Kertscher Captures Win Number Four In Season Ending Dick Witt Memorial Race Balog Earns Record Setting Fifth Straight Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Title
By Jeffrey Sachse
September 29, 2012; Beaver Dam, WI – When one looks back at the history books from the 2012 season, it will be remembered as a very successful year with well attended shows by both fans and competitors. The season consisted of 28 completed events on the 30 race Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series schedule. Only two races fell by the wayside due to weather. Ironically both those events were to have been held at Beaver Dam Raceway.
Tonight's Dick Witt Memorial race brought the curtain down on the 2012 season with the contest held at the Dodge County Fairgrounds. 29 Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series competitors were on hand to take on the challenges of the fast half-mile oval with the show being presented in front of a full grandstand.
The race also concluded a record setting year for Bill Balog who won an amazing 18 victories establishing a "modern era" single season win record for IRA Sprint cars in the process. Former IRA champion Bob Robel had won 25 events during one of his championship seasons when the IRA cars still carried the Super Modified moniker.
That dominating performance netted Balog his fifth consecutive series title establishing a streak for most consecutive championships. Heading into the year Balog had been tied with Joe Roe and Gib Wiser, each of whom had won four straight titles. Wiser posted championship seasons from 1982 through 1985, while Roe was champion from 1995 through 1998.
While the season title went to Balog, tonight's event belonged to Kertscher who chalked up his fourth win of the year in convincing fashion leading Balog to the checkered flag. Kertscher had taken over the lead from Scott Neitzel as the pair worked lapped traffic just past the halfway point. Once out front Kertscher was able to hold fast to the top spot until the checkered flag fell. Kertscher had also earlier won his heat race, it was the 12th win of the season giving Kertscher top honors in heat race wins during the year.
The race began with polesitter Scott Neitzel taking control of the lead at the drop of the green flag. Two laps were in the books when the red flag would fly for Travis Whitney who jumped the cushion and tagged the wall before making a quick flip. Whitney was unhurt in the incident but was forced to retire from the contest.
A couple more laps went into the books before Steve Meyer got upside down in turn three. Like Whitney, Meyer was able to walk away from the incident unhurt.
The race resumed with Neitzel again showing the way while Kertscher and Balog exchanged the second spot while attempting to run down Neitzel. Neitzel who had led all but the final lap of a feature race at Dodge County Fairgrounds earlier year was able to keep Kertscher behind him as he started approaching lapped traffic.
On lap 12 Kertscher was able to make a daring move in lapped traffic to take over the lead position. Balog followed into the runner-up spot dropping Neitzel to the third position.
The final slowdown of the evening would occur on lap 13 when Michael Decker spun coming off turn four tagging a water barrel in the infield.
The green returned and the final half of the contest would run without further interruption. Kertscher was able to fend off the challenges of Balog while working lapped cars during the final laps of the event to earn the win. The victory was Kertscher's 18th career win in Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint action placing him into a tie for eighth on the all-time win list with Scott Neitzel. Balog would finish with runner-up honors as he was unable to catch the hard charging Kertscher.
Neitzel reached the finish line in third giving the local driver a pair of podium finishes for the night. Earlier in the evening Neitzel captured top honors in the companion MSA 360 Sprint event. Tommy Sexton the 2011 Wilmot Raceway 410 Sprint champion turned in another solid effort to claim fourth. Rounding out the top five was Mike Reinke who managed to finish all but two feature races in the top ten this season. That remarkable consistency would net Reinke runner-up honors in the 2012 season standings.
Raymond Hensley who ran a limited schedule this year captured his first top ten performance of 2012 with a sixth place finish. Scott Young, Russel Borland, Bill Warren and Phillip Mock completed the top ten finishers.
Borland's effort this evening showed remarkable tenacity as he suffered and engine failure in hot laps. Borland was able to head to his race shop which was located nearby, change the motor and return to the track in time to start the B-main. He then came from the tail of the field to take the victory to transfer to the main event where he charged through the field from the tail of the pack moving up to eighth spot by the finish earning the evening's hard charger award in the process.
Rick Kelsey, Michael Decker and Robbie Pribnow who borrowed the car of Byron Walters finished second through fourth respectively in the B-main.
In addition to Kertscher, Steve Meyer and Raymond Hensley captured heat race victories.
Balog was fastest of the 29 drivers which checked into the pit area for the show turning in a lap of 16.650 seconds. Whitney was second quick with a 16.903 second effort and Kertscher posted the third quickest qualifying time with a lap of 16.910 seconds.
Balog will be honored as the 2012 champion at the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series banquet to be held at Great Wolf Lodge in Wisconsin Dells on Friday Night, December 14th. Awards and prizes will be distributed to all eligible drivers on that evening. Additional information on the banquet will be available shortly.
Balog had earned 4039 points on the season enroute to the championship. Reinke amassed 3747 markers to finish second overall and Neitzel earned 3493 points to finish third. Mock and Borland completed the top five point finishers.
The IRA Series is proud to announce the return of Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts as the title sponsor for the series through the 2015 season. The support of Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts helps make the IRA Sprints one of the nation's most successful sprint car series.
It is expected the 2013 season schedule will begin sometime in April with a formal announcement of the schedule to be posted at a later date.
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: 25 Laps: 1.) Mike Kertscher; 2.) Bill Balog; 3.) Scott Neitzel; 4.) Tommy Sexton; 5.) Mike Reinke; 6.) Raymond Hensley; 7.) Scott Young; 8.) Russel Borland; 9.) Bill Warren; 10.) Phillip Mock; 11.) Jim Moughan; 12.) Bill Wirth; 13.) Wayne Modjeski; 14.) Scott Uttech; 15.) Rick Kelsey; 16.) Dave Uttech; 17.) Allen Hafford; 18.) Brandon Thone; 19.) Michael Decker; 20.) Robbie Pribnow; 21.) Chad Tessman; 22.) Steve Meyer; 23.) Travis Whitney; 24.) Andy Hunt
B-Main: 1.) Borland; 2.) Kelsey; 3.) Decker; 4.) Pribnow; 5.) Hafford; 6.) Tessman; 7.) Kris Spitz; 8.) Dennis Spitz
First Heat: 1.) Meyer; 2.) Balog; 3.) Thone; 4.) Reinke
Second Heat: 1.) Hensley; 2.) S. Uttech; 3.) D. Uttech; 4.) Sexton
Third Heat: 1.) Kertscher; 2.) Warren; 3.) Moughan; 4.) Modjeski
Qualifying (Top 10): 1.) Balog, 16.650 Seconds; 2.) Whitney, 16.903 secs; 3.) Kertscher, 16.910; 4.) Neitzel, 17.012; 5.) Young, 17.058; 6.) Mock, 17.153; 7.) Reinke, 17.209; 8.) Sexton, 17.357; 9.) Moughan, 17.372; 10.) Meyer 17.446
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints: Final Top Twenty Standings:
1.) #17b Bill Balog, 4039 points; 2.) #02 Mike Reinke, 3737 pts; 3.) #2w Scott Neitzel, 3493 pts; 4.) #1m Phillip Mock, 3207; 5.) #23 Russel Borland, 3010; 6.) #80k Mike Kertscher, 2975; 7.) #4k Kris Spitz, 2867; 8.) #20r Robbie Pribnow, 2866; 9.) #53w Bill Wirth, 2835; 10.) # 7 Scott Uttech, 2718; 11.) #95 Bill Warren, 2590; 12.) #83 Tommy Sexton, 2545; 13.) #94 Brandon Thone, 2510; 14.) #41 Dennis Spitz, 2341; 15.) #68 Dave Uttech, 2300; 16.) #14aj Wayne Modjeski, 2174; 17.) # 12 Michael Decker, 1989; 18.) #11d Darrell Dodd, 1813; 19.) #19 Todd King, 1650; 20.) (tie) #71 Chad Tessman and #43 Jereme Schroeder, 1251.