SURPRISING FIRST-TIME WINNER AS MIDWEST SERIES ENDS by Jeremy Troiano
Hometrack Racers Schendel, Kirchner Win At LaCrosse
Coming into Friday night’s NASCAR Midwest Series finale at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway, Brent Kirchner hadn’t had the best of seasons.
Like a lot of his fellow competitors, he lived in the shadows of Tim Schendel, Dan Fredrickson and Steve Carlson. They were the stars. They were the ones winning races. They were the ones battling for championships.
On Friday night though, Kirchner stepped out from the shadows in the best race that he could of – the series finale. Kirchner won his first-career Midwest Series race in the season and series-finale at Oktoberbest at LaCrosse.
“It feels awesome,” said Kirchner. “I can’t believe it. In front of my hometown crowd here… you can’t even explain it. I’ve been racing this track since I was 16 years old. This is pretty unbelievable. All of the big names that have raced here – Joe Shear, Dick Trickle – its just pretty cool.
“So to finally get my first win here at my home track on is pretty unbelievable. It’s too bad that it’s the last race of the season, but I’m tickled to death either way.”
For a while, it looked like Kirchner would live in the shadows of Schendel and Fredrickson again. The two drivers were battling for the Midwest Series championship and were the two drivers that led the majority of Friday night’s race.
But Kirchner wasn’t going to be denied.
With 20 laps to go, Kirchner turned on the wick and got by
Brent Kirchner won his first Midwest Series race in the last Midwest Series race.
Fredrickson for second. Then, with 10 to go, he was pressuring leader Schendel.
With two laps to go, he finally made his move around Schendel and cruised to the victory.
“We had a game plan coming in and had a setup that we wanted to try. We really wanted to have the good bite coming through the corner at the end, but maintaining the turning in the middle. It did both. It was the most consistent car I’ve ever had here. I knew if we could get bite, he was getting really loose off the corner. That really showed his weak spot. I was pressing him to overdrive the car and he did just a little bit. We touched and that is all it took.”
Kirchner knew he was in the middle of a championship race as well. While he didn’t want to interfere with it, he wasn’t going to let that stop him from winning his first race in his final chance, as evident when he just nudged Schendel and sent Schendel up the track when passing for the lead.
“I knew at the end there that they had more to lose than I did since they were racing for the championship,” added Kirchner. “I was going for the win. That’s all I focused on. I just knew what I had to do at the end and get it done.”
Schendel had to look at the big picture too.
“I wanted to win the race and the championship, but getting greedy ain’t no good, because you’ll miss the whole big picture.”
Schendel’s big picture – he’s the 2006 NASCAR Midwest Series Champion.
And he won that championship by just three points over Fredrickson.
“It’s the last (Midwest Series championship) and my last chance to do it,” added Schendel “Fortunately, I was in a position to do it. We lost some ground last week at Greenville when we had some problems and that really set us back. Tonight, we had a really fast racecar. I had to abuse it more than I would have liked, but those were just circumstances. We won the championship here at my home track, so that is pretty neat.”
Schendel, who led the most laps on Friday night, had to be careful and race his race.
“The race paced slowed down. Danny (Fredrickson) got by me and then he set a fast pace. It took me a little bit to catch him. I got under him and got him down the backstretch. I just had to drive as hard as I could because he had that good of a car. We both turned up the wicks around then. Every time I looked up in my mirror, he was right there. He is always fast everywhere we go. You just never know.
“Then, the 88 car (Kirchner) came out of no where in a way. He just had a great setup in that car, because he was getting off the corner really good. I tired to hold the inside and hold my lane to see if he could go on the outside and he couldn’t. With about four to go, we went down into turn three and four and he got under me and loosened me up. It got me up out of the groove. It was really slippery for the last few laps.
“From there on out, I just had to bring it home and finish second.”
Despite losing the championship, Fredrickson was upbeat.
Tim Schendel won his first and the final Midwest Series Championship.
“Once Tim got away from me there, I let the 88 go figuring they might get wrestling and something might happen, but it just didn’t pan out,” said Fredrickson. “I think I ended up losing by two or three points on this deal.
“I’m happy though. I would have loved to have won the deal, but second it ok. We were right there all year long and showed what we had.”
Steve Carlson finished fourth, the final car on the lead lap. Josh Vadnais, who won the opening race of the year at Colorado, finished fifth.