By Andrew Schaller
September 6, 2008; Jefferson WI –A great season of racing came to a culmination as five champions were crowned on Havill Spoerl of Fort Atkinson Season Championship night at Jefferson Speedway. Jason Erickson of Fort Atkinson capped a strong final month of the season by catching point leader Steve Dobbratz and overtaking him on the final lap of the Havill Spoerl 50 lap Late Model main event in the standings to lay claim to the 2008 title.
Dobbratz entered the night’s action with a slim 25 point advantage over Erickson in the standings. After qualifying concluded, Erickson sat only 14 points back from the leader. Dobbratz managed to gain four more points back during heat race action, entering the final points contest of the season with an 18 point cushion. Action got underway with Luke Padfield gaining the early lead after a brief battle with fellow front row starter Andy Brocker. Padfield began to pull away from the pack while Brocker and Trent Erdman fought for second. Erdman gained the spot on lap nine with Dylan Schuler in tow for third. Schuyler slipped by for second a couple laps later, bringing Luke Westenberg along for third. Meanwhile, Dobbratz and Erickson maneuvered through the field together after starting deep in the pack. The top five began to bunch up by the midway point of the race, allowing Erickson and Dobbratz to run the leaders down. On lap 38, Westenberg began to challenge Padfield for the top spot. But on lap 41, heavy contact between John Ovadal and Roger Behlke resulted in the only caution period of the event. The melee occurred directly in front of Erickson and Dobbratz, but both managed to escape without damage. As the field returned to green, Erickson made his move, charging up to third just as Westenberg slid past Padfield for the top spot. Erickson worked past Padfield for second with Dobbratz following in his tracks. With five laps remaining, Erickson knew he needed to put one more car between himself and Dobbratz to overtake the points lead. On lap 48, Erickson looked to the low side of Westenberg and the duo charged under the white flag side by side for the lead with Dobbratz watching from third. As they motored across the stripe, it was Erickson seeing the checkers first with Westenberg, Dobbratz, Behlke and Bob Kahler rounding out the top five. Erickson’s last lap pass netted him 20 points on Dobbratz, handing him the championship by a mere two points. “I knew I had to have two spots on him,” stated Erickson after the race. “The whole season came down to one lap.” The title marks Erickson’s second crown in the Late Model division at Jefferson Speedway and leaves Dobbratz still searching for his first. “I was keeping my eye on him, but I knew we weren’t in the best position,” stated Dobbratz. “If we had to lose it, it couldn’t have been to a better crew.”
In Sportsman action, Tory Bagley of McFarland captured the 40 lap feature event while Tom Reents of Janesville sewed up his first championship. Ron Nelson and Nick Balis paced the field to the green with Nelson gaining the top spot on lap three. Balis fell in line behind the leader as Nelson began to stretch his advantage. The leaders ran nose to tail as Bagley worked his way forward into the top five by lap 21. A lap later, the sole caution waved evaporating Nelson’s advantage. After the green returned, Nelson again began to pull away while Bagley shot to the front. Bagley cleared for second on lap 28 and began to run down the leader. With ten laps to go, Bagley caught Nelson and drove by for the top position. Bagley increased his lead as the laps wound down, seeing the checkers first for the win. Nelson was second followed by Ken Scott, Terry Wangsness and Shaun Scheel.
Janesville’s Mark English added an exclamation point to his 2008 track championship by claiming the 30 lap International feature win. Matt McKinney took the initial lead with Neil Higgins right behind for second. Brandon Pendleton joined the battle, taking second away on lap nine and setting his sights on the leader. Pendleton cleared for the top spot on lap 11 with Higgins in tow for second. Caution flew on lap 18, bunching up the leaders with English lurking in fifth. As the green waved again, Higgins and Kenny Au made contact, bringing out the yellow and moving English all the way up to second. English began to look for a path by the leader, trying several different lines over the final 11 laps. Finally, as the white flag flew, English got a good look under Pendleton and made the winning pass down the backstretch. At the stripe, it was English for the win followed by Pendleton, Casey Strese, Rob Lange and Steven Scheel.
Dustin Ward of Waterloo took top honors in the 35 lap Hobby Stock main event while Jimmy Robinson claimed second and nailed down his track championship in the process. Buck Stultz was the early leader with Joe Edwards in second. Edwards maneuvered past Stultz on lap two to take the top spot for himself, bringing Lincoln Keeser and Ward with him. Ward sliced his way to second just in time for back to back cautions, setting up run to the finish. With the green flag waving once again, Ward went to the high side of Edwards, clearing him for the lead on lap 18. Two laps later, Robinson moved into second, but Ward had enough to hold him off for the win. Rounding out the top five were Tim Lange, Edwards and Alan Dorn.
In Bandit action, Barrett Hammond of Minneapolis, MN held off the hard charging Matt Goodwin and Tommy Pfeifer to take the checkers for the win. Pfeifer capped off his track championship as well with a top three finish. Heather Stark took control at the drop of the green with Hammond moving into second on lap two. After the green returned Hammond spend a few laps sizing up the leader, getting under her down the backstretch on lap nine. Hammond got the lead and began to stretch it out until Goodwin and Pfeifer motored up to second and third. They ran the leader down, all while battling each other for second. Hammond remained out front while Goodwin and Pfeifer traded paint and positions. The battle allowed Hammond to see the checkers first with Good win second and Pfeifer third. Rounding out the top five were Mike Lambert and Tony Ciano.
Next Friday and Saturday at Jefferson Speedway is the 28th Annual Wisconsin State Championships presented by Miller Brewing Company. All the action gets underway on Friday night with gates opening at 2pm, time trials at 5pm and racing at 8:30. A full program of qualifying races, champion’s race and preview features will take place on Friday. Then Saturday kicks off with gates opening at 2pm and racing at 6pm. Saturday night includes a full program of last chance events and features in all divisions highlighted by twin 50 lap features for the Big 8 Series Late Models. Jefferson Speedway is located halfway between Jefferson and Cambridge on Hwy 18. For more information, please visit www.jeffersonspeedway.com.
Jefferson Speedway Race Summary
Havill Spoerl 50 lap Feature Results- 1) 94 Jason Erickson, Fort Atkinson 2) 16 Luke Westenberg, Jefferson 3) 52 Steve Dobbratz, Rio 4) 44 Roger Behlke, Jefferson 5) 7 Bob Kahler, Belvidere, IL 6) 4 Luke Padfield, Jefferson 7) 61 Jerry Eckhart, Johnson Creek 8) 99 Doug Hahn, Whitewater 9) 4 Chris Quam, Stoughton 10) 29 Scott Lindsay, Dousman 11) 41 Mike Taylor, Stoughton 12) 19 Michael Kruschke, Franklin 13) 5 Casey Johnson, Stoughton 14) 12 Allen Petrie, Sun Prairie 15) 11 Trent Erdman, Fort Atkinson 16) 1 Jody Krueger, Edgerton 17) 24 Mark Miller, Columbus 18) 13 Andy Brocker, Jefferson
Fast Qualifier- 94 Jason Erickson—14.203 seconds
Last Chance- 19 Michael Kruschke, 24 Mark Miller, 1 Jody Krueger, 12 Allen Petrie
Heat Winners- 1) 19 Michael Kruschke 2) 99 Doug Hahn 3) 16 Luke Westenberg
Feature Results- 1) 52 Tory Bagley, McFarland 2) 76 Ron Nelson, Cambridge 3) 39 Ken Scott, Rio 4) 55 Terry Wangsness, Jefferson 5) 8 Shaun Scheel, Lake Mills 6) 45 Nick Balis, Edgerton
Fast Qualifier- 52 Tory Bagley—15.077 seconds
Heat Winners- 1) 83 James Assmann 2) 8 Shaun Scheel
Feature Results- 1) 57 Mark English, Janesville 2) 21 Brandon Pendleton, Helenville 3) 23 Casey Strese, Watertown 4) 135 Rob Lange, Helenville 5) 4 Steven Scheel, Lake Mills 6) 05 Ashley Smith, Lake Mills
Fast Qualifier- 57 Mark English—16.620 seconds
Heat Winners- 1) 95 Matt McKinney 2) 90 Kyle Smith
Feature Results- 1) 9 Dustin Ward, Waterloo 2) 33 Jimmy Robinson, Orfordville 3) 96 Tim Lange, Dousman 4) 85 Joe Edwards, Sullivan 5) 96 Alan Dorn, Columbus 6) 11 Steve Sauer, Waterloo
Fast Qualifier- 27 Jim Tate—16.533 seconds
Last Chance- 32 Greg Staude, 2 Eaan Carson, 08 Kale Peterman, 71 Jamie Dunn
Heat Winners- 1) 32 Greg Staude 2) 49 Buck Stultz 3) 27 Jim Tate
Feature Results- 1) 19 Barrett Hammond, Minneapolis, MN 2) 45 Matt Goodwin, Beloit 3) 57 Tommy Pfeifer, Fort Atkinson 4) 26 Mike Lambert, Madison 5) 86 Tony Ciano 6) 81 Jeff LeFave
Fast Qualifier- 57 Tommy Pfeifer—14.434 seconds
Heat Winners- 1) 93 Heather Stark 2) 45 Matt Goodwin