Melbinger Clinches Championship at Marshfield
September 15, 2002; Marshfield, WI: – Hot racing action filled the cold air as point races in several divisions were heating up. It was the Coca-Cola Season Championships here Sunday, at Marshfield Super Speedway. Track champions were still to be decided in the Super Late Models, Legends, and Cruiser Divisions.
Rory Melbinger of Marshfield needed one point to clinch the track championship in the CARQUEST Super Late Model Division. Melbinger received his one point and more with his qualifying efforts. He recorded fast time with a lap time of 17.942 seconds. Other preliminary winners included, Judd Brandl in the dash, Wayne Cottrell in Heat One and Keith Bohmsach winning the fast heat.
The CARQUEST Super Late Models had 20 cars taking the green flag in hopes of taking home the Coca-Cola Season Championship in the 25-lap feature event.
Setting the early pace was Russ Weiler. Weiler, who was doing double duty with his Legend car, led the first four laps with M.G. Gajewski right on his heels. Gajewski, who hales from Wausau, made the pass on Weiler, entering turn three of lap five, to takeover the race lead. By lap seven, Gajewski stretched his lead over Weiler and Cottrell to seven car-lengths.
Monte Gress moved up to take the third spot away from Cottrell on lap nine. One lap later, Gary Back took the spot away from Gress and moved into second passing Weiler. With Gajewski in total command and enjoying a ten car-length lead, caution would fly on lap 19 of the 25-lap event.
While trying to get by some lapped traffic, Gary Back and a lapped car made contact sending Back and Eugene Gregorich, Jr. nearly head on into the turn one wall. Spinning to avoid the incident was Eric Wisz who was able to continue with no harm done. Unfortunately for Back and Gregorich, they were finished for the evening as they sustained heavy damage to the front ends of their machines. Back sustained a minor injury to his hand, but fortunately, both drivers walked away from the turn one crash.
Once the race resumed, it was still M.G. Gajewski continuing his stronghold on the field of 20 cars. However, Gajewski would have to contend with Rory Melbinger, who of which set fast time and won the track championship earlier in the evening. Melbinger swept by Weiler for the second position with five laps to go. Melbinger now had his sights set on getting by a very fast Gajewski machine.
With two laps remaining, Melbinger pulled to the outside of Gajewski; the two drivers had the fans on their feet as they raced side-by-side for the next lap. With a little more than a lap remaining, Melbinger cleared the car of Gajewski, taking over the race lead. Gajewski made one more attempt at getting by Melbinger, but was only able to pull to his back bumper at the finish line. Melbinger won in impressive fashion as Gajewski finished an impressive second. Rounding out the top five were, Keith Bohmsach, Russ Weiler, and Monte Gress.
In CARQUEST Super Stock action, 17 cars took the green flag in hopes of bringing home a feature win in the 20 lap feature event. Larry Schultz shot out to the early lead over Don Tieman, Jr. and Jim Cormack. DuWayne Davis brought out the first caution as his Dodge loss power on lap five.
On the restart, Schultz continued to hold the point with Andy Simonis getting by Tieman for the runner up position. As Simonis started reeling in Schultz for the race lead, Dan Gollon collected the turn one-two wall bringing out the second caution period.
Once the race resumed with 11 laps remaining, Jason Kirsling got a great restart and darted pass Simonis and race leader Larry Schultz, to become the new race leader. With Kirsling leading, Cale Laessig moved into second and started challenging Kirsling for the race lead. It was very apparent that Laessig was developing a problem. While running in the second position, Laessig was leaving a shower of sparks as he entered the turns. Laessig broke a motor mount causing his engine to shift when he accelerated. This further caused his header pipes to become detached causing the sparks and the puncturing of his oil filter.
Oil from the machine of Laessig’s brought out caution number three. With much of the track covered in oil, Randy Emmerich had no control of his car and collected the turn four wall. Unfortunately for Emmerich, who earlier won the fast dash, he sustained right front suspension damage and was unable to continue.
In a bizarre event, since the oil on the track was plentiful, Cale Laessig and his crew had time to repair his machine during the caution period. Laessig needed to make repairs to the headers, change the oil filter, and replace the oil.
On the fourth and final restart, Kirsling stretched his lead to seven car-lengths over Tim Hintz. With Kirsling cruising to the feature win, the real battle was for second between Hintz and Tim Plowman. The two drivers race door-to-door the final lap with Plowman edging out Hintz by a half car-length at the line. Finishing fourth was Matt Wisz, with Cale Laessig finishing fifth after his earlier misfortunes.
In what would become a very thrilling Legend feature, three drivers would exchange the lead in the first three laps, Dean Fisher, Dan McGiveron, and Russ Weiler.
With the track championship to be decided in this race, the fans were on the edge of their seats full of excitement. With the afore mentioned track championship on the line, the two drivers in question are Russ Weiler and Josh Schoenick. Weiler, who entered tonight’s racing action thre points ahead of Schoenick, won qualifying with Schoenick winning the dash and heat races. This drama is what set up a very exciting conclusion to the Legend driver’s season.
On lap three, Weiler took the lead away from McGiveron entering turn three. Stretching his lead out to six car-lengths, it appeared Weiler would go unchallenged for the feature win and points championship. However, Eric Lokemoen, who on the previous lap passed McGiveron to takeover the second position, closed significantly on the machine of Weiler.
With four laps remaining, Lokemoen closed to within a half car-length of Weiler. At the same time Lokemoen was making his move on the race leader, Josh Schoenick passed McGiveron to take the third spot.
With three laps remaining, it was very apparent that Schoenick wasn’t about to concede the championship to Weiler. With two laps remaining, Schoenick made a brilliant move to the inside of Lokemoen entering turn three, taking the second spot away. Now, with Weiler and Schoenick running first and second, and only separated by a couple of points entering the feature, this was setting up to become a fantastic finish!
On the final lap, Weiler took the white flag as the race leader with Schoenick two car-lengths back. As the cars entered turn one, Schoenick closed to a car-length. As they exited the turn, Schoenick pulled along side of Weiler. The two drivers raced side-by-side entering turn three. It was going to be anyone’s race and championship. As the two drivers came out of turn four, they were side-by-side.
As they approached the finishline, Schoenick nosed out to about a foot lead. At the finishline, it was Schoenick edging out a strong performance by Weiler, in what was one of the most exciting races of the season! Rounding out the top five were, Eric Lokemoen, Elliott Weiler, and Dan McGiveron. There were many high five’s in victory lane for the Schoenick team, as everyone was aware that Schoenick needed to win the race, to win the championship.
The Bumper-To-Bumper Cruiser cars once again topped off the evening with an exciting feature of their own. Brendan Klueckman darted out to the early lead from his fifth row starting position. Running second and third to Klueckman, were Wayne Meyer and Travis Zvolena, respectively.
With four of 14 laps completed, Klueckman put five car-lengths between him and the second place runner of Meyer. Caution flew on lap five for the spinning machine of Gerry Herman. Once the race resumed, Klueckman continued to hold the lead as Rodney Feltz moved by Meyer to takeover the second spot.
With five laps remaining, Feltz moved to a half car length ahead of Klueckman only to fall back entering turn three. Klueckman, who hales from Neillsville, proved to have the best car tonight as he went on to score the feature win. Feltz finished second, followed by, Scott Havlicek who earlier set fast time. Placing fourth was track champion Josh Elmhorst, with Darrell Paschel rounding out the top five.
Miranda Gajewski won the bicycle donated by Marshfield’s Wal-Mart SuperCenter.
Next week will be the 2nd Annual Fall Spectacular 2-Day Event. Friday’s races will include Super Late Models (only drivers that are not already qualified for the Race of Champions), CARQUEST Super Stocks, Legends, Bumper-To-Bumper Crusiers, and the IMCA Oldtimers. Practice is at 5 p.m. Followed by Miller time trials at 6 p.m. and racing at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s racing action includes the 75 lap Super Late Model Race of Champions, Limited Late Models, 4-Cylinders, Mini-Cups, and the IMCA Oldtimers. Miller time trials begin at 5 p.m. followed by racing at 6:30 p.m.
Marshfield Super Speedway is located 3 miles West of Marshfield on County Trunk H. Rough camping is available for anyone interested in staying at the track. Otherwise, Marshfield has many motels available for those interested. Please join us for our Fall Spectacular!