BY MICHAEL H. BABICZ
-BALOG, HEINERT, MERTES, BALK TOP FRIDAY KENOSHA COUNTY FAIR MAINS-
(Wilmot, Wisconsin, Friday, August 18, 2017)–Hartford’s Bill Balog took the 30-lap Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association(IRA) Winged Outlaw Sprint Car Series feature win on Friday, August 18 at Wilmot Raceway.
Balog’s eighth IRA feature win of the season marked the second consecutive year the 7-time IRA champion and current pointleader won the Raymond Neeve Memorial portion of the IRA Founders Night highlighting the Friday oval trackl action at the Kenosha County Fair.
“It’s very special to win this IRA Founders Night event along with the Raymond Neeve Memorial,” said Balog in victory lane as he received the traveling Founders Trophy sponsored by Southeastern Wisconsin Short Track Racing Hall of Fame which was presented by Gib Wiser and Joe Roe, both Hall of Fame inductees.. “Remembering the people who started the IRA (Ray Toft, Whitey Harris and the late Junior Dodd) makes this very special.”
“My crew did a great job setting up the car which performed great,” said Balog, who pulled into victory lane with a left-front tire going flat. “I didn’t even notice it going down.”
“The car ran super and it was a great battle,” said second place finisher Blake Nimee of Oswego, Illinois. “I’m very pleased with how well the car ran.”
“That was fun,” said third place finisher Jake Blackhurst of Hanna City, IL who took the final podium spot in a four-way battle coming for the checkered flag. “My dad and entire family and crew gave me a great car to drive and it performed super.”
Joe B. Miller of Millerville, Missouri took the initial lead ahead of the 24-car field. Successive cautions on lap four and the subsequent restart kept the field within striking distance of Miller with Blackhurst and Scotty Thiel of Sheboygan in the top three. Balog, who had started tenth originally, was slowly working his way up.
A caution on lap 12 for a three-car tangle in turn four saw Thiel give up his third place spot by pitting, then restarting at the rear. Balog shot to the inside coming out of turn four overtaking Miller just after the green reappeared on lap 13. The pace was slowed two more times, with 10 laps and 5 laps remaining, with Balog able to pull away each time and eventually scoring the victory by nearly a straightaway.
Behind Nimee in second and Blackhurst in third were Jordan Goldesberry of Springfield, Illinois fourth and Matt Vandervere of Zion, Illinois fifth.
Miller faded to sixth, Todd Daun of Pleasant Prairie was seventh, Scotty Nietzel of Beaver Dam eighth, Dave Uttech of Kenosha ninth and Bill Wirth of Cudahy completed the top ten.
“Having my dad here with me again, he and my whole crew has done an awesome job setting up the car,” said Waukesha’s Mark Heinert, admitting the car was running a little hot toward the finish. “Last time I didn’t slide the wing forward during the caution, but this time during the red I did and it worked.”
For Heinert, the win marked the WIMS pointleader’s second consecutive Wilmot 20-lap feature win in a row and fourth of the season.
John Kirk of Johnsburg, Illinois jumped out in front at the start of the main, maintaining it through the first half of the main. Heinert and Kirk exchanged the lead several times as the two battled side by side slicing through lapped traffic With five laps remaining the first caution came out with Heinert shooting in front on the outside going into turn one on the restart. Kirk broke a front wheel off in turn two resulting in his car flipping. Kirk was uninjured but eliminated from the event.
Heinert was followed at the checkered by Nick Daywalt of Hubertus who finished second despite having a flat left-front tire the final five laps. Kenosha’s Mike Neau took third, Hartford’s Kyle Daywalt fourth and C.J. Malueg of Johnsburg, Illinois fifth.
“This is awesome, winning on Fair Night,” said Brandon Mertes of Antioch, Illinois after winning just his second 20-lap street stock feature of his career, two weeks after his initial win in his seventh season of racing. “My dad, all of my sponsors, family, everybody has been so supportive. The car was running a little warm which is why there was a little smoke, but it’s great to get the win.”
A three-car tangle five laps into the feature involving two of the top five cars, Kenosha’s Blake Kreuser and Pat Rossmann of Wadsworth, Illinois brought out the race’s first caution. Mertes moved up to second from his original eighth starting position behind early leader Cody Erickson of Algonquin, Illinois on the restart.
After the restart the two battled for three laps with Mertes shooting to the inside to take the top spot. A yellow came three laps from the finish with a three-way battle up front with Mertes leading, Mark Baker of Big Bend second and Erickson third.
One final caution flew one lap later setting up a green-white-checkered finish with the same trio in contention for the victory. At the finish it was Mertes followed by Erickson in second. Rossmann, four-time champion and pointleader, recovered from his earlier restart at the back of the field to take third edging out M. Baker who was fourth with Silver Lake’s Gerry Stollenwerk fifth.
“This is my brother(Jay Orr)’s back up and enduro car, which I took the motor out of mine that I flipped here and totaled,” said Jake Balk of South Milwaukee who became the third different 15-lap Bandit 4-Cylinder Stock Car feature winner of the season. “Courtney (Atkinson) is a good driver and to beat her means a lot.”
The initial attempt to start the Bandit feature was red flagged when Orr of South Milwaukee and Jordan Paulsen of Trevor crashed into the backstretch wall in two different spots. Paulsen’s collision knocked two of the cement barriers over necessitating repositioning repairs by the track and fair crew. Neither driver was injured with both cars eliminated.
After the restart, Atkinson kept the lead through the only caution with 10 laps remaining which erased a considerable lead for the defending champion and pointleader.
Balk worked his way to the inside to overtake Atkinson on lap 8, going on to his second career win at Wilmot. Atkinson finished second for the third time this season, which is where she ended up when she was not winning the four other Wilmot starts. Scott Quarnstrom of Lake Villa, Illinois was third. Mt. Pleasant’s David McKellips took fourth. A.J. Izzo of Capron, Illinois rounded out the top five.
Day two for Kenosha County Fair races at Wilmot Raceway on Saturday, August 19 features Carriage Auto Body of Waukegan presents the Roger Iles Tribute for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints plus the Wisconsin WingLess Sprints and the modifieds.
Grandstands open at 5:00 p.m. with on track activity slated for 6:00 p.m. and racing to follow around 7:00 p.m. Grandstand admission is $5.00 for ages 12 and older with everyone ages 11 and under admitted free, in addition to the regular fair admission.
Wilmot Raceway is located on the Kenosha County Fairgrounds. For updates phone the trackside raceline 262-862-2090 or check the Raceway’s website www.wilmotraceway.com or the official Raceway Facebook page.
SUMMARY – WILMOT RACEWAY, WILMOT, WISCONSIN – FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017 – KENOSHA COUNTY FAIR NIGHT ONE
BUMPER TO BUMPER INTERSTATE RACING ASSOCIATION(IRA) OUTLAW WINGED SPRINTS SERIES:
2ND ANNUAL RAYMOND NEEVE MEMORIAL/4TH ANNUAL IRA FOUNDERS NIGHT 30-LAP FEATURE: 1. Bill Balog, Hartford; .2. Blake Nimee, Oswego, IL; 3. Jake Blackhurst, Hanna City, IL; 4. Jordan Goldesberry, Springfield, IL; 5. Matt Vandervere, Zion, IL; 6. Joe B. Miller, Millersville, MO; 7. Todd Daun, Pleasant Prairie; 8. Scotty Nietzel, Beaver Dam; 9. Dave Uttech, Kenosha; 10. Bill Wirth, Cudahy; 11. Kyle Marten, Sheboygan Falls; 12. Wayne Modjeski, Oak Creek; 13. Scotty Thiel, Sheboygan; 14. Phillip Mock, Pleasant Prairie; 15. Raymond Hensley, Trevor; 16. Jereme Schroeder, Lake Villa; 17. Scott Uttech, New Berlin; 18. Johnny Fahl, Brown Deer; 19. Kris Spitz, Salem; 20. Jeremy Schultz, Beaver Dam; 21. Kevin Eltz, Lake Zuirch, IL; 22. Brian Kristan, Zion, IL; 23. Chris Dodd, Trevor; 24. Russell Borland, Kewaskum.
15-LAP “B” MAIN: 1. Hensley; 2. Dodd; 3. Borland; 4. Modjeski; 5. Fahl; 6. Schroeder; 7. Rick Kelsey, Waukesha; 8. Austin Deblauw, McHenry, IL; 9. Dennis Spitz, Lewisburg, KY; 10. Andy Rein, Kewaskum; 11. Keith Fellner, Racine; 12. Mike Kertscher, Fillmore; 13. Mike Decker, Silver Lake.
10-LAP HEAT WINNERS: Mock; Thiel; Marten.
FAST QUALIFIER: Balog(:12.673 seconds).
WISCONSIN-ILLINOIS MINI-SPRINTS PRESENTED BY THE IRA: 20-LAP FEATURE: 1. Mark Heinert, Waukesha; 2. Nick Daywalt, Hubertus; 3. Mike Neau, Kenosha; 4. Kyle Daywalt, Hartford; 5. C.J. Malueg, Johnsburg, IL; 6. Derek Fortier, Racine; 7. Randy Stanford, Kenosha; 8. Adam Schroeder, Zion, IL; 9. Tim Brannam, Holiday Hills, IL; 10. Jeff Schmidt, Slinger; 11. Kevin Frederickson, Milwaukee; 12. Ran Brannam, Barrington, IL; 13. Todd Booker, Woodstock, IL; 14. John Kirk, Johnsburg; 15. Kurt Brown, Brookfield; 16. Michael Unger, Milwaukee; 17. Nick Sheridan, Fox Lake, IL; 18. Ian Stear, Harvard, IL; 19. Ron Curasi, Hartford; 20. Darren Ihrke, Hebron, IL; 21. Morgan Sheppard, Genoa City(Did Not Start).
8-LAP HEAT WINNERS: Schroeder; Kirk; Stear.
FAST QUALIFIER: Heinert(:14.712 seconds).
STREET STOCKS: 20-LAP FEATURE: 1. Brandon Mertes, Antioch, IL; 2. Cody Erickson, Algonquin, IL; 3. Pat Rossmann, Wadsworth, IL; 4. Mark Baker, Big Bend; 5. Gerry Stollenwerk, Silver Lake; 6. Jim Vandervere, Gurnee, IL; 7. Nate Coon, Hebron, IL; 8. Ian Malinowski, Franklin; 9. Josh Gehrig, Pleasant Prairie; 10. Blake Kreuser, Kenosha; 11. Joey Marcomb, Antioch; 12. Jeny Swiercz, McHenry, IL; 13. Chloe Baker, Milwaukee; 14. Dustin Kroenig, Hebron, IL; 15. Jason Jones, North Chicago, IL; 16. James Jaime, Bristol; 17. David Jones, North Chicago; 18. Carl Sturt, Wadsworth; 19. Tim Christenson, Winthrop Harbor, IL.
8-LAP HEAT WINNERS: Kreuser; Erickson.
BANDIT 4-CYLINDER STOCK CARS: 15-LAP FEATURE: 1. Jake Balk, South Milwaukee; 2. Courtney Atkinson, Muskego; 3. Scott Quarnstrom, Lake Villa, IL; 4. David McKellips, Mt. Pleasant; 5. A.J. Izzo, Capron, IL; 6. Gary Mondus, Streamwood, IL; 7. Brandon Feit, Union Grove; 8. Steve Ellis, Pleasant Prairie; 9. John Cole, Palatine, IL; 10. Kevin Gentry, Pell Lake; 11. Bob Anderson, Antioch, IL; 12. Eric Kuenstler, Palatine; 13. Jacob Dallago, Antioch; 14. Robin Wachsmith, Williams Bay; 15. Brad Becker, Burlington; 16. Jay Orr, South Milwaukee; 17. Tony Barron, Milwaukee; 18. Jordan Paulsen, Trevor; 19. Chris Hall, Bassett(DNS); 20. Larry Gross, Wonder Lake, IL(DNS); Dale Ehleiter, Union Grove(DNS).
8-LAP HEAT WINNERS: McKellips; Orr.