Staying out of trouble can be half the battle. On Saturday night at Madison International Speedway, it was the entire battle. Jeremy Spoonmore started inside-second row of the Mid-American Stock Car Series Capitol Classic and avoided two major wrecks to secure his first win of 2010.
“It was a crazy race. I didn’t know what was going on there for a while,” said Spoonmore, who collected his second consecutive MASCS win at the venue. “I was disappointed with qualifying today, but I think it was a blessing. We started up front and stayed out of all the melees.”
The first mishap happened before the field registered a complete circuit in the 40-lap event. Matt Pyburn, who started outside of Bill Prietzel in the first row, lost power on the back chute and had no real estate to avoid causing a chain reaction behind. Pyburn’s slowing Monte Carlo sent Mid-Am racers dodging left and right and spinning in all directions.
Several major MASCS players were caught up in the cluster. Point leader Lyle Nowak was sent spinning when he and leading rookie Tyler Bauknecht were unable to take evasive action and Brian Back also spun into the bedlam. Nowak suffered substantial cosmetic damage, but made repairs and rejoined the field.
Although aerodynamically challenged, Nowak recovered for a seventh place finish and stretched his lead in Mid-American standings to 58 over now second-place Mark Pluer.
Back, who earlier in the evening qualified quickest for the eighth time in 2010, received the worst fortune of the pileup, sustaining massive damage to the front of his racer when Dave Verhagen spun in. The wreck claimed Back, Tom McClintock and Kevin Kulka as victims without a lap registered.
With the field reset, Mark Pluer started on the outside of Prietzel. Prietzel won the race through the second turn to secure the lead over Pluer with Spoonmore and James Swan in pursuit of the two former series champions. Swan and Spoonmore exchanged spots on lap five and raced to the outside of Pluer to secure the second and third spots by the sixth lap.
Four laps later, Swan had sliced into Prietzel’s lead and was prepared to survey a line into the lead. Swan’s campaign was cut short when Pluer and Kyle Shear made contact and spun simultaneously in turn four. Another restart was cut short on lap 12 when Paige Decker stalled in the second turn.
After the restart Swan quickly took a look to the inside of Prietzel entering turn one. Prietzel washed up just enough exiting turn two for Swan to find some space on the low line. The two battled for the same plot of race track down the back chute. As they reached turn three, Swan was sent through the infield and shot back up into traffic.
Cars scattered to avoid Swan as he sat broadside in the turn. Attempting to lock up his brakes and miss the target, Jake Finney piled into Swan’s Monte Carlo, making hard contact with the driver’s side door and sending Swan onto his roof. Both drivers were unharmed. Finney was unable to continue and Swan returned six laps down with a heavily damaged, but still competitive racer.
When the lengthy red flag cleanup was completed, Jeremy Spoonmore inherited the lead. Behind Spoonmore on the lap-13 restart were Mike Lichtfeld and Travis Rodewald. Spoonmore stretched out his advantage while second and third place were locked in a duel for the runner-up spot. Lichtfeld emerged on lap 14 and began to chase down Spoonmore. A caution on lap 18 for Cody Lipstreuer and Dave Verhagen cut off Lichtfeld’s momentum.
Another restart allowed Spoonmore to pull away from Lichtfeld and Rodewald. Lichtfeld again caught Spoonmore five laps into the green flag run, but was unsuccessful on several attempts through the next six laps. A caution with ten laps remaining when Ryan Gutknecht cut a tire set up the final showdown.
Spoonmore broke away at the drop of the green while Lichtfeld had to deal with the advances of Travis Rodewald. As the two jostled for the runner-up spot, Spoonmore broke away to a ten-car-length advantage. Rodewald experienced mechanical issues and pulled off on lap 34 handing second back to Lichtfeld, who was experiencing a miss in his racer.
“As the run would get going we were able to run down Jeremy a little bit and with about 15 to go we started picking up a miss toward the end of the straightaway,” Lichtfeld said. “After that last caution the miss came at about the middle of the straightaway and we just had to hang on for dear life and try to salvage a second-place finish.
With a large advantage, Spoonmore cruised to victory. Lichtfeld nursed his ill-running machine to a second place finish, Pluer passed Bret Widdis for third at the line and Prietzel raced his way back into the top five after the lap-12 incident.
Spoonmore said he had saved enough for the end, and was happy to finally garner some luck in Mid-American action. “I was saving my brakes because I expected to have a short-lap run, and at the end I just turned it up,” he said. “We’ve been running well but not catching any breaks, but I think tonight was a good break. We’re getting ready to go into Rockford next weekend and hopefully we can take this momentum through the rest of the year.”
Mid-American will compete as part of the National Short Track Championships at Rockford Speedway next Sunday, Oct. 3. Mark Pluer was victorious in Mid-American action at the quarter-mile in April.
Rockford Speedway is located at 9572 Forest Hills Road seven miles north of downtown Rockford, just two miles west of Interstate 90 at the intersection of Forest Hills Road and Highway 173 in Loves Park, Ill. For more information visit www.rockfordspeedway.com
Capitol Classic 40-lap Feature:
1. Jeremy Spoonmore, Somonauk, Ill.; 2. Mike Lichtfeld, Pardeeville, Wis.; 3. Mark Pluer, Brookfield, Wis.; 4. Bret Widdis, Maninstique, Mich.; 5. Bill Prietzel, Richfield, Wis.; 6. Kyle Shear, Roscoe, Ill.; 7. Lyle Nowak, Wausau, Wis.; 8. Frank Slabonek Jr., Palos Place, Ill.; 9. Jimmy Becker, Burlinton, Ill.; 10. Tyler Bauknecht, Reedsville, Wis.