That was Jeremy Lepak’s first thought about winning the Chicago International Trucks 200 at the 41st Annual National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway on Sunday afternoon.
position. From there he steadily worked his way through the field to take the lead on the 136th lap on route to his victory.
The Wax Shop Clean Sweep Award went to Lepak as both fast qualifier and race winner. He also won the Tesar Engineering Racing Engines/Appleton Rack & Pinion Fast Qualifier Award, the Fathedz.com fast qualifier and winner Awards.
Jeremy Lepack won his second-career CRA event. (James MacDonald photos)
Kenny Tweedy started on the pole due to the invert; Tweedy was able to hold the lead until the 40th lap when Nathan Haseleu slipped under him to take the lead. Haseleu held the lead until the 131st lap.
Scott Hantz had started seventh and patiently passed the other cars, carefully picking through the field to take the lead from Haseleu.
Lepak was right on Hantz’s rear bumper, and made a move to the inside of Hantz on the 135th lap, but Hantz was able to hold him off. Lepak made another run on the137th lap this time he was able to drive under Hantz to take the lead. Hantz made several attempts to retake
Nathan Haseleu (#87) moves underneath Kenny Tweedy (#6) to take the lead.
“Everybody on this race team, my family, they know where we started. We used to hook up race cars to pine trees to straighten them out because we were just a low dollar deal. To get this deal with Jerry (Gunderman) is a dream comes true. You don’t find a better car owner; he gives you everything you need to win.”
Lepak had to overcome a rough weekend to win his second CRA Super Series presented by Spray Power race. Just as the cars were pulling out to qualify his fuel pump went out forcing him to miss his scheduled qualifying spot and allowing him to have only 1 lap to qualify. He made the most of that lap setting a new track record. But also because of missing his spot he was not eligible to start in the Top 10, so he started in eleventh
the lead, even running side by side with Lepak a couple of times, but was unable to get past. For his effort driving through the field Hantz was awarded the Sweet Manufacturing “Sweet Move of the Race Award”.
Larry Schuler finished third, Eddie Van Meter fourth. Van Meter had to work his way up from 25th, getting in the field with a points provisional.
“We just missed qualifying a little bit, but Bill Rievley and the guys gave me a good car and we had dug a hole to start, I just wish we had had a better qualifying run and started up front the then we could have seen what we could have done.” Van Meter earned the ISKY Racing Cams/Lane Automotive Hard Charger and Racing Electronics Most Improved Awards. He also received a Hoosier Racing Tire Performance Award.
St. John is still second in points, but trails Hantz by 54 points with only one points event remaining in the 2006 season. Frank Kreyer rounded out the top ten finishers. Jeff Way finished 11th and was the winner of Saturday nights 20 lap qualifying event.
Lepack (#40) makes his move around Scott Hantz.
Poplar Grove, Wisconsin native Dan Lensing finished in fifth, coming from his 15th place starting position. Lansing was the highest finishing crate engine car. West Bend, Wisconsin’s Tony Strupp also received a Hoosier Racing Tire Award. He raced his way into his NSTC starting position by winning the 15 lap Last Chance Race earlier in the day. Starting 27th Strupp finished sixth.
Ricky Bilderback, who just won his 6th consecutive track championship at Rockford Speedway came back from a flat tire just after halfway to finish seventh. Brian Johnson Jr. came back from the tail after an early on track incident to finish in eighth. Tommy St. John finished in ninth, losing valuable points to series point leader Scott Hantz,