Friday, June 22, 2012
Balog 'In the Zone' at Oshkosh, Captures Sixth Victory of 2012
by Jeffrey Sachse
OSHKOSH, Wis. -- The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series made its first appearance of the 2012 season at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The third-mile clay oval plays host to the IRA Sprints twice this season. With wide sweeping turns wing to wing action is a common theme with each visit to the track.
The large crowd on hand was treated to a duel for the lead which lasted nearly half the 30 lap contest between Mike Kertscher the winner of the most recent IRA event at Beaver Dam Raceway, and current series point leader and defending champion Bill Balog.
The pair exchanged the top spot several times during the opening 15 laps of the event with Kertscher showing the way for much of that time. However Kertscher would fall victim to a flat right rear tire on lap 18, ending his night and allowing Balog to run the balance of the race staying ahead of a charging Scott Uttech.
Balog would take the checkered a dozen car lengths ahead of Uttech laying claim to his sixth win of the season and solidifying his lead atop the current standings. Balog, seeking his fifth straight title now has tallied 1520 points. His nearest rival Mike Reinke sits second in the title chase with 1489.
The event began with Jereme Schroeder starting on the pole of the 30 lap A-main event and Scott Uttech to his outside. Schroeder would fall back in the field at the drop of the green flag with Uttech quickly taking the lead position. Bill Warren would jump into the second spot while Balog who had started fifth worked the low line in an attempt to gain the runner-up spot.
Attention would focus on Kertscher who started the contest in the sixth place. Kertscher would rim ride his way around the track sweeping into the second spot. Executing a daring slide job on Uttech heading into turn one on the next lap Kertscher would power his way to the lead. Uttech would have to break his momentum to avoid contact with Kertscher which in turn allowed Balog to work past him for the second position before lap three began.
Once out front Kertscher was able to build a dozen car length lead on Balog before the pair began to encounter lapped traffic by the eighth lap. As the lead duo pulled away, Mike Reinke motored into the third spot.
Kertscher and Balog sliced through the back markers as Kertscher tried to maintain his gap while weaving through cars. Balog caught Kertscher on lap 15 and with a quick inside move in turn one Balog came away with the lead.
For the next two laps Balog and Kertscher tossed the lead back and forth before Kertscher drifted high in turn two allowing Balog to escape his grasp. On the next lap Kertscher would roll to a stop in turn three after having a tire go down ending a thrilling duel between himself and Balog.
With Kertscher off the track it would be up to Uttech to attempt to match Balog's pace as the green flag returned on lap 18. Uttech, having one of his best runs of the 2012 season did all he could to attempt to close the gap on Balog. Over the final laps Uttech was able to close slightly but in the end he would have to settle for second place a dozen car lengths behind Balog. The second place run for Uttech resulted in his best A-main finish of the year.
Bill Warren made late race pass of Reinke on lap 23. The move would result in Warren earning a third place finish and like Uttech resulted in a personal best run so far in 2012. Reinke who stayed in the top five the entire contest would settle for fourth.
Phillip Mock continued his streak of solid showings reaching the fifth spot. Mock was the highest finishing driver of the cars which has transferred from the B-main.
Bill Wirth earned a sixth place finish while Tommy Sexton, Brian Portschy, Wayne Modjeski and Scott Neitzel completed the top ten finishers. 19 of the 22 starters were still running at the finish.
Tonight's B-main saw Scott Young fend off Mock to take the victory. Young, Mock, Andy Hunt, Rusty Egan, Michael Decker, Russel Borland and Dennis Spitz transferred to the main event.
Heat race wins went to Kertscher and Balog with Brian Portschy earning his first ever IRA win when he took top honors in his heat race.
The show went off with no incidents resulting in damage to any car. The only driver unable to complete the evenings program was leading rookie Robbie Pribnow who expired an engine during qualifying.
Twenty-six cars had checked into the pit area for the program with Kertscher turning in the fastest lap orbiting the track at 14.104 seconds. Balog was second quick in the session with a trip of 14.138 seconds.
The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series now makes its next appearance at the Plymouth Dirt Track located at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wisconsin. The tight third-mile bullring will play host to the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints on Saturday Night June 30. Brian Kristan won the last IRA main event held at the track last September. The tracks own 360 Sprints will also run a complete program of their own for a full evening of open-wheeled racing action.
Grandstand gates open at 4:30pm to allow fans to get a good seat for the show. Opening ceremonies begin at 6:00pm. For additional information on the event consult the track website at www.plymouthdtr.com
For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints can also be found on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/irasprints and the series is also on Twitter at http://twitter.com/ira_sprints
The IRA Outlaw Sprint Series is proudly supported by Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, Osborn & Son Trucking, Goodyear, TW Metals, Cummins Onan, DNA Energy Drink& Snacks, MPT Industries, UltraLube, Big Game Treestands, Carriage Auto Body, Otis Gun, Mother's Polishes and Waxes and Polaris DEFENSE. The office of the IRA Sprints can be reached at 815-759-9269 or by e-mail at email@example.com
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 1.) Bill Balog; 2.) Scott Uttech; 3.) Bill Warren; 4.) Mike Reinke; 5.) Phillip Mock; 6.) Bill Wirth; 7.) Tommy Sexton; 8.) Brian Portschy; 9.) Wayne Modjeski; 10.) Scott Neitzel; 11.) Kris Spitz; 12.) Todd King; 13.) Johnny Fahl; 14.) Michael Decker; 15.) Jereme Schroeder; 16.) Dave Uttech; 17.) Dennis Spitz; 18.) Andy Hunt; 19.) Scott Young; 20.) Mike Kertscher; 21.) Rusty Egan; 22.) Russel Borland
B-Main (Top 10): 1.) Scott Young; 2.) Mock; 3.) Hunt; 4.) Egan; 5.) Decker; 6.) Borland; 7.) D. Spitz; 8.) Brandon Thone; 9.) Darrell Dodd; 10.) Chad Tessman
Heat 1: 1.) Kertscher; 2.) Dave Uttech; 3.) Modjeski; 4.) Reinke
Heat 2: 1.) Balog; 2.) Wirth; 3.) Sexton; 4.) Neitzel
Heat 3: 1.) Portschy; 2.) King; 3.) S. Uttech; 4.) Warren
Qualifying: (Top 10) 1.) Kertscher, 14.104 Seconds; 2.) Balog, 14.138 secs; 3.) Warren, 14.536 secs; 4.) Reinke, 14.543; 5.) Hunt, 14.822; 6.) S. Uttech, 14.884; 7.) Schroeder, 14.928; 8.) K. Spitz, 15.027; 9.) King, 15.061; 10.) Egan, 15.061.