By Jeffrey Sachse
St Croix, WI; July 27, 2012: The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints appeared for the first time at St. Croix Valley Raceway, marking the first time ever winged 410 sprints appeared at the track. Rebuilt on the grounds of the former Kopellah Speedway, the banked quarter-mile clay oval has seen major improvements over the past two years.
As such, it was a great opportunity for drivers to place their name in the record books, and the stars of the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints provided a spectacle of speed not previously seen at the raceway.
Bill Balog the evening’s fastest qualifier would place his name in the record books in two locations. First in qualifying he established a new all-time track record of 11.930 seconds, just edging out Mike Reinke’s 11.951 second effort for the honor. Balog then etched his name in the tracks record book as the first A-main winner scoring his 10th feature win of the season.
20 drivers would accept the green flag for the 30 lap A-main contest.
Polesitter Scott Neitzel fresh off a strong performance last Friday evening at the Dodge County Fairgrounds would blast off his pole position, outrunning fellow front row starter Phillip Mock. Balog who had started in the third position was quick to join the chase as Neitzel soared around the track.
The first caution of the contest appeared for a spin by top rookie driver Robbie Pribnow on lap 8. Under caution Mock would head to the work area to fix a cut tire leaving Balog to challenge Neitzel for the lead position.
Neitzel would again show the way until he jumped the cushion on lap 11 allowing Balog the opportunity to slip past taking the top spot. Moments later the caution appeared for a second time as visiting driver Jared Goerges looped his ride and the machines of Bill Wirth, Dave Uttech and Pribnow became involved. All were able to continue with the exception of Uttech who suffered suspension damage.
Underway again Balog would set the pace with Neitzel now seeking a way back to the lead.
On lap 16, Mike Kertscher would loop his ride resulting is the event’s third caution. Kertscher would spend the rest of the contest charging from the tail of the field thrilling the crowd with his run up to the seventh spot by the checkered flag.
Four more laps went in the books with Balog fending off the challenges of Neitzel for the top spot when the race was stopped for the lone flip of the evening.
Bill Warren suffered mechanical problems and would flip down the front stretch on lap 20. Warren would emerge from his battered machine unhurt but he was done for the evening.
The race resumed with Balog again having to defend his lead from Neitzel’s passing attempts. Balog would build a small cushion prior to the events final caution on lap 28 when the machines of Geroges and Andy Hunt tangled.
The showdown between Balog and Neitzel was not setup with a green, white, checkered finish. As the green flag flew Neitzel gave one last shot at taking the lead from Balog, but again, Balog was able to withstand the challenges of Neitzel to take the win. Neitzel would settle for second.
Russel Borland who has turned in several strong performances of late would drive from his eleventh place starting spot and used a combination of skill and speed to reach third place by the checkered flag giving the young charger his first career podium finish in the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series.
Darrell Dodd also turned in his strongest performance of the 2012 season. Dodd a former multi-time Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint Series champion with over 40 years of racing under his belt is running the full season with the series for the first time in several years. Dodd stayed among the top five all evening eventually finishing in the fourth position. Earlier in the night his sharp red, white and blue machine would flash under the checkered flag winning his heat race.
Other heat victories were captured by Neitzel and Kertscher.
Wayne Modjeski continued the evening’s theme of best personal finishes of 2012, when he turned in his best performance of the year taking fifth.
Kris Spitz would claim sixth place followed by Kertscher and Mock both of whom overcame difficulties during the race. Bill Wirth finished ninth and Michael Decker rounded out the top ten finishers.
Mike Reinke the chief rival to unseat Balog as the series champion had an unfortunate mechanical failure resulting in a 15th place finish.
The series now packs up and heads north for a showdown at ABC Raceway in Ashland, Wisconsin on Saturday Night, August 28th.
It will be the second ever visit to the three-eighth’s mile clay oval for the Bumper-to-Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series. The show will be presented by Wagner’s Shell and Arby’s, and will include the annual FastLane Motorsports Super Stock Challenge as well as the Raceway’s six-cylinder class.
Last year, four-time and defending series champion Bill Balog outran Scott Biertzer and Scotty Neitzel to put his name in the ABC Raceway record books as the first winner in 410 sprints at the track. Mike Reinke established the track record with the appearance of the series last year turning in a lap of 12.540 seconds.
Hot laps will start at 6:15 pm, followed by time trials for the sprints, while racing will follow at 7. “Race Night” will air on WBSZ, 93.3 FM, and online at www.wbszfm.com from 4:30-6 pm with live at-the-track news and weather updates. The ABC Raceway is located 3-1/2 miles south of Ashland on State Highway 13 and one mile west on Butterworth Road. For raceday information call (715) 682-4990.
The IRA Outlaw Sprint Series is proudly supported by Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, Osborn & Son Trucking, Goodyear, TW Metals, Cummins Onan, DNA Energy Drink& Snacks, MPT Industries, UltraLube, Big Game Treestands, Carriage Auto Body, Otis Gun, Mother's Polishes and Waxes and Polaris DEFENSE. The office of the IRA Sprints can be reached at 815-759-9269 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 1.) Bill Balog; 2.) Scott Neitzel; 3.) Russel Borland; 4.) Darrell Dodd; 5.) Wayne Modjeski; 6.) Kris Spitz; 7.) Mike Kertscher; 8.) Phillip Mock; 9.) Bill Wirth; 10.) Michael Decker; 11.) Dennis Spitz; 12.) Chad Tessman; 13.) Andy Hunt; 14.) Jared Goerges; 15.) Mike Reinke; 16.) Bill Warren; 17.) Robbie Pribnow; 18.) Dave Uttech; 19.) John Sernett; 20.) Brandon Thone
Heat 1: 1.) Neitzel; 2.) Wirth; 3.) Balog; 4.) Borland
Heat 2: 1.) Dodd; 2.) Reinke; 3.) K. Spitz
Heat 3: 1.) Kertscher; 2.) Sernett; 3.) Mock
Qualifying: (Top 10) 1.) Balog, 11.930 Seconds ( New Track Record ); 2.) Reinke, 11.951 secs; 3.) Mock 12.091 secs; 4.) Neitzel, 12.276; 5.) Warren, 12.381; 6.) Kertscher, 12.400; 7.) Georges, 12.534; 8.) K. Spitz, 12.641; 9.) Uttech, 12.663; 10.) Borland 12.670