With the recent heat wave that has hit the area, I guess you can say the “dog days of summer” have arrived. As the weather heats up outside, so are the battles for the track championships in each division at Shawano Speedway.
Last week’s racing action had a major impact in the point standings in some of the divisions at the Speedway. The battle for the WISSOTA Late Model track championship has become a toss-up at this point. After the first week of the season when defending track champion Ron Berna finish 18th in the feature, one had to wonder if he could repeat as champion. Berna was able to put that bad night behind him, and with his second feature win of the year last week, he is only two points behind Paul Parker in the standings.
Parker has been very consistent during the feature events this year, finishing out of the top five only twice so far this season. His worst finish is an eighth place. But points are also accumulated during heat races, so a driver can also make up ground during the heat races.
Tom Naeyaert was in third place entering the night of racing, but he finish sixth in his heat and made only one lap in the feature because of mechanical problems.
Jason Czarapata has been the class of the field so far in the IMCA Modified division. He won his fifth feature of the season at the Speedway, but was able to extend his point lead by only one point over Jerry Wilinski. Wilinksi, who won the championship last year, finished second in the feature.
There was plenty of drama in the IMCA Northern SportMod division. Defending champion and current point leader Clint Forstner has been a model of consistency this year, as he was all of last year. That came to an end last week as Forstner headed to pit lane on the pace lap before the green flag flew for the IMCA Northern SportMod feature. He made it back onto the track before the race started, but was mired in the back and wasn’t making any progress to the front.
Forstner pitted again when a caution came out on lap three. It was announced that it looked like his crew was changing the left rear axle. He was on pit lane for five laps and returned to the race after a caution on lap eight. He wound up finishing in 19th place. He entered the night of racing with a 20 point lead over Tracy Wassenberg, who finished seventh in the feature. That puts Wassenberg only eight points behind Forstner. Travis Van Straten won the feature with Cody Hudson finishing second. That puts Hudson 25 points out of the points lead and Van Straten 26 points back.
With current point leader Dave Fieber winning the FASTRAK Late Model feature, there wasn’t much opportunity for Joel Bennett to gain ground. But a rare mistake by Bennett probably cost him four points in the standings. Bennett had a fast car and was in the process of making an inside pass on Justin Hirt on lap 14 when Bennett spun on his own in corner two. He wound up finishing sixth in the feature. Fieber won the contest.
There was a familiar driver back in the IMCA Stock Car division for the first time this season – Dan Michonski. Michonski showed right away in his heat race that there was little rust to shake off, as he finished second. He started about mid-pack in the feature but quickly made his way to the front taking the lead on lap eight and never looking back. Missing half the season means Michonski won’t be battling for the track championship at the end of the year, but that doesn’t mean a Michonski won’t be battling for the championship.
Nate Michonski lost one point to Rod Snellenberger but still holds an eight point advantage in the IMCA Stock Car point standings. This is going to be a very interesting battle to watch the rest of the season.
Don’t forget, the World of Outlaws Late Model Series invasion of Shawano Speedway will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 3.