Golden Sands Speedway Race Report

03logosm.gif (5696 bytes)

Wisconsin Challenge Series Visists, Menard Masters Super Late Model Main at Golden Sands!
By Jeffrey Sachse

July 30, 2004; Plover, WI - It was a dominant performance by Charlie Menard of Eau Claire on Friday evening at Golden Sands Speedway.  Leading all 100 laps from his outside front row starting berth, Mends biggest challenges were on a late race restart, and during the closing laps when second place runner Jeremy Lepak of Wausau close to within six car lengths of the leader.  The victory gave Menard a sweep of this season's WCS shows at Golden Sands Speedway.

Interestingly enough, a season sweep, of WCS races on the high-banked third mile oval seems to be a tendency.  During the series' inaugural season in 2001 Kirby Kurth accomplished the fete, while Jeff Weinfurter grabbed victories in both races last year.

Menard, who competes in WCS events when his weekly racing schedule permits has two victories and a second in three starts this year.  Menard is the current point leader at the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in the NASCAR Late Model series and is committed to earning that tracks title this year.

Photo Highlights
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
Charlie Menard (center) celebrates his second career Wisconsin Challenge Series victory.  Jeremy Lepak (left) garnered a career high second place run, while former series champ Gary Back (right) finished third.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
In taking the win Charlie Menard (#17) swept the WCS events at Golden Sands Speedway this season.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
Jeremy Lepak (#40) stalks Jason Weinkauf (#76) as they battle for second place near the mid-portion of the race.  Lepak would go on to take the position.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
A late race charge by Todd Stapleman (#77) would net him a fifth place run.  The fast qualifier on the day, Ryan Mathews finished sixth!
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
The outside lane belonged to youthful charger Elliott Weiler (#01) as he worked the high groove for all it was worth to pass veterans Don "Thunder" Turner (#7) and Gary Back (#26), early in the race.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
At the top! Current WCS point leader Mark Eswein (#71) races for position against all-time point leader Ken Reiser (#2), who made his 26th consecutive feature start.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
The starting grid stands ready for action, as the 100 lap main event is about to get underway.
42801a.jpg (10947 bytes)
Ryan Mathews (#21) turned in the fastest qualifying effort from among the over 40 competitors signed in to compete during the program. The Wisconsin Challenge Series continues to establish itself as a series with solid car counts at all it's shows.

Lepak's second place performance has made up for some recent struggles with the team's race car.  Early in the season Lepak had several strong showings in WCS competition leading several events and appearing to have to have a title contending season.  Unfortunately the car was damaged during action at a weekly race program and the last moth had proven very frustrating.  His second place run in the Sands 100, has shown the team had breathed new life in his ride and the end result as a second place run, a career high for Lepak in WCS competition.

2002 Wisconsin Challenge Series champion Gary Back of Vesper made a strong late race run, gaining the third spot in the closing laps of the contest. Though he closed on both Lepak and Menard the checkered flag fell before any serious challenges.    Like Menard, Back has run a limited WCS schedule this season.

With the show interrupted briefly by weather, officials opted to skip the typical driver introductions and to the review of the starting grid with the drivers buckled in their cars and ready for action.

A field of 23 starters were presented to the fans, with Golden Sands Speedway regular Brandon Selle sitting on the pole, next to Menard.  As the green flag fell Selle got the jump into the initial lead, but Menard fought back on the inside and was inches ahead at the line to lead the first lap of the contest.  Menard would continue to pace every lap of the event, the only other time that has happened in series history was when Kyle Kinder captured the season evening race at Dells Motor Speedway during the 2002 season.

The field behind Menard was stacked two by two thoughtout the early laps of the contest.  Elliott Weiler, a second year Super Late Model competitor from Marshfield Speedway showed his tenacity in the outside line working past Selle for the runner-up spot.  Local favorites Lepak and Jason Weinkauf made up the top five.    Weinkauf would work the high line to sweep past both Lepak and Selle to place himself in the third spot by lap eight.  Lepak would follow Weinkauf around Selle and advance to fourth on the next circuit.

Selle's strong run ended after a spin in turn three after contact between himself and Rory Melbinger forcing the first of just two slowdowns on lap 14.    The result was the field closing up on Menard's rear bumper for the restart.    Weiler, Weinkauf, Lepak and 35 year racing veteran Don "Thunder" Turner made up the top five runners as the green flag unfurled. Much like the initial start Menard quickly went back to setting the pace and building a comfortable lead.

Weiler, slipped up the track on lap 19, allowing both Weinkauf and Lepak to slip past into the second and third positions.  Weiler managed to work back into the fourth spot and he and Turner would engage in a thrilling duel for the position.  Weiler, tenaciously stayed in the outside groove diving deep into the corners.

After running side by side for nearly a dozen laps Weiler managed to inch back ahead of Turner for the fourth spot and the youthful Weiler and veteran Turner gave fans some of the cleanest side by side racing possible while doing battle for the spot.  Another veteran, Gary Back followed Weiler past Turner into the fifth spot.

By this point Menard as sprinted to a straightaway lead, while the battle for second began to heat up.  Weinkauf held the spot but Lepak searched both high and low for a way to advance.  That opportunity came on lap 44 when Lepak worked around Weinkauf for the runner-up spot.  Once in second Lepak began to slowly pull away from Weinkauf, but Menard had established a huge lead by this point.

The second and final caution appeared on lap 57, just as Menard had reached lapped traffic.  The caution occurred due to a spin by John Zimmermann in turn two as a result of contact with Brian Johnson Jr.

The green returned with Menard at the point and Lepak in second followed by Weinkauf, Back and fast qualifier Ryan Mathews, who had bested a 40 car qualifying field. Three lapped cars separated Menard from Lepak on the restart and Lepak quickly disposed of the lapped traffic.

Menard however again had established a dozen car length lead and Lepak's best effort was to keep the margin the same distance as the laps quickly clicked off.  For the next 25 laps the front of the field remained settled, but things began to heat up again as Menard approached lapped traffic with 15 laps to go.

Lepak began to close the margin on Menard as Menard cautiously worked lapped cars.  Behind them Weinkauf was being pressure by Back for the third position and the fifth spot changed hands with 13 laps remaining as Todd Stapleman reached the top five with an outside pass of Mathews.  Back was next to advance a position working past Weinkauf for the third slot with just seven laps to go in the contest.

The lead trio began to come closer together as Menard's margin was reduced to eight car lengths with a pair of laps to go.  Likewise Back cut into Lepak's advantage and the top three were a few car lengths apart heading into the final lap.  Menard was able to reach the line comfortably ahead of Lepak, with five car lengths as the cushion.  Lepak meanwhile would reach the line in second as Back's charge came up short.   Back, Weinkauf and Stapleman would complete the top five runners.

Mathews would hold onto sixth, Joe Krzykowski claimed seventh, Ken Reiser who has made his 26th consecutive WCS feature start finished eighth.    Turner, remains in the thick of the points chase with a solid ninth place showing, and Jeff Kendall completed the top ten.

Current point leader Mark Eswein finished a conservative 12th place, with his nearest point rival and the winner of the past two WCS races, Adam Royle, finishing 13th.

20 of the 23 starters were still on the track at the checkered and 13 cars remained on the lead lap on the high-banked third mile oval.

The qualifying races established a new first for the Wisconsin Challenge Series as Rene Scheinoha, became the first female competitor in the series history.  She would finish 11th in her qualifying race for her first WCS effort.

The qualifying races themselves proved to be exciting contests. The first 30 lap qualifier saw several transfer contenders eliminated as Jeff Weinfurter, Keith Bohmsach and Pete Kempf were collected while doing battle for a transfer position.    John Zimmermann would set the pace the to the checkered after the accident to secure the win and his spot in the feature.  Allen Check, making his first WCS start of the 2004 season finished second while Chris Weinkauf would work around M.G. Gajewski in the closing laps to garner the third and final transfer spot.  In spite of his fourth place finish Gajewski was able to make the big raced based upon his provisional. John Frazier completed the top five runners.

The second 30 lap contest ran much more quickly, similar to the feature race.  Kendall would establish the lead early in the contest to take the win with Royle closing as the race wound down eventually settling for second three car lengths behind,  Frank Nitzke would run wheel to wheel with Kirby Kurth to the finish, reaching the line by less than a car length to grab the final transfer spot.  Kurth would settle for fourth and Judd Brandl rounded out the top five.

The Wisconsin  Sport Trucks were on hand for the program, presenting fans with plenty of three and four wide racing.  Their 20 lap feature contest proved to be especially exciting.  Andy Wilquet lead the contest until near the halfway point when Scott Baker roared into the lead.  He was followed shortly thereafter by Jason Van Handel who climbed to the second spot.  With eight laps remaining Van Handel pulled alongside Baker to challenge for the lead.

The duo went side by side for the top spot, inches apart, with the lead swapping back and for lap after lap.  On the final lap Van Handel gained enough momentum off turn four to edge out Baker by less than six inches for the win, brining the crowd to it's feet.

The 4 cylinder main event also had an exiling conclusion as Thomas Masephol and Scott Stelzer were vying for the lead with two laps to go.   Unfortunately the pair would tangle ending a great race for the to spot and handing the win to current division point leader Mike Oehmichen.

Next Friday evening at Golden Sands Speedway is CARQUEST Auto Parts Kids Night.   The show will feature a full program off Super Late Model, Super Stock, Pure Stock and 4 Cylinders activities. Also will also present the next round of the Fire Department Challenge. There will also be plenty of prizes on hand for the Children in attendance during the program.

Friday evening shows begin with qualifying at 6:30 p.m., and racing at 7:45 p.m.

The next Wisconsin Challenge Series event is the rescheduled race at Columbus 151 Speedway.  On Sunday Afternoon, August 15th, the first and only appearance of the Super Late Models this season on the quarter-mile oval will take place.  

Information on the Wisconsin Challenge Series can be found at www.wisconsinchallenge.com

The Sands 100 - Results
Golden Sands Speedway- July 30, 2004

100 Lap Feature: 1.) Charlie Menard, Eau Claire; 2.) Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; 3.) Gary Back, Vesper; 4.) Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 5.) Todd Stapleman, Wautoma; 6.) Ryan Mathews, Lake Geneva; 7.) Joe Krzykowski, Junction City; 8.) Ken Reiser, Waukon, IA; 9.) Don Turner, LaCrosse; 10.) Jeff Kendall, Montello; 11.) Jim Sauter Jr., Necedah; 12.) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 13.) Adam Royle, Farmington, MN; 14.) Brian Johnson Jr., Roscoe, IL; 15.) Allen Check, Rosholt; 16.) Elliott Weiler, Marshfield; 17.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 18.) Andy Tomlinson, Pardeeville; 19.) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 20.) Chris Weinkauf, Merrill; 21.) Frank Nitzke, Berlin; 22.) Brandon Selle, Dale; 23.) Rory Melbinger, Marshfield8

First 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Zimmerman; 2.) Check; 3) C. Weinkauf; 4.) Gajewski; 5.) John Frazier, Merrill; 6.) John Totzke Jr., Wisconsin Rapids; 7.) Mike Held, West Bend; 8.) Kevin Baldry, Pickett; 9.) Scott Broughton, Stoughton; 10.) Jeff Weinfurter, Wisconsin Rapids

Second 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Kendall; 2.) Royle; 3.) Nitzke; 4.) Kirby Kurth, Nekoosa; 5.) Judd Brandl, Arpin; 6.) Dean Lapointe, Marshfield; 7.) Terry Van Roy, Darboy; 8.) Kurt Guralski, Wausau; 9.) Steve Gress, Vesper; 10.) Rich Schumann Jr., Pardeeville

Wisconsin Sport Trucks
30 Lap Feature:
1.) Jason Van Handel; 2.) Scott Baker; 3.) Aldy Wiquet
First 10 Lap Heat: 1.) Wilquet
Second 10 Lap Heat: 1.) Backer
Fast Qualifier: Kyle Quella,

4 Cylinders
15 Lap Feature:
1.)  Mike Oehmichen; 2.) Randy Polansky; 3.) Jenny Nitzsche; 4.) Kevin Teske; 5.) John Flick; 6.) Aaron Philipps
First 8 Lap Heat: 1.) Oehmichen; 2.) Thomas Masephol; 3.) Scott Stelzer
Fast Qualifier: Flick, 15.055 Seconds

2-Man Cruisers
First 10 Lap Feature:
1.) Floistad/Floistad; 2.) Zeetz/Brillod; 3.) Adams/Omernik
Second 10 Lap Feature: 1.) Turzinski/Whellock; 2.) Wrege/Schmidt; 3.) Wierzba/Wierzba
Third 10 Lap Feature: 1.) Szymkowiak/Pionek; 2.) Clark/Boyer; 3.) Pingel/Williams

For complete RACESTAT Race Results Click Here!