Last Lap Passes Highlight Sunday Bark River
CJ Greaves Doubles Up on Sunday as Van Epren Returns To His Winning Ways
The unseasonable hot weather continued throughout Sunday as 141 racers prepared to tackle the 1.5 mile long Bark River International Off-Road Raceway.
Current class championship points determine the starting lineup for all of Sunday’s Sportsman racing and then USAC officials invert the top twelve in the standings to create a very entertaining race. The Bark River Lions Club also announced the addition of $10,000 to the PRO payout with $5,000 going the PRO-Light winner, $3,000 to the PRO-2WD winner, and $2,000 to the PRO-4×4 winner.
The Stock Truck and Classix race began the day as Mike Mischler led the Classix field with Dale Chestnut right on his bumper as the group slowed for the mandatory caution lap. On the restart, Chestnut overtook Mischler through the Cemetery Turn as Chestnut took another win, followed by Mischler and Galen Gee.
The Stock Truck group saw Cory Marquardt lead from flag to flag, as the bright orange Chevy was perfect all weekend. Second place for the second day in a row was Nick Visser as Diesel Shanak completed the show finishing third.
The Light Buggy class saw pole sitter Adam Lepak lead the field from the green flag to the midway mandatory caution. At the break Saturday’s top drivers Matt Mullen and Greg Stingle were well back in fifth and seventh place. On the restart Mullen lost power and Stingle was suddenly pressuring Derek Tilkens for the lead and shortly there after Stingle took the lead. The reigning points champion quickly gapped the field his sizth win of the season. Tilkens held on for second as Jake Nelson who stayed in the top five all race, finished in third place.
The second combined class race saw Milan Mazenec lead the Limited 4 group up to the mandatory yellow closely followed by Dan Baudoux and Jerry Conrad. On the restart Baudoux made quick work of Mazenec as Conrad was also in the hunt for second place. Baudoux cruised to the victory as Mazenec and Conrad raced door to door with Mazenec taking the runner-up spot at the finish.
At the same time the Formula 4×4 class saw Ryan Rebman pull away from the field and it looked like he would handily take the win, but a broken rear axle ended the day a few laps from the finish. This gave Dave Miah the lead and the win for the second time during the weekend.
1600 Buggy saw Las Vegas native Bruce Fraley take the lead on the second lap and never looked back. Second place finisher Mark Steinhardt had to fight through traffic only to run out of laps before he could make a challenge for the lead. Third place saw Indiana native Jeff Bechniski run in the top five all race to complete the podium.
The most enjoyable race of the day saw eleven Kids Karts complete on shortened version of the Bark River track that is approximately 3/8 mile in length. The land rush start had some additional contact, but all the kids continued onto the track. Owen Van Epren took the win followed by Gage Garvin and third place was Saturday’s winner, Carter Vanden Heuvel.
The best Super Buggy race of the season saw a back and forth battle between Saturday’s winner John Fitzgerald and current class points leader Rodney Van Epren. Van Epren was able to make his final pass of Fitzgerald stick as he cross the finish line first, taking his Sportsman Series best, seventh win of the season. Yhis put Fitzgerald second as, Aaron Hawley kept in front of Scott Schwalbe for his second third place finish of the weekend.
Next up were the high intensity Super Stock Truck racers, and once again the group put on another great show. Before the start of the race USAC officials penalized two drivers, including winner Mitch Dorr, with starting positions at the back of the field due to not having a spotter in the proper location. The race began with Garrett Loehrer taking the holeshot, but a spin a lap later put the Chevy out of podium contention. This put Joey Maciocek in the lead as the teenager began to open big lead over second place Nick Byng. Meanwhile Dorr was gradually working his way through the field. Then on the final lap Maciocek lost its driveline putting Byng in the lead. The last half a lap suddenly saw a shootout between Byng and Dorr for the lead. Dorr had one shot at a pass, but hit a dry spot on the track which slowed his momentum ensuring the win for Byng. Mitch Dorr finished second as Jay Schafer finished third.
The final Sportsman class of the day is the “almost PRO-2” trucks known as Super Truck. The start had Tim Nelson take the lead, but by the third turn the wet track caused the leader to spin putting Mark Peterson in the lead. Quickly the ten-lap race became a battle between Peterson and Saturday’s winner Eric Ruppel. Peterson led the way until just before the final lap. Within sight of the white flag, Peterson’s truck seemed to check-up coming off a jump causing Ruppel to hit the leader’s bumper. The contact caused Peterson to slow to gather up the race truck, but that was enough for Ruppel to take the lead and the win. Peterson continued to finish second as Jerry Edgerton finished in third place
The TORC program began with PRO-Light and the fourteen crate-motored trucks saw Luke Johnson take control of the race by the third lap. The Southern California native that keeps his team based in Wisconsin for the race season, dominated the race all the way to the checkered flag to take the win and the $5,000 bonus. A late charge by current points leader Doug Mittag would land him in second place as Andrew Carlson stood on the final step on the podium.
The opening lap of the ten lap PRO-2WD race saw Marty Hart leading the pack. By the second lap CJ Greaves passed both Hart and Keegan Kincaid to take the lead. Kincaid stayed with Greaves lap after lap and then on the far side of the track during the final lap, Kincaid made the pass for the lead and the win. This put Greaves in second place as Hart trailed the upfront battle for third.
The final feature race of the day saw another Greaves family battle for PRO-4×4 supremacy. Similar to the PRO-2WD race, the top two drivers had an incredible race that was decided on the final lap. The first nine laps Johnny Greaves kept ahead of his son, CJ, but this time CJ made the last lap move to take the win. The only other driver that seems to stay close to the Greaves duo was third place finisher, Scott Douglas.
The final weekend of racing in both PRO and Sportsman divisions is the annual Labor Day weekend trek to “The Big House” in Crandon, Wisconsin. The event will not only determine Class Champions, but World Champions as well as the AMSOIL Cup Champion.
– Mike Reusche