Point Leader Haseleu Edges Mathews for WCS Checkered at Marshfield Super Speedway
By Jeffrey Sachse and Mary Langreck
July 16, 2005; Marshfield, WI: – An exceptionally warm night was what awaited fans and drivers at Marshfield Super Speedway, but a packed grandstand, full pit area and an exceptionally exciting finish will be what is remembered when people recall the Thomas Electric / Earth Inc. Marshfield 80.
For much of the contest it appeared the race would come down to a battle of champions as 2003 series titlist Erik Darnell of Beach Park, IL who had been running a comfortable distance ahead of 2004 title holder Mark Eswein a resident of nearby Wisconsin Rapids. However a late race caution and an engine going sour in Eswein’s machine would change the outcome considerably.
A late race yellow setup a showdown between Darnell, Haseleu and Mathews and the trio would provide show for the fans to be remembered for some time. Haseleu would take the top spot with a handful of laps to go in the contest and then was able to fend off a passing attempt by Mathews with two laps to go in scoring his second Wisconsin Challenge Series victory of the 2005 season and further strengthening his point lead.
The field of 23 would accept the green flag for the 80 lap main event on the half-mile semi-baked oval with 2004 Wisconsin International Raceway rookie of the year Andy Monday of Appleton and former WCS Hard Charger Award winner M.G. Gajewski of Wausau comprising the front row. The youthful Monday would surge ahead of Gajewski for the opening lead while Eswein began to move forward in the outer groove, bringing Darnell with him.
Monday would hold the top spot for the first five circuits before Eswein would power ahead working the high line with Darnell in tow.
Eswein’s reign at the front of the pack was short lived however as Darnell would work into the top spot on lap eight dropping Eswein to the runner-up spot. Monday continued his pursuit in third while fending off the challenges of Gajewski who began to reassert himself. Gajewski, also preferring the high line around the raceway would claim third at Monday’s expense on lap 12, just prior to the event’s first slowdown.
Adam Royle and Jason Weinkauf had been contesting the fifth position when the pair made contact in turn four resulting in a spin by Royle. Both drivers would be forced to restart the contest from the tail of the field. Haseleu who had started in the 12th spot had already reached the 5th position and when the green flag returned he began to march forward.
Underway again Darnell and Eswein began to break from the pack as Haseleu worked into the third spot at the 20 lap mark. Further back in the field Mathews was patiently working back toward the front of the pack climbing back into the top ten after falling back in the field at the drop of the green flag.
Darnell and Eswein would make their home in the first two slots working ahead to a comfortable margin over Haseleu, while Gajewski and Jeremy Lepak, who had lead the point standings earlier in the season held down the top five positions as the first half of the race was reached.
With 30 laps to go subtle changes were beginning to occur as the tone of Eswein’s engine began to change signaling mechanical gremlins beginning to come into play. Though unhampered at first the sound became more obvious with each passing lap and Darnell began to stretch his lead as Eswein began to fall into the clutches of Haseleu.
Over the next ten laps Darnell stretched his lead to nearly a full straightaway, while Eswein did everything possible to keep Haseleu in his tire tracks. Further back Gajewski, Charlie Menard and Mathews joined the line of cars catching Eswein.
While Eswein fought tenaciously to remain among the leaders, an ever lengthening line began to form behind him with Haseleu now seeking a way to the runner-up spot. It would be Mathews however who would be first to make his move. Jumping to the outside line, Mathews quickly shot by several cars as Eswein held fast to the lower groove. Mathews move to the outside proved fruitful moving alongside Eswein and on lap 69 he would take control of second. Haseleu followed suit on the next lap, bringing Menard with him as Eswein began to fade. Eswein would eventually fall from the contest with only two laps to go, a disappointing end to a strong performance.
The race continued with ten laps to go and Darnell’s lead would be insurmountable as long as he could avoid any mechanical ills or caution flags. Fate however had other plans.
Coming off turn four with nine laps to go Royle spun into the grass which would setup a nine lap dash to the checkered.
The field came back to the green flag with Darnell in the lead, but Haseleu and Mathews were able to keep pace and both drivers began to seek a way by Darnell for the top spot. This time it was Haseleu who would make the right moves as he worked by both Mathews and Darnell for the lead with seven laps to go. Darnell’s car which now appeared loose in the corners gave the young Illinois racer all he could handle and Mathews took advantage reaching second with five laps to go.
With a surprising amount of speed Mathews then began to reel in Haseleu, reaching his rear bumper as three laps remained. Looking to the outside Mathews would attempt to make a pass with two laps to go in the contest, but wiggled coming off of turn two as the pair were almost even. This allowed Haseleu to surge out front while Mathews gathered up his ride without losing a spot.
Over the final laps Mathews was unable to reach Haseleu again and Haseleu streaked past the checkered with a car length advantage on Mathews. Meanwhile Darnell would engage in a side by side battle with Menard, who had been the day’s fastest qualifier. Both cars wiggled coming off turn four toward the checkered with Darnell getting to the stripe in third by a half car length. Menard would settle for fourth and Jeff Kendall would complete the top five.
Allen Check, who had started the race in the 18th spot, had quietly worked forward throughout the contest reaching sixth by the checkered. Gajewski completed his strong run in seventh. Multi-time Marshfield Speedway champion Rory Melbinger nabbed eighth followed by Lepak and Jason Weinkauf in the top ten.
18 of the 23 starters were still running at the finish.
Earlier in the day a pair of qualifying races would determine the balance of the feature’s starting grid. In the first 25 lap contest, Blake Horstman would out sprint regular Marshfield Speedway runner John Totzke Jr. for the win. Don Turner would edge Waukon, Iowa native Ken Reiser for the final transfer spot by taking third.
The race was marred by a multi-car tangle early on which dashed the hopes of Terry Baldry who had won the most recent WCS race at Marshfield last fall. The accident also eliminated Pete Kempf and Keith Bohmsach whose car suffered extensive damage in the shunt.
The second qualifying race was Allen Check working to the front followed by Dexter Bean who had captured the most recent WCS contest at Dells Motor Speedway two weeks ago. Jeremy Miller of Roscoe, IL would claim the final transfer spot ahead of local favorite Dean LaPointe.
The series will now head to Golden Sands Speedway for a Friday evening contest on July 29th. A solid turnout of cars are expected to be on hand as the point chase begins to come into focus. The high-banked third mile oval is located between Wisconsin Rapids and Plover, Wisconsin on Highway 54.
The final event of the 2005 Wisconsin Challenge Series season will see a return trip to Marshfield Super Speedway on Saturday Night, September 10th.
The snowmobile engine powered Wisconsin Sport Trucks will also be on hand with a full program, and 1-Man Cruiser racing action will conclude the evening’s show.
Additional Wisconsin Challenge Series information can be found at www.wisconsinchallenge.com or by calling (920) 731-6804.
Thomas Electric / Earth Inc. Marshfield 80 – July 16, 2005
80 Lap Feature: 1.) Nathan Haseleu, Marshall; 2.) Ryan Mathews, Lake Geneva; 3.) Erik Darnell, Beach Park, IL; 4.) Charlie Menard, Eau Claire; 5.) Jeff Kendall, Montello; 6.) Allen Check, Rosholt; 7.) M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 8.) Rory Melbinger, Marshfield; 9.) Jeremy Lepak, Wausau; 10.) Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 11.) Andy Monday, Appleton; 12.) Jeremy Miller, Loves Park, IL; 13.) Adam Royle, Farmington, MIN; 14.) Chris Weinkauf, Merrill; 15.) Blake Horstman, Bangor; 16.) Frank Kreyer, Pardeeville; 17.) Dexter Bean, Westby; 18.) Don Turner, LaCrosse; 19.) Mark Eswein, Wisconsin Rapids; 20.) John Zimmermann, Markesan; 21.) Jeff Weinfurter, Wisconsin Rapids; 22.) John Totzke Jr., Wisconsin Rapids; 23.) Greg Back, Vesper.
First 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Horstman; 2.) Totzke; 3.) Turner; 4.) Ken Reiser, Waukon, IA; 5.) Burton Brown, Fremont; 6.) Tim Hintz, Nekoosa; 7.) Terry Baldry, Omro; 8.) Eric Wisz, Mosinee; 9.) Kurt Guralski, Wausau; 10.) Kevin Tunks, Edgerton;
Second 30 Lap Qualifier: 1.) Check; 2.) Bean; 3.) Miller; 4.) Dean Lapointe, Marshfield; 5.) Brad Wildes, Tomah; 6.) Brandon Selle, Dale; 7.) Elliott Weiler, Marshfield; 8.) John Zimmerman, Markesan; 9.) Jim Sauter Jr., Tomah; 10.) Cal Harrell, Harrison
A strong showing of 24 CWMSA 4-Cylinders came to compete for the top honors. Derk Hauser grabbed the fastest qualifying lap, his first ever. 16 cars started the feature race with Curt Luedtke and Clinton Metzler earning their starting spots by finishing first and second in the semi-feature. Just over half of the 15 lap feature was led by Kevin Eckes. Eckes took the lead from his pole position start. Paul Berg started outside the third row and steadily passed cars and then took the lead from Eckes on lap nine. JJ Flick also running very strong, started mid-pack and moved up to take second from Eckes on lap ten. Keith Wirtz made his first trip to the speedway, qualified second and raced his way into the top five by lap ten. Berg continued to lead the field as Wirtz passed for fourth and then third. Steve Stewart also started to pick up positions with only a few laps remaining. Berg took home the checkers with Flick second, Wirtz third, Stewart fourth and Eckes fifth.
Tim Dickman led a couple of 1-Man Cruiser feature laps, then Dave Knauf led a few. Then it was Dickman again until Troy Engman came through the pack to take the lead. Engman won, Knauf second, Dickman third, point leader Cody Meyer fourth and Wayne Dietz fifth.
Next Saturday, July 23rd is The Bill Sherman Memorial sponsored by The Dental Clinic of Marshfield and WDEZ. 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, Motorcycles 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).
Everyone 16 yrs and older may sign up FREE every race night to win the 2005 Ford Mustang Pace Car!
Be sure to vote in the Race Fan Contest where each fan will vote for the driver they came to watch race. The driver that earns the most votes will get two FREE pit passes for the next week. Plus for every 20 votes a drivers gets he will receive a coupon for “Buy 1 grandstand ticket Get 1 FREE,” to give out to fans. Come out and support your favorite race car driver!
The first five laps of the CarQuest Super Late Model feature were led by John Totzke Jr. Jeff Weinfurter then took the lead as point leader Ben Pettis worked his way to the front of the field and began to chase him down on lap 12. Blake Horstman, Chris