Midwest Series Champion Blows Elite Field Away
When life is good, life is really good.  Just ask Tim Schendel.

Schendel has been living a dream as of recent.  Earlier this year, Schendel made his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut with his family-owned team.   Just a few weeks later, he found himself finishing second in the ARCA race at Milwaukee.

“We tried some different things that we have been working on all year and I guess it worked.  Last night (in the qualifying races, where Tim finished third), I was a little free.  I tried to catch up with the top two guys and I couldn’t do it.  Tonight, we just had it.”

Now, Schendel’s resume just got that much bigger.  And so did his wallet.

Tim Schendel climbs out of his car after claiming victory.  (51 photos)
“It is a huge win.  I don’t think it has set in yet.  Really, winning the championship is just beginning to set in with having the banquet this weekend and all.  Now, we did this.  It’s just huge. 

“This is the biggest short track race of this time of the year.  We won the championship at LaCrosse.  Now, I’m going to make my Busch Series debut at Memphis next week with MacHill Motorsports.  I’m trying to get a job too.  Hopefully, this shows I’m ready.”

And while Schendel isn’t the most talkative guy, his attitude has really helped him out this year.
Tim Schendel in his #21 machine.
All the while, Schendel found himself leading the Midwest Series point standings.  Then came LaCrosse Speedway and Oktoberfest and the final Midwest Series race.   A second-place finish in the race after a dominating performance gave Schendel the Midwest Series title in the last year for the series. 

It’s proof that things were going good for the Sparta, Wisconsin native.   But on Saturday night, they got even better.

Schendel proved himself to be the best-of-the-best of all Elite Division drivers Saturday night, winning the fourth running of the Toyota All Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, California. 

And Schendel didn’t only win the race.  He dominated.

Schendel took the lead from Eddy McKean on lap 18 of the 125-lap event.  He never lost it.

“We can’t do much better than we did,” said Schendel.  “We’ve been having some bad luck out here the last couple of years.  We just never had the car where we needed it to be.  I guess it took three  years to get it right. 

“I just want to win races.  I have watched Steve Carlson and Matt Kenseth and other people win races.  Steve never really cared about winning championships, he just wanted to win races.   That has been my motive all year long.  Out here, there is so much on the line.”

Schendel, at times, had leads of almost three and four seconds.  For a while, the only driver that could run with him was Gary Helton, who unfortunately was a lap down at the time.

The real race was for second, and who was trying to make a run at Schendel.  That was a battle between Dan Fredrickson and Thomas Martin.   When Fredrickson got into second, it looked like just another race in the Midwest Series in 2006, where Schendel beat Fredrickson for the title by just three points.

No one could come close to catching Schendel though.  This was his night.

“I just kept going as hard as I could,” added Schendel.  “That is the whole point of this game.  I just wanted to get out front and see what I could do and the thing took right off.  The longer it went, the better the car got.  The first 75 laps, the car was tight.  We just made a small adjustment and the thing was perfect. 

“I talked with my buddy Auggie Vidovich today on the phone for about an hour figuring out what to do.  We came to the conclusion that the track probably wasn’t going to change.  We thought we’d try to put the bite into the car.”

Martin was able to get by Fredrickson for second on the final lap of the event.  Eric Holmes, who finished second in the Southwest Series by just one point this year, finished fourth, while Jim Pettit II was fifth.

None were in the same league as Schendel.  And that should be no surprise, considering the year he’s had.

Schendel's girlfriend Tracy celebrates after he takes the win.
“It’s been a fun year. Things are going good.  We’ve had a pretty successful year in everything we’ve run.  The Late Model and the ARCA car are my parents team and its been stressful and it takes a lot of effort to do it.  Thankfully, it all had worked out well.  Hopefully now, next week goes just as well.   I just want to make the race and see how it goes.”

And so closes the book on the NASCAR Elite Division.

“There is some prestige of winning the last ever Elite race too.  This series is a good deal and I’m really sad that NASCAR is getting rid of it.  There are some good racers here.  It is really a good stepping stone or a good place to stay and race.  Hopefully, something can happen and we find a place to run these cars.

"I’m going to miss it; that’s for sure.”

Race Results
NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown
NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division
Irwindale Speedway    October 21, 2006
Final leaders of Saturday's $268,320.00 NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division stock car race with driver's starting position in parentheses, hometown, make and model of car, laps completed, winner's average speed, reason out (if any) and prize money.
1.  (6) Tim Schendel, Sparta Wis., Chevrolet, 130, $14,300
2.  (4) Thomas Martin, Auburn Calif., Chevrolet, 130, $10,000
3. (13) Dan Fredrickson, Elko Minn., Chevrolet, 130, $9,000
4. (20) Eric Holmes, Escalon Calif., Chevrolet, 130, $7,750
5.  (3) Jim Pettit, II, Prunedale Calif., Ford, 130, $7,500
6. (10) Wilbur Bruce, Tacoma Wash., Chevrolet, 130, $7,750
7. (19) David Mayhew, Atascadero Calif., Chevrolet, 130, $7,125
8. (30) Steve Carlson, West Salem Wis., Chevrolet, 130, $8,750
9. (29) Brandon Riehl, Boring Ore., Chevrolet, 130, $7,000
10. (11) Jay Sauls, Puyallup. Wash., Chevrolet, 130, $6,875
11. (12) Garrett Evans, East Wenatchee Wash., Chevrolet, 130, $6,500
12. (22) Mike Gallegos, Wheat Ridge Colo., Chevrolet, 130, $6,800
13. (17) Scotty Backman, Parker Colo., Chevrolet, 130, $6,825
14. (15) Kevin Clark, Colorado Springs Colo., Chevrolet, 130, $5,600
15.  (7) J.R. Norris, Mulga Ala., Ford, 130, $6,000
16. (35) Mike Longton, Moxee Wash., Chevrolet, 130, $5,900
17.  (8) Dusty Williams, Garden City Ga., Chevrolet, 130, $5,800
18. (24) Brent Kirchner, LaCrosse Wis., Chevrolet, 130, $6,200
19. (36) Gary Helton, Sevierville Tenn., Chevrolet, 129, $5,600
20. (18) Kevin Vernon, Bakersfield Calif., Chevrolet, 129, $5,000
21. (28) Bruce Yackey, Greeley Colo., Chevrolet, 129, $6,000
22. (40) Gary Lewis, Bothell Wash., Chevrolet, 129, $5,500
23. (25) Ted Mickelson, Greer S.C., Chevrolet, 129, $5,625
24. (27) Mark Kraus, Strattford Wis., Chevrolet, 128, $6,000
25. (31) Michel Foy, Grayson Ga., Chevrolet, 127, $5,500
26. (37) B.J. Tidrick, Yakima Wash., Chevrolet, 126, $5,500
27. (26) Travis Bennett, Ellensburg Wash., Chevrolet, 123, Accident, $5,500
28.  (2) Ryan Lawler, Colleyville Texas, Ford, 123, Accident, $5,950
29.  (1) Eddy McKean, Jerome Idaho, Pontiac, 119, $5,450
30. (21) Josh Hamner, Harpersville Ala., Chevrolet, 119, $5,500
31. (39) Joe Mattress, Zebulon N.C., Chevrolet, 118, $5,500
32. (34) Chip Brindle, Chatsworth Ga., Chevrolet, 111, $5,500
33.  (5) Rip Michels, San Fernando Calif., Chevrolet, 103, $5,300
34. (23) Greg Fowler, Erie Colo., Chevrolet, 97, Engine, $6,000
35. (14) Shane Mitchell, Orondo Wash., Chevrolet, 93, Engine, $5,500
36. (16) Greg Voigt, Santa Barbara Calif., Chevrolet, 77, Accident, $5,000
37.  (9) Josh Vadnais, White Bear Lake Minn., Chevrolet, 74, Engine, $6,000
38. (33) Jeff Barkshire, Auburn Wash., Dodge, 54, Ignition, $5,500
39. (32) M K Kanke, Frazier Park Calif., Chevrolet, 47, Fuel Pump, $5,000
40. (38) Walter Sutcliffe, East Haven Conn., Chevrolet, 37, $5,500

The final checkered flag fell on the Elite Division.  (Getty Photos Credit)