By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS, Plymouth, Wis.) July 14, 2018 – A pair of former track champions currently testing their skills in regional traveling series competition returned to victory lane for the first time this year as Plymouth Dirt Track Racing held its annual Autograph Night racing program Saturday, July 14, at The Plymouth Dirt Track on the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis.
Reigning PDTR 360 Sprint Car champion Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh, who is competing as a regular on the Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Car Circuit this year, scored his first A-main victory of the season in the Richard’s of Dunbar PDTR 360 Sprint Car headliner. Jim Schmidt of Cleveland notched his first Gasroots Project Late Model A-main victory of 2018, while Plymouth’s Tyler Kulow posted his first Klips & Tips Grand National A-main triumph of the 2018 campaign. Elijah Koenig of Beaver Dam claimed his first career victory in the time-shortened Cellcom B Mod A-main. Former PDTR Micro Sprint champ Zach Boden of Madison, who is now a regular in the Badger Midget Racing Series, returned to post his first Kristine Hartmann Pleasant View Realty Micro Sprint A-main triumph of the season.
In the 25-lap Sprint Car A main, Mayer Automotive Racing teammates Nich Melis of Plymouth and Shane Wenninger of Kewaskum shared the front row with Wenninger getting the jump on the outside to lead the opening circuit.
After Wenninger bolted out to a 10-car length advantage over Melis in the early going, the lone caution of the event appeared on lap 3 when rookie Chris Larson of Greenfield spun in turn two.
By lap 5, 2010 PDTR Sprint Car champion Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee, who started fourth began to make his presence felt as he used the outside groove to power his way into second. Meanwhile, the third-starting McMullen, who was making a rare start in the PDTR 360 Sprint Car division this season, worked the low line of the tricky third-mile track surface to pressure Davis for the runner up spot.
After stalking Wenninger through lapped traffic over the ensuing seven laps, Davis pounced on lap 12 executing a high move into the lead exiting turn four with McMullen in tow to seize second. Davis continued to work the high groove while McMullen made the low line work to his benefit as two of the most successful drivers in the history of the PDTR 360 Sprint Car division waged a spirited duel over the next six laps.
On lap 18, McMullen dove underneath Davis to seize the top spot in turn four. Davis attempted to regain the top spot with an aggressive move in turn three on lap 19, but the three-time reigning Midwest Sprint Car Association champion held off the 33-year racing veteran and extended his lead to a full straightaway over the final five laps to post his 13th career PDTR Sprint Car A-main victory and 18th overall career MSA Sprint Car A-main triumph.
Davis wound up second, rookie Travis Arenz of Sheboygan, who started fifth, placed third, Wenninger was fourth and sixth-starting Adam Miller of Plymouth was fifth.
Polesitter Charlie Schmidt of Cedar Grove grabbed the lead on the drop of the green flag of the 25-lap Late Model A main as fourth starter Jim Schmidt made a big move to advance into second on the opening lap.
On lap 4, Jim Schmidt worked the outside groove to challenge the low-riding Charlie Schmidt for the top spot. The two veteran competitors battled side by side over the next four circuits before Jim Schmidt finally pulled off the pass in turn two on lap 8.
On lap 10, fifth starter Jared Siefert of Luxemburg charged in along the high line to pressure Jim Schmidt, who had moved down to the low groove. However, a flat tire on lap 12 halted Siefert’s bid for victory just as 2016 PDTR Late Model champ Tim Buhler of Greenbush stalled in turn one to bring out the lone caution flag of the race.
On the restart, Charlie Schmidt rallied to mount a brief challenge along the low groove starting on lap 17, but Jim Schmidt proved to be too strong as he pulled away over the closing laps to post his 12th career PDTR Late Model A-main victory by a full straightaway over Charlie Schmidt, who finished a strong second.
Seventh starter Justin Schmidt of Cleveland came home third, rookie Kevin Baldry of Omro placed fourth after starting 10th and four-time PDTR Late Model champion and current point leader Brad Mueller of Random Lake finished fifth after starting second.
The 25-lap Grand National A-main featured a flurry of furious action at the head of the field as the top four drivers waged a fierce race-long duel for the victory.
Polesitter Steven Weber of Plymouth grabbed the lead on the opening lap as fourth starter Justin Erickson of Plymouth ventured to the high groove to seize second in the early going. On lap 9, Erickson advanced forward to nearly pull even with Weber on several occasions while third starter Tyler Kulow and Matt Loehr of Dotyville, who started fifth, battled in very close quarters for the top four spots.
On lap 15, Erickson used the outside groove to seize the lead in turn two as Kulow advanced into second place along with the low line. Three laps later, Kulow powered under Erickson into first place on lap 18 as Erickson jumped the treacherous cushion to fall back to third.
Just as it appeared that Kulow might have the race in hand, Erickson regrouped to reel off one last bid for the victory, pulling even with the low-running Kulow on lap 22. However, Kulow fended off Erickson’s challenge over the final three laps to secure his third career PDTR Grand National A-main victory and first A-main triumph of the 2018 season.
Loehr worked under the rim-riding Erickson on the final lap to finish second, Erickson wound up third, Weber placed fourth and second starter Donny Kulow of Elkhart Lake finished fifth.
Tim Sheppard of Beaver Dam used his pole position to grab the lead on the opening lap of the accident-plagued, time-shortened B Mod main event.
The first of five caution flags appeared on lap 1 for an incident involving Shane Long of Sheboygan Falls and Barry Maas of Cascade in turn three. After a complete restart, Sheppard again grabbed the lead as eighth starter Elijah Koenig bolted in to take second along the high groove on lap 4.
After the second caution flag was displayed for a spin involving James Rautmann of Howards Grove and Barry Maas, Sheppard retained the top spot over Koenig and second starter J.J. Walvoord of Oostburg.
On lap 10, Koenig used the outside line to close in on Sheppard. Following two more caution periods for multi-car incidents on lap 11 and lap 15, Koenig used a strong move on the lap 15 restart to power into the lead in turn two.
Koenig and Sheppard dueled side by side over the next three circuits with Sheppard surging ahead on lap 18 just before the fifth and final caution appeared to end the race due to the 25-minute time limit.
Although Sheppard was leading at the time of the caution, per PDTR rules, scoring of the race reverts to the last completed lap, which gave Koenig his first career PDTR B Mod A-main victory.
Sheppard had to settle for second, Walvoord was third, 2017 PDTR B Mod champion Justin Green charged up from his 11th starting spot to finish fourth and PDTR B Mod point leader Gary Glander of Sheboygan Falls finished fifth after starting seventh.
Jack Vanderboom of Dousman led the first lap of the 15-lap Micro Sprint A main from his outside front row starting spot before fifth starting Zach Boden, who was making his first start of the year at Plymouth, assumed the lead on lap 2.
Despite three caution flags for spins involving Dave Collins of Madison and 2017 PDTR Micro Sprint champion Preston Ruh of Elkhart Lake, Boden held strong on each restart to pull away en route to his seventh career PDTR Micro Sprint A-main victory.
Vanderboom was second, Jake Dohner of Milton, who started on the pole, placed third, Ruh rallied to finish fourth and Collins rounded out the top five.
Glen Blanke of Sheboygan Falls won the B Mod B Main.
With all racing events completed by 9:20 p.m., fans made the most of an extended opportunity to visit with drivers in the pit area after the races on Autograph Night with many teams distributing treats, prizes and promotional items to young and old fans alike.
The Plymouth Dirt Track Racing program, which was sponsored by Hopf Farms, featured 87 cars, including 31 B Mods, 22 Sprint Cars, 13 Late Models, 13 Grand Nationals and eight Micro Sprints.
The next PDTR program, which will be sponsored by JDL Automotive and Detailing, will take place on Saturday, July 21, featuring a special appearance by the Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Series for the annual Frank Filskov Memorial event. Also on the card will be the PDTR 360 Sprint Cars and PDTR B Mods for full points events. Hot laps begin at 5:30 p.m. with IRA qualifying and racing to follow.
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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