Baldry Dominates WCS Season Finale, Eswein Captures Seconds Career WCS Championship
By Mary Langreck
September 11, 2004; Marshfield, WI: – In an event which was slowed just one time for a brief red flag, early in the contest. The 80 lap season championship feature for the Wisconsin Challenge Series, was one which saw almost complete domination of the contest by 11-time Wisconsin International Raceway champion Terry Baldry of Omro, Wisconsin. Baldry, who has been a regular competitor in WCS competition behind the wheel of Maynard Motorsports owned machines, slipped past local Marhsfield Speedway hotshoe Ben Pettis for the lead and then proceeded to dominate the final half of the contest. His margin of victory over Adam Royle of Farmington, MN, was nearly a half-lap. While Baldry was celebrating his first career WCS victory, Mark Eswein of Wisconsin Rapids, was able to lay claim to his second career Wisconsin Challenge Series championship. Eswein, won the title during the inaugural season of the series in 2001, and was able to repeat this season, becoming the first driver to have won more than a single title since the series inception. Eswein would finish a conservative 14th during the program, but it was more than enough to edge point runner-up Royle, for the title.
A huge field of 47 cars would turn out to attempt to qualify for the season’s final event for the series, and in doing so it established a record for the series at Marshfield Speedway. Previously the WCS competitor participation mark was established at 39 cars. On the year the series averaged over 40 cars per show, three times exceeding over 45 entries.
Overall it was the fifth highest number of participants at a WCS race. The all-time mark was established this season at Dells Motor Speedway during the opening show when 54 cars appeared.
After qualifications had concluded, and the invert determined by random draw, the 2004 Marshfield Super Speedway champion, Jeff Weinfurter sat on the pole. To his outside younger charge Ben Pettis, another Marshfield Speedway regular who was making his first career Wisconsin Challenge Series start. At the drop of the green flag Weinfurter shot into the initial lead, but Pettis who preferred the outside line began to pressure Weinfurter for the top spot, following closely behind.
On several occasions during the opening rounds Pettis would draw alongside Weinfurter, only to have Weinfurter pull ahead in the turns, using the low groove. Jason Weinkauf would establish himself in the third slot and Baldry would secure fourth. Chris Weinkauf, Jason’s older brother found himself in the fifth slot after five laps were in the books.
While many side by side battles were taking place throughout the field as everyone jockeyed for position, much of the attention focused on the battle for the lead as Weinfurter and Pettis continued to run wheel to wheel, debating the lead position.
Weinfurter officially pace the first eight laps, with Pettis edging ahead to lead the next three circuits. The top spot switched hands again with Weinfurter getting the advantage on lap 13, when Pettis went wide in turn four. Weinfurter would pace the next five circuits before Pettis would rally back on the outside and retake the top spot on lap 19. This time Pettis was able to position himself firmly in the top sot, while Weinfurter now had to fend off the challenges of Jason Weinkauf.
On the next lap the only slowdown of the contest took place after contact between Elliott Weiler, and former Marshfield Super Speedway champion Judd Brandl made contact. Weiler would good off course on the backstretch and climb the embankment. A red flag was thrown as Weiler was a bit dazed and needed some assistance from his machine.
Once it was confirmed Weiler was okay the track was cleared and racing resumed after a 8 minute delay. Pettis again took command of the contest with Weinfurter resuming his challenge for the top spot. Baldry meanwhile began to show the speed of his machine as he worked under Jason Weinkauf for the third spot on lap 24. Six laps later Baldry was able to maneuver by Weinfurter for the second position and he then began to close on Pettis who still set the pace of the event.
Pettis continued to work the outside line, but Baldry found the speed he needed to work by on the inside on lap 37. At the halfway point it was Baldry, Pettis, Weinfurter, Jason Weinkauf, Adam Royle, Chris Weinkauf, fast qualifier Charlie Menard and Ryan Mathews holding down the top eight positions.
On the very next lap, Weinfurter began to slow, and after losing positions very quickly, headed to the pit area. His car, developed ignition trouble dropping him from the contest while running third. This elevated Jason Weinkauf to the position.
As Baldry pulled away, the battle for second began to heat up as Pettis, Jason Weinkauf and Royle began to contest the position. Weinkauf worked under Pettis for the spot on lap 55, with Royle dropping Pettis another position three laps later. Over the closing stages of the race Pettis would slow lose momentum with handling problems after a strong showing throughout much of the early portions of the contest, but would still finish a solid 10th in his first WCS effort.
With 20 laps to go Baldry began to encounter his first lapped traffic, which he negotiated with ease, while continuing to build his lead which was now at a full straight-away. Baldry’s efforts to enhance that lead were further favored when Jason Weinkauf and Royal began a duel for the second spot. Royle, who won at Marshfield during the series’ most recent appearance at the half-mile oval, worked under Weinkauf for the runner-up spot with 13 laps to go in the contest.
By now however Baldry had established a lead which was nearing a half-lap, and without any cautions to slow his pace Baldry would take the win comfortably. Royle, would scoot acrossed the line in second with six car lengths on Jason Weinkauf who earned the third position. Menard, who won a pair of WCS events this season would move past Chris Weinkauf on the closing stages of the race to grab fourth, while Chris would settle for fifth.
Mathews, Nathan Haseleu, Brian Back, Steve Holzhausen and Pettis would complete the top ten.
Earlier in the day, both qualifying races were claimed by competitors from the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. In the first contest Adam Dengenhardt who was making his WCS debut was able to fend off the challenges of newly crowned WCS champion Eswein for the victory. Keith Bohmsach would hold off Marshfield Speedway 2004 point runner-up Dean LaPointe to claim the final transfer spot. Ken Reiser, who had established a series record 28 consecutive feature stars would finish fifth, missing the main event for the first time in WCS history. Reiser did however make a strong comeback in the contest after having to go to the tail of the field after and accident between he and M.G. Gajewski early in the race.
The second qualifying contest was won by standout performer Steve Holzhausen, wheeling a car owned by Pete Kempf. Holzhausen would also advance the most positions during the feature race eventually finishing ninth in the big show. Elliott Weiler would finish second in the qualifier, with John Zimmerman edging Kurt Guralski for the third and final transfer spot.
Information on the Wisconsin Challenge Series can be found at www.wisconsinchallenge.com
A field of 20 CWMSA 4-Cylinders took to the big half-mile for their championship feature. Keith Kemnetz led the first five laps of the feature. Paul Berg grabbed the lead for the next five until point leader Keith Wirtz passed for the lead. Fast timer Jeremiah Strauss quickly came to the front and ran third with JJ Flick and Steve Hauser fourth and fifth. Just after Wirtz received the white flag, his engine blew, ending the race and placing him at the rear of the finish for bringing out the caution. Berg won, Strauss second, Hauser third, Kevin Eckes fourth and Flick fifth. Wirtz was able to hold onto the points lead and win his third 4-Cylinder Track Championship here.
The team of Dan Szymkowiak and Ryan Pionek won the 2-Man Cruiser race. Josh Boyer and Dustin Clark took second and Amber Osowski and Gary Wierzba third. The 2-Man Cruiser Points Championship was won by Boyer & Clark.
Next weekend is The Fourth Annual Fall Spectacular.
Friday night’s racing includes Super Late Models, Super Stocks, 4-Cylinders, 1-Man Cruisers and IMCA Oldtimers. Pit Gates open at 1 p.m., Grandstand Gates open at 4 p.m., Time Trials at 5 p.m. and racing 6:30. Adult grandstand admission is $10.00, Students ages 10-15 $5.00, and under ten free.
Saturday’s racing includes a 78 Lap Super Late Model feature, Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, Mini-Cups and IMCA Oldtimers. Pit gate opens at 10 a.m., grandstand gates open at 2 p.m., time trials at 3 p.m. and racing at 5 p.m. Adult grandstand admission is $12.00, Students ages 10-15 $5.00, and under ten is free.
Raindate is Sunday, time trials at noon and racing 1:30.
The Rainbow Bingo & Casino – Championship 80 – Results
Marshfield Speedway – September 11, 2004
100 Lap Feature: 1.) Terry Baldry, Omro; 2.) Adam Royle, Farmington, MN; 3.) Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 4.) Charlie Menard, Eau Claire; 5.) Chris Weinkauf, Merrill; 6.) Ryan Mathews, Lake Geneva; 7.) Nathan Haseleu, Arlington; 8.) Brian Back, Vesper; 9.) Steve Holzhausen, Bangor; 10.) Ben Pettis, Eau Claire; 11.) Gary Back, Vesper; 12.) Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; 13.) Keith Bohmsach, Wisconsin Rapids; 14.) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 15.) Andy Monday, Appleton; 16.) Eugene Gregorich Jr., Kewaunee; 17.) Judd Brandl, Rudolph; 18.) Adam Dengenhardt, Coon Valley; 19.) Don Turner, LaCrosse; 20.) Jeff Weinfurter, Wisconsin Rapids; 21. ) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 22.) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 23.) Elliott Weiler, Marshfield
First 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Dengenhardt; 2.) Eswein; 3.) Bohmsach; 4.) Dean Lapointe, Marshfield; 5.) Ken Reiser, Waukon, IA; 6.) Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 7.) Burton Brown, Dale; 8.) Greg Back, Vesper; 9.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 10.) John Totzke Jr., Wisconsin Rapids
Second 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Holzhausen; 2.) Weiler; 3.) Zimmerman; 4.) Kurt Guralski, Wausau; 5.) Jim Sauter Jr., Necedah; 6.) Turner; 7.) Brian Johnson Jr., Roscoe, IL; 8.) Brad Wildes, Tomah; 9.) Cal Harrell, Harrison; 10.) Eric Wisz, Mosinee