Cold weather doesn’t deter huge car count
By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) May 6, 2017 – A huge field of 109 cars and a hearty contingent of race-starved fans braved blustery weather conditions to ring in the 13th season of Plymouth Dirt Track Racing (PDTR) action at The Plymouth Dirt Track at Sheboygan County Fairgrounds on Saturday, May 6.
For most competitors, the night marked the first opportunity to test their prized, finely-tuned machines after a long winter of preparation. On average, the results were expectedly uneven as all opening nights tend to be. Some drivers hit on all cylinders right out of the box, while worked through a bit of rust and a few first-night jitters.
At the end of the night, there were plenty of pleased race teams in the pit area, while a handful of others left the track with some work to do before strapping in for week two.
In the Late Model headliner, three-time PDTR champion Brad Mueller kicked off his 30th season of racing in grand style by capturing the 25-lap A main. Waupun’s Tim Haddy, who is marking his 25th season of racing this year, led flag-to-flag to claim the 25-lap Sprint Car A-Main, while Dan Sorce of West Allis (Grand National), Chad Vetting of Valders (B Mod) and Shiocton’s Denver Larsen (Micro Sprint) also opened the season with A main victories.
After an aborted start, polesitter Charlie Schmidt of Cedar Grove grabbed the lead at the drop of the green flag of the Late Model main event with third-starter Randy Markwardt of Sheboygan trailing in second and defending PDTR Late Model champion Tim Buhler of Greenbush, who started fourth, moving into third.
As Markwardt began to reel in Schmidt, Mueller moved up from the seventh starting spot to work his way past Buhler into third place. Mueller then set his sights on Markwardt, quickly reeling in the 40-year veteran and executing a low move in turn one on lap 10 to assume the runner-up spot.
Meanwhile, Cleveland’s Justin Schmidt was making a similar charge to the front from his 12th starting position. On lap 11, Schmidt claimed third in the running order and began closing in the lead two of Mueller and Charlie Schmidt.
On lap 15, Mueller ducked underneath Charlie Schmidt in turn four to gain the top spot. Close behind, the Schmidts (Justin and Charlie) engaged in a short duel for second place before Justin prevailed to move into second place in turn two on lap 18.
The leaders approached heavy lapped traffic on lap 20, which made things challenging for Mueller and Justin Schmidt, but both drivers worked skillfully through the slower cars.
Sporting a throwback 1991 paint scheme for his 30th season, Mueller went on to post his 17th career PDTR Late Model A main victory in the non-stop, caution-free race over Justin Schmidt, who had to settle for second. Charlie Schmidt came home third, followed by fifth-starter Rick Scheffler of Waukesha in fourth and Buhler in fifth.
“This is a brand-new car and the first night for me in the car, so it was a little up in the air as to how we would be tonight,” Mueller said in victory lane. “Since we had nothing to go by with this car, we went back to our book and used some of our old knowledge to find some speed.
“It was a really nice track for us tonight,” he said. “It was a very smooth track, which usually is good for Late Models. The quality of the track showed tonight with no cautions for us. All of the Late Model guys did good job.”
The 25-lap Sprint Car A main got off to a rocky start as Andrew Westphal of Fond du Lac got sideways and flipped in turn three on the opening lap before collecting Paul Pokorski of West Bend. Both cars suffered heavy damage in the incident and retired to the pit area.
On the drop of the green flag, Tim Haddy outpowered outside front-row starter Brandon McMullen of Appleton to lead the opening lap. McMullen held tight with Haddy throughout most the race, following Haddy’s wheel tracks in close quarters on the predominately one-groove surface.
As the leaders encountered lapped traffic on lap 11, McMullen moved in to look under Haddy on a couple of occasions by the 25-year vet did not budge from his line, refusing to give McMullen an opening to pounce.
On lap 22, fifth-starter Justin Miller of Plymouth slipped past two-time PDTR Sprint Car champion Danny Schlafer of Sussex, who started fourth, to gain third.
Haddy held strong as the leaders approaches slower traffic in the closing laps to nip McMullen at the finish line to record his sixth career PDTR Sprint Car A-main victory and 18th career A main triumph in Midwest Sprint Car Association competition. McMullen finished second, followed by Miller in third, Schlafer fourth and 2010 PDTR Sprint Car champ Kurt Davis of West Allis fifth.
The scheduled 25-lap Grand National A main was limited to 18 laps as six caution flags pushed the race past the time limit.
The race was controlled throughout by polesitter Dan Sorce of West Allis, who held off the valiant attempts third starter Kurt Davis for the entire race. Tyler Kulow of Plymouth charged from the 18th starting spot to place third, followed by St. Peter’s Tim Simon, who started 11th, in fourth and outside front row starter Matt Jackson of Sheboygan in fifth.
Likewise, the scheduled 25-lap B Mod A main completed just nine laps following four caution flags.
Chad Vetting, who started fourth, took over the lead on lap two and never looked back en route to his first B Mod victory in PDTR competition.
Brandon Knepprath of Kewaskum notched a strong runner-up showing from his outside front row starting spot, defending PDTR B Mod champ Brandon Berth of Plymouth took third, followed by J.J. Walvoord, who started sixth, in fourth and Brian Bruechert of Kewaunee, who placed fifth after starting 11th
Denver Larsen prevailed in the non-stop Micro Sprint A main to notch his first career PDTR A main triumph.
Larsen, who started third, engaged in an intense side-by-side battle with Dylan Larsen to take over second place on lap 5. Denver Larsen then started to close on outside front row starter Tory Strauss, who had led from the drop of the green flag.
However, Strauss slowed and retired to the infield on lap 12 to relinquish the lead to Denver Larsen, who then cruised to the victory.
Emily Portschy of Plymouth place second, followed by Preston Ruh (third), Tyler Davis (fourth) and Strauss fifth.
B main victories went to Dannon Tessmer (Sprint Car), Dick Hed of Plymouth (Grand National) and Patrick Hanson (B Mod).
PDTR racing action will continue next Saturday, May 13, with racing schedule to 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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