May 7, 2004; Plover, WI - While race fans around Wisconsin are still waiting for comfortable weather conditions to witness a short track racing program, those fans who endured a cool, blustery Friday evening in Central Wisconsin witnessed a thrilling race program with close finishes and wheel to wheel excitement.
Heading up the list of the evenings winners, was Wausau native Jeremy Lepak, who successfully pulled off an amazing three wide pass just past the halfway point of the Super Late Model contest, to secure his second straight feature victory. In Super Stock action it was Shawn Stelzer picking his way through traffic and reaching victory lane for the first time in the 2004 season. In the Pure Stock division it was Brad Guralski sprinting to the finish line first, earning his first feature checkered in the division at Golden Sands. A pair of exciting 2-Man Cruiser races wrapped up the program with the team of Wisinski and Szymkowiak taking the first event, and the team of Pingel and Williams scoring top honors in the second.
The final checkered flag of the evening fell just before 10 p.m., quickly enough to beat an approaching thunderstorm which hit the raceway fifteen minutes after the completion of the show.
Rene Scheinoha and Mark Van made up the front row for the start of the 40 lap Super Late Model contest, with Scheinoha, the only female competitor in the fastest division at the raceway, placing her sharp looking purple machine out front to lead the opening two laps. Burton Brown, who was celebrating his birthday this evening quickly maneuvered into the second slot and gave chase. He was able to annex the lead on lap two. Greg Back would move into the runner-up position on the next round as Schoeniha began to fall back. By lap five Jeff Weinfurter had reached the third position and the lead trio began to tussle over the top spot.
Brown staying in the bottom groove was able to repeatedly fend off the challenges of Back who preferred the outside line around the high-banked third mile oval. Weinfurter patiently waited for either of the lead cars to assume control, running solidly in third when the only slowdown of the event occured on lap 12. Fast qualifier Brandon Selle had been running mid pack when his car quickly spun, and he sailed off the track in turn four, hitting the track safety barrels backwards. Selle was unhurt in the incident, but his car was too damaged to continue.
Underway again, Brown continued to set the pace with Back applying the pressure. Weinfurter continued to hold down the third spot unable to find a way to the front. At times Weinfurter would briefly poke his nose ahead of Back to hold second, but Back tenaciously held the high line and would fight back often pulling even with Brown for the lead.
Meanwhile Lepak was still mired deep in the field, but he was about to mount a thrilling charge to quickly advance positions. While the lead trio of Brown, Back and Weinfurter tussled for the top spot, Lepak was expertly maneuvering through traffic. He reached the fourth position by the halfway point of the race. Within a couple laps he reached the lead group, and now four cars were doing battle for the lead in a pack style formation.
With 12 laps to go, Lepak maneuvered past Weinfurter who slipped slightly to secure third. For the next several laps Lepak watched a side by side battle wage between Brown and Back before diving to the bottom of the track in turn three. Lepak then was able to sweep past both Brown and Back for the stop spot in a thrilling three wide pass with just six laps remaining in the contest. Once clear Lepak began to pull away.
Further back defending track champion Mark Eswein was also making a late race charge closing in on the battles out front running in the fourth spot. With three laps remaining Back nosed ahead of Brown to grab second after a battle that had lasted almost the entire race. Lepak however reached the checkered some six car lengths in the lead. Back would finish a solid second after a hard fought battle. On the final lap Eswein would manage to maneuver past Brown to earn the third position. Brown would reach the line in fourth.
Out of the final two turns Weinfurter appeared headed for fifth, but a small amount of contact between he an Chris Weinkauf who were battling for position cause both drivers to slow momentarily. Allen Check, dove low on the track to pass both of them and grab the fifth spot. Weinfurter would finish sixth after saving a wild slide, with Weinkauf claiming seventh after allowing Weinfurter to correct his errant mount.
The Super Stocks also put on a brilliant display of driving as the event completed with just a single caution. Roger Stanczyk and David Pagels diving a 1964 Chevrolet bodied racer tussled over the top spot during the opening circuits before Pagels would grab the lead.
Pagels would pull away and build a slight advantage as Stanczyk and Mike Brooks would duel for the runner-up spot allowing the leader some breathing room. On lap seven Brooks would secure the runner-up spot. Stanczyk meanwhile started to fall back in the field as Matt Raykowski and Stelzer would move to third and fourth respectively.
Stelzer would work the high line to advance to third and quickly close on the leaders. Brooks had begun to challenge Pagels for the lead, but Stelzer worked to his inside for the second spot on lap 11, before changing lanes to battle Pagels for the top spot using the outside. Stelzer would power ahead of Pagels for the lead on the next lap.
With Stelzer setting the pace and Pagels comfortable running in second, the excitement was further back in the field, was fast qualifier Tim Plowman was making a rapid charge toward the front.
Plowman was in the sixth spot with seven laps remaining when things began to get wild. First Galen Manternatch who had been running in the top five dropped from competition with a handful of laps remaining putting Plowman into the top five, moments later he would find himself challenging Matt Pyburn for fourth. With four laps remaining Pyburn slipped up the track giving the spot to Plowman. Plowman soon found himself behind the battle between Pagels and Raykowski for second. Over the final two circuits Plowman maneuvered past both racers to place himself in second.
Out front however Stelzer comfortable reached the checkered over Plowman. Pagels smooth race netted him a third place run. Raykowski finished fourth and Pyburn completed the top five runners.
The Pure Stock feature contest saw Brad Guralski take and early lead and found himself five car lengths ahead of Eric Nelson who swept the division on opening night two weeks ago. As Guralski got the white flag, Andrew Hintz spun his ride in turn four. The resulting caution would complete the event giving Guralski the win. Nelson would lay climb to second, Frank Calabrese in his first appearance of 2004 netted third, while Matthew Moore and Troy Engman made up the top five runners.
With lightning appearing in the distance as thunderstorms approached the 2-Man Cruisers took to the track to complete their two feature races. Both were completed before rain began to hit the raceway.
Racing continues next Friday evening with four classes of racing action as once again. A full program of Super Late Models, Super Stock, Pure Stocks and 4 Cylinder will take to the high banked third-mile paved oval. In addition a special Fire Department Grudge Race will take place using the tracks equally prepared Budweiser sponsored Saturn race cars. To round out the evening the first Spectator races will take place. The spectator racing allows race fans to register and race thier cars on the Golden Sands Speedway oval on a one to one grudge race format.
Time Trials take place for weekly events 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