By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) November 7, 2018 – In a sport as unpredictable and endlessly challenging as dirt track racing, consistency is something that all racers aspire to, but few achieve.
For Paul Pokorski and his Pokorski Motorsports team the 2018 season was loaded with a remarkable level of unwavering consistency, which was sustained over a five-month span from the drop of the green flag at the Beaver Dam Raceway in Beaver Dam, Wis. on April 29 to the final checkered flag at The Plymouth Dirt Track in Plymouth, Wis. on Saturday, Sept. 29.
In fact, 26-year driver recorded the team’s most consistent season in 14 years by completing every lap of every A main he competed in during the 2018 campaign, while steering clear of any major incidents or mechanical malfunctions.
The 2014 Midwest Sprint Car Association Masters Series champion racked up five top-five A-main finishes, 16 top-10 A-main showings and five heat race triumphs in 24 events during the 2018 campaign.
Drawing on the strength of its highly consistent finishes, the Pokorski Motorports team placed fifth in the final Plymouth Dirt Track Racing 360 Sprint Car standings and fourth in the Midwest Sprint Car Association standings, just three points out of third place, during the 2018 season.
“I’d say it was good a good season,” Pokorski said. “I am proud of the fact that we were competitive most nights, some better than others of course, but we were competitive. We also finished every race on the lead lap with no breakdowns and no wrecker rides. That is a huge success in any form or division of racing.”
After unseasonably cold spring weather condition forced the cancellation of the team’s planned 2018 season opener at The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis., the team made a late decision to enter an Interstate Racing Association 410 Sprint Car Series event at the Beaver Dam Raceway on April 29.
Despite competing with an underpowered 360 powerplant, Pokorski qualified for the IRA A main and came home with a respectable 15th-place finish in the A main.
On May 5, Pokorski opened the Plymouth Dirt Track Racing 360 Sprint Car season with a 10th-place showing in the A main. Following a rain out on May 12 and an abbreviated night of racing on May 19, which ended before the A main due to rain, Pokorski reeled off three straight top-10 finishes in the next three events before dipping to a 13th-place finish at The Plymouth Dirt Track on June 9.
Pokorski bounced back to record a sixth-place showing in A-main action at The Plymouth Dirt Track on June 15. A doubleheader weekend produced a ninth-place showing at Spring Lake Speedway in Unity on June 22 and a 12th-place showing at The Plymouth Dirt Track on June 23.
After a weather cancellation at Plymouth on June 30, Pokorski registered one of his best performances of the season in an MSA event at the high-speed half-mile Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam on July 6.
Pokorski started seventh and worked the high groove into record a strong second-place showing in the A-main event, which proved to be a standout night for the three-time Eastern Wisconsin Stock Car Winged Super Modified champion.
“Running second at Dodge County is the one thing that comes to mind when thinking of a highlight of the season,” Pokorski said. “I used to dread going there, but I’ve come to like it and look forward to it, which shows in the results.”
Pokorski came back the following night to post a sixth-place showing in the Mid-Season Championship A-main event at The Plymouth Dirt Track on July 7 before backing that up with a 10th-place showing at Plymouth on July 14.
Pokorski registered a strong fourth-place finish in A-main action at Plymouth on July 28 and added a sixth-place showing at Plymouth on Aug. 4, during an evening that also produced one of Pokorski’s biggest disappointments of the 2018 season.
“The most difficult moment this season for me was probably an unintended run in with Adam Miller that caused him to wreck during a heat race at Plymouth on August 4th,” Pokorski said. “It bothers me when I make mistakes, especially when it hurts someone else physically or financially. He and I were both having fun up until that moment, but stuff like that takes the fun out of racing for both people involved, but it is part of it and we’ve been on both sides, so you just have to move on.”
Pokorski added two more top-10 showings the following weekend as he finished third at Plymouth on Aug. 11 and tallied a sixth-place showing at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie on Aug. 12.
On Aug. 18, Pokorski equaled his second-best finish by placing second at Plymouth. The following day, Pokorski suffered some rare misfortune as a flat tire forced him to pit late in an A-main at TNT Speedway in Three Lakes. However, he bounced back to salvage an 11-place showing.
After recording a ninth-place finish at Plymouth on Aug. 25, Pokorski posted an eighth-place finish at Outagamie Speedway Powered By EWSC in Seymour on Aug. 31 and added sixth-place finish at Plymouth on Sept. 1.
Pokorski notched an 11th-place finish at Plymouth on Sept. 8 before capping the 2018 campaign with another 11th-place showing at Plymouth on Sept. 29.
“Consistency in our team members, set-ups on the car and our weekly routines in the shop and at the track definitely made a difference this year,” Pokorski said. “This team has been together for a very long time by racing standards. Everyone knows their role and what needs to be done and when it needs to be done. Also, coupling with great vendor partners like Goodwin Competition, Competition Driveline, Behling’s Racing Equipment and R&H racing to name a few has been great for us. Those people do a great job on the parts we get from them or ask them to service. It all adds up to a year like this one. I would actually say the last few years have not been terrible, but this year was definitely smoother sailing than any I can remember.”
Encouraged by how his 2016 Maxim performed over the second half of the 2018 season, Pokorski is looking forward to fine tuning a few things to come out even stronger in 2019.
“I always feel like it takes us until about mid-season to learn something significant and improve over where we started the year,” Pokorski said. ‘I’d say we learned a few things again. Just goes to show you need to keep on learning every day, in regard to racing or anything else in life. I was really happy with the last month or so. The last night we went a little too far with some of the things we were trying, which is good. Now we know how far is too far. We can start with what worked and start working on the next thing…whatever it is.”
Looking ahead to next year, it appears that it will be business as usual for the Pokorski Motorsports team.
“I don’t plan on changing anything for next year,” Pokorski said. “We just plan on getting everything fresh and try to get ahead and stay ahead on all the projects and commitments that go along with racing. We already have a good jump on 2019.”
Pokorski is thankful for the support he received once again this year from his dedicated pit crew.
“I have to thank my wife, Lynn, for tolerating 26 years of racing,” Pokorski said. “Also, my brother-in-law and crew chief Dave Schultz for sticking with me. Randy Leamer for always making last-minute adjustments when I change my mind. Randy was battling an ankle that had to be replaced just before the end of season and we missed his help at the end of the year. I’m also proud of Aaron Pederson and Ian Schultz for continuing to learn and help with whatever they can.”
A collection of longtime supporters and one major new addition filled out an impressive list of Pokorski Motorsports sponsors for the 2018 season.
The Pokorski Motorsports sponsors for the 2018 season include: Quest Engineering Inc., Acme Armature Works Inc., Goeden’s Auto Body, Goodwin Racing Engines, Jens, Reinbold & Pfeffer Family Funeral Service & Crematory, Kettle Moraine Landscaping, Novak’s Service Center, Pedal Down Promotions, Tilser Salvage Inc., Allied Bearing Corporation and The Cawley Company.
“I can’t thank all of our advertising partners enough for their help,” Pokorski said. “Hopefully others will too. We were thrilled to have Quest Engineering come on board with us this year. We appreciate their support. Goeden’s Auto Body keeps the race car the right shade of blue and always takes care of what we send their way. Mark and Joel Jens have been long time partners. Al Knepprath at Kettle Moraine Landscaping is always supportive on and off the track. Novak’s Service in Manitowoc and Tisler Salvage are both longtime partners. I need to also acknowledge The Cawley Company, which is our longest active sponsor at 22 consecutive years. Their support over such a long time period is greatly appreciated. Finally, I was happy to have Acme Armature back to help for another year.”
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2018 Pokorski Motorsports By The Numbers
Total Events – 24
MSA events – 23
IRA events – 1
A Main Victories – 0
Top Five A Main Finishes – 5
Top 10 A Main Finishes – 16
Heat Race Victories – 5
Midwest Sprint Car Association Points – 4th
Plymouth Dirt Track Racing Points – 5th