WAUSAU, Wis. (Aug. 8) – Years after he ran the Central Wisconsin Racing Association circuit on a regular basis, Jeff Weinfurter isn’t a regular at State Park Speedway anymore. One would have a hard time knowing that based on his current performances at the track.
The Wisconsin Rapids racer has been excellent on the CWRA Stars to Legends Tour in recent years and especially at SPS. Weinfurter won his third CWRA feature of the season at the track Thursday, claiming the second of twin 40-lap features that highlighted a full show for WCAR Gifts From Heaven and Jim Kryshak Jewelers Sparkling at the Speedway evening, a night that also included former track champion and CWRA star Mike Miller on hand as a special guest.
The 2018 CWRA champion and points leader this year, Weinfurter needed just 10 laps to get to the front from his 11th starting position, passing early leader Putch Bentley on a lap 10 restart. He led the rest of the way, navigating lapped traffic late to hold off Chad Butz for his fourth CWRA feature win this season.
“Yeah it’s good right now because it doesn’t drop off at all,” said Weinfurter after the win of his car being strong on long runs. “The longer we run the better off we are.”
Weinfurter had already moved up eight spots from his starting position in just nine laps when he was able to advance his position on a restart following a tangle between Dillon Mackesy and Mitch Stankowski in turn one. Second-place running Kirby Kurth chose the inside behind Bentley, allowing Weinfurter to start outside the leader, and he needed only one lap to clear the Michigan driver for the top spot.
Butz followed Weinfurter on the outside to the front, moving past Bentley into second one lap later, and the top two would check out from the rest of the field. Bentley held off first feature winner Neil Knoblock, Mark Mackesy and others for a good spell before Knoblock finally cleared him for third on lap 24, but by then it was a two-car race, with Weinfurter keeping a comfortable lead. Butz was able to close within three car lengths in the final laps in lapped traffic, but settled for second for his best CWRA finish of the season.
Mark Mackesy finished third, while Knoblock ended up dropping out of the second feature with engine troubles while running third with eight laps left. It was a sour end to a night that started off superbly for the longtime State Park frontrunner from Wausau, who convincingly won his first CWRA feature of the season earlier in the evening.
Knoblock also got to the front quickly from the no. 11 starting spot, making hay on the outside. He passed Harley Jankowski for third on lap nine, took care of Weinfurter for second two laps later, and then swung by Mark Mackesy for the lead out of turn four on lap 12. A yellow followed a lap later as Brett Breitenfeldt spun and stalled in turn four, but Knoblock quickly pulled away on the single file restart and led the rest of the way, with Weinfurter getting by Mackesy for second late after a long battle.
“I can’t believe we did this CWRA race at State Park Speedway, it feels pretty darn good,” said Knoblock after the race. “This car has really come a long way. We put two right sides on it tonight…we got the lead, kind of backed off, took it easy and respected all the other drivers. You know what, a win’s a win, and you’ve got to wheel it with these CWRA cars.”
Mark Mackesy also finished third in the opening feature in a race that got off to a bumpy start. Bentley spun on the backstretch after contact on the second lap, and the resulting checkup saw Paul Paine get clipped and slide into the tires and water barrels in turn three, ending his night and resulting in a lengthy cleanup.
The biggest melee of the night came in the 50-lap Midwest Truck Series feature, a race where Lake Geneva’s James Swan somehow avoided a mess that many couldn’t on his way to victory.
Swan was running third on the 35th lap right after a restart when the front row of Kevin Knuese on the inside and Jerry Brickner on the outside made contact and both spun in front of the field between turns three and four. The pile-up that followed saw eight trucks sustain damage running into each other or the wall, with several others spinning to take evasive action. Rock Christiansen, Tyler Schley, Dan Calhoun and Trucks series points leader John Ovadal Jr., received the most damage, with all four towed off and their nights finished.
Swan was able to duck low to avoid the mess, and after a long red flag for cleanup and ensuing restart he would lead the rest of the way. Former SPS track champions Brickner and Levon Van Der Geest were able to retain their positions after the wreck after Knuese ‘tapped out’ taking blame for the accident, and they finished second and third, respectively, at the finish.
“Oh my, I would much rather be lucky than good. Holy cow did we get lucky today,” said Swan after the race. “We had a good truck, I wouldn’t say it’s a great truck. Lucky starting spot, a couple lucky restarts, and to miss the big wreck there at the end, and then to be able to hold off Jerry, I really appreciate him running me clean.”
Cautions ended up breeding cautions in a race that included a strong field with a number of former SPS Bandolero racers and track and series champions from around the Midwest. Racing went green from the start until Kenny Joosten got into Chester Ace while racing for third on lap 18, and four more cautions followed over the next 12 laps even before the lap 35 red flag.
Knuese had the field covered up until the last incident, starting on the pole and resisting a number of challenges in leading 32 of the first 34 laps. Joe Valento challenged on the outside early and led two laps at the line by a slim margin, but Knuese had the answer as Valento, Swan and Jason Stark all took their shots on the outside early and past the mid-race point.
CWRA Super Late Models
Fast Qualifier: Travis Volm, Mosinee, 14.818 sec.
First 40-Lap Feature: 1. Neil Knoblock, Wausau; 2. Jeff Weinfurter, Wisconsin Rapids; 3. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 4. T. Volm; 5. Chad Butz, Green Bay; 6. Dillon Mackesy, Athens; 7. Darek Gress, Neillsville; 8. Mike Sievers, Wisconsin Rapids; 9. Monte Gress, Neillsville; 10. Dakota Blakeslee, Rudolph; 11. Kirby Kurth, Nekoosa; 12. Putch Bentley, Iron River, Mich.; 13. Frank Nitzke, Berlin; 14. Nate Steif, Wausau; 15. Mitch Stankowski, Wausau; 16. Harley Jankowski, Sparta; 17. Derrick Van Dreel, Kellner; 18. Nick Roehl, Fond du Lac; 19. Curt Tillman, Rockton, Ill.; 20. Brett Breitenfeldt, Wausau; 21. Paul Paine, Mound, Minn.
Second 40-Lap Feature: 1. Weinfurter; 2. Butz; 3. M. Mackesy; 4. T. Volm; 5. Bentley; 6. Jankowski; 7. M. Gress; 8. Stankowski; 9. Sievers; 10. Roehl; 11. Blakeslee; 12. Nitzke; 13. Kurth; 14. Breitenfeldt; 15. Steif; 16. Knoblock; 17. D. Mackesy; 18. Van Dreel; 19. D. Gress
Midwest Truck Series
Fast Qualifier: Levon Van Der Geest, Merrill, 14.387 sec.
First Heat: 1. Brad Gajewski, Wausau; 2. Jeff Watters, Mineral Point; 3. Danielle Behn, Waupaca; 4. Brandon Riedner, Waunakee; 5. Tyler Schley, Richfield; 6. Dan Calhoun
Second Heat: 1. Kevin Knuese, Waukesha; 2. Rock Christiansen, Weston; 3. Chester Ace, Madison; 4. Kenny Joosten, Wonder Lake, Ill.; 5. A.J. Kreager, Wausau; 6. Joe Valento, Scandia, Minn.; 7. Dave Edwards, Salem
Third Heat: 1. James Swan, Lake Geneva; 2. Jason Stark, Tomah; 3. Jerry Brickner, Wausau; 4. Van Der Geest; 5. John Ovadal Jr., Watertown; 6. Mike Corvo, Park Ridge, Ill.
50-Lap Feature: 1. Swan; 2. Brickner; 3. Van Der Geest; 4. Edwards; 5. Riedner; 6. Joosten; 7. Behn; 8. Valento; 9. Watters; 10. Kreager; 11. Ace; 12. Knuese; 13. Stark; 14. Christiansen; 15. Ovadal; 16. Calhoun; 17. Schley; 18. B. Gajewski; 19. Corvo