bonuses which were up to $1,700 for the Late Models thanks to Bassuener Excavating, and $850 for the Super Stocks courtesy of Coors Light. While the drivers didn't partake in the program for extra prizes, the fans did. On this evening during the numerous giveaways, Nash Cooms won a WAL-MART Gift Certificate and Aaron Lewindowski was named the evening';s Short Trax Junior Fan of the week.
With a fast paced program already in the books a field of 18 Super Late Models did battle for 40 laps in their main event. Allen Check and Frank Nitzke brought the field to the opening green flag. Nitzke, whose skills in the outside groove around the high banked oval are will known, bolted into the initial lead with Check staying low on the track in effort to take the top spot. Jeff Weinfurter gave chase from the position while the leaders battled but dropped from the event with mechanical problems on lap five just as the caution flag flew for a spin by Pat Williams in turn two.
The race resumed with Nitzke, Check, Mark Mackesy, Mark Eswein and Brandon Selle in the top five positions. Check immediately wen back to working the low groove and drew event with Nitzke in the battle for the top spot. On lap eight Eswein muscled his way to third with an inside pass of Mackesy and he set out after the lead duo.
Nitzke seemed to be able to have the momentum on the outside to surge ahead on the straights and maintain his lead on Check. The side by side lasted until Nitzke slipped just a bit in turn four on lap 16 in turn four allowing Check to slip ahead. Eswein also took advantage of the situation and dropped Nitzke to third. Nitzke recovered from his slide to give chase but the two leaders began to pull away.
Check and Eswein began to pull away from those behind them and engaged in a private battle for the top spot. Eswein tried on several occasions to run a lower groove and had moved within a car length of the lead with a dozen laps remaining in the fast paced event. It appeared things were going to go to the finish in rapid order, but the second and final caution of the race appeared with just three laps remaining. Fast qualifier Greg Back has moved through the pack and was challenging Jeremy Lepak for fifth when he slipped coming off turn four and spun down the front stretch ending a very solid performance.
On the restart Check was able to get a good jump on Eswein and he would reach the checkered with a car length cushion. Eswein, with his second place finish has all but locked up the track title. The championship will be his fourth in the past five years. Nitzke held fast to third throughout the balance of the contest with Mackesy and Lepak completing the top five finishers.
The Super Stocks would treat the fans to a non-stop contest with Jim Cormack taking the opening lead. Cormack would actually pace the race from green to checkered pacing every lap, but the race wouldn't prove to be an easy victory. At no point during the event was he ever more than a couple car lengths ahead of his nearest rival.
Second place on the other hand would change hands on numerous occasions. Galen Manternatch held the position on the opening lap, before Keith Bohmsach stole the spot. Bohmsach appeared to have the speed early to catch Cormack and had closed up on his rear bumper. Further back in the field last weeks feature winner Jason Kirsling was slowly working his way forward.
Bohmsach attempted to use the outside line on lap nine to challenge Cormack for the lead, but Cormack's paced proved too quick and the lead trio of Cormack, Bohmsach and Manternatch found themselves racing nose to tail and pulling away from the field. The lone exception was Kirsling who continued his march forward reaching fifth on lap 11, and then scooting past Brian Schmutzer for fourth a lap later. Kirsling then began to erase the gap on the lead trio, making it a four car battle for the top spot with 12 laps remaining.
Cormack still set the pace, but Bohmsach would provide him with another challenge with ten laps to go, moving to the outside. Bohmsach's efforts to take the top spot were not successful and instead he found himself losing the runner-up spot to Manternatch. Kirlsing also took to the low groove and Bohmsach now found himself in a door to door duel for third which would last several laps before Kirsling secured the spot with five laps remaining.
Though all the leaders remained in close contact to the checkered the positions stayed the same with Cormack reaching the finish three car lengths ahead of Manternatch. Kirsling's charge through the field netted a third place finish while Bohmsach, Tim Hintz and fast qualifier Shawn Stelzer made up the top six finishers.
Raymond Kramer brought the Pure Stock field to the green flag for their feature contest with some wild opening laps which saw four different drivers lead on the opening lap. Al Bartels would take over on lap two and lead the contest for the next several laps until Brad Guralski works past him for the lead prior to the halfway point of the contest.
After a couple cautions Guralski would have to fend off the challenges of point leader Bert Soyka to snare the victory. Soyka would hold on for second over Eric Nelson and fast qualifier Harvey Vera. Michael Gwidt completed the top five.
The bus races proved to be entertaining as usual. A field of 10 busses took to the track. After a couple tangles, and a bus which had toppled onto it side, six mammoth machines were able to reach the checkered a bit battle worn. Out front of the contest again this evening was former racer Gary Wosick.
Next Friday evening, August 22nd is Fabco Equipment Night. This evening also marks the final round of the Big Gold Challenge where a lucky fan has an opportunity to win $1,000 if a driver they are pair up with wins the Super Late Model main event which will be an extended lap contest. The program will feature a full show for Super Late Models, Super Stocks, 4 Cylinders and the night will conclude with Spectator racing.
The final point night of the 20003 season will be contested on August 29th. The show known as the Coca-Cola Championships. Champions will be crowned in the Super Late Model and Super Stock divisions. Both 4 Cylinders and Pure Stocks will also be competing that evening.
Racing returns on Friday evening September 5th with the championship event of the Wisconsin Challenge Series. Highlighting the evening will be a 100 lap feature contest which will settle the 2003 championship chase for the series. The snowmobile engine powered Mini-Trucks, known as Wisconsin Sport Trucks will also be on hand along with a huge field of wild 2-Man Cruiser races. It was also announced the at Pure Stock division will join the program.
Time Trials take place for each of these shows at 6:30 p.m. and racing gets underway at 7:45 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