By Jeanne & Larry Starr
June 27, 1998; JEFFERSON WI. – In a race that kept the fan’s eyes riveted to the action, Jefferson’s Roger Behlke fought every lap of the way to claim top honors in the WIBA Night at the Races 50 lapper.
Starting from the inside of row 7, Behlke had a long way to go, to get to the front of the field, with Nathan Oppliger of Belleville taking the lead at the green flag. Oppliger stayed in front for 6 laps before being overtaken by Kenny Olson of Ft. Atkinson. Olson was still at the point when two cars tangled, in turn 3 on lap 15, bringing the first caution. On the restart it was Olson at the point with Behlke up to the 4th spot, as Scott Null of Lake Mills launched his bid for the lead. As Olson held off Null’s charge, Behlke and Charlie Mierendorf of Lake Mills moved up to join the fray, making it a 4 way battle for the lead.
By lap 41 Behlke made his way past Null, into a solid second place. The battle for second, had given Olson a little breathing room, as it turned out very little. Once clear of Null, Behlke wasted no time closing with Olson in his quest for the lead. Behlke moved to the inside of Olson, making the winning pass on lap 42. As Olson tried to fight his way back around Behlke, fire became evident under his hood.
Evident, that is, to everyone but Olson, as the final caution came, on lap 42, to extinguish Olson’s car. Olson was unhurt and, after a short trip to the pits for repairs, returned to the race, but he was no longer a contender for the lead. On the restart, Behlke lead Mierendorf to the green flag, as he guided the field to the checkered. At the stripe it was Behlke for the win, followed by Mierendorf, Null, Dan Chesmore of Janesville and Andy Wendt of Watertown.
Behlke set the fast pace in qualifying with a 14.962 second circuit of the quarter mile speed plant.
Claiming victory in 10 lap heat races were Bruce Clark of Watertown, Gary Krueger of Edgerton and Oppliger.
Transferring to the feature via the 20 lap Last Chance race were Clark, Bart Reinen of Jefferson, Gene Olson Jr. of Whitewater and Mike Taylor of Stoughton.
In International Class action, defending track champion Justin Nottestad of Cambridge claimed top honors in the 20 lap feature. Starting from the outside of row 6, Nottestad began his trek to the checkered flag, while Earl Kauffman of Edgerton pulled out to the early lead. Kauffman continued to lead, when the first caution of the race came, on lap 2, for debris on the track. On the restart, Chris Quam of Stoughton moved to the inside of Kauffman, claiming the lead by lap 4.
As Quam claimed the lead, rookie driver Brent Nottestad of Cambridge followed him through for the second spot and Justin Nottestad making it into the top 5. Justin was up to the third spot by lap 7, making his move to the inside of Brent. After holding Justin off for 2 laps, Brent succumbed to Justin’s charge, falling to the third spot on lap 9. As Justin moved up to challenge Quam, for the lead, Brent found himself locked in a battle for third with Darnell Mepham of Ft. Atkinson. Justin Nottestad moved around Quam, claiming the top spot on lap 11, as Mepham moved up to third.
The field slowed, on lap 14, as a spin between turns 3 and 4 brought the second caution. Leading the field to the green Justin Nottestad guided them to the checkered with Mepham running close behind but unable to launch a serious bid for the lead. Brent Nottestad moved up to challenge Quam for the third spot, treating fans to several laps of side-by-side racing on their way to the finish. At the checkered flag it was Justin Nottestad for the win, followed by Mepham, Brent Nottestad, Quam and D. R. Moore of Madison.
Mepham paced the field in qualifying with a 16.098 second tour of the quarter mile.
Claiming victories in 10 lap heat races were Pete Seitz of Edgerton and Brent Nottestad.
In the Sportsman Division, Bob Selsing of Ft. Atkinson claimed his first main event of the 1998 season in the 25 lap feature. Starting from the inside of row 5 Selsing started his drive to the front with Dave Oswald of Cottage Grove close behind, as Josh Courtney of Janesville claimed the early lead. Several cars tangled, in turn 2, on the second lap, to bring out the first caution of the race. On the restart it was still Courtney at the point with Selsing up to seventh.
Selsing sliced quickly through the field, moving around Jay Kalbus of Oconomowoc to claim second, on lap 6, as he began his move on Courtney. Courtney succumbed 1 lap later with Selsing pulling the front on lap 9. As Selsing began to stretch out his lead, Oswald battled with Kalbus, claiming 3rd on lap 11. Oswald continued to move forward, pulling under Courtney into the second spot, on lap 13, a long way behind Selsing.
Selsing’s lead vaporized, on lap 14, as a car hit the back stretch wall, bringing out the second, and final, caution on lap 14. As the green flag flew, Selsing charged around the track, holding off a determined Oswald, as he showed the way to the checkered flag. Oswald ran to the inside of Selsing, over most of the remaining 11 laps, but could not quite keep up the momentum he needed to claim the lead. At the stripe it was Selsing by a car length over Oswald, followed by Kyle Munro of Ft. Atkinson, Courtney and Ryan Ley of Rome.
Oswald set the fast qualifying pace with a 16.037 second orbit of the quarter mile.
Claiming victories, in 8 lap heat races, were Chris Matz of Johnson Creek, Noel Ramge of Hellenville and Selsing.
Transferring to the feature lineup via the 10 lap Last Chance race were Ramge, Matz, Richard Titus of Jefferson and Dylan Schuyler of Dousman.
In Hobby Stock action Jeff Kohlhoff of Watertown finally broke his long string of second place finishes, notching his first feature win in the 20 lap main event. Starting from the inside of row 5, Kohlhoff began his journey through traffic, as Roy Pfeifer Jr. of Ft. Atkinson grabbed the early lead. Kohlhoff came quickly through traffic, claiming the second spot by lap 3, and moving to the inside of Pfeifer.
Pfeifer held on for another lap, succumbing to Kohlhoff’s challenge on lap 4. As Kohlhoff claimed the point, Pete Elgas followed him past Pfeifer to grab second. Elgas made several good runs at Kohlhoff, but Kohlhoff proved up to the challenge. By lap 6 Elgas found himself engaged in two battles, trying to find an opening to the front, around Kohlhoff, and holding off former track champion Dennis Gaserude, who was making a bid for second. The battle continued, all the way to the checkered flag, in the caution free race.
By lap 16 Elgas found himself working harder to hold off Gaserude that he was at trying to pass Kohlhoff. Gaserude finally made his successful pass for second on lap 18, closing with Kohlhoff over the final laps, but never able to make a serious challenge. At the stripe it was Kohlhoff for the win followed by Gaserude, Elgas, defending track champion Jim Pfeifer of Ft. Atkinson and Lincoln Keeser of Johnson Creek.
As Kohlhoff took his traditional victory lap on his way to Victory Lane a pair of former track champions, Gaserude and Pfeifer, stopped their cars along the front stretch, climbing out to congratulate the victor. These guys race hard, but there is a pervading spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie in racing!
Keeser set the pace in qualifying with a 17.084 second tour of Wisconsin’s Action Track.
Claiming victory in 8 lap heat races were Chris Jackson of Edgerton and Dan Schmidt of Farmington.
Making the feature lineup via the 10 lap Last Chance race were Jackson, Ernie Witte of Johnson Creek, Scott Bush of Ft. Atkinson and Nick Golich of Hebron.
Next week, at Jefferson Speedway, it’s the Independence Day show you won’t want to miss. Busch Grand National Series point leader Matt Kenseth will be on hand to sign autographs. There will be Race Car rides for the kids, fireworks and a full racing program in the Late Model, International, Sportsman and Hobby Stock divisions.
Due to the added activities the a modified schedule has been set for this, very special, night. Gates open at 3:00, qualifying at 4:30, Rides for Kids will run from 5:45 to 6:45 and Racing will commence at 7:30 sharp.
Matt Kenseth will be signing autographs from 6:00 to 8:00 and the Fireworks display will be at 9:30.
Bring the kids out for a great night of family entertainment.