WAUSAU, Wis. (June 15) – The 20th running of the Flip Merwin Memorial at State Park Speedway also resulted in some firsts for a couple of local veteran drivers.
Joe Kuehn claimed the Snap-on Mini Mods feature, the veteran’s first-ever Merwin Memorial feature win. Brett Breitenfeldt also won the Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks feature, his first-ever feature win in a pure stock at State Park.
Kuehn won his first feature of 2023, slowly reeling in Auburndale’s Tim Anderson for the top spot. The 2022 mini mods champion took to the outside of Anderson on lap 19, led lap 20 by a nose and cleared him a lap later. He would pull away to win the 25-lap race despite a late charge by Auburndale driver Mike Meharg.
Anderson got the hole shot from the outside of the front row and took off to a big lead early with Schofield’s Brad Abt in tow in second. The race changed near the midway point, though, when the car of Travis Hill of Arpin, Anderson’s teammate, stalled in turn 1 to bring out what would be the race’s only caution. The yellow flag bunched up the field, and Kuehn passed Abt on lap 12 and closed to Anderson’s bumper by lap 16. Anderson would finish third with Phil Malouf of Manitowish Waters fourth and Abt posting his best mini mods feature finish of the season in fifth.
Breitenfeldt made his move to the lead coming to the start/finish line at the completion of the ninth lap of the pure stock feature. He slipped inside Ringle’s Steve Schilling amidst some congestion up front and led the rest of the way for his first feature win in the class at SPS in three years.
Schilling and Kyle Kluetz of Schofield had raced side-by-side for the top spot for the race’s first eight laps, swapping the lead four times before Schilling began to edge ahead after leading lap 6. Breitenfeldt ran a close third to lead three rows racing side-by-side behind the leaders, but Kluetz then slipped high on lap 9 in the second turn and again in the fourth turn. That allowed an opening for Breitenfeldt, with Spatz also getting by Schilling soon after and Alex Volm of Mosinee settling into third.
Fast qualifier Volm would get past Spatz for second late in the race, and two-time 2023 feature winner Dave Cabelka of Wausau finished third. Spatz finished fourth with Brian Plisch of Athens fifth. Spatz collected the $100 weekly bonus from Schramm Racing which by draw went to the feature race’s fourth-place finisher, and Spatz and Schilling also were involved in the closest race of the night in the first heat, with Spatz eking out the win by three one-thousandths of a second at the line.
Wausau’s Eric Breitenfeldt and Ashley Schoone of Gleason waged a classic battle over the final six laps of the Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks feature that resulted in Breitenfeldt beating Schoone by a fender at the finish line of the 15-lap race.
The result would not hold up, though. The cars of both Breitenfeldt and third-place finisher Garret Strachota of Wausau were disqualified after failing post-race inspection, giving Schoone the victory. Tyler Custer wound up finishing second with Luke Mikula winding up a career-best third.
Breitenfeldt and Schoone began contesting the lead on lap 10, with Schoone slipping a little high allowing Breitenfeldt a look inside for the lead. The two made contact going into turn 3 with Schoone getting loose, but she held on through the corners to initially hold off the 2021 class champion. Breitenfeldt would take to the outside on lap 12, though, and the two raced side-by-side over the final four laps.
Penn Sauter of DeForest won the feature in convincing fashion in the Bandoleros class for the second straight week.
Back sporting the traditional family No. 5 after driving with No. 101 last week in honor of the late Curt Tillman, Sauter needed just four laps to go from 10th to first. He slipped inside Cohen Henze of Juda for the lead on the fourth lap and pulled away for his second straight feature win in the class. Henze finished second with Cole Kurth of Wisconsin Rapids coming in a personal SPS-best third.
Sauter received some help on his march to the front on the race’s first lap, when Carter Stein of Germantown spun and slapped the turn 3 tire barrier. Mason Oleson of Mosinee also received damage, and the incident allowed Sauter to move up three spots before a lap had even been completed.
Racing continues next Thursday at State Park Speedway with a full show including super late models, pure stocks, mini mods and mini stocks. Fred Mueller Qualifying starts at 6 p.m. with racing to follow at 7:15 p.m.
Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Alex Volm, Mosinee, 15.253 sec.
First Heat: 1. Jeff Spatz, Wausau; 2. Steve Schilling, Ringle; 3. Kyle Kluetz, Schofield; 4. Kyle Check, Shantytown
Second Heat: 1. Brett Breitenfeldt, Wausau; 2. Dave Cabelka, Wausau; 3. A. Volm; 4. Brian Plisch, Athens
Feature: 1. B. Breitenfeldt; 2. A. Volm; 3. Cabelka; 4. Spatz; 5. Plisch; 6. Check; 7. Schilling; 8. Kluetz
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Joe Kuehn, 15.952 sec.
First Heat: 1. Tim Anderson, Auburndale; 2. Mike Meharg, Auburndale; 3. Travis Hill, Arpin; 4. Branden Sischo, Stratford; 5. Brian Marquardt, Weston; 6. Keagen Benz, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Phil Malouf, Manitowish Waters; 2. Kuehn; 3. Brad Abt, Schofield; 4. John Lietz, Mosinee; 5. Jim Lietz, Mosinee
Feature: 1. Kuehn; 2. Meharg; 3. Anderson; 4. Malouf; 5. Abt; 6. Jim Lietz; 7. John Lietz; 8. Sischo; 9. Marquardt; 10. K. Benz; 11. Hill
Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Eric Breitenfeldt, Wausau, 16.466 sec.
First Heat: 1. Luke Mikula, Wausau; 2. Carson Sillars, Wausau; 3. Joey Blaschka, Wausau; 4. Brad Lecher, Wausau; 5. Kendra Baumann, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Garret Strachota, Wausau; 2. Ashley Schoone, Gleason; 3. E. Breitenfeldt; 4. Tyler Custer, Stratford; 5. Tom Lecher, Wausau; 6. Amanda Rowe, Mosinee
Feature: 1. Schoone; 2. Custer; 3. Mikula; 4. Blaschka; 5. B. Lecher; 6. Sillars; 7. Rowe; 8. Baumann; 9. T. Lecher; E. Breitenfeldt, DQ; Strachota, DQ
Fast Qualifier: Penn Sauter, DeForest, 16.012 sec.
First Heat: 1. Ben Meyer, Michigamme, Mich.; 2. Carter Stein, Germantown; 3. Cole Kurth, Wisconsin Rapids; 4. Paxton Benz, Wausau; 5. Ethan Jensen, Baraboo; 6. William Carpenter, Marshfield
Second Heat: 1. Cohen Henze, Juda; 2. Sauter; 3. Bentley Thompson, West Salem; 4. Derek Meyer, Michigamme, Mich.; 5. Oliver Weinkauf, Merrill; 6. Mason Oleson, Mosinee
Feature: 1. Sauter; 2. Henze; 3. Kurth; 4. B. Meyer; 5. Thompson; 6. P. Benz; 7. D. Meyer; 8. O. Weinkauf; 9. Jensen; 10. Carpenter; 11. Oleson; 12. Stein