Knoblock Ends WCS Season With Marshfield Victory
By Jeffrey Sachse and Brian Back
September 16, 2006; Marshfield, WI: – The 2006 racing season drew to a close for the Wisconsin Challenge Series presented by Simply WOW. Stories abounded at the final event of the 11 race season for the series which ranks as one of it’s most successful in it’s six year existence. The Rainbow Casino / Earth Inc., Wisconsin Challenge Series Championship 80 would unfold with several drivers appearing to have the pace to reach victory lane, but during the final half of the contest it would be Wausau’s Neil Knoblock driving the Mike and Patti Butz owned machine reaching victory lane and scoring his first career Wisconsin Challenge Series checkered flag, bettering his career best third place performance at Golden Sands Speedway back on Memorial Day. For Butz racing it was their second trip to the winner’s circle having reached victory lane before in 2005, when Jeff Van Oudenhoven topped the All-Star Challenge 100 at Wisconsin International Raceway.
Knoblock’s drive to victory was impressive coming from mid-pack and passing the likes of Steve Carlson the most recent WCS winner, 2006 Marshfield Super Speedway and event champion Eugene Gregorich Jr., and defending series title holder Nathan Haseleu. Knoblock’s final pass came on lap 37 as he drove under Charlie Menard for the lead and proceeded to build up a solid margin over Charlie Menard for the victory.
While the battle for the win caught the attention of the crowd, those focusing on the point title had to watch as Haseleu and Kenny Richards played the final act of the point chase story. Richards appeared to have the speed needed in qualifying taking third on the charts behind fast qualifier Mark Eswein and runner-up Steve Holzhausen. Haseleu, who participated in the event with a backup machine after his main car was destroyed in a grinding crash one week ago, struggled to find speed in the machine and turned in the 11th fastest qualifying lap of the day. The result allowed Richards to close within 29 points heading into the feature event. Should Richards win the contest, Haseleu would need to finish seventh or better.
Fate would take another turn however as the Eswein, the event’s fastest qualifier, drew an invert of 12 placing Haseleu outside the front row for the start of the 80 lap contest, while Richards would be starting near mid-pack in the 24 cars starting field.
At the drop of the green flag polesitter Jeff Kendall of Montello would dive deep into the first turn taking the opening lead while Haseleu worked the high line. Before the lap was complete Carlson would also work by Haseleu into the second spot. Fresh off his win at Madison a week ago, Carlson managed to nose under Kendall on lap two reaching the line with the lead by a matter of inches. Carlson and Kendall would run side by side for the next several laps before Carlson gained a firm hold on the lead. Kendall would get stuck in the outside line as a freight train of cars worked past him.
Carlson, Haseleu, Menard, Gregorich and Knoblock occupied the top five spots by the time completed the sixth loop around the track as positions swapped back and forth throughout the field. Menard would sneak past Haseleu for the second spot on the next lap just prior to the first caution of the contest when Jeremy Lepak spun in turn three. Though Lepak protested the call to go to the back of the pack, track officials were unable to determine the initial cause of the spin and no other cars would join him at the tail of the field.
As the green flag returned Carlson was back setting the pace but he immediately came under pressure as Menard began to contest the top spot. Haseleu continued in third as Gregorich and Knoblock began to wrestle for the fourth position. Gregorich, preferring the high groove would allow Knoblock to work to his inside as the pair ran wheel to wheel around the raceway.
Out front Menard found room under Carlson to become the third leader of the race as the pair headed for the stripe on lap ten. Haseleu’s efforts to remain among the leaders began to falter a bit as Gregorich roared by on the high side for third and moments later Knoblock worked by in the low groove to steal fourth, dropping Haseleu into the fifth spot. Richards, the other title contender was having difficulties of his own, unable to make much headway into the top ten as the race reached the 20 lap mark. Knoblock on the other hand continued his march forward working by Carlson for the third spot on lap 16, then closing back up on Gregorich to battle for the second spot.
Deeper in the field if was Eswein slicing though the pack having disposed of half the cars which started in front of him before one-quarter of the race was in the books.
With Menard pulling away, Gregorich Jr. and Knoblock revisited their earlier side by side battle, and again Gregorich opted to run the high groove while Knoblock could hug the bottom of the raceway with ease. The pair treated the fans to another great side by side battle before Knoblock gained the upper hand. This battle was interrupted by the second caution of the day as Travis Sauter spun in turn three on lap 24.
This erased the margin Menard had built and placed Gregorich and Knoblock on his rear bumper for the restart, with Carlson, Haseleu and Eswein following.
On lap 28, Carlson drifted wide and allowed both Haseleu and Eswein to slip by reaching fourth and fifth respectively.
Lap 31 would see the third slowdown of the contest as Tim Hintz was tagged by Frank Kreyer sending him spinning into the inside wall down the front stretch. This send Hintz to the pits with the assistance of a wrecked while Kreyer went to the tail of the field for the restart.
Just prior to the caution Knoblock had worked past Gregorich Jr. for the second spot and it would be Knoblock who would be next to test Menards hold on the lead.
Knoblock using his ability to dive low coming off the turns managed to work under Menard and take over the lead position on lap 37, becoming the event’s fourth and final leader. From there on out the field would be chasing Knoblock’s black number 8 machine.
Menard would hang tight on Knoblock’s rear bumper for the next several laps before Knoblock slowly began to pull away. It would be at this point that Haseleu would begin to drift further back in the field falling out of the top five by lap 42. His hold on the point lead however continued to remain intact as Richards’ was still unable to make any progress forward into the top ten.
The final caution would fly on lap 55 as Gajewski began to spark heavily drawing the yellow flag as he slowed and pulled into the pits. The 25 lap sprint to the checkered would see Knoblock leading the way with Menard, Gregorich Jr., Eswein and Holzhausen in pursuit.
On the restart Knoblock would again assume command with Menard trying to stay close. Eswein would work by Gregorich for the third position and the close on Menard.
In the without any further cautions to interrupt his pace Knoblock continued to build on his lead over Menard with each passing lap. Knoblock was further aided by Eswein as Eswein began to pressure Menard heavily for the second spot as the race neared the final ten laps.
Knoblock would reach the conclusion of the 80 lap with a three second advantage on Menard who was able to fend off the late race challenges of Eswein. In the closing laps Holzhausen would work into the fourth position leaving defending race winner Gregorich Jr. in the fifth spot.
Jason Weinkauf would be the winner of a qualifying race earlier in the day drove a solid race working through the field and up to the sixth spot. In an act of sportsmanship Eswein had loaned Weinkauf a rear end for his machine after Weinkauf’s had failed earlier in the program. Weinkauf was able to compete with the borrowed pats and have a successful day as a result. Carlson earned the seventh spot with Blake Horstman grabbing eighth. Chris Weinkauf finished ninth with Haseleu holding onto the final top ten spot. Richards’ would end the contest in 13th place.
At the end of the day Haseleu managed to extend his point lead on Richards’ by two more markers winning his second straight series title by 38 markers. As a result Haseleu became the first back to back champion in series history and joined Eswein as the only two time champion.
Earlier in the day a pair of qualifying races would complete the field for the main event. In the first contest Jason Weinkauf handedly won the race over Travis Sauter and Dennis Prunty. All three advanced to the feature contest, while Dave Feiler and Chris Skrede finished fourth and fifth.
In the second qualifying race Dean Cornelius captured the contest over John Zimmerman. The final transfer spot was hard fought between Don Turner and M.G. Gajewski, with Gajewski taking third at the wire. Turner would settle for fourth and Bryan Roach comprised the top five.
The program would conclude with a hard fought 30-lap B-Feature. Veterans Turner and Feiler would toss the lead back and fourth as the pair thrilled the fans with some hard racing throughout the contest. Turner would pull ahead in the final laps and win the event by less than a car length over Feiler. Keith Bohmsach, Frank Nitzke and Nick Hammer completed the top five finishers.
With the season now concluded plans are underway for the awards banquet expected to take place in late November. The 7th season of Wisconsin Challenge Series action is in the planning stages and the 2007 series opener will be announced shortly.
RAINBOW CASINO / EARTH INC. WISCONSIN CHALLENGE CHAMPIONSHIP 80
Marshfield Super Speedway – September 16, 2006
100 Lap Feature: — 1.) Neil Knoblock, Wausau; 2.) Charlie Menard, Eau Claire; 3.) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 4.) Steve Holzhausen, Bangor; 5.) Jason Weinkauf; Merrill; 6.) Steve Carlson, West Salem; 7.) Blake Horstman, Rockland; 9.) Chris Weinkauf, Merrill; 10.) Nathan Haseleu, Pardeeville; 11.) Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; 12.) Adam Royle, Farmington, MN; 13.) Kenny Richards, Montello; 14.) Frank Kreyer, Pardeeville; 15.) Andy Monday, Appleton; 16.) Jeff Kendall, Montello; 17.) Dennis Prunty, Lomira; 18.) Jacob Humphrey, Lake Geneva; 19.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 20.) Dean Cornelius, Chaska, MN; 21.) Travis Sauter, Necedah; 22.) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 23.) Brandon Selle, Dale; 24.) Tim Hintz, Nekoosa
First 25 Lap Qualifier: — 1.) Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 2.) Travis Sauter, Necedah; 3.) Dennis Prunty, Lomira; 4.) Dave Feiler, Sun Prairie; 5.) Chris Skrede, LaCrosse; 6.) Kyle Kinder, McFarland; 7.) Dean Lapointe, Marshfield; 8.) Benjamin Brinkman, Oshkosh; 9.) Eric Klawitter, Montello; 10.) John Frazier, Merrill
Second 25 Lap Qualifier: — 1.) Dean Cornelius, Chaska, MN; 2.) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 3.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 4.) Don Turner, LaCrosse; 5.) Bryan Roach, Goodhue, MN; 6.) Pete Moore, McFarland; 7.) Keith Bohmsach, Wisconsin Rapids; 8.) Frank Nitzke, Berlin; 9.) Nick Hammer, Sun Prairie; 10.) Mark Kraus, Stratford
30 Lap B-Feature: 1.) Dave Feiler, Sun Prairie; 2.) Don Turner, LaCrosse; 3.) Keith Bohmsach, Wisconsin Rapids; 4.) Frank Nitzke, Berlin; 5.) Nick Hammer, Sun Prairie; 6.) Benjamin Brinkman, Oshkosh; 7.) Bryan Roach, Goodhue, MN; 8.) Kyle Kinder, McFarland; 9.) Eric Kalwitter, Montello; 10.) Pete Moore, McFarland
By: Brian Back
Polesitters Derk Hauser and Ricky Brandl were door to door at the start of the 4-cylinder feature. Brandl kept his high line momentum going and took the lead entering turn three. Keith Wirtz showed his former championship skills as he passed Ron Sisco and Dan McGiveron on the high side for third by lap three. One lap later he continued his advance passing Hauser in the upper groove for second place. JJ Flick and Chad Dietsche began their sprint to the lead as they over took Sisco on lap four for seventh and eighth. Steve Hauser also made his move as he bypassed McGiveron on the inside entering turn three for fourth place. Flick continued forward progress as he dove under Derk Hauser and McGiveron making a three-wide pass for fourth. Derk Hauser and McGiveron made contact shortly after, causing a caution on lap seven. Hasuer accepted blame, putting McGiveron back into the fifth position. Don Dunow came to a stop during the caution with mechanical difficulties. Wirtz pulled even with leader Brandl entering turn one as they retook the green. Brandl battled back, holding on to the top spot until lap nine. Flick and Dietsche were next to challenge, with the determined Brandl holding them off until lap 11. Kyle Opelt followed their lead, bypassing Brandl for fourth. Flick closed on leader Wirtz, looking inside on lap 12. Wirtz stayed calm, racing hard to keep the lead as Flick inched forward. As the pair took the white, the gap was closed to only a few feet. Flick gathered a final charge forward exiting turn four, collecting the victory by a coat of paint. Wirtz, Dietsche, Opelt, and Brandl rounded out the top five. Kyle Opelt’s season awarded him with the 2006 4-Cylinder Track Champion title.
Travis Paul wasted little time setting the pace in the Junkyard Warrior/1-Man Cruiser feature, leading the field into turn one by several car lengths. Todd Hoeper and David Knauf were class of the field driving around Sam Sudduth to claim second and third place at the end of lap one. One lap later, they drove inside of leader Paul to take after the top two spots. Deeper in the field, Lester Kuehn began a charge to the front, diving inside of Kyle Rasmussen as he drifted high exiting turn four on lap three. Paul was his next target, taking over third on lap five. Up front, Knauf began to look outside of Hoeper, hoping to make a charge to the lead. Hoeper kept Knauf at bay for five laps before Knauf took hold of a lead which he would not relinquish. Hoeper, Kuehn, Rasmussen, and Sudduth rounded out the top five. Wayne Dietz was unable to race the feature due to mechanical difficulties, however his extensive points lead still awarded him the 2006 1-Man Cruiser championship. Kyle Rasmussen is earned the 2006 Junkyard Warrior Championship.
The pure tock feature was four-wide from the get go as Skylar Domine and Kyle Genett split the front row of Ron Kundinger and John Kundinger entering turn one. Domine took command with track champion Genett close behind. Fast qualifier Mike Lichtfeld wasted little time showing his dominance. From the high side he overtook Steve Bornitz exiting turn two, then immediately dove inside of the battling cars of Genett and Jeff Behrens entering turn three. The three-wide battle was shortlived as Lichtfeld claimed second as the field completed lap two. One corner later Domine was Lichtfeld’s final victim as he claimed the first position. The pressure on Domine would persist as Genett and Eric Nelson passed three-wide inside, with Nelson and Genett taking second and third. The trio of Behrens, Bornitz, and Steve Lichtfeld would follow suit, dropping Domine to seventh. Steve Lichtfeld continued to advance, passing Bornitz exiting turn four on lap seven. Two laps later, he made the same move on Behrens as he slid sideways exiting turn four to take fourth place. Up front, Mike Lichtfeld cruised to his second straight feature victory. Nelson followed, with Genett holding off a last lap charge by Steve Lichtfeld. Behrens rounded out the top five.
The 4-cylinder powder puff proved to be very exciting. Rachel Nawrocki led into turn one as they took the green. Donna Brandl moved low, taking over first exiting turn two. One lap later, Nawrocki made a comeback, diving inside of Brandl entering turn one. Brandl was not phased, making a crossover pass exiting turn two to re-claim the lead. Nawrocki charged back alongside one lap later, taking the lead entering turn three on the final lap. The fantastic pass was slightly beyond the limits of the car as Nawrocki was unable to keep her vehicle from spinning in the final turn, giving the victory to Brandl.
Next weekend is the annual Fall Spectacular Race Against Cancer Weekend, Friday September 22nd and Saturday September 23rd.
Fall Spectacular Race Against Cancer Weekend
Friday, September 22nd *Over 200 Laps of Racing*
50 Lap Super Late Model Feature,30 Lap Super Stock Feature~Gary Pyburn Memorial, Plus: Motorcycles, 1-Man Cruisers/Junkyard Warriors & IMCA Oldtimers. Adults (16 yrs & up) $10.00, Students (10-15 yrs) $5.00, Under 10 yrs FREE. Gates Open at 4:30 p.m., Time Trials at 5 p.m., Racing Starts at 7 p.m.
Saturday, September 23rd *Over 300 Laps of Racing*
100 Lap Super Late Model Feature~Duwayne Voelz Memorial, 25 Lap 4-Cylinder Feature~Bill Dunow Memorial, Plus: Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks & IMCA Oldtimers. Adults (16 yrs & up) $12.00, Students (10-15 yrs) $6.00, Under 10 yrs FREE. Gates Open at 2 p.m., Time Trials at 3 p.m., Racing at 5 p.m. $1.00 from every adult grandstand ticket sold on Saturday will be donated towards cancer research. See FASTLANE JONNY attempt a full lap wheelie with his full size school bus!
Racing for a Cure Drawing. Grand Prize ~ 25 ft JAG Travel Trailer/Camper 30 Prizes Total. Tickets $10 each, 3 for $25 or 7 for $50. License #R0002604 A-01475 Need Not Be Present To Win
Fall Spectacular Sponsors: Earth Inc, Sternweis & Sons Concrete, RZ Builders, Humphrey’s Pub, King’s Campers, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Nasonville Dairy, Weber’s Farm Store, V&H Heavy Trucks,
deBoer Transportation Inc
Raindate – Sunday September 24th, Time Trials Noon, Racing 2 p.m.
Marshfield Super Speedway is located 3.5 miles west of Marshfield, WI on County Hwy H. Home of Saturday night stock car racing since 1977.