Weinkauf Conquers a Memorial Day Tradition by Jana Jurkovich
Wins Wisconsin Challenge Race at Golden Sands
As the United States remembered those who have died in our nation's service, over thirty late models descended on Golden Sands Speedway for an eight year old tradition that pairs the Wisconsin Challenge Series with the Golden Sands Speedway in Plover, Wisconsin for the Memorial 100.
Says Wausau native Jeremy Lepak, "What we're representing is everybody overseas; [what they do] gives us the opportunity to be here and that's really what it's all about."
Mark Eswein, from nearby Wisconsin Rapids, doesn't think he's missed a Memorial Day race yet and that showed as he put up fast time in qualifying.
“It's pretty special to come here and have fast time at my hometown track in front of all my friends and family. All the sponsors are from this area, so it means quite a bit to come out here and set fast time.”
The inverted start put Josh Bauer on the pole for the Memorial 100. Bauer's #71 held the lead position for the first twelve laps. That's when Andrew Morrissey made his charge for the lead and by lap fourteen took over the front spot and began to open a gap on the rest of the field.
Around that same time, Merrill native Chris Weinkauf, who started seventh, began a
Josh Bauer shows his American pride. (Golden Sands Speedway / Blaser Photography Photos)
charge to the front of his own. As he negotiated traffic getting past Don “Thunder” Turner, who started in front of him, was one of the biggest challenges of the day.
Said Weinkauf, “We had a little trouble getting around Thunder Turner in the beginning of the race and that was kind of the move of the race; if I hadn't got around him I don't think I would have had a chance.”
By lap 21 Weinkauf's #99 had worked its way in to third and another 21 laps later moved in to second and closed ground on the leader Morrissey. A caution at lap 45 allowed Weinkauf to restart right on Morrissey's bumper and from there it took just four laps for the #99 to clear for the lead.
“The car got good bite off the corner,” said Weinkauf, “I'm at home so it's the setup all year long or so far this year, we just tweaked it a little bit today. The car was just really rolling through the corner real good.”
After taking the lead Weinkauf opened up a large gap on the rest of the field. Another caution at lap 53 tightened up the field again, but Weinkauf got out front and pulled away with no problem. The #99 on his home track never looked back as he took the checkered flag for his first Wisconsin Challenge Series win in six years.
“This feels awesome,” commented a thrilled Weinkauf, “To win a WCS race is great. We won one a few years back so a big drought for awhile. There's a lot of stiff competition in WVC so it's really great to come here and win this race.”
While Weinkauf drove away with the win Monday, a battle was brewing for second place. Josh Bauer began to close back in on his previous position and a hard charging Eswin weaved his way up from his 11th starting position. With seven laps to go
Bauer passed Morrissey's #39 for second, and one lap later Morrisey was passed
again, this time by Eswein. Eswein though ran out of laps to close in any further on Bauer or Weinkauf.
“Mark Eswein is really good here,” said Weinkauf, “He won Friday night here and had fast time again today, so I was really thinking that he was going to be full in my mirror by the time that race ended. But, we were really able to stretch it out during that long green run and he had a hard time getting around people just like I did. It's really tough to pass on a hot track and we stretched the lead out and that helped us big time.”
After the race Bauer and his #71 encountered some problems in post race tech. His disqualification moved Eswein up to second, Steve Holzhausen third and Morrisey fourth on the official results.
The WCS hits the track next June 14th at Wisconsin International Raceway in Kaukauna, WI.
Weinkauf in victory lane.