Gregorich Stuns WCS Regulars with Home Track Win
By Jeffrey Sachse and Mary Langreck
September 10, 2005; Marshfield, WI: – Having worked his way up the racing ranks from short track dirt ovals and quarter-mile paved tracks in Northeastern Wisconsin, young Eugene Gregorich Jr., stunned the Wisconsin Challenge Series regulars as he tenaciously held onto the lead through much of the 80 lap season championship feature, scoring what could easily be called an upset victory at Marshfield Super Speedway. Gregorich who has spent the past several seasons behind the wheel of a Super Late Model had previously been a title contender at Marshfield Speedway a couple seasons ago, but in his limited Wisconsin Challenge Series appearances this was by far his best effort. In a very popular win Gregorich would sprint to the finish line with a two car length advantage on newly crowned 2005 champion Nathan Haseleu. Cruisers.
Haseleu would chase Gregorich throughout much of the event and though he closed quickly over the final laps his charge would fall short preventing Haseleu from earning his third straight WCS victory. The second place performance was more than enough however to secure the series title by 170 points over two-time series champion Mark Eswein who finished fifth in today’s race.
Earlier in the day 41 cars attempted to make the starting gird for the season finale feature contest. Thoughout the 2005 season, the Wisconsin Challenge Series had over 40 participants at every event, making it the most competitive regional asphalt racing series in the United States.
It would be Frank Kreyer claiming quick time on the day with just he and Charlie Menard cracking the 18 second barrier. Kreyer would draw the highest possible invert, putting the 14th fastest qualifier on the pole and placing himself in the 14th spot.
A field of 23 rolled to the green flag with Kenny Richards and rookie Super Late Model competitor Brad Wildes making up the front row. Both drivers are regulars at the Dells Motor Speedway, as was Todd Stapleman who found himself third on the grid.
As the race began Richards darted out front, but the big move over the opening laps was made by Gregorich who shot past Stapleman and Wildes to run second as lap three began. On the very next laps contact between Stapleman and Wildes resulted in Wildes spinning in turn four. Both drivers were able to return to the race from the tail of the field.
Wildes stalled machine was missed by much of the field as cars darted every direction. The most serious contact in the scramble was made between Adam Royle and Steve Holzhausen. Holzhausen would need to head to the pit area for quick repairs. Royle would resume the race, but due to his car sparking in each turn he was sent to the pits for additional repairs.
The remaining 76 laps would be run without an additional caution.
As the green flag waved again Richards held the point with Gregorich giving chase. Gregorich would work the high line past Richards for the top spot on lap seven, with Haseleu following into the second position.
Jeremy Miller and Mark Eswein would find themselves in fourth and fifth respectively by lap ten, and for much of the race the battle between Miller and Eswein proved to be an entertaining one as both driver sought to improve their positions.
Further back in the field big moves were being made by Menard and 2004 Marshfield Speedway champion Jeff Weinfurter. Earlier in the day Weinfurter dominated his 25 lap qualifying race starting back in the 20th position. He had already worked past ten cars by lap 15 cracking the top ten. His impressive performance however came to and end with mechanical difficulties moments later as he dropped from the contest being the first driver out of the event.
Out front both Miller and Eswein worked their way past Richards to reach third and fourth respectively and before lap 20 was complete Ryan Mathews, who finished runner-up in the last WCS contest at Marshfield, would comprise the top five.
Out front Gregorich has build a ten car length lead on Haseleu, who found himself in a battle with Miller and Eswein for the second spot. This allowed Gregorich even more breathing room as the race approached the halfway point.
The battle for third spot between Miller and Eswein allowed Haseleu some time to make a charge at Gregorich as the race would down to the final 30 laps. On several occasions Eswein managed to get to Miller’s inside but a combination of lapped traffic and heads up driving by Miller allowed Miller to retain the third spot.
Closing in on the action however was Menard who had climbed into the top five. Menard’s machine was obviously quick closing in on the battle between Miller and Eswein as he joined the tussle for the second spot.
Out front Gregorich still commanded a comfortable dozen car length lead with 20 laps to go. Haseleu however began to close the gap slightly with each passing lap. Haseleu’s efforts were helped along when Gregorich bobbled coming off turn two on the next lap. Though Gregorich regrouped quickly his lead had diminished to a couple car lengths.
Meanwhile Menard has passed Eswein for fourth and began seeking a way past Miller.
The top five cars would filter into single file formation with a car length between them as the final ten laps began. Over the final circuits Haseleu would close on Gregorich, especially on the final trip around the half-mile oval. Gregorich however would not falter and would streak to the finish less than a car length ahead of Haseleu. Miller would manage to fend off a final lap passing attempt by Menard to claim third. Menard would settle for fourth and Eswein reach the strip in fifth, as the top five were separated only by a handful of car lengths at the wire.
Mathews would claim the sixth spot followed by multi-time Dells Motor Speedway champion Jeff Kendall who earned seventh. Richards, the event’s polesitter completed the contest in eighth followed by Blake Horstman and Kreyer.
20 of the 23 starters were running at the finish.
Earlier in the day the two qualifying races proved to be very competitive. Unfortunately for defending event winner, Terry Baldry, he would not get a shot at the main event as his ride was damaged while avoiding a tangle between two other cars in the first qualifying race. John Zimmerman would lead much of that contest before being passed by Doug Drost who was debuting a new race car. Drost took that car to victory lane on it’s maiden voyage. The battle for second would wage between Zimmerman, Frank Nitzke and Brian Back over the final five laps. Zimmerman was able to hold onto second with Back edging Nitzke by inches for the final transfer spot. Nitzke would settle for fourth and Adam Degenhardt would comprise the top five finishers.
The second qualifier saw Jeff Weinfurter and Jeremy Lepak race side by side for the top spot throughout much of the race before Weinfurter surged ahead in the closing laps for the win. Lepak would settle into second with Jamie Iverson the Norway Speedway champion making his third WCS start of the season claiming the final transfer spot. Tim Rothe and Elliott Weiler would complete the top five runners.
The Wisconsin Challenge Series will begin it’s sixth season of action in 2006 in April. An exciting season schedule along with other important announcements will be made throughout the off-season at a pair of informational meetings and through news releases on the series website at www.wisconsinchallenge.com
The 2005 season awards banquet will be held on Saturday Night November 12th at the Tornado’s Supper Club and Banquet Hall in Appleton,WI. Details on that event will be announced shortly.
WCS Championship 80 – September 10, 2005
80 Lap Feature: 1.) Eugene Gregorich Jr., Kewaunee; 2.) Nathan Haseleu, Marshall; 3.) Jeremy Miller, Loves Park, IL; 4.) Charlie Menard, Eau Claire; 5.) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 6.) Ryan Mathews, Lake Geneva; 7.) Jeff Kendall, Montello; 8.) Kenny Richards, Montello; 9.) Blake Horstman, Pardeeville; 10.) Frank Kreyer, Pardeeville; 11.) Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 12.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 13.) Ben Pettis, Eau Claire; 14. ) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 15.) Todd Stapleman, Wautoma; 16.) Jamie Iverson, Escanaba, MI; 17.) Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; 18.) Brad Wildes, Tomah; 19.) Doug Drost, Merrill; 20.) Adam Royle, Farmington, MN; 21.) Brian Back, Vesper; 22.) Steve Holzhausen, Bangor; 23.) Jeff Weinfurter, Wisconsin Rapids
First 25 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Drost; 2.) Zimmerman; 3.) Back; 4.) Frank Nitzke, Berlin; 5.) Adam Degenhardt, Coon Valley; 6.) Andy Monday, Appleton; 7.) Kyle Davis, Marshfield; 8.) Terry Baldry, Omro; 9.) Pete Kempf, Nekoosa; 10.) Dean Lapointe, Marshfield
Second 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Weinfurter; 2.) Lepak; 3.) Iverson; 4.) Tim Rothe, Appleton; 5.) Elliott Weiler, Marshfield; 6.) Ken Reiser, Waukon, IA; 7.) Tim Hintz, Nekoosa; 8.) Jim Duchow, Appleton; 9.) Chris Weinkauf, Merrill; 10.) Greg Ruffalo, Wautoma
The first three laps of the 4-Cylinder feature were led by Greg Blount. Don Dunow then grabbed the lead and held on for the win. Kevin Eckes moved up from his fifth place start to second by lap seven. Point lead JJ Flick started 11th and worked up to third while fast timer Steve Stewart came up to finish fourth and Paul Berg fifth.
Wayne Deitz led the three laps of the 14 lap 1-Man Cruiser feature. Dave Knauf then took the lead for the win. Dietz held out for second, Todd Hoeper third, point leader Cody Meyer fourth and Chris Anderson fifth.
Next Saturday, September 17th is Season Championship and the give away of the 2005 Ford Mustang Pace Car sponsored by V&H, WDEZ, Abby Gas Service, Subway, CarQuest, Burt Trophy & Awards, Rainbow Casino & Craft’s Trading Center. Pits open at 3:30, stands 5 p.m., qualifying 6 p.m. and racing 7:30. Race divisions include Super Late Models, Super Stocks, 4-Cylinders and 1-Man Cruisers. Rain dated for Sunday, two hours earlier. Marshfield Super Speedway is located 3.5 miles west of Marshfield on County Road H with weekly Saturday night stock car racing April through September. Adult grandstand admission $10.00, Students ages 10-15 yrs. $5.00 and under 10 yrs FREE with a parent. Family Ticket is $25.00 (includes 2 adult tickets + unlimited students & children).