When the dust settled after four months of racing, five champions where crowned at Shawano Speedway on Saturday night. Of the five, only one driver defended his track championship – Jason Czarapata in the IMCA Modified division.
Nick Anvelink won his first WISSOTA Late Model track championship. He joins his dad, Terry, who has won seven Late Model titles at Shawano Speedway.
“It’s nice to win one here just for that reason, that he has won so many here,” Nick Anvelink said. “We haven’t been able to do a lot of racing around this summer so it’s kind of nice to get the hometown championship.”
“It’s a good feeling to have another championship here,” Terry Anvelink added.
Anvelink did have Mother Nature on his side and knows he probably wouldn’t have won the championship if the races the first weekend in August weren’t rained out. Anvelink was participating in the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake Speedway that weekend and would have missed the races in Shawano.
When asked what some of the keys were to him winning the championship, Nick responded with a laugh, “Probably dad not racing.”
He did admit that since his dad didn’t race this year, it allowed the race team to focus on just one car.
“We’ve messed around with a lot more stuff this summer than we ever have before,” Nick said.
The Late Model Anvelink ended the season in, he debuted around midseason, and it’s a car he built.
With the championship, Anvelink becomes one of a select few drivers who have won championships in two different divisions. He won the IMCA Modified championship in 2000.
“It’s tough to win a championship, you have to have a little luck and things have to be going your way pretty much the whole summer,” Nick said. “We’ve finished pretty much every race that we’ve started. It’s been good that way. A lot of guys don’t get the chance to win one championship so it’s cool to be able to win two in different divisions.”
Czarapata repeated as the IMCA Modified track champion. He said the championship is an accomplishment, especially since the average car count in the division was a little higher this year over last year.
“I don’t really race for points, but a guy kind of does,” Czarapata said. “We just show up every week and whatever happens, happens.”
Czarapata said the keys to his championship were hard work, never giving up, coming to the track prepared and giving it everything he and his crew has, even when it comes to helping other drivers.
“Sometimes you get rewarded when you help others,” Czarapata said.
Nate Michonski didn’t repeat as the IMCA Stock Car champion, but the championship stays in the Michonski family as Nate’s brother, Dan, won the championship. It is Dan’s first championship at Shawano Speedway.
“It’s special because this is where we grew up watching dirt track races,” Dan Michonski said. “This is where mom and dad brought Nate and I when we were little boys, to come watch racing every Saturday. I watched all my local racing heroes go out and win races and win championships, so it means a lot to be able to do something I’ve always wanted to do. To finally win one and then win it in back-to-back seasons after Nate won last year is pretty special.”
Dan credited his family and crew for helping win the championship.
“The crew worked hard,” Dan said. “There were some weeks where we had to change motors between the heat and feature, I think it was three times this year just for my car alone. Without the guys that we had here to help lift motors in and out, and get them put together in time to go racing the feature was the only way we would have been able to do this because if we wouldn’t have been finishing races, we wouldn’t have been able to win the championship.”
Michonski plans on selling this year’s race car and building a new IMCA Stock Car during the offseason.
Bennett dominated the FASTRAK Late Model division en route to his first championship. Bennett said the championship means a lot to him, especially since two of his brothers have won championships at Shawano Speedway. Lowell Bennett won the Late Model championship in 1981, while Brady Bennett won the Mini Stock championship in 1989.
“It’s definitely something special this year to be able to follow in my brothers’ footsteps and get a championship done,” Bennett said. “It’s really cool. It’s something I always wanted to do and try hard to do every year.”
Bennett said the keys to his championship were a lot of hard work, a lot of thought over the offseason and putting in a lot of hours.
Bennett also said he plans on switching to the WISSOTA Late Model division next season.
Wassenberg is the answer to a trivia question as he won the first-ever IMCA Northern SportMod championship at Shawano Speedway in 2006. Now, six years later, he has another championship under his belt.
“I’m really excited,” Wassenberg said after clinching the championship. “Like you said, it’s been a few years.”
He said some of the keys to his success were switching to a Razor chassis this year, his RSR shocks and his pit crew.
“The car drives like a dream, you can drive it anywhere and it will go,” Wassenberg said.
When asked which championship meant more, Wassenberg responded, “The first one is always special but this one meant a lot. Me and Cody Hudson had a goal at the beginning of the year to try and win all the features, and we almost did.”
All the drivers also made sure to mention their sponsors as keys to their success this year.