Watertown Wis., doesn't align with any of the major freeways in the Badger State. Jay Kalbus, a native of the city just east of the state capital, didn't need rush hour on I-94 to get that traffic jam experience.
Kalbus weaved in and out of traffic in a frantic effort to claim his second American Speed Association Midwest Sportsman Tour feature event of 2010 Saturday night at Dells Raceway Park.
"We had to get down on the rumble strips a couple times," Kalbus said. "Everyone was fighting to get down on the bottom. There was no groove up on top. It was pretty hectic."
Starting ninth on the grid, Kalbus aligned alongside his ASAMST rival Chris Marek. The two were bogged down early as local favorite Becky Grabarski and touring driver Scott Lawver raced side-by-side from the outset of the feature.
The front-row duo exchanged the lead several times during the first six circuits before Lawver prevailed exiting the second turn. With the field starting to sort out and race single file, Kalbus and Marek found some breathing room.
Their time and space was taken away on lap 11 when Tom Schuette spun exiting turn two. On the ensuing double-file restart Shawn Utphal started alongside the leader Lawver. That duo's side-by-side battle was short-lived as Lawver pulled away.
One lap after the restart Jason Thoma slid into the third spot behind Utphal, leaving the door open for Kalbus to grab fourth. After a six-lap dispute Kalbus worked his way around Thoma into the third spot.
While Kalbus began surveying his options to pass Utphal, Lawver broke away to a half-straightaway lead. Kalbus negotiated a line around Utphal exiting turn four and secured the runner-up spot at the stripe on lap 19.
Finding clean air, Kalbus took only four laps to close the gap on Lawver After a few looks to the inside, and a valiant effort by Lawver to maintain the lead, Kalbus opened up the inside line and took the lead on lap 24.
Kalbus put his machine on cruise control while the frenzy continued behind him. Traffic started to lighten in front of Marek, and by lap 27 he had moved around Thoma into third. Marek then set his sights on Lawver.
Leading by only 11 points entering the event, Marek had the opportunity to stay on top over Kalbus with a second place finish. However, heading to the stripe on the final lap, Marek's point lead took a hit.
Marek attempted to pass Lawver on the high side of the final circuit when the two made contact. Sliding sideways from the entrance of turn three to the exit of turn four, Marek lost control of his racer and was sent into a spin cycle. The mayhem caused cars to dodge left and right heading to the checkered flag.
Lawver was next to cross the line after Kalbus and was awarded second spot. Jason Thoma found a clear lane to the start/finish line and finished third. Scott Null, who had started at the rear after losing his gas cap during warm-up laps, recovered for a fourth place finish.
With a newly recovered point lead Kalbus heads to Marek's territory to round out the season at Elko (Minn.) Speedway on Saturday, October 2.
"I don't know exactly what happened (to Marek) at the end; that was kind of hectic alright. It's been back and forth all season long," Kalbus said. "I can't wait to go up and settle this finally. The lead has changed probably five or six times this season so I can't wait."
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# Driver Name Hometown
1 - 27 - Jay Kalbus - Watertown, WI
2 - 36 - Scott Lawver - Beloit, WI
3 - 6 - Jason Thoma - Fort Atkinson, MN
4 - 62N - Scott Null - Lake Mills, WI
5 - 2 - Shawn Utphall - Caledonia, WI
6 - 3 - Chris Marek - Lakeville, MN
7 - 13 - Becky Grabarski - Grand Marsh, WI
8 - 26 - Dave Meyerhofer - Kaukauna, WI
9 - 8 - Mike Heelin - Hometown
10 - 30 - Jim Olson - Harvard, IL
11 - 14 - Bob Coppernoli - Cottage Grove, WI
12 - 27L - Stephanie Losiniecki - Slinger, WI
13 - 93 - Brad Moller - Hillsboro, WI
14 - 27S - Tom Schuette - Fort Atkinson, WI
15 - 5 - Aaron Cain - Slinger, WI
16 - 4G - Ron Grabarski - Grand Marsh, WI