By Jeffrey Sachse
August 31, 2012; Plymouth, WI
– The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series is headed into its home stretch as the final month of a very successful 2012 racing season is set to take place. Heading to the Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairpark four-time and defending series champion Bill Balog had been on a tear with back to back victories in the prior two events. On Friday evening Balog would make a pass of Mike King in the closing stages of the 30 lap main event and then survive a late race caution to bump his win streak to three and raise his season win total to 14.
While it's not set in stone Balog is on pace to capture his fifth consecutive Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint series title and if he were to do so he would break a tie of consecutive championships that he currently holds with IRA Sprint series legend Joe Roe. Balog is also in the running to earn the highest number of feature wins nationwide as his 14 victories trails only United Sprint Car Series standout Tim Crawley who has earned 16 wins so far in 2012 as the national victory leader in Winged Sprint car action.
26 drivers would check in for action on the tight third-mile clay oval and the show run during the Sheboygan County Fair would see a solid turnout of fans witness the racing action.
On an immaculately groomed racing surface a field of 22 cars would take the green flag for the 30 lap feature contest which began after a unique driver introductory where fans got to see their favorite driver's trackside before they strapped themselves into their 900 horsepower machines.
Front row starters Dave Uttech and local hotshoe Todd King who resides in nearly Sheboygan Falls set the pace in the early going with King gaining the upper hand on the opening lap. While King set the pace, Uttech, 2011 Wilmot Raceway champion Tommy Sexton, current IRA Rookie point leader Robbie Pribnow, Bill Wirth and Steve Meyer began to mix it up in the lead group.
Balog, starting the contest in the ninth position next to the evening fast qualifier Mike Kertscher began to pick off cars as he started his charge toward the front.
King meanwhile was setting a blistering pace around the third-mile clay oval having built a solid lead by the halfway point of the event. As if often the case Balog began to make his presence known during the final half of the contest working his way into the second spot before moving in to challenge King for the lead with ten laps to go in the contest.
Balog was successful in taking over the lead position from King who remained within striking distance as the laps began to wind down. King saw his strong performance go awry when he looped his machine while running second with three laps to go in the contest bringing out the only yellow flag of the event. King would retire for the race officially credited with 21st place.
On the restart Balog would hold solid to the top spot while Uttech and Pribnow fought tooth and nail for the runner-up honors. Balog would go on to win the contest unhindered while Pribnow would work into the second position which he would hold to the finish. Though a rookie in 410 sprint action with the Bumper to Bumper IRA series he has a vast knowledge of the Plymouth oval having won the most feature races at the track during the 2007 season while running with the MSA 360 sprints. His runner-up performance tonight was his best career run in IRA competition. Uttech who stayed in the thick of the battle throughout the evening was rewarded with a well-deserved third place finish.
Sexton would come home in fourth just ahead of Mike Reinke who completed the top five finishers. Reinke who remains Balog's closest rival in the title chase has scored an amazing 21 top ten finishes in the 22 events contested so far this season.
Russel Borland turned in another strong performance to finish sixth just ahead of the evening fast qualifier Kertscher. Scott Neitzel, Bill Warren and Jordan Goldsberry completed the top ten finishers.
In earlier action Dave Uttech would take top honors in the B-main but would be unable to transfer into the main event when he suffered engine problems as the cars were pushing off for the main event. Warren, Michael Decker, Phillip Mock and Wayne Modjeski completed the top five runner in the B-feature.
Heat race victories were captured by Kertscher, Balog and Neitzel.
Kertscher's fastest qualifying lap of 11.931 seconds would prove to be the only sub 12 second qualifying lap of the evening. Balog time of 12.089 seconds was second quick of the evening just ahead of Neitzel whose 12.270 second effort was good for third quick.
The series now heads to 141 Speedway for a show on Sunday evening September 2nd. The event marks the third and final appearance of the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series at the track this season. Balog and Kertscher have split victories in the other two appearances at the tight third-mile clay oval this season.
In addition to the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints the 1200cc WIMSA Mini Sprints will be on hand for their first ever visit to the track. Also joining the show will be the tracks own Street Stock and 4 cylinder divisions.
Hot laps begin at 6 p.m. with IRA qualifying and racing to follow. For more information check www.141speedway.com
The following week the series wraps up its final double-header weekend of the year in northern Wisconsin. On Friday Night September 7th the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints will make an appearance at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wisconsin and on the following evening the weekend wraps up with a stop at Cedar Lake Speedway for the Reichert Memorial on Saturday September 8th.
For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/irasprints and the series is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ira_sprints
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 [email protected]
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 30 Laps: 1.) Bill Balog; 2.) Robbie Pribnow; 3.) Scott Uttech; 4.) Tommy Sexton; 5.) Mike Reinke; 6.) Russel Borland; 7.) Mike Kertscher; 8.) Scott Neitzel; 9.) Bill Warren; 10.) Jordan Goldsberry; 11.) Bill Wirth; 12.) Jim Melis; 13.) Phillip Mock; 14.) Steve Meyer; 15.) Kris Spitz; 16.) Ken Jay Feidler; 17.) Wayne Modjeski; 18.) Michael Decker; 19.) Jereme Schroeder; 20.) Brandon Thone; 21.) Todd King; 22.) Darrell Dodd
B-Main: 1.) Dave Uttech; 2.) Warren; 3.) Decker; 4.) Mock; 5.) Modjeski; 6.) Thone; 7.) Fiedler; 8.) Schroeder; 9.) Josh Walter; 10.) Dennis Spitz
First Heat: 1.) Kertscher; 2.) S. Uttech; 3.) K. Spitz; 4.) Reinke
Second Heat: 1.) Balog; 2.) Sexton; 3.) Goldsberry; 4.) Meyer
Third Heat: 1.) Neitzel; 2.) Borland; 3.) Pribnow; 4.) Dodd
Qualifying (Top 10): 1.) Kertscher, 11.931 Seconds; 2.) Balog, 12.089 secs; 3.) Neitzel, 12.270 secs; 4.) Reinke, 12.311; 5.) Meyer, 12.360; 6.) Pribnow, 12.446; 7.) Wirth, 12.505; 8.) Sexton; 12.512; 9.) D. Uttech 12.535; 10.) Decker 12.612