Former Series Champ Eswein Masters Marshfield for First Career Series Victory
August 9, 2003; Marshfield, WI: – In one of the wildest events in Wisconsin Challenge Series history, Mark Eswein of Wisconsin Rapids drove a smooth race and scored his first career Wisconsin Challenge Series victory. In a battle of former series champions Eswein, the 2001 WCS champion managed to fend off Gary Back, of Vesper, the 2002 title holder to take the win by just over a car length. Veteran racer Joe Krzykowski of nearby Junction City, made the three car race to the checkered an exciting one as the lead trio were nose to tail at the finish.
Eswein’s victory in the 75 lap feature contest came after some heady driving. In the closing stages of the race, Eswein found himself running second to current WCS point leader Erik Darnell of Beach Park, IL. Darnell’s car however had been running extremely rough in the later stages of the race as a result of carb problems, rather than abuse his equipment to battle for the lead, Eswein waited patiently in second place. Darnell would lose power and stall on the raceway with 16 laps remaining in the race, giving the lead to Eswein who then paced the remaining distance to take the victory.
Run under near perfect weather conditions one of the largest paid event crowds of the season at Marshfield Speedway were on hand to witness the event. The race would prove problematic to numerous drivers, including several of those near the top of the point standings.
Jeff Kendall of Montello, came into the race second in the series standings, would start the 75 lap main event outside the front row next to Adam Royle of Farmington, MN. Kendall would surge ahead into the opening lead, but would only pace the first lap of the contest before his engine backfired and lost power. Kendall was unable to make his way back to the pit area coming to a stop in turn four. As the yellow flag flew on lap two for Kendall’s slowing car, the cars of Jeff Watters and Jeff Weinfurter made contact sliding off the track in turn three. Watters would retire from the event, while Weinfurter would take a few more laps before calling it a day. Kendall was also done for the day, with a broken rocker arm.
Prior to the caution flag, Kyle Kinder of McFarland had worked past Royle for the top spot, with Darnell, who won the most recent race at 141 Speedway already showing in the third spot. Royle found himself under fire the second the green flag flew and Darnell would work past for the second position before the start of lap four. Royle would lose several more spots over the next few laps.
Kinder now found himself next on Darnell’s list as the lead pair diced for the top position. The pair ran wheel to wheel for several laps before Darnell, using the outside line, pulled ahead on lap eight. By this time, Eswein had already been moving forward and had reached the fifth position. Eswein advanced another spot on lap 13, when he sliced to the inside of former track champion Judd Brandl for the fourth position.
Eswein now closed in on Dean LaPointe who was running a strong race in the third position. LaPointe who had rebuilt his car from an accident two weeks prior had his machine running well near the front of the pack, but Eswein was able to close up on his rear deck and begin to challenge for the spot.
Out front Darnell appeared to be running comfortably pulling away from the field, however on lap 19 his car began to backfire and run rough, though his pace didn’t slow. The second caution of the race appeared on lap 20 when Jason Weinkauf looped his machine in turn four.
When the race resume Darnell again set the pace with Kinder remaining close on the restart. Eswein immediately went to work on LaPointe and squirt past into third brining Brandl with him on the next lap.
Darnell’s pace didn’t appear to be affected by change in engine tone continuing to lead. On lap 30, Eswein worked the low groove to pass Kinder for the runner-up spot. By this time however Darnell had built up a dozen car length lead.
Darnell’s advantage was wiped out when Pete Kempf and Adam Royle locked horns caution the third caution to appear on lap 33. The leader board showed Darnell, Eswein, Kinder, Brandl, Krzykowski and Back on the top six positions.
Underway again Darnell again set the pace with Eswein in tow. The lead duo pulled away from the third place battle between Kinder and Brandl as the laps clicked by. Brandl managed to work under Kinder on the restart bringing Krzykowski and Back with him as Kinder fell from the top five stuck in the outside groove.
With 30 laps to go caution four appeared when Kempf took a wild ride off the backstretch. Again the lead pair of Darnell and Eswein broke away from the pack as action began. Back, who had been running fifth began to make his run toward the front of the pack, picking off Krzykowski and Brandl during the next several circuits to run third before caution number five appeared again for a spinning car with 20 laps remaining.
Shortly after this restart Darnell’s fortunes would take a turn for the worse. Though it appeared he had the speed to keep Eswein at bay. Eswein began to apply heavy pressure to Darnell for the lead. Darnell slowed dramatically with 16 laps to go turning the lead over to Eswein. Before he could bring his car to the pits Darnell came to a stop on the track and caution flag number six flew.
This setup perhaps the wildest accident of the evening as Chris Weinkauf and Kinder made contact coming off turn four just after the green flag returned. The resulting melee collected several cars including LaPointe and Gajewski. Weinkauf, Kinder and LaPointe retired to the pits after the incident while Gajewski returned to the track with all the front end sheet metal missing. During the extended caution Darnell was able to refire his engine and he returned to the track one lap down when the green flag returned, he would eventually finish 11th.
The final sprint to the checkered would go uninterrupted as Eswein lead Back and Krzykowski in close formation, with Brandl, Kevin Brescia and Royle in tow. With five laps to go, Back managed to pull alongside Eswein in the outside groove through turns three and four, but Eswein was up to the challenge and pulled ahead. Behind them the battle for fourth was just as intense as Brandl, Royle and Brescia all fought for position.
Eswein would lead Back to the checkered with Krzykowski in tow. Royle’s late race charge would net him a fourth place finish his best performance in WCS competition. Brandl would complete the top five runners. Brescia, had drove a smooth race during the entire event to earn sixth. Jason Weinkauf recovered from his early race spin to take seventh, and Ken Reiser, the all-time series point leader claimed eighth.
Earlier in the day, Todd Stapleman of Wautoma, made his second series start of the year and he came home with a victory in the 25 lap qualifying race over Allen Check and Weinfurter. The top six runners which also included Gajewski, Watters and Burton Brown made the main event. Of the group Brown would finish 9th, the highest of the transfer cars.
The 20 lap Legend feature saw four different leaders. John Burgess led lap one, but Dan McGiveron quickly took the top spot. As McGiveron led, Tim Brockhouse and Eric Lokemoen were charging to the front. Brockhouse took the lead on lap six and Lokemoen took second from McGiveron on lap nine. Fast timer Josh Schoenick made his way into the top five with point lead Elliott Weiler not far behind. Lokemoen passed Brockhouse for the lead on lap 12. The caution flag flew on laps 13, 14 and 15. The first two were for spins and the last for debris. When the race resumed, Lokemoen led, Elliott Weiler second, Brockhouse third, Greg Gress fourth and Schoenick fifth. Brockhouse, Schoenick and Gress battled for the third position until the checkered. Lokemoen won, Elliott Weiler second, Schoenick third, Brockhouse fourth and Dave Keays fifth.
Rodney Feltz led the entire 1-Man Cruiser feature until the final lap as he and Mike Dodson raced for the lead. Dodson, almost running Feltz off the track down the back stretch was able to take over the lead. Dodson won, Feltz maintained second, Randy Meyer third, Travis Zvolena fourth and Steve Bores fifth.
The winner of the Wal-Mart bicycle was Brian Langreck of Pittsville.
Join us this Tuesday night August 12 for the MACCI Business After 5 Race Night with Dick Trickle Signing Autographs. Sponsored by the Marshfield News-Herald, Stevens Point Journal and the WI Rapids Daily Tribune. Tuesday night’s racing includes CARQUEST Super Late Models, CARQUEST & Coca-Cola Super Stocks and 1-Man Cruisers. Grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., Miller Time Trials at 6 p.m. and racing starts at 7:30.
Next Saturday is WYTE 96.7 FM Night. Grandstand gates open at 5 p.m., Miller Time Trials at 6 p.m. and racing starts at 7:30. Racing includes Super Late Models, Super Stocks, 4-Cylinders, 1-Man Cruisers and Powder Puff Racing. Marshfield Super Speedway is located 3.5 miles West of Marshfield on County Trunk H.