By Jeffrey Sachse
September 2, 2012; Francis Creek, WI – When the 2012 racing season concludes for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series the name Bill Balog will be heading up many of the statistical lists. One list that's already been topped is the win column for the 2012 season where Balog has now racked up an impressive 15 victories in A-main contests by topping Sunday Nights main event at the third-mile 141 Speedway bullring located in Francis Creek, Wisconsin. His career win total has in IRA action has reached 42, second only to sprint car legend Joe Roe who had amassed 61 wins. While Roe's all-time win total will withstand Balog's assault on the record books this season, Roe's record setting streak of four consecutive IRA titles is in jeopardy as Balog is closing in on his fifth consecutive series title.
A solid late season showing of 30 Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints turned out for competition at the 141 Speedway for what turned out to be an action packed program.
The 22 car starting grid would present themselves for the green flag complete with pyrotechnic displays during the 4-wide salute.
Once the green flag was dropped the fireworks were provided by the drivers slinging their 900 horsepower machines around the oval turning sub 12 second laps. 2011 Wilmot Raceway champion Tommy Sexton who earlier in the night dominated his heat race shot off his pole starting berth to set the pace early in the contest.
Steve Meyer had started to his outside came under immediate pressure from Mike Reinke and Scott Neitzel at they attempted to wrestle away the runner-up position. Balog would follow the group in the fifth spot during the opening laps. Meyer had attempted to use the high line around the 141 Speedway oval, but the groove didn't agree with his machine and he soon dropped several positions allowing Neitzel to scramble into the second spot.
Sexton would hold precariously to the lead rim riding the raceway while Neitzel worked the bottom of the track, on several occasions Neitzel managed to draw even with Sexton. As lapped traffic began to come into play Sexton shot back ahead but the runner-up spot became hotly contested with Balog joining the battle with Reinke and Neitzel for the second position.
Reinke would briefly take over the second spot after powering around the outside on Neitzel on lap six but Balog would take over the position on lap nine.
Sexton still opting for the high side opened up the bottom of the raceway giving Balog a shot at taking the lead. Heading into turn one on lap ten Balog shot to the inside of Sexton. Drawing even down the backstretch Balog gained the advantage heading into turn three. Balog would officially take over the top spot on lap eleven with the field having to chase this #17b machine the remaining distance.
The battle for second would prove to be the focus of attention. The battle between Reinke and Neitzel would be epic as the pair swapped positions back and forth while reeling in Sexton who found himself under heavy pressure for the second spot. Reinke was just about to overtake Sexton for the position when the lone caution of the contest appeared when Meyer did a 360 degree spin on lap 21.
The field would close up on Balog's rear nerf bar but three lapped machines separated him from Sexton in second.
As the green flag waved Balog was quick to extend his lead over Sexton while Neitzel began to show his speed. With three laps to go in the contest Neitzel would sail past Sexton for the second spot but in the distance to the checkered he was only able to take off a small margin of Balog's lead.
Balog would reach the line eight car lengths ahead of Neitzel. Reinke caught Sexton for the third spot with a pair of laps left to go in the contest. Mike Kertscher who was victorious in the series last appearance at 141 Speedway during Memorial Day weekend also managed to work by a fading Sexton to reach fourth. Sexton managed to hold onto the final top five position.
The state of Illinois would represent the next two position with Jim Moughan and Jordan Goldsberry claiming sixth and seventh respectively. Leading series rookie Robbie Pribnow capped off a very successful weekend taking eighth after earning his first career podium finish two days earlier at Plymouth Dirt Track. Kurt Davis making a rare IRA appearance advanced the most positions in the main event charging for a 20th place starting spot to reach ninth. A four car tangle among lead lap cars occurred in the final turn with that involved the machines of Bill Warren, Kris Spitz, Bill Wirth and Scott Young. Warren was officially credited with tenth position. 21 cars were on the racing surface when the checkered flag fell.
In earlier action the B-main proved to be the downfall of Todd King. Luck was simply not in King's corner this weekend. After leading much of the main event two days earlier at Plymouth where he would spin while running second. He seemed to rebound tonight turning in the fastest qualifying lap with an 11.257 second trip around the raceway. In the heat race however he was unable to reach the transfer position thereby having to run the B-main. Things seemed to be back on track with King leading the event when suddenly he slipped from the racing groove before tagging the turn one wall and beginning a series of flips which took down the safety fencing and several retaining posts. He was unhurt in the accident which severely damaged his machine and resulted in a red flag for 20 minutes to repair the fencing.
Goldsberry who inherited the top spot would pace the remaining distance followed by Warren, Scott Uttech, Ken Jay Fiedler and Davis who completed the top five.
Heat race victories would go to Sexton, Phillip Mock and Reinke.
The series wraps up its final double-header weekend of the year this coming week 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 30 Laps: 1.) Bill Balog; 2.) Scott Neitzel; 3.) Mike Reinke; 4.) Mike Kertscher; 5.) Tommy Sexton; 6.) Jim Moughan; 7.) Jordan Goldsberry; 8.) Robbie Pribnow; 9.) Kurt Davis; 10.) Bill Warren; 11.) Scott Young; 12.) Kris Spitz; 13.) Bill Wirth; 14.) Phillip Mock; 15.) Russell Borland; 16.) Scott Uttech; 17.) Steve Meyer; 18.) Darrell Dodd; 19.) Ken Jay Fiedler; 20.) Michael Decker; 21.) Brandon Thone; 22.) Wayne Modjeski
B-Main: 15 Laps: 1.) Goldsberry; 2.) Warren; 3.) Uttech; 4.) Fiedler; 5.) Davis; 6.) Decker; 7.) Dodd; 8.) Johnny Fahl; 9.) Allen Hafford; 10.) Paul Pokorski
First Heat: 1.) Sexton; 2.) Borland; 3.) Balog; 4.) Neitzel
Second Heat: 1.) Mock; 2.) Spitz; 3.) Kertscher; 4.) Pribnow
Third Heat: 1.) Reinke; 2.) Young; 3.) Meyer; 4.) Moughan
Qualifying (Top 10): 1.) Todd King, 12.257 Seconds; 2.) Wirth, 11.312; 3.) Moughan, 11.453 secs; 4.) Balog, 11.471; 5.) Kertscher, 11.552; 6.) Reinke, 11.597; 7.) Neitzel, 11.680; 8.) Warren, 11.705; 9.) Meyer, 11.717; 10.) Sexton, 11.730