IT’S THE SAME OLD MIDWEST STORY AT WIR by Jeremy Troiano
Carlson Wins The Battle, Mother Nature Wins The War
This year’s NASCAR Midwest Series has played out like a broken record. Or maybe you could say it reads like a good book… it says the same thing every time.
No matter what your cliché, two facts remain. Number one, the series belongs to Justin Diercks and Steve Carlson. Number two, Wisconsin International Raceway belongs to Steve Carlson.
When the field went back to green on lap 54 it was Hoffman over Carlson, Schendel, Diercks and Brian Hoppe. Hoppe, who started 20th, advanced some positions under green, but found himself in the top five after his crew performed a flawless stop.
It took Dierkcs just one lap to wrestle the third spot from Schendel and by lap 75, Hoffman, Carlson and Diercks separated themselves from the rest of the field.
The race came down to the one and only pit stop. After the first 190 laps were run without a caution, several lead lap cars were forced to pit under green. Carlson and Diercks (along with Tim Schendel and Brian Hoppe) were a couple of those who had not pitted and got the caution they were looking for.
Tuesday night’s Oneida Bingo & Casino 300 was no different.
The annual “first-Tuesday-in-August” event at WIR was cut short by rain after just 211 of the 300 laps, but saw a familiar face in Victory Lane… Steve Carlson. Second? Yep. Justin Diercks. The same as it has been all year. The same as it was at WIR in the first MWS race there this season.
“Justin and that team have just found something this year and they have been very fast,” said Carlson, who’s win Tuesday was his third of the season and 65th of his career (moving him that much closer to Dick Trickle’s all-time record of 68).
With rainy weather looming (and more than 150-laps completed, making the race complete), both drivers knew the pit stop could be the difference.
Carlson came in first, followed closely by Diercks. Carlson left first, followed closely by Diercks.
“We got out (of the pits) first and that is what won this race,” said Carlson. “They first guy out was going to win the race and that is exactly what happened.”
Carlson was also the defending champion of the 300-lap race and had won five of the last six MWS races at the track.
“I knew Justin was chasing us out there. I noticed Justin was catching us and something told me not to let him pass me because it would be hard to get back by him later. Little did I know how important that would be.”
Diercks' (front) and Carlson's teams perform the crucial pit stop that would eventually decide the race's outcome.
“When I first started coming here, I wasn’t very good here either,” said Carlson of WIR. “I just like racing here and I happen to be good at it. I think running a lot of laps here helps. I’ve got plenty and plenty of laps here. Plenty.”
Schendel took the lead on lap four and lead until Carlson finally made his charge for the top spot at lap 160. With Diercks and possible rain coming, Carlson knew he had to move.
“I started seventh and got up to third pretty quick,” added Carlson. “Both Tim (Schendel) and Tim (Rothe) were pretty quick. I didn’t want to burn my stuff up racing them too early. I was in a little bit of a ‘save fuel’ mode when the laps were starting to add up and there wasn’t a caution So we (himself and Diercks) both passed Schendel and then had to pit.”
Lead lap cars Erik Darnell, Eddie Hoffman and Ryan Hanson all took themselves out of contention for the win when they were forced to pit under green after the long stretch of caution-free racing.
Justin Diercks (#29) gets chased by Steve Carlson (#66) early in the race. The two would switch places at the end. (51 Photos)
“For a long time, I was driving around half throttle and just trying to save fuel. I don’t know how close we were. When the caution came out, we pitted. We just got lucky.”
“We had a faster car than Steve,” said Diercks. “It happens. We can’t win them all. It was still a good run. It is still a top five finish.
“He came in a tick before I did (during the pit stops). Both of our crews had excellent stops. It is hard to beat a team that is as good as yours. We probably have the two best teams and it shows out there each and every week.”
Carlson waves to the fans after the race was called early due to rain.
Diercks and Carlson have finished ‘1-2’ four times this season, twice with Diercks on top and twice with Carlson taking the checkers. Two other times Diercks has won, Carlson has finished third.
“It’s getting a little old to finish second to Steve, especially here (at WIR),” added Diercks. “We finished second to him here last time (in June). It was pretty much the same top three as last time here (in June, Schendel finished third. Hoppe did Tuesday). But we’ll take it. We’ve got five wins and no one else can still say that.
“I think we would have had a shot at him if it had not rained. Oh well.”
So again… it was the same old thing.
“There has only been one other guy to win this year (Eddie Hoffman at Pikes Peak),” added Diercks. “It has been like a broken record. I win, Steve wins. I win, Steve wins.”
Tuesday night… Steve wins.
Diercks' (left) and eventual third-place finisher Brian Hoppe (right) talk before the race.