By Jeff Pederson – Pedal Down Promotions
(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) August 12, 2017 – On a night when Plymouth Dirt Track Racing honored the best drivers who have ever strapped into a race car at the venerable Plymouth track, the stars of today treated fans to thrilling finishes and side-by-side racing action as PDTR presented its annual Past Champions Night program Saturday, Aug. 12, at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds.
In the Sprint Car 25-lap headliner Danny Schlafer pulled off a last-lap pass to claim his third A-main triumph of the 2017 season. Likewise, Justin Schmidt of Cleveland executive a final-lap pass of his own to win his first PDTR Late Model A-main event of the year. Former PDTR Grand National champion Mark Fieber of Cascade notched his second main event victory of the season, while J.J. Walvoord of Sheboygan (B Mod) and Preston Ruh of Elkhart Lake (Micro Sprint) each picked up their first career A-main victories in their respective divisions.
Will Gerrits of Waupun jumped out the lead with a low move in turn four of the opening lap. Gerrits held down the top spot while Boltonville’s Bill Taylor, who started on the pole, road the high groove to pressure the lead on lap 6.
The first of five caution flags appeared on lap 7 when Tyler Brabant of Waupun spun in turn four. Two more caution periods ensued before another green flag lap was completed. The first came when Taylor and 2008 PDTR Sprint Car champion Lance Fassbender of Burnett collided in turn two, and the second appeared for debris in turn one.
When green flag action resumed, 2010 PDTR Sprint Car champ Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee, who started fifth, used the high line to take second. One lap later, Davis charged around Gerrits to assume the top spot.
Meanwhile, two-time PDTR Sprint Car champion Danny Schlafer powered up from his 11th starting spot to take third on lap 9. After the fourth caution of the race came out for Jeremy Hunt’s spin in turn four, Schlafer flexed his muscle to sweep past Gerrits and Davis to take over the lead on lap 11.
Schlafer and Davis each rode the high groove over the second half of the race with Davis staying within five car lengths as the leaders worked through lapped traffic starting on lap 16.
Just as Schlafer appeared set to cruise to the victory the fifth and final caution flag was displayed on lap 23 when Shane Wenninger of Kewaskum and Waupun’s Tim Haddy made contact in turn three.
That set up a mad two lap dash to the finish between the two winningest drivers in the history of the Midwest Sprint Car Association. After a single-file restart, Davis used the high groove in turns one and two to set up a slide job in turns three and four, which vaulted him past Schlafer into the lead on lap 24.
However, Schlafer was not to be denied as he ducked under Davis in turns one and two and slid in front of Davis in turn four of the final lap to post his third PDTR Sprint Car victory of the season, 19th career A-main PDTR Sprint Car triumph and 48th MSA A-main victory of his career.
Davis finished second by just a car length, point leader Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh, who started seventh, finished third, 10th starter Justin Miller of Plymouth placed fourth and Dannon Tessmer of Slinger rounded out the top five after starting eighth.
The caution-free 25-lap Late Model A main rolled off with polesitter Jim Letizia of Milwaukee leading the first three circuits before 2014 PDTR Late Model champ Mitch McGrath, who started fifth, used the high groove in turn two to power past Letizia into the lead on lap 4.
As McGrath held a half-straightway lead at the front of the field, defending PDTR Late Model champion Tim Buhler of Glenbuelah used the low and middle groove to work his way into third place on lap 5 and second place on lap 7.
Buhler gradually began to reel in McGrath over the next 14 laps before pulling even with McGrath in turn two on lap 21. The two former champions dueled side by side on lap 22 before second starter Justin Schmidt of Cleveland, who dropped well back in the field on the start, charged in to pressure the leaders.
On lap 24 used the extreme low line to sneak past Buhler into second and he continued his momentum to dip underneath McGrath in the final turn to seal his first A-main victory of the 2017 season and fifth triumph of his PDTR Late Model career in the non-stop race.
McGrath had to settle for second by less than a car length, Buhler wound up third, fourth starter Jim Schmidt of Cleveland placed fourth and Chris Carlson of Union Grove rounded out the top five after starting third.
Mark Fieber took the lead on the drop of the green flag in the 25-lap Grand National A main from the pole position.
Outside front row starter Jeff Lammers of Plymouth held tight to Fieber along the low groove during the first 11 laps before two-time PDTR Grand National champ Don Sorce Jr. of West Allis worked the high line to work past Lammers into second on lap 12.
Sorce Jr. then moved in to challenge Fieber for the lead on lap 14. The two former Grand National champs dueled side by side over the next two laps, but Fieber was too tough and Sorce Jr. eventually fell in line behind him on lap 15. On lap 20, Sorce Jr. ventured high again to pressure Fieber, but again Fieber fended off the advances of Sorce Jr.
The lone caution of the race appeared on lap 23 when Dick Hed of Plymouth and Brian Cesar of Sheboygan spun to a stop. On the restart, Lammers moved past Sorce Jr. into second up high on lap 24. However, Sorce Jr. battled back to take second at the finish as Fieber cruised to his second PDTR Grand National A-main victory of the season and 12th career A-main triumph at the Plymouth track.
Sorce Jr. was second, Lammers took third, fifth starter Kurt Davis placed fourth and third starter Tyler Kulow of Plymouth claimed fifth.
Polesitter J.J. Walvoord took the lead on lap one of the 25-lap B Mod A main as Chad Vetting of Valders mounted a huge run to work his way into second from the seventh starting spot.
On lap 2, former PDTR Outlaw Compact champ Travis Arenz of Sheboygan, who was filling in for Justin Bauer, moved into second from his eighth starting position. Arenz then proceeded to close the gap on Walvoord before the first of four caution flags appeared on lap 12 when Brandon Berth of Plymouth spun in turn four.
After two more cautions, Arenz continued to hound Walvoord along the low to middle groove. However, Walvoord fended off each of Arenz’s efforts. Meanwhile, point leader Justin Green of Sheboygan Falls, who started 11th, used the high groove to challenge Arenz for second starting on lap 18.
Following one more caution, Arenz and Green continued their duel for second place as Walvoord maintain the lead. At the finish line, it was Walvoord claiming his first career PDTR B Mod A-main victory.
Arenz finished second, Green was third, fifth starter Cody Eickberg of Plymouth place fourth and Vetting rounded out the top five.
In the 15-lap Micro Sprint A main, Preston Ruh grabbed the initial lead from the pole and held off repeated challenges from second starter Dave Collins of Madison on the way to his first career Micro Sprint A-main triumph.
Collins was second, Tyler Davis of South Milwaukee took third and Josh Rehberg of Milwaukee placed fourth.
Ten Vintage Modifieds were also on hand to stage an exhibition race.
The trophy sponsor for evening was Pit Stop Pizza. The next Plymouth Dirt Track racing program on Saturday, Aug. 19 will feature Race Against Cancer Night with a special appearance by Pink Heals of Sheboygan County and the pink fire truck. Racing will begin at 6 p.m.
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