By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) June 17, 2017 – The largest crowd of the 2017 season descended on The Plymouth Dirt Track for a double dose of high-horsepower, winged open-wheel action, as the Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Car Series joined forces with the Plymouth Dirt Track Racing 360 Sprint Cars for the IRA’s first of four planned visits to the venerable third-mail clay oval at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth Saturday, June 17.
In the 30-lap IRA A-Main headliner, Kyle Marten of Sheboygan Falls held off a late charge from defending IRA Series champion Jeremy Schultz of Beaver Dam, while veteran driver Danny Schlafer of Sussex scored a convincing victory in the rain-shortened 20-lap PDTR Sprint Car A main.
With light rain falling, polesitter Scotty Thiel of Sheboygan led the 24-car field to the green flag in the IRA A main. Utilizing the preferred outside groove, Kyle Marten bolted into the lead in turn two of the opening lap with Thiel in tow.
Meanwhile, seven-time IRA champion and all-time series A-main win leader Bill Balog of Hartland used an impressive start to launch his potent Rhine Auto backed machine into fifth place on lap 2 from his eighth starting spot.
On lap 5, Marten began to encounter heavy lapped traffic, which allowed Thiel to close the gap. Working through a sea of lapped cars, the action at the front of field heated up considerably, as Marten, Thiel and third starter Jeremy Schultz sliced and diced through slower cars while also battling hard for position.
On lap 6, Schultz dove under Thiel briefly to gain the runner-up spot, but Thiel charged back to rain the position with a high move in turn 1 on lap 8.
On lap later, Thiel got and big run along the low groove to briefly slip past Marten for the top spot. However, Marten stormed back into the lead on lap 10 bringing Schultz along into second.
On lap 12, Balog worked his way up to challenge Thiel for third as the two talented racers dueled side by side over the next lap. Disaster struck on lap 13 as Dennis Spitz of Lewisburg, Kentucky spun in turn four while collecting both Balog and Thiel to trigger the first and only caution flag of the race.
Balog suffered heavy front end damage and was forced to retire from the race. Spitz also exited, while Thiel was able to restart the race in the 17th position.
Marten flexed his muscle on the restart to build up a half straightaway cushion over Schultz with sixth starter Jake Blackhurst of Mapleton, Ill. running third.
Starting on lap 16, Marten sliced his way through lapped traffic with relative ease making all the right moves. Marten encountered several slower cars racing side by side for position in the closing laps, which again allowed Schultz to close
On lap 23, Schultz pulled up to Marten’s tail tank and continued to hound Marten over the final seven laps. Despite a late run from Schultz, Marten held on to post his third career IRA A-main victory and first of the 2017 season.
Schultz, who came into the event as the winner of the previous two IRA A-mains at The Plymouth Dirt Track, had to settle for third, Blackhurst wound up third, seventh starter Mike Kertscher of Plymouth placed fourth and Mike Reinke of Howards Grove moved up from his 10th starting spot to round out the top five.
In the PDTR 360 Sprint Car A main, polesitter Kevin Karnitz of West Bend and outside front row starter Tim Haddy of Waupun dueled for the top spot for the first lap and a half before Haddy surged ahead along the high groove on lap 2.
On lap 4, sixth starter Danny Schlafer made his presence known in a big way as he used a slide job to slip past Karnitz for second. One lap later, the hard-charging Schlafer used nearly the same slide job move to power past Haddy for the top spot.
Four laps later, the two-time PDTR Sprint Car champion caught the back of the field and began to work past lapped cars. Further back, Haddy and Karnitz waged an epic battle for second before Karnitz assumed the position for good in turn two on lap 12.
At the front of the field, it was all Schlafer, who continued to hold down a commanding lead. On lap 20, a caution flag appeared after a steering malfunction sent Ben Schmidt of Howards Grove head on into the turn four wall. Schmidt overcame the very hard impact to climb from his car unscathed.
As safety crews tended to Schmidt’s battered machine, the rain began to fall harder to render the track wet enough to make track conditions unsafe for racing. As a result, the race was deemed complete at the 20-lap mark and the remainder of the racing program was called off.
Schlafer posted his 17th career PDTR Sprint Car A-main victory to move into sole possession of second place on the all-time 360 Sprint Car A-main win list at Plymouth. It was also Schlafer’s 45th career Midwest Sprint Car Association A-main victory, which ranks him second on the all-time MSA win list.
Karnitz came home second, Haddy was third, third starter Dick Kaiser was fourth and Kenjay Fiedler of Sheboygan Falls started and finished fifth.
The B Mod A main was cancelled due to rain.
B main victories went to Dave Uttech of Kenosha in the IRA ranks, while Robbie Pribnow of Lomira won the PDTR Sprint Car B main.
Next week’s PDTR program will be sponsored by Miller Pepsi and feature B Mod driver introductions. Racing will begin at 6 p.m.
The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth is located at 229 Fairview Drive in Plymouth. For more information, visit www.plymouthdtr.com or check out Plymouth Dirt Track Racing on Facebook.
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