Photos by Dan Lewis Photography – www.danlewisphoto.net
by Tom Wagner
(Sturgeon Bay, WI — 8/9/2014) Call them the Kings of the Hill; the two drivers with more feature wins than anyone else at the Thunderhill Raceway in Sturgeon Bay.
They are Todd Dart and Charlie Kroll, the only two drivers to hit the 50 win plateau at the Speedway since the track reopened in 1993. Saturday night, both of the veteran competitors added to their lofty feature win totals, taking top honors in the IMCA Modifieds and IMCA Stock Cars respectively.
The duo shared the spotlight on the night with fellow feature winners Chris Budzban in the IMCA Northern Sport Mods, Ed Anschutz in the Street Stocks and Dave Schmidt in the IMCA Hobby Stocks.
In the Modifieds, Dart put a virtual padlock on a potential 7th track championship; his first since 2008 with his 8th win of the season.
Two-time defending champ James Tebon had taken the lead from Tyler Hackett on the second lap. Dart patiently worked his way into second on the 10th lap, closing on Tebon two laps later. They raced side by side for two laps until Dart took command, pulling away to his 55th career feature win at the Hill.
Kroll’s 51st career Thunderhill win came at the expense of Craig Dorner who was looking for his first.
Dorner won a two lap duel with Scott Reinhardt on the fifth lap to take the lead in the IMCA Stock Car headliner. As Dorner moved past Reinhardt, Kroll followed him through into the second spot. With both drivers choosing the bottom groove, Kroll settled in behind the leader waiting for an opening.
Dorner left the door open just enough exiting the second turn on the 14th lap to give Kroll enough room to pull even. After a drag race down the backstretch, Kroll gained the edge through the corners to gain the point at the line.
By the time Dave Bouche passed Dorner for second, he had no chance of catching Kroll, who motored away to his first win of the season.
While he didn’t win the trophy on the night, Bouche was able to extend his point lead in the division by two more over second place Shawn Havel. Havel passed Reinhardt on the last lap for fourth in the feature, falling now 8 points behind Bouche in the title chase.
Sandwiched between the contenders was Dorner, who’s third place finish was his best ever at the track.
Like Bouche, Budzban was able to gain some ground on competitors in his quest for his first ever IMCA Sport Mod crown.
The first half of the feature belonged to Randy LeMieux, Jr, who passed his uncle Rick LeMieux for the lead on the second lap. Budzban motored into second on the 7thlap, and joined by Bernie Reinhardt, the top three broke away from the rest of the field.
Budzban pulled even with LeMieux on the 13th lap, and was scored as the leader narrowly as the two crossed under the flagstand. Timing was perfect for Budzban, as the 14th lap was waved off by a caution flag for a spinner.
As the leader, Budzban led the field to the green for the restart — which he timed perfectly. He shot from the pack, never giving LeMieux a chance to challenge, sailing easily to the win.
LeMieux would finish a solid second, marking his 12th straight top 10 finish on the season. The restart favored Cody Rass, who rescued a possible mid-pack finish with a surge to third, passing Reinhardt late in the event for the position.
Ryan LeMieux was able to rally for a fifth place finish to keep his title hopes alive.
The Street Stock feature opened with a memorable first lap; unless you happened to be James Dahlstrom who would probably rather forget it.
Dahlstrom took the lead from his front row starting spot as the field entered the first turns. Through two, he moved from the inside up, encountering some traffic in the higher line. A tap sent him sliding back down, directly into an infield retaining tire. Contact with the tire toppled him up, over and unto his roof.
Dahlstrom was fine, but was done for the night.
Jeremy Dubois inherited the lead, but met a similar fate to Dahlstrom’s; up, then down, but this time not on his roof.
Anschutz was in the path of Dubois’ descent to the infield, but was able to avoid contact with him as he slid into the retaining tires in the third corner.
With limited tire contact, Anschutz was able to get back into the hunt and play the role of spoiler. Championship contenders Geno Sternard and Kevin Luedtke raced past Mike Sargent on the restart, passing the lead back and forth.
With running room on the bottom groove, Anschutz was able to pick off the top two, taking over first on the 8th lap. From that point, he sped away unchallenged to his first win of the season on his first night behind the wheel; marking his 26th career feature visit to the Thunderhill victory lane, good for 10th on the all-time list.
Sternard’s second place run added a single point to his division lead over Luedtke, who now sits just two points back with three races left in the season.
In the Hobby Stocks, Schmidt passed Travis LuMaye on the 7th lap, then survived a late restart en route to his 4th win of the season.
Marcus Moede matched his best finish of the year with a second place showing. The Hobby point race tightened to a single marker as Derek Moede crossed the line third, picking up a point on 4th place running Jeremy Jauquet.
All five classes will be back in action Saturday, with Big Wheel races for the kids highlighting the show.
Thunderhill Raceway is located at the John Miles Fair Park on Sturgeon Bay’s east side, with racing in five divisions Saturday nights through the summer at 6:00 PM. For more information, visit the track’s website at www.racethunderhill.com.
Thunderhill Raceway results 7/30/2014
Kelsey Racing IMCA Modified 20 Lap Feature: Todd Dart, Algoma; James Tebon, Algoma; Greg Gretz, Kewaunee; Tyler Hackett, Algoma
Heat: Tebon; Hackett
Olson Fabrication IMCA Stock Car 20 Lap Feature: Charlie Kroll, Forestville; Dave Bouche, Algoma; Craig Dorner, Luxemburg; Shawn Havel, Algoma; Scott Reinhardt, Baileys Harbor; Dylan Heilmann, Green Bay;
Heat 1: Kroll; Jaime Suchocki, Forestville
Heat 2: Billy LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Bret Koehler, Two Rivers
LaVine’s Ice IMCA Northern Sport Mods 20 Lap Feature: Chris Budzban, Luxemburg; Randy LeMieux, Jr, Sturgeon Bay; Cody Rass, Sturgeon Bay; Bernie Reinhardt, Sturgeon Bay; Ryan LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Josh Lambert, Casco
Heat 1: Rick LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Randy LeMieux
Heat 2: Jarred VanLaanen, Green Bay; Budzban
Reese’s Auto Body Street Stock 15 Lap Feature: Ed Anschutz, Kewaunee; Geno Sternard, Brussels; Kevin Luedtke, Sturgeon Bay; Mike Sargent, Sturgeon Bay; Jeremy Dubois, Sturgeon Bay; Todd Wagner, Brussels
Heat 1: Billy LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Brandon Peterson, Sturgeon Bay
Heat 2: Luedtke; Dubois
Lackie Rental & Remodeling IMCA Hobby Stock 15 Lap Feature: Dave Schmidt, Casco; Marcus Moede, Algoma; Derek Moede, Casco; Jeremy Jauquet, Green Bay; C.J. Weckler, Sturgeon Bay; Amber Weidner, East Maplewood
Heat 1: Jauquet; Schmidt
Heat 2: Weckler; Marcus Moede