Photos by Dan Lewis Photography – www.danlewisphoto.net
By Tom Wagner
(Sturgeon Bay, WI – 7/6/2013) – Over 20 years of racing experience paid off in a big way for defending IMCA Northern Sport Mod champ Bernie Reinhardt, as the Sturgeon Bay veteran raced to his second feature win of the season Saturday night at the Thunderhill Raceway in Sturgeon Bay.
Joining Reinhardt in victory lane on the night were Benji LaCrosse in the IMCA Modifieds, Shawn Havel in the IMCA Stock Cars, Billy LeMieux in the Street Stocks and Dave Schmidt in the IMCA Hobby Stocks.
The Sport Mods were in the spotlight Saturday, an evening dedicated to the memory of racer John Soukup. Soukup’s number “99″ was prominent on the night; both on the track and at the pay window, as the Sport Mod field was gunning for a top prize of $1,099.
Josh Massart led the headliner through a series of cautions over the course of the first 14 laps. Reinhardt was able to work the high line and secure the top spot on the 15th lap. He edged away to what appeared to be a comfortable cushion on second place running Jarred VanLaanen, but a caution set the stage for some late drama with five laps to go.
In his first start of the year, Jesse Kroll had been a force from the outside line all feature long. From the third starting spot on the restart, he was able to shoot past Reinhardt for the lead. But before the lap could be counted, another caution flew and Kroll was relegated back to third. Tipped off to Kroll’s dominance on the outside, Reinhardt was able to adjust his line enough on the second late restart to break his challenger’s momentum, allowing him to secure the top spot for good and pull away to the win – and the thousand dollar payoff.
In the Modifieds, Dan Ratajczak was shooting for his fourth win in a row, and wasted little time taking charge. He popped from his second row starting spot to take the lead on the first lap, with LaCrosse moving into second two laps later.
For the next 14 laps, it was a high speed chess match; LaCrosse trying to edge inside with Ratajczak refusing to budge. With time running out, LaCrosse changed tactics, going to work on the high side of the leader. The move paid off, and the 2007 champ was able to make the pass en route to his first Thunderhill win of the season.
Bret Koehler had used an outside move to pass Jeremy Anschutz on the ninth lap of the IMCA Stock Car feature, only to become a victim of a similar play by Havel in the closing stages of the division’s main.
Havel was put in position by a restart with five laps to go. He powered to the outside of second place Jaime Suchocki, and continued on past Koehler to record his second feature win of the season.
In the early going, first place wasn’t the best place to be in the Street Stock feature as both John Denil, Jr and Mike Sargent spun while out front. Sargent’s misfortune on the sixth lap allowed LeMieux to take control and cruise to his second straight win in the division.
Point leader Keith Kickbusch gave chase, but couldn’t get close enough to mount a serious challenge.
In the Hobby Stocks, pole sitter Justin Hartel suffered a flat tire as the field took the initial green, setting off a wild scramble as the tight pack of cars swerved around him. Schmidt was the first to break into the clear, taking the lead on the first lap.
While he wasn’t able to totally escape, a race-long battle for second between Joe Hegnet, Scott Boulanger and Derek Moede occupied the trio long enough to prevent any of them from moving in on Schmidt.
Hegnet lost and then regained the runner-up spot on the final lap as Schmidt took the checker for his first win of the year.
Saturday night, the Street Stocks will be in the spotlight with driver introductions, hosted by Jim Olson Motors of Sturgeon Bay.
Thunderhill Raceway is located at the John Miles Fair Park on Sturgeon Bay’s east side, with racing in five divisions beginning every Saturday night through the summer at 6:00 PM. For more information, visit the track’s website at www.racethunderhill.com.
Thunderhill Raceway Results 7/6/2013
LaVines’s Ice IMCA Northern Sport Mod 25 Lap Feature – Bernie Reinhardt, Sturgeon Bay; Jarred VanLaanen, Green Bay; Randy LeMieux, Jr, Sturgeon Bay; Jesse Kroll, Forestville; Josh Massart, Brussels; Chad Vetting, Valders
Heat 1 – Massart; Ryan LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay
Heat 2 – Jacob Zellner, New Franken; VanLaanen
Heat 3 – Vetting; Kroll
Kelsey Racing IMCA Modified 20 Lap Feature – Benji LaCrosse, Green Bay; Dan Ratajczak, Frog Station: Todd Dart, Algoma; Eugene Gregorich, Kewaunee; Greg Gretz, Kewaunee; Billy LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay
Heat 1 – Gretz;: LeMieux
Bull Pen IMCA Stock Car 20 Lap Feature – Shawn Havel, Algoma; Dave Bouche, Algoma; Jaime Suchocki, Forestville; Jeremy Anschutz, Sturgeon Bay; Bret Koehler, Two Rivers; Charlie Kroll, Forestville
Heat 1 – Troy Muench, Namur
Heat 2 – John Anschutz, Brussels: Jeremy Anschutz
Heat 3 – Dan Sell, Suring, Suchocki
Showcase Kitchens Street Stock 15 Lap Feature – Billy LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Keith Kickbusch, Kewaunee; Kevin Luedtke, Sturgeon Bay; Von Eytcheson, Brussels; Jeremy Dubois, Sturgeon Bay; Mike Sargent, Sturgeon Bay
Heat 1 – LeMieux; Luedtke
Heat 2 – Kickbusch; Debois
Lackie Rental IMCA Hobby Stock 15 Lap Feature – Dave Schmidt, Casco; Joe Hegnet, Sturgeon Bay; Derek Moede, Casco; Scott Boulanger, Luxemburg; Travis Hackett, Algoma; Amber Weidner, East Maplewood
Heat 1 – Boulanger; Hegnet
Heat 2 – C.J. Weckler, Sturgeon Bay; Moede