NATHAN HASELEU MAKES A STATEMENT AT MILWAUKEE by Dean Strom
Super Late Model Driver On Fire With WCS
It was a record setting Wisconsin Challenge Series event Sunday afternoon at the Milwaukee Mile.
For starters, the series was making its first visit to the historic 103-year-old facility and marked the first time the short-track series had visited a mile-long racetrack. The six-year-old series also established a new record for car count as 71 super late models checked in through the back gate (68 of which made an official qualifying lap).
Rothe, a contender for the track championship at Wisconsin International Raceway, worked under Horstman for the second spot on lap two and quickly set sail on Richards.
Rothe caught and passed the second-generation racer on lap nine. But it was Haseleu who was making the most noise, cracking the top six by lap 10.
“The car worked real good,” said Haseleu. “Everybody was hugging the bottom and I just kind of went up around the outside of a lot of guys. It really worked good, I don’t know what to say. It’s not very often you get a car that good.”
Haseleu then worked past Charlie Menard for fifth. A lap later he went around Horstman and Storm to crack the top three.
Once disposing of Richards for the runner-up spot, Haseleu set sail for Rothe who had opened up a two second advantage.
Haseleu was at Rothe’s rear bumper by lap 18 and took just two more circuits to pick his spot, and drive by.
Nathan Haseleu took the led and never looked back, winning the WCS race at Milwaukee. (51 photo)
And from there, it was obvious; the race would be for second.
Early race leader Richards and Rothe both began to fade while 10th starting Trent Snyder methodically worked his way to the front. Just prior to the halfway mark, Snyder fought up to the runner-up spot and tried to claw his way closer to Haseleu.
“It looked like I was catching him a little,” said Snyder. “But he might have been backing off a little, he had such a big lead.”
Brian Johnson, Jr’s mount erupted in smoke as he raced
into turn one on lap 31. That necessitated a track clean up and brought out the events first caution. The yellow gave Snyder and the rest of the front-runners renewed hope, as they were able to close in on Haseleu.
Nathan Haseleu's #87
And finally, Nathan Haseleu extended his series win streak to a record four straight as he took the checkers in the Governor’s Cup 50-lap main event.
“I do enjoy the big tracks,” said Haseleu. “I’ve gotten to race on them quite a bit in the past. It was just a lot of fun today.”
After the mandatory series invert, championship contender Kenny Richards and Blake Horstman went from row one while Haseleu, the day’s fastest qualifier, lined up 14th.
When the green flag fell it was Richards getting the jump on the field as Horstman, Todd Stapleman, Jeff Storm and Tim Rothe gave chase.
“I was super happy on that first caution because he was so far out in front of us,” said Snyder. “But then he pulled away on the restart.”
Storm’s ride stayed good all day and as the race drew near conclusion, he found himself locking horns with Snyder for second. Storm got his shot when caution flew over the speedway again on lap 46 for an incident involving Horstman, setting up one final restart.
Trent Snyder's #88 (Steve Benesh photo)
Haseleu drove away at the drop of the green, while Storm made an assault on Snyder.
“It looked like Trent just over drove it a little bit heading down into turn one and I was able to pull right next to him,” recalled Storm. “But I was just a little too free off to hold it down there out of turn two.”
Snyder did hold Storm at bay but could only watch as Haseleu once again drive away from him.
“Nathan was just too good today and too strong,” conceded Snyder.
Snyder, Storm, Richards and Stapleman crossed under the checkered behind Haseleu.
“I just love running here at the Milwaukee Mile,” said Snyder. “Finishing second to Nathan is great. We only get one chance a year here. This is just awesome.”
Dennis Prunty won the 20-lap B-feature for drivers who did no qualify for the main event.
Just two races remain on the 2006 Wisconsin Challenge Series schedule as Haseleu looks to repeat as series champion.
“We just have to ride the luck while we have it,” said Haseleu. “You never know, I might go two years and never win a race.”
The series goes next to Haseleu’s home track, Madison (Wis.) International Speedway, Friday night September 8.