WAUSAU, Wis. (Aug. 24) – A competitive 2023 season in the Auto Select Super Late Models at State Park Speedway came to a fitting conclusion, with good battles on the track and in the points in the final race of the season.
Travis Volm of Wausau was victorious in the final late model feature of the season on Fighting Cancer and Season Championship Full Throttle Night, getting by Wausau’s Rayce Haase in the second half of the race after a long chase for the lead. Wausau’s Brock Heinrich also nabbed the year’s big prize, edging Justin Mondeik of Gleason to win the season points championship in the class.
Heinrich finished third in the 60-lap feature, one spot ahead of Mondeik, and won the championship by 17 points for his first-ever super late model title. Heinrich also ended Mondeik’s reign as champion of the class, snapping his string of three straight SPS track championships.
Volm earned his second feature win of the season by finally getting by Haase on the inside on lap 36 after more than 30 laps trailing him. Making the outside groove work as well as anyone in the class has all season, Haase led the first 35 laps running a high line, including fending off Volm for nearly 15 laps side-by-side early in the race.
Haase also quickly cleared Volm on the restart after a competition caution after 30 laps, but Volm began to pressure again on lap 35 soon after Heinrich took to his outside for second.
Haase got loose in the middle of the track off of turn 2 on the backstretch on lap 35, and Heinrich took a peek to the outside while Volm drove to the inside. Heinrich had to back out heading into turn 3, and scenario repeated on lap 36. This time Volm was able to drive inside Haase for the lead, and he would pull away, building an eight-car length lead over the next 10 laps that he would maintain the rest of the way.
The fight up front also allowed Mondeik to enter the picture, and he got inside Heinrich for third and began challenging Haase for second on lap 39. Needing to finish at least three positions ahead of Heinrich at the finish to make up a 13-point deficit entering the final race, Mondeik was unable to get by Haase on the inside, eventually dropping back behind him for third on lap 41.
Heinrich then effectively wrapped up the championship when he got inside Mondeik coming off turn 2 on lap 48 with a crossover move after initially looking high. Heinrich cleared him two laps later after some door-to-door racing, and would eventually challenge Haase on the white flag lap, getting to the inside. Heinrich nosed ahead on the backstretch, but Haase got one final strong run on the outside, powering out of the fourth turn to edge Heinrich by a nose at the finish for second.
Mondeik came in fourth in the feature after setting fast time for the evening but then finishing third in the second heat race won by Heinrich. Jevin Guralski of Wausau came in fifth in the feature and wrapped up rookie of the year honors in the class, finishing fifth overall in the point standings.
Volm joined Heinrich, Mondeik and Jason Weinkauf as drivers to win multiple features this season in the class. Weinkauf entered the night also in the championship chase, 20 points behind Heinrich and seven behind Mondeik, but his night went south in practice laps with an engine issue. Weinkauf would borrow the car of Todd Handrick for the night, but the Merrill native came in seventh in the feature and finished 39 points behind Heinrich in the final standings.
Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Qualifier: Justin Mondeik, Gleason, 13.862 sec.
First Heat: 1. M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 2. Dillon Mackesy, Athens; 3. Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 4. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 5. Ryan Manthei, Green Bay
Second Heat: 1. Brock Heinrich, Wausau; 2. Rayce Haase, Wausau; 3. Mondeik; 4. Jevin Guralski, Wausau; 5. Travis Volm, Wausau
Feature: 1. Volm; 2. Haase; 3. Heinrich; 4. Mondeik; 5. Guralski; 6. M. Mackesy; 7. Weinkauf; 8. Gajewski; 9. Manthei; 10. D. Mackesy