The sun rises in the east. We pay our taxes. And Steve Carlson wins short track races.
Those three statements are all facts of life, the third fact one that is experienced nearly weekly by fans in the upper Midwest. Followers of the ASA Late Model Series North Division also are becoming familiar with that refrain, as the West Salem, Wisconsin driver lived up to the billing of 'King of the Short Tracks,' claiming another win Sunday, this time at the Madison International Speedway as part of the Border Wars weekend between MIS and the Rockford Speedway.
Carlson, who started in 7th spot, would work to the top spot by lap 19 and be challenged minimally en route to his 2nd ASALMS North win of the year and 3rd ASALMS win in his last four attempts.
The race was far from boring however, especially in the early going. The battling was fast and furious at the drop of the green flag as the cars charged into turn one and into the blazing afternoon sun. Pole sitter John Wood would hold the lead for the first couple of circuits, as he was pressured from behind by Troy Hintzsche and from up top by Dave Gentile Jr. Hintzsche would get under and around Wood by lap 3, and Gentile would squeeze around Wood in the second turn of lap three. By lap nine, Gentile would battle Hintzsche and be the race's new leader on that ninth circuit.
But then, the rapid climb of Carlson and his sporty #66 came into focus. The veteran chauffeur would move into the top three by lap 12 and pressure Saturday nights winner Ross Kenseth for second on lap 15. On lap 18, Gentile saw the color he dreaded the most, yellow. The caution for the spinout of Mark Beard in turn two would not only slow the field down, but bring Carlson to the back bumper of Gentile.
As the field restarted, Carlson worked his magic. In only one lap, Carlson would dispose of Gentile and march off into the afternoon. A yellow flag five laps later put Gentile back to Carlson's bumper, but Gentile could only hold second and not challenge for the top spot. Joey King would go after the second spot on the restart, and finally wrestle the position away as the race neared halfway.
Gentile's great day would come to a halt shortly after, as he looped his car in tricky turn two, bringing out the third yellow flag of the day. This would erase the enormous lead that was built up by Carlson, and give King a chance to challenge the leader. King was up to the challenge, getting underneath Carlson as the field completed lap 62. But a yellow flag on that lap for a spin from Kenseth, and later, Tanner Berryhill, killed the attack from King.
Carlson would show no mercy on what was the races final restart, jumping away from King and the field and hitting the line first by two and a half seconds over the runner up finisher.
Despite being the dominant car in the 100 lapper, Carlson and team were far from happy with the car for the balance of the day.
“We were out here in practice earlier, and the car just wasn't that good,' said Carlson. 'The thing was hitting the ground and we were all tight and pushing and stuff. We went in the pits, and my crew did all the work. They worked on it and made the car handle…and driving it was easy.”
Carlson added about his crew and car, “They all work on the car hard and…the cars fast,' he said with a smile.
Defending ASA Late Model Series North Champion Eddie Hoffman turned a possible bad day into a great day. With the high banks and high speeds of Madison International being usually unkind to him, Hoffman rebounded with a second place finish following a pit stop that put him to the back and may have saved his day.
“Right off the bat, the car just kept getting tighter and tighter and I thought maybe we just missed it,' stated Hoffman. 'So we just went in for a bunch of adjustments and the guys went around and checked the tires and the right rear tire was going down…we only had 10,12 pounds of air in it!'
The remedy for that issue? “All we put on it was a 100 lap tire from practice and away we went. I think the stagger opened up and she was wore out,' Hoffman said. 'It would have been nice to have a race up there, but seconds ok with what he had.”
With a pair of podium finishes on the weekend, Hoffman may have had just the right kind of weekend to put him back on top of the ASA Late Model Series North Division points.
“That's what we were hoping for, top three finishes both days. We knew this car was a good car, we didn't want to run it last night (at Rockford) cause we knew it was good here and it WAS good here today. Best car I've had here in a long time.”
'But, between Steve and a flat tire it just doesn't work!,' quipped Hoffman,
Joey King would end the day in third, a major feat for he and crew. After tearing up equipment Saturday night in Rockford, King and company worked long into the night to get the car ready for the Sunday show.
“Last night we were the only ones left there at Rockford, I think it was like three in the morning before we left there,' King recalled. 'We were really good, but we got tight in the center late in the race, and weren't able to hang with Eddie and Steve. I got to really thank my crew…who worked so hard and got us a third place finish today.'
Canadian driver Jordan Sims tied his best ever run for the ASALMS North, with his second fourth place finish of the year, and Griffin McGrath made it two top-fives in two days, beating out points leader Chris Eggleston for the position.
The ASA Late Model Series North Division will next be in action Friday night, August 21st, as the stars of 'America's Premier Short Track Series' hit central Michigan for the running of the Mid Michigan Challenge 100 at the Dixie Speedway in Birch Run, Michigan.
Mayor of Madison 100
Madison (WI) International Speedway
Position Number Name Laps Completed
1. #66 Steve Carlson (100) 2. #8 Eddie Hoffman (100) 4. #99 Jordan Sims (100) 5. #64 Griffin McGrath (100) 6. #22 Chris Eggleston (100) 7. #25 Ross Kenseth (100) 9. #34 Troy Hintzsche (100) 10. #6 Dave Gentile (100) 11. #63 Brad Plunkett (100) 12. #17 Tanner Berryhill (99) 13. #72 Tom Woodin (99) 14. #26 Mark Beard (90) 15. #51 John Wood (24)
Leaders: Wood (pole-2), Hintzsche (3-8), Gentile (9-18), Carlson (19-100)
Cautions: L18, L24, L61, L62, L62
Fast Qualifier: Eddie Hoffman (18.029)