It's Monday On Friday In WCS At Madison by Dean Strom
Questions Remain About Future Of Wisconsin Challenge Series
Winner Andy Monday climbs out after his first Wisconsin Challenge Series win. (Doug Hornickel photos)
Andy Monday held off the biggest stars the Wisconsin Challenge Series (WCS) could throw at him Friday night at Madison (Wis) International Speedway to claim his first series win and the biggest of his young career. Andrew Morrissey, Frank Kreyer, Nathan Haseleu and Mark Eswein chased Monday the entire distance in Tribute to America 100, the penultimate event of the 2007 WCS campaign.
“We’ve got a win this year at Kaukauna in weekly action and won the opener at Norway, Michigan,” said Monday. “But to win a Challenge Series race, against these guys, is just awesome.”
Morrissey is the late model track record holder at Madison and has countless wins at the .50-mile speed plant. Kreyer is a part-time late model racer who also has a handful of 2007 Busch Series and Craftsman Truck Series runs to his credit. Haseleu is the two-time defending WCS champion while Eswein’s resume includes WCS titles from the 2001 and 2004 seasons.
After the invert, Monday started from the outside of the front row while fast qualifier Haseleu began the chase from the 11th slot. After one aborted start, Monday got the jump at the green flag and never relinquished the lead.
“We had a good car in qualifying, it’s just the time didn’t show up as that,” said Monday. “With the help of Steve Strassburg, who used to be the crew chief for Joe Shear, we made some changes for the feature and it was really good.”
Morrissey, who started ninth, was on a tear early and cracked the top five just 10 laps into the race.
The events second and final caution flag was displayed on lap 45. At that point Monday, Kreyer, Eswein, Morrissey and Haseleu occupied the top five, with the finishing order the only thing to be determined.
On the final restart, Monday brought the field slowly down to the green, stacking them up behind him and giving Kreyer the opening he was looking for.
“With our car and transmission, we don’t shift anywhere we go,” confessed Monday. “We’re always in high gear on restarts. The pace was slow, I came around the corner and had it floored
and the guys behind me are just shifting gears, or whatever they’re doing, and getting underneath me. Frank pounded into me a couple times, he was on the gas.”
Kreyer used the restart to get a great run on Monday and darted to the inside of the youngster in turn one, taking a slight edge. But Monday battled back on the high side to retake the lead before the pair crossed the stripe.
“I couldn’t believe it,” said Monday. “Someone gets inside of you on a restart like that, and gets a run all the way to turn one, you figure you’re toast. I really like racing on the outside, but not when it’s for the lead, when you had the lead.”
After Monday reassumed the point, Kreyer settled into the second spot and slowly lost sight of the leader while Morrissey roughed up Eswein to grab the third spot.
“He used me up a little bit, but that’s racing,” stated Eswein. “If we could get off the corner better, we wouldn’t have that problem.”
With 40 laps to go, Kreyer fell victim to Morrissey’s assault and focused on just hanging on to a third place finish.
“I’d get 10 or 15 laps in the car and the brakes just went away,” said Kreyer. “When the caution would come out the brakes would cool down and we’d be back at it for another 10 or 15 laps. I don’t mind having a long green flag run, I’d just like to do it with brakes.”
Over the final 40 circuits, two battles broke out: Morrissey chasing down Monday for the win and the battle royal for third between Kreyer, Haseleu and Eswein for third.
Monday (outside) holds off Frank Kreyer (#99) during the middle portion of the race.
Morrissey slowly reeled in Monday from over a half-straight-away back.
“With 10 to go I got to him and he started making mistakes and I thought I’d get under him,” said Morrissey. “We caught lapped traffic and I went to the outside, I bobbled and I lost 10 car lengths and ran out of time to make it back up.”
“When Andrew caught up to me I figured it was going to be a fist fight,” said Monday. “We were able to catch a lapped car on the straightaway where he caught one in the corner and that allowed me to open the gap back up.”
The battle for the final rung on the podium didn’t disappoint as all three of the combatants battled each other and an ill handling race car.
“Frank, myself and Mark were pretty loose,” said Haseleu. “We were really just hanging on.”
“I thought maybe Frank would die at the end, but by golly he drove it sideway the last 50 laps,” said Eswein.
“It got loose at the end and I had to do everything I could to keep it on the bottom,” commented Kreyer.
Kreyer successfully hung onto third with Haseleu and Eswein rounding out the top five.
Nick Hammer finished sixth while WCS championship point leader, Kenny Richards, finished seventh.
Monday (left) was joined on the podium by Morrissey (middle) and Kreyer (right).
Tribute to America 100 Race Notes
WCS Schedule Update
Two races were recently cut from the 2007 Wisconsin Challenge Series (WCS) schedule. Mother Nature claimed the Blue race of the Red, White and Blue State Championships at Wisconsin International Raceway and a suitable rain date could not be found.
The series also agreed to bow out of the National Short Track Championships (NSTC) at Rockford (Ill) Speedway at the end of September.
“I can’t get cars to travel that far,” said WCS head man Jeffrey Sachse. “And I’ve found I can no longer do multi-day events.”
Rockford Speedway management recently announced that the NSTC would return to its roots and be contested without a sanctioning body.
“I had a very good conversation with Gregg McKarns (Rockford Speedway General Manager) and he asked what we thought we could come up with for cars,” admits Sachse. “I told him quite honestly probably not enough for what I want to see. So why go and put on a show with 18 cars?”
Racer/Marketing Rep/Track Owner
Wisconsin short track ace Frank Kreyer turned over several new chapters in his life in 2007.
Nathan Haseleu (#87) works the inside of Bobby Wilberg (#28).
Early in the year, Frank and a group of investors purchased Dells Raceway Park in Wisconsin Dells. At roughly the same time, he agreed to run a handful of Busch Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races with backing from longtime sponsor Culver’s Frozen Custard.
His Culver’s commitments require him to make countless appearances at restaurants throughout the state.
So what is harder, being a racer, a Marketing Representative or a race promoter?
“Track promoter, all the way,” stated Kreyer, emphatically. “I’ve gained a whole new respect for track promoters. If, as a racer, you have a complaint, you’re complaint is the night, you go home and you forget about it. The promoter hears about it all week long. I get the phone calls all week. Everybody calls Frank, but I love it.”
Add to the mix the fact that Kreyer became a dad for the first time this past July and you can see that his summer has been busy.
“I’ve always believed that the Lord will only give as much as you can handle. And I really must be able to handle a lot,” chuckled Kreyer.
Unofficially, with just one race remaining, Kenny Richards holds a four-point lead in the 2007 WCS championship standings. Two-time defending champion Nathan Haseleu sits second.
“I had to look at the points race,” said Haseleu after his fourth place finish Friday night. “If I wasn’t in a point race it may have gotten a little more physical at the end.”
The points chase wraps up next weekend at Marshfield (Wis) Speedway.