May 2, 2003; Plover, WI - It was a cool crisp evening at Central Wisconsin's Power Playground, fans were treated to so hot racing action, which were spiced by late race duels for the victories in the main events. The pace of the program moved along so quickly that the complete show was completed well before 10:00 p.m. The evening featured a 40 lap Late Model headliner, which was a qualifying race for the BIG GOLD series. A unique program where a select number of drivers could qualify for bonus money in future events and some lucky fans can also earn cash if their driver wins.
As the evening began defending track champion Mark Eswein edged out last week's fast qualifier Brandon Selle for quick time honors in the Super Late Model class. Eswein, who is gunning for his fourth track title, did not wish to participate in the Basseuner Excavating Challenge where he could have won a $200 bonus for winning from the tail of the field. In the Super Stock division, Jim Cormack who earned his first career fast qualifying effort after eight years of trying also declined the shot at a $100 bonus. In the 4 cylinder division however Adam Krzykowski did take the challenge and as a result of winning from the tail of the feature he earned a $25 bonus from Plover Auto Body.
Fans also shared in the pre-race highlights as Dustin Plaski claimed Junior Fan of the Week honors and Lucas Stoflet won the WAL-MART gift certificate.
In the Super Late Model action, Jason Weinkauf of Merrill, captured his first feature win at Golden Sands Speedway of the young season. Weinkauf has won a main event late in the season last year. Tonight's win was especially thrilling for the fans as he fended off multi-time track champion Mark Eswein for the victory after a torrid battle.
In the Super Stock division it was Shawn Stelzer, entering the feature win column for the first time since the 2001 season. Stelzer who has a dominated qualifying for the division the past two seasons, was a bit off pace in qualifying, but he more than made up for it by taking the feature win while fending off a hoard of cars over the final laps of the event.
In the new pure stock four cylinder division, second generation driver Adam Krzykowski made his racing debut by taking fast time and the feature event. Krzykowski stormed to the front of the feature but then had to fend off Brandon Abbott for the win. This division, the new entry level class at Golden Sands, is expected to grow quickly thanks to it's affordability.
Troy Nelson and Steve Gress paced the field to the opening green flag. Nelson would jump to the opening lead, while Gress slipped back to third, allowing Greg Back to assume the runner-up slot. One lap four Brandon Selle, began to surge forward, moving to the outside of Gress to contest the third position. The battle for third waged several laps before Selle was able to secure the position with an outside pass on lap 9. Jeff Weinfurter, followed the move and found himself in fourth on the next round.
Nelson meanwhile had built a three car length lead on Back out front. Weinkauf, who had started deep in the field cracked the top five on lap 11. Closed to the front Weinfurter was busy moving forward maneuvering past Selle for third and then setting his sights on Back. Weinfurter got under back in turn one on lap 17 for the runner-up position and now set his sights squarely on the leader.
Weinfurter was able to cut into Nelson's lead and he reached the leader's rear bumper at the halfway point of the event. Weinkauf was also setting a blistering pace, surging past Back on lap 21 to run third behind the lead duo of Nelson and Weinfurter.
The battle for the lead ran side side as the pair exchanged the top spot. The fast pace took it's toll on the battle as the pair made contact in turn three with 14 laps remaining. As a result Weinfurter spun, forcing the first caution of the race. Both Nelson and Weinfurter were place at the tail of the field for the restart, which now saw Weinkauf in the lead with fast qualifier Mark Eswein and last week's feature winner Jeremy Lepak in third.
Weinkauf bolted out to the lead while Lepak and Eswein fought for third. Just behind this group Jim Sauter Jr., was making major stride forward using the high line around the track. Earlier Sauter Jr., had won an exciting battle with Allen Check to win the fast heat by inches. Now in the feature he had rambled up to fourth in the closing stages of the event.
The final caution of the race would appear when Greg Back and Check made contact and Back looped his ride on the backstretch. This set the stage for a eight lap dash to the finish. When the green flag flew Eswein immediately challenged Weinkauf for the top spot. Eswein, hugging the bottom of the track was able to pull alongside Weinkauf with five laps to go. Over the final laps the pair raced inches apart with Eswein staying low on the track and Weinkauf using the outside line to maintain momentum which allowed him to hold the lead by a few feet each time at the stripe. In the dash to the checkered flag off the final turn Weinkauf surged ahead by about three feet for the win. Eswein would settle for second after a hard fought battle.
Third place was also hotly contested as young guns Lepak and Sauter Jr., raced wheel to wheel out of the final turn. Again the outside line proved to be a bit quicker as Sauter Jr., edged out Lepak by mere inches for third. Lepak, claimed fourth and Selle who had stayed in the lead pack all evening settled for a solid fifth place showing. Weinfurter, rebounded from his earlier spin to finish sixth, Frank Nitzke took seventh and Benjamin Brinkman claimed eighth at the checkered.
The top five finishers of Weinkauf, Eswein, Sauter Jr., Lepak and Selle are qualified to earn extra cash in the first round of the BIG GOLD series at the track on May 30th. Fans drawn to pair with those drivers will also have a shot at $1,000 should the driver they have match the feature winner that evening.
While the record book with show Shawn Stelzer paced every lap of the Super Stock feature, pacing the event never proved to be an easy task, except during the opining stages of the event where he outgunned Keith Hanson for the lead at the drop of the green flag. Dave Neitzke, Tim Plowman, Matt Raykowski all surged forward in the inside lane to give chase after Stelzer.
As Stelzer began to stretch out a small lead, Raykowski was busy working the low groove of the track to move forward. He slipped past Plowman for third and then replaced Neitzke in the runner-up spot by lap nine. At the halfway mark Stelzer had six car lengths on Raykowski who was now fending off Tim Hintz to hold the second spot.
Raykowski had reached Stelzer's rear bumper and was challenging for the lead when a caution appeared with nine laps to go as Tim Plowman looped his car in turn two. Underway again Stelzer set the pace, but he would have a new challenger for the top spot as Mike Brooks made a good lane choice for the restart and found himself in second. Brooks appeared to be a match for Stelzer's pace but like last week mechanical problems robbed him of a solid showing as he dropped off pace with five laps to go.
With two to go the field resorted for the final time after a spin near the tail of the field. In the dash to the finish Stelzer maintained his supremacy, edging out Raykowski for the victory. The evening's fast qualifier Jim Cormack made a late race charge to reach third by a matter of feet over Hintz who would settle for fourth. Chris Brooks rebounded from a bad crash last week to record a solid fifth place showing this evening and Neitzke in his first appearance of 2003 finished sixth.
The new 4 cylinder division saw a little opening lap excitement in their feature as heat race winner Mike Oehmeichen spun on the opening lap, but aside from that caution the remainder of the race ran non stop. Jenny Nitzsche paced the first lap before Adam Krzykowski bolted through the field to edge ahead of Jenny Nitzsche on lap two. Krzykowski was able to get the lead, but he did not pull away from the field. Brandon Abbott worked his way to second in the closing stages of the race and caught Krzykowski with a pair of laps remaining. However, Krzykowski was able to drive a smooth line and he reached the checkered just in front of Abbott. Jenny Nitzsche finished third followed by Randy Nitzsche and Shawn Teske.
Next week at Golden Sands Speedway, Super Late Models and Super Stocks return to action and they will be joined by the newly reintroduced Pure Stock division and the ever popular 2-Man Cruiser class. Time Trials begin every Friday Night at 6:30p.m. with racing beginning at 7:45p.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