Bill Prietzel and Don Sorce Jr. turned many circuits side-by-side at Hales Corner Speedway before going their separate ways. Friday night the two rekindled their rivalry presenting a stunning side-by-side display at Dodge County Fairgrounds Speedway with Prietzel winning his second consecutive Mid-American Stock Car Series event.
Just 12 days after winning at the four-mile course of Road America in the same Monte Carlo, Prietzel was happy to get back to his roots, and the roots of Mid-American, which spawned from the dirt grand nationals in 1992. The series has raced strictly on asphalt since 1993.
“It’s always fun to race on the dirt. I’ve enjoyed it, and to win tonight, is just unbelievable,” an exuberant Prietzel said in victory circle. “It was never in my dreams of happening. I was just hoping to be competitive.”
Prietzel and Sorce traded the lead in the final six circuits of the $1,500 to win Big Clay Clash for Cash, with Prietzel grabbing the top spot for the final time on lap 18. Sorce closed a three-car-length gap on the backstretch of the final circuit, but was edged out by less than a foot at the start/finish line.
At the drop of the flag, dirt grand national driver Kevin Rank seized the lead and crept away from the pack to a car-length lead over his teammate Steve Seitz. Seitz caught Rank on the second circuit and slid to the outside to garner credit for leading lap two.
A lap-three restart occured after Ryan Gutknecht looped his borrowed racer in turn four. The restart placed MASCS-regular Travis Rodewald in second and Prietzel in third. The two tar cars sized up Seitz on the restart and wasted no time disposing of the dirt-track regular.
Rodewald’s racer was poised to run away from Prietzel and the rest of the field, until the suspension on his right front began to fail. Chasing his racer to the high line on lap five, Rodewald gave up the inside line and Prietzel made his pass.
While the two asphalt cars battled up front, a trio of dirt cars made their moves into the top five. Tommy Moore slid into the third slot on lap seven after making a pair of three-wide passes, with Sorce and Kenny Richards in tow. Rick Tackman Jr., who flipped his racer in practice, was locked in that pack as well, and secured the runner-up spot on lap nine after a restart for a Mark Pluer spin.
As Rodewald’s racer continued to fail, he dropped out of the top five and eventually the feature event. This left Sorce, Moore, Richards and Tackman battling for the right to take on Prietzel up front. Sorce muscled his way to the inside line on lap 14 and began his march to catch the three-time MASCS champion.
Sorce caught Prietzel on lap 16 and raced him side-by-side to the line. Prietzel was credited with the lead for that circuit. As the field began to cross for lap 17, Sorce snagged the top spot. However, Ryan Gutknecht spun to bring out the final caution of the race and the line up was reverted back to the last lap – returning the lead to Prietzel.
After a single-file restart, Prietzel built up a small advantage. Sorce erased the margin and led lap 17. Prietzel returned to the top spot utilizing the outside line on lap 18 and held off the final advance from Sorce’s powerful move on the inside line exiting turn four to an awaiting checkered flag. Moore overpowered the failing machine of Richards for third. Scott Houpt slid around Tackman to round out the top five.
Giving Sorce plenty of room and a preferred line, Prietzel said he found the sweet spot for his racer. “I couldn’t get off the bottom. I would just spin the wheels,” Prietzel said. “I had to put the right rear on the cushion and use it.”
Sorce said he was content with the inside groove. I was trying to hug the barrels and stay on the moisture a little bit with the left side of the car, get it to turn a little better and give it our best shot,” he said.
The former Beaver Dam Raceway champion also felt he missed a few opportunities using the bottom line. Sorce said he missed his line several laps and allowed Prietzel to stay in the lead. Prietzel said he noticed, but made a few mistakes of his own.
“I went over (the cushion) a couple times and when I went over it, it seemed like he missed the bottom and slid up in the middle, so it equalized out. We both screwed up a few laps, and that’s the way it was,” Prietzel said.
Having prior experience on dirt – including a championship at Hales Corners in 1977 – aided Prietzel to prepare for the clay surface.
“My experience probably helped me some, no question about it,” said Prietzel. “You have to read the track all 20 laps. It changes every single lap. You have to look and find what’s best.”
That experience, Prietzel said, came flooding back after just a few turns on the well-watered clay surface. “It took about five laps and I was comfortable. We were not good until the feature and we still could have been better. I thought it was going to be really dry and it really wasn’t,” he said.
With two wins now under his belt, the current point leader of Mid-American enters the second half of the points season with the same lead he had before his two wins. Road America was a flat points event where each competitor entered gained 75 MASCS season points. Friday’s event at Dodge County Fairgrounds Speedway awarded no points to 2010 championship standings.
Prietzel’s lead is a slim three markers over Brian Back with Pluer in third, seven markers behind and Lyle Nowak in fourth, only nine points behind. Jeremy Spoonmore rounds out the top five in 2010 standings, trailing Prietzel by 22 tallies.
The epic MASCS points battle resumes Friday, July 16 at Norway (Mich.) Speedway in the Eh Main. After testing the third-mile, the series is slated to travel to Marshfield (Wis.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, July 17.
Norway Speedway is located on the Dickinson County Fairgrounds just off Highway 2 in Norway, Mich. For more information visit www.norwayspeedway.com.
Marshfield Motor Speedway is located on County Road H, just west of Highway 13 in Marshfield, Wis. For more information visit www.marshfieldspeedway.com
For more information about the Mid-American Stock Car Series, including the full 2010 schedule, results, standings and driver information visit www.midamericanracing.com.
Big Clay Clash for Cash 20-lap feature
1. Bill Prietzel, Richfield, Wis.; 2. Don Source Jr., West Allis, Wis.; 3. Tommy Moore, Butler, Wis.; 4. Kenny Richards, Montello, Wis.; 5. Scott Houpt, Belgium, Wis.; 6. Rick Tackman Jr., Joliet, Ill.; 7. Davey Ray, Davenport, Iowa; 8. Bret Widdis, Manistique, Mich.; 9. Mark Pluer, Brookfield, Wis.; 10. Kevin Kulka, Deerfield, Wis.