The Big 8 race hardly had a monopoly on popular wins by local veteran drivers on the first night of the 2019 Larry Detjens Memorial Weekend.
The Snap-on Mini Mods also saw one of State Park Speedway’s leading racing families back in Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane, as Jim Lietz won the 25-lap feature for his first feature win of the season and the third in his career.
Veterans in the mini mods class for many years, son Jim Lietz and father John Lietz were lined up on the front row on a restart on lap 4, and it was the driver known as ‘Jimmer’ taking the point and building a big lead while top contenders Garret Strachota and George Seliger were stuck in traffic early on. By the time the two moved into second and third, respectively, on lap 10, the Mosinee High School teacher had a full straightaway lead, and he held on even with Strachota gaining late and closing within four car lengths at the finish.
“I can’t tell you how amazing it is,” said Lietz after the race in an interview with track announcer Curt Keene. “As much as my wife lets me work on the car, which is more than any wife should, we don’t have the new tires, we don’t have the set up…we come out here because we love running, my dad and Dale (Louze) and Jordan my crew chief.”
It also was a good night for points contenders Strachota and Seliger, who finished 2-3 at the finish. It was not a good end to the night for Greg Blount, who began the evening setting a new mini mods track record in Fred Mueller Qualifying but crashed into the turn one tire barrier with just three laps completed in the feature and did not return.
A night that saw him earlier leave the track on a tow hook turned much brighter for Kole Ferge later, as the defending Rockstar Energy Drinks Mini Stocks champion came back to win the feature for his division-leading third feature win of the season.
Ferge got inside Ashley Schoone for the lead on lap 13 of the 25-lap race and cruised the rest of the way, leading by nearly a full straightaway at the finish. His performance was all the more impressive after his car lost a wheel in the heat race, resulting in his car being hauled back to the pits for repairs.
Schoone finished second with Evan Pingel coming in third. Tyler Custer of Stratford led the first five laps and finished seventh after good battles with Schoone and Ferge for position before slipping back late.
The E.H. Wolf and Sons Bandoleros also made their second appearance at State Park this year, and Alex Hartwig of Portage set a blistering pace in winning his first Bandolero feature of the season.
Hartwig got to the front quickly, needing just three laps to move from the 10th starting position to the top spot. After passing Keagen Benz for the lead on a lap 3 restart, Hartwig led the rest of the way, mowing through lapped cars and finishing nearly 2 1/2 seconds ahead of runner-up Laney Osborne.
Defending division champion Jevin Guralski, who won the first Bandolero feature this season and four of five features last year, suffered damage early in the feature and was sidelined after five laps, finishing 13th. There also was a scary moment in the first heat race when Anna Malouf lost a tire while leading with two laps left and went hard into the frontstretch wall. Malouf got out of her car shaken but uninjured, and her team actually got her back on the track for the feature before being sidelined just before the start due to an oil leak.
The Larry Detjens Memorial continues Saturday with the second day of racing highlighted by a 125-lap feature for the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus regular State Park pure stocks, mini mods, mini stocks and Bandoleros. Fred Mueller Qualifying starts at 4:30 p.m. with racing beginning at 6 p.m.
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Greg Blount, 15.461 sec.
First Heat: 1. Evan Call, Elderon; 2. Dale Louze, Mosinee; 3. Jim Lietz, Mosinee; 4. Noah Gajewski, Marathon; 5. John Lietz, Mosinee
Second Heat: 1. Gary Garand, Weston; 2. Blount; 3. George Seliger, Wausau; 4. Garret Strachota, Wausau; 5. Kevin Tessmer, Wausau; 6. Joe Kuehn, Wausau
Feature: 1. Jim Lietz; 2. Strachota; 3. Seliger; 4. Kuehn; 5. John Lietz; 6. Gajewski; 7. Garand; 8. Louze; 9. Tessmer; 10. Blount; 11. Call
Rockstar Energy Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Chad Ferge, Wausau, 16.606 sec.
First Heat: 1. Tyler Custer, Stratford; 2. Amanda Rowe, Mosinee; 3. Zach Onson, Gleason; 4. Kendra Baumann, Wausau; 5. Brad Lecher, Wausau; 6. Ryan Brock, Wisconsin Rapids; 7. Bobby Sheldon, Rhinelander
Second Heat: 1. Ashley Schoone, Tomahawk; 2. Tom Lecher, Wausau; 3. Evan Pingel, Ringle; 4. C. Ferge; 5. Kyle Check, Shantytown; 6. Kole Ferge, Schofield
Feature: 1. K. Ferge; 2. Schoone; 3. Pingel; 4. T. Lecher; 5. Check; 6. C. Ferge; 7. Custer; 8. Rowe; 9. Brock; 10. Baumann; 11. B. Lecher; 12. Onson; 13. Sheldon
E.H. Wolf & Sons Bandoleros
Fast Qualifier: Alex Hartwig, Portage, 16.053 sec.
First Heat: 1. Weston Marthaler, Glenwood, Minn.; 2. Tyler Muller, Sun Prairie; 3. Paxton Benz, Wausau; 4. Kooper Guralski, Wausau; 5. Cooper Bodendorfer, Muskego
Second Heat: 1. Michael Guderski, Markesan; 2. Cohen Henze, Juda; 3. Keagen Benz, Wausau; 4. Anna Malouf, Rhinelander; 5. Tucker Bodendorfer, Muskego
Third Heat: 1. Laney Osborne, Janesville; 2. Robbie Rucks, Deerfield; 3. Hartwig; 4. Jevin Guralski, Wausau; 5. Ayrton Brockhouse, Shakopee, Minn.
Feature: 1. Hartwig; 2. Osborne; 3. Brockhouse; 4. Guderski; 5. Rucks; 6. T. Bodendorfer; 7. K. Benz; 8. P. Benz; 9. Henze; 10. K. Guralski; 11. Marthaler; 12. C. Bodendorfer; 13. J. Guralski; 14. Muller; 15. Malouf