A number of big racing names have descended on Wisconsin International Raceway for the Dixieland 150 in the past, this year Kevin Harvick and Ron Hornday added their names to that list.
“I try and do some sort of race each year,” said Kevin Harvick, “Last year we went up to Maine, but I know a lot of guys form this area have made it big in racing and we thought we'd come try it out.”
The racetrack in Kaukauna can be a tough one to figure out, so it was no surprise that current ASA Midwest Tour point leader Nathan Haseleu set fast time. He was followed in time by another NASCAR guy in the field, Johnny Sauter, with Michael Bilderback, Steve Carlson and Chris Wimmer rounding out the top five.
“We definitely had a good car for qualifying,” said Haseleu after time trials, “I'm anxious to see how it will race.”
Hornaday qualified 14th while Harvick timed in 24th.
The invert started Kris Kelly, a guy who's familiar with WIR, on the pole and Haseleu ended up starting back in the 10th position. Kelly wasted no time taking the lead and putting some space between himself and the rest of the field.
But it didn't take long for the lead to disappear as the caution flag flew just four laps in to the race. Ron Hornaday, who's won the last five Camping World Truck Series races, had a problem coming out of turn two that caused him to spin and collect a few other cars. The damage to Hornaday's car was too extensive to get back in the race and he'd settle for a 25th place finish.
The restart didn't seem to faze Kelly, who quickly grabbed the lead again. Behind him, last year's ASAMT champion, Dan Fredrickson, worked his way in to the second position, but was unable to make any significant gains on Kelly. As the front two stayed put until the break at lap 75, so did much of the rest of the field. Frank Kreyer, Wimmer, Haseleu, and Carlson kept their positions in the top five from lap ten until the break as well.
After the ten minute break is when the excitement started to happen. With just 75 laps to go, drivers figured it was time to make their move. The first to do so was Wimmer, who worked his way past Kreyer for third and began to chase down Fredrickson for second. As Wimmer closed the gap, Fredrickson experienced motor problems causing him to pull off the track and handing the second spot to Wimmer.
Wimmer, who's won one ASAMT race this year, quickly tracked down the leader Kris Kelly and with 38 laps to go made the pass to take the lead.
While Wimmer tried to put some space between himself and the rest of the field, Carlson began to fill up his rearview mirror. Carlson, a six time winner of the Dixieland150 made the pass for second and closed in on the #52 Wimmer Racing Chevy. The two ran nose to tail for 28 laps, but then with ten laps to go the veteran Carlson made his move and took the lead. “
To be honest my car wasn't very good at the break,” said Carlson, “My guys really went to work on it and it was much better in the second half. They did an awesome job.”
“I don't think anyone knows their way around this place better than Steve Carlson,” said Wimmer, “He's a great driver, especially here, and I wasn't sure how long I would be able to hold him off.”
A debris caution with seven laps to go made the finish even more interesting. While Carlson checked out from the field Haseleu used those final seven laps to get by Wimmer for a second place finish, while the #52 held on for third.
“I burned a lot of my stuff up racing so hard with Carlson for so long,” said Wimmer, “It would have been nice to hold on to second, but a third here at Kaukauna is exciting for me.”
“My car alright I guess,” said Haseleu, “It really seemed like it was sliding around a little more than I would like to, but all in quick time and second is a pretty good day. I knew I wouldn't have had anything for Carlson anyway, so a second today is good.”
Most importantly to Haseleu he holds on the top spot in the ASAMT point standings and now leads second place Carlson by 86 points and third place Wimmer by 154 points.
“As far as points it's really good, we've had a really good season as far as points racing has gone, we've been real competitive at all races, maybe not always to win the race, but we've been second, third and fourt, so I'm pretty happy with that.”
Tuesday's win at Kaukauna marks Carlson's seventh win at the Dixieland150 and also his fourth win on the ASA Midwest Tour this year.
“It feels good,” said Carlson, “I think this was the one I had to work the hardest for. Like I said, my car really wasn't that good the first half, but we made good changes at the break and it feels good.”
Harvick, who began the race from the last row used the second 75 laps to work his way through the field for an 8th place finish.
“I had a lot of fun,” said Harvick, “This track is unique and I'd definitely think about coming back. These guys up here are hard races, they don't give you much, but in the second half we seemed to get the car working a lot better.”
The ASAMT takes a weekend off before heading to Raceway Park in Shakopee, MN Sunday August 16th.