Miller, Kulow, Van Hierden, Boden snag A-main victories as Loehr, Sheppard, Ruh claim titles
By Jeff Pederson-Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS, Plymouth, Wis.) September 8, 2018 – The final regular Plymouth Dirt Track Racing program of the 2018 season brimmed over with a wide variety of racing action, which included runaway statement-style victories, heated side-by-side competition, inspired charges from the back of the pack and a new A-main track record, while three drivers wrapped up division titles before a large contingent of spectators on Saturday, Sept. 8 at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis.
Former PDTR Late Model champion Mitch McGrath of Waukesha scored an impressive victory in the 30-lap Dirt Kings Late Model Tour A-main, Plymouth’s Justin Miller established a new track record of 5 minutes and 45 seconds en route to victory in the non-stop 30-lap Richard’s of Dunbar Sprint Car A main. Tyler Kulow of Plymouth emerged with the victory in a hotly contested 30-lap Klips and Tips Grand National A main. Colten Van Hierden of Waupun made his first appearance of the season at PDTR count with a victory from the rear of the field in the time-shortened 26-lap Cellcom B Mod A main. Zach Boden of Madison topped the 15-lap Kristine Hartmann Pleasantville Realty Micro Sprint A main.
McGrath, who collected the PDTR Late Model championship in 2014, started the Dirt Kings Late Model Tour headliner from the pole and immediately flexed his muscle to grab the lead on the opening circuit with outside front row starter Paul Parker of Kaukauna settling into second.
As McGrath pulled out to a comfortable lead, third starter Brett Swedberg of Shawano moved in to pressure Parker along the low groove. Just as McGrath was about to encounter lapped traffic, Turk Letizia of Milwaukee spun in turn two to bring out the first of three caution flags.
Following the restart, McGrath bolted away to build up a full-straightaway cushion over Parker. McGrath was closing in on the rear of the field when a red flag was displayed for Eric Michaels of Cleveland, who flipped in turn one after contact with an infield tire on lap 17.
After another caution was thrown on the restart for Joel Bennett, who spun in turn three. When the race resumed, McGrath again shot away from the field while Shawano’s Troy Springborn, who started fourth, used the high groove to pull around seventh starter Chris Engels of Green Bay to secure fourth on lap 18.
Meanwhile, it was all McGrath at the front of the field as he skillfully negotiated lapped traffic in the closing laps to pull away to notch his 11th career PDTR A-main victory and second career Dirt Kings Late Model Tour main event by a half lap margin over Parker. Swedberg placed third, Springborn wound up fourth and Engels rounded out the top five.
Justin Miller led the field to the green flag in the 30-lap PDTR Sprint Car A main from the pole and bolted into the lead in turn one of the opening lap. On lap 2, 2010 PDTR Sprint Car champ and current point leader Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee, who started third, shot past second starter Shane Wenninger of Kewaskum to seize second place in turn two.
Miller stuck to the bottom groove of the third-mile clay oval surface to maintain a solid edge over Davis until the leaders caught the back of the field on lap 14, which allowed Davis to cut the gap a bit.
Miller expertly sliced his way through slower traffic to keep Davis at bay through the mid stages of the race. With five laps to go, Miller was briefly bottled up in slower traffic, which again allowed Davis to close to within striking distance along the low groove.
However, Miller managed to negotiate the slower car and maintain his lead on the way to his third career PDTR Sprint Car A-main victory and fifth overall Midwest Sprint Car Association A-main triumph in a PDTR Sprint Car 30-lap A-main track record time of five minutes and 45 seconds in the non-stop race.
Davis, who heads into the final night of the 2018 PDTR Sprint Car season on Saturday, Sept. 29 with a 15-point lead over Miller at the top of the point standings, had to settle for second, fifth starter Lance Fassbender of Burnett finished third, Wenninger placed fourth and Bill Taylor of Kewaskum wound up fifth, after starting seventh.
Polesitter Dick Hed of Plymouth and outside front row starter Tyler Kulow dueled side by side during the opening lap of the highly entertaining 30-lap Grand National main event before Hed surged ahead to take the lead in turn two on lap 2.
On lap 3, West Bend’s Brad Weiss, who started fifth, shot up to seize third place and two laps later, Weiss pulled alongside Hed and the two dueled door-to-door for the lead on lap 5. On lap 7, Weiss surged ahead of Hed along the outside groove, while fourth starter Kurt Davis rode the high line to challenge Hed for second.
The first of three caution flags appeared on lap 8 when Darryl Trabel of Watertown and Dakota Cabunac spun in turn two. On the restart, Davis continued his charge along the high line while Grand National point leader Matt Loehr of Dotyville, who started third, ducked low to challenge for second on lap 9.
As Weiss, Davis and Loehr dueled in close quarters for the top spot, the second caution flag flew when Donny Singer stopped in turn two on lap 15. The action continued to rage on the restart has Davis and Loehr waged an epic battle for second behind Weiss, who stuck to the low groove to maintain a slight lead.
On lap 17, Davis grabbed second up high, while Kulow rallied to gain third on lap 18. Kulow ran the low groove to perfection to work past Davis for second on lap 19. However, Davis returned the favor on the next lap to regain second.
As Weiss, Davis, Kulow, Loehr and seventh starter Josh Pierce of Fredonia ran in close quarters at the front of the pack, the third and final caution flag was displayed on lap 23 when Cubanac stopped in turn two.
On the restart, Kulow moved up high to grab second from Davis on lap 24 and on the next lap he charged past Weiss to secure the top spot. Meanwhile, Davis cleared Weiss to gain second on lap 29.
Once ahead, Kulow pulled away to notch his fourth career PDTR Grand National A-main victory. Davis placed second, Weiss wound up third, Loehr secured his first career PDTR Grand National championship with a fourth-place finish and Pierce placed fifth.
Loehr topped Davis by 25 points in the final PDTR Grand National standings, while Kulow finished third 32 points behind Loehr.
Jesse Cullen of Chilton led the opening lap of the 30-lap B Mod A main before the first of four caution flags appeared for an incident involving Colten Van Hierden and Mark Hoeppner of Rubicon in turn two on lap 2.
After changing a flat left rear tire, Van Hierden restarted at the rear of the 20-car field. When the race resumed, sixth starter Bill Edler of Howards Grove moved in to take third and seventh starter Barry Maas of Cascade secure fourth in the running order.
As Cullen encountered slower traffic on lap 14, Edler closed in to mount a challenge before the second caution flag was displayed on lap 16 when Steve Lorier of Sheboygan and Mark Hoeppner spun in turn two. The incident forced Edler, who was running second, to take evasive action and spin into the infield. He took his car to the pit area and did not return to the track.
On the restart, Cullen led over fifth starter Gary Glander of Sheboygan Falls as Van Hierden mounted an epic charge from the rear of the field to seize third on lap 17. After another caution for debris on lap 18, Van Hierden continued his march to the front taking second from Glander on lap 18 and setting his sights on Cullen.
On lap 21, Van Hierden used a low move to take over the top spot in turn four. As Van Hierden pulled away at the front of the field, a caution on lap 26 brought the race to a close due to the 30-minute time limit.
Van Hierden, who was making his first appearance of the 2018 season at Plymouth, claimed his third career PDTR B Mod A-main victory, Cullen placed second, 10th starter Travis Schmidt of Plymouth took third, Tim Sheppard of Beaver Dam wrapped up his first career PDTR B Mod track title with a fourth-place finish after starting 11th and Glander completed the top five.
In his first full season racing at Plymouth, Sheppard earned the B Mod championship by 36 points over Gary Glander. Travis Schmidt finished third 75 points behind Sheppard.
Second starter Tory Strauss of Sun Prairie led the first two laps of the 15-lap Micro Sprint A main before third starter Zach Boden seized the lead in turn four. Boden, who was the 2016 PDTR Micro Sprint champ, maintained the lead through a pair of caution flags to secure his ninth career PDTR Micro Sprint A-main win.
Jake Dohner of Milton placed second, Strauss was third, 2017 PDTR Micro Sprint champion Preston Ruh of Elkhart Lake earned his second consecutive track title with a fourth-place finish and Jack Vanderboom of Dousman rounded out the top five.
Ruh topped Emily Portschy of Plymouth by 117 points to claim his second straight PDTR Micro Sprint title.
Mark Rose of Dorchester claimed the Dirt Kings Late Model Tour B main. Josh Walter of Plymouth won the MSA B main. Justin Bauer of Sheboygan Falls captured the B Mod B main.
The final regular PDTR racing program of the 2018 season, which was sponsored by Hidden Dreams Show Cattle, drew a large field 111 cars, including 28 Dirt Kings Late Model Tour cars, 27 Sprint Cars, 25 B Mods, 21 Grand Nationals and 10 Micro Sprints.
Prior to the racing program, the 2018 PDTR Dedication to Dirt Award was presented to longtime announcer Bill Rood, who stated that he would be retiring after 30 years of involvement with racing at Plymouth.
After two weeks off, the 2018 racing season will conclude with a doubleheader weekend of Sprint Car action on Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29. The Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Car Series will be in action, along with the Wisconsin Wingless Sprint Cars on Friday, Sept. 28.
On Saturday, Sept. 29, the IRA Sprint Cars and Wisconsin Wingless Sprint Cars will be joined by the PDTR 360 Sprint Cars and Wisconsin-Illinois Sprint Car Series for the final points night of the season for all four divisions.
Three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart of Columbus, Ind. has indicated his intentions to return to race with the IRA 410 Sprint Car Series on Sept. 28-29, as has three-time World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series champ Sammy Swindell of Germantown, Tenn., who will be making his debut appearance at Plymouth.