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Cedar Lake Speedway

by: Chris Stepan

Scott Bloomquist has won just about everything that there is to win, but he
had never won the USA Nationals. Until Saturday night that is. After a late race altercation between race leader Rick Eckert and a car he was trying to put a lap down caused Eckert to spin, Bloomquist inherited the lead and went on to become the sixth winner in the 12 year history of the event.
Night number 1 of the 12th annual USA Nationals saw Scott Bloomquist outrun all 59 entrants to post a quick lap of 14. 297 seconds and pick up the
$1,000 bonus courtesy of Graham Trailers. The top 24 times were then inverted, meaning that the 24th fastest qualifier would start on the pole of the first heat and Bloomquist would have to start outside of row # 2 in the 6th heat.

The first heat found a pair of local contenders, Jon Kurshinsky and Jim
Bruggeman on the front row with the current Hav-A-Tampa point leader, Wendell Wallace and the drivers sitting second in the point standings, Dale McDowell right behind. As the green fell, Tony Izzo, Jr. wasted little time moving to the front and immediately began to stretch his advantage over Bruggeman, who had moved by Kurshinsky into second at the start.
Wallace was working on Kurshinsky for fourth and took over the position near the half way point. Bruggeman was keeping Izzo in striking distance and Wallace was now closing in to try to take the second position. McDowell and Earl Pearson, Jr. were engaged in a great battle for 5th early on in the event until McDowell got his machine hooked up and proceeded to dispose of Pearson and set his sights on Kurshinsky. As the
laps winded down the order remained the same until on lap 18, Bruggeman slowed in turn 4 and was out of the event, ending a great run. Wallace took over second and McDowell was searching for a way around Kurshinsky and into the final transfer position.

As the checkered was about to fall, McDowell snuck to the inside of Kurshinsky and nipped him at the line for third. Izzo was very strong earning himself the pole position and an additional $500 courtesy of J & J Steel and Big Johnson for being "always in the pole position". Wallace and McDowell also earned starting spots for Saturday night's main event.
Heat # 2 saw Bill Frye and the 1999 Dream winner, Rick Eckert pacing the
field down to the green with Eckert immediately bolting up to the cushion and taking command. Bill Frye secured the second position, but had his hands full with Marshall Green. Green was able to nose under Frye several times, but Frye used his momentum to keep Green at bay. WISSOTA competitors, Pete Parker and Mitch Johnson swapped the fifth position on every lap from laps 8 to 16. Rick Aukland made his presence known as he
moved to the cushion and closed in on Green in a battle for third. Aukland
used the high line to draw even with Green several times, but Marshall was just too strong as he maintained his position throughout the entire event. Eckert cruised to the win ahead of Frye and Green, assuring themselves a spot in the 26 car starting grid.

Lance Matthees and Kevin Weaver drew the front row for the third heat race of the night. Weaver powered into the lead at the drop of the green with Matthees trailing and Johnny Johnson and Shannon Babb waging a great war for the final transfer spot. Babb moved into second and quickly reeled in Matthees. The duo went side by side for several laps until Babb secured the spot and quickly set his sights on Weaver. Babb effortlessly took the top spot from Weaver on lap 6 and left the battle for second behind him. On lap 9 Weaver drifted too high in turn 2 and brushed the wall letting Matthees,Johnson and a suddenly surging Billy Moyer past into the top five. Moyer was finally able to make his # 21 work at the half way point and looked as if he had been shot out of a cannon as he blew by Matthees and Johnson on the next lap and rapidly reeled in Babb. With five laps to go, Moyer edged up under Babb and the two went wheel to wheel for
the lead with Babb running high and Moyer low. As the white flag flew, Babb held less than a car length advantage and coming out of turn four for the checkered,Babb was able to out power Moyer to the stripe by 5 feet for the win. Moyer had to settle for second with Matthees running a very strong third.

Skip Arp and Gary Webb sat up front in the fourth heat with Arp taking
command at the drop of the green. Freddy Smith and Terry Phillips quickly moved into second and third respectively as Webb was shuffled back to fifth on the start. Smith and Phillips were locked in a battle for second with Phillips taking the position on lap 5.Dan Schlieper moved up to challenge Smith for third as the two went side by side for several laps until
Schlieper was able to move by and set his sights on Phillips. The first
yellow of the night was displayed as Brad Waits rolled to a halt. On the restart, Schlieper and  Phillips made contact several times in their battle for second, causing Phillips to bobble and letting Schlieper and Smith move by. Phillips wasted little time regaining himself and rejoining the
battle for second. Arp had checked out on the field, but the battle for
second was spectacular. Schlieper, Smith and Phillips raced three wide for the remaining 4 laps to see who would make the main. Arp easily won the event and when all was said and done,Smith came home in second and Phillips edged Schlieper for third.

Clint Smith and Jerry Redetzke paced the lineup for the fifth heat. Smith
shot into the lead and slowly stretched his lead over Ray Cook, Redetzke and Jeff Wildung, who were in a heated battle for third. Cook tried to reel in Smith while Redetzke moved into third. Russ Scheffler was on the move as he come up to battle with Redetzke for the final transfer spot. Scheffler was able to slip under Redetzke for third as was Kerry Hansen who was running very well on the extreme low side of the track. Scheffler was able to catch Cook and mounted a challenge for the second spot. Scheffler was able to get by Cook with only a few laps remaining in the event to claim second behind Smith. Cook also advanced into the main event with his third place finish.

The sixth and final heat found Brian Birkhofer and Steve Francis sharing the font row. The pair of 15's put on a show up front as they went door to door for  the lead for the first several laps until Birkhofer was able to claim the top spot. Brandon Ball brought out the yellow as he spun in turn 2 on lap 2. As the green waved again, Scott Bloomquist moved up to the cushion and blasted past Francis and began to reel in Birkhofer. Mike Nutzmann and Jim Curry were swapping the fourth position as Bloomquist was now putting heavy pressure on Birkhofer for the lead. Birkhofer bobbled coming
out of turn 2 and Bloomquist took advantage and shot into the lead on lap 9. Bloomquist would never be challenged again as he cruised to the win with Birkhofer a secure second and Francis third. Nutzmann was able to hold off Curry for fourth at the stripe.

Saturday, the WISSOTA Street Stocks were on hand along with the Late
Models.the Street heats were up first with the wins going to Todd Nelson and Jay Kesan.

The first of two Late Model b-features was next on the agenda with Johnny
Johnson taking the lead at the start from Jon Kurshinsky leaving him to
battle with Earl Pearson for second. After a lap 2 restart, Johnson again took command and Pearson dove low under Kurshinsky in a battle for second. Kerry Hansen also drove low to look under Kevin Weaver for fourth. Kurshinsky secured the second spot as Weaver moved
in to challenge Pearson for third. By lap 12, Johnson was lapping cars allowing Kurshinsky to close in. Pearson and Weaver were also reeling in the leaders and by lap 15,Pearson was again making a bid for the second position. He was searching for a way by Kurshinsky for the final transfer spot. Contact between the two on the front stretch allowed Weaver to
sneak by both of them into second. The final caution of the event waved on lap 19 as Hansen spun onto the infield. Johnson was able to hold off Weaver for the win, securing himself and Weaver a transfer spot into the main. Kurshinsky finished third ahead of a hard charging Tony Bahr and Mike Goodremote.

B-feature  # 2 saw Rick Aukland and Dan Schlieper pacing the field to the
green with Aukland taking the lead as Schlieper got completely sideways in front of the field allowing Aukland to assume a large advantage. Schlieper regained himself and maintained his second position over Mike Nutzmann and Mitch Johnson, who were in a side by side battle for third. Schlieper wasted little time reeling in Aukland and moved to the high side and took the lead as the two raced down the backstretch on lap 7. Contact was made between Nutzmann and Rick Egersdorf, causing Egersdorf to slow on the track bringing out the yellow on lap 12. On the restart, Schlieper quickly moved to a four car length advantage over Aukland, who was blasting into the turns high and shooting low in the middle of the corners, trying to close the gap to the leader.Nutzmann sat in third looking
for a way into the top 2. Schlieper went on to win by a straightaway over
Aukland,Nutzmann, Bart Hartman and John Gill.

The 23rd and 24th starting spots were filled by HAT provisionals, Bart
Hartman and Brandon Ball.The 25th and 26th starters in the main event were to be determined by the WISSOTA Last Chance race. Mike Nutzmann took the early lead from Jon Kurshinsky and Mitch Johnson at the start, but Pat Doar was on a mission as he moved from 10th to take over second on lap 4 and blasted into the lead on lap 6. Doar was using the cushion as Johnson, Kurshinsky and Nutzmann were three wide for the final transfer spot for
several circuits. Johnson moved into second and began to reel in Doar while
Mike Goodremote was on the move and up to third by the half way point. Goodremote began to close in on Johnson, but ran out of time as Doar and Johnson became the final 2 entrants into the $40,000 to win main event.

The Street Stock feature was up next with Todd Nelson and Jay Kesan sharing the front row. Kesan took the lead at the start and immediately checked out on the field. Arlin Diercks, Curt Myers, Cory Davis and Charlie Weber ran in a tight pack in a battle for second with Myers emerging with hopes to try to reel in Kesan and win his 10th main event of the season at Cedar. Kesan was smooth and there was no catching him as he picked up the big win over Myers, Diercks, Rick Hanestad and Weber.

The much anticipated 100 lap USA Nationals feature was the final event of
the night and as the drivers were paraded around the track in the back of Dodge pickup trucks courtesy of event sponsor Bernard's Northtown, the starting lineup was called out to the packed house. Electricity filled the air as the command was given to the drivers to fire their machines and the place erupted as fireworks lit up the sky during the four-wide parade lap.

Tony Izzo, Jr., Rick Eckert, Shannon Babb, Skip Arp, Clint Smith, Scott
Bloomquist, Wendell Wallace, Bill Frye, Billy Moyer, Freddy Smith, Russ
Scheffler, Brian Birkhofer, Dale McDowell, Marshall Green, Lance Matthees, Terry Phillips,Ray Cook,Steve Francis, Johnny Johnson, Dan Schlieper, Kevin Weaver, Rick Aukland,Bart Hartman, Brandon Ball, Pat Doar and Mitch Johnson were set to do battle for 100 laps of fast and furious Hav-A-Tampa racing action.

As the green flag flew to start the event, Rick Eckert out raced Tony Izzo,
Jr. into  the first turn and took the top spot. Eckert looked very strong in his ParkerStore sponsored machine as he was in command while Skip Arp went the high groove and on lap 5 took over second from a slipping Izzo. Shannon Babb and Scott Bloomquist were side by side for the fourth spot with Bloomer taking the spot on lap 10.Bill Frye was also able to slip by Babb into fifth with 10 laps complete. By lap 13, Bloomquist had reeled in
Izzo and blew by into third. Frye and Babb also moved into the top five as
Izzo was  shuffled back to sixth early. The track began to take rubber in the low groove as most of the competitors were running there because it was the fastest way around.

The dreams of seeing a second non-stop 100 lap HAT event at the track this season were over as Rick Aukland rolled to a halt on lap 22. Eckert retook command on the restart with Arp now on his tail. Eckert immediately pulled away from the field. Bloomquist began to pressure Arp for second and on lap 31 was able to nose under and take the second spot. The second yellow flew on lap 32 as Clint Smith, who was running sixth, slid to a stop on the
front stretch. Eckert again blasted off on the restart with Bloomquist in
tow. Frye was now peeking his nose under Arp's machine in a good battle for third. Frye would get his nose alongside Arp's quarterpanel, but Arp would slam the door each time Frye tried to draw alongside.

 The track had taken a lot of rubber by the half way point with Eckert holding down the lead over Bloomquist, Arp, Frye and Babb. The running order remained unchanged as Eckert ran up on the slower car of Russ Scheffler. Scheffler was running in the same groove as the leaders, so Eckert was content to stay in line rather than to try to pass on the slower outside line. The laps quickly clicked away and on lap 77, Bloomquist
started nosing on the inside of Eckert, trying to look for the slightest
opening. Eckert new he had Bloomquist on his tail and had to pick up the pace again. On lap 80, Scheffler pushed up a bit in turn three and Eckert shot to the inside to put him a lap down, but instead made contact and climbed onto the side of Scheffler's car and spun himself around.

The caution waved and as it states in the HAT rule book, any car that stops
on the track goes to the tail, Eckert was sent to the rear of the event, ending his run at the $40,000 paycheck and handing the lead to Bloomquist. On the restart, Bloomquist blasted off and never looked back as he lead the final 20 laps to add his name to the famed list of winners of the prestigious USA Nationals. Arp came home second, Frye was third, Babb fourth
and Wallace rounded out the top five.

Even though the track took rubber, the race was still very entertaining and
Bloomquist was very happy to accept the trophy as well as the big check.
Racing resumes at Cedar Lake this Saturday, with WISSOTA Late Models,
Modifieds, Super Stocks and Street Stocks on the card. The first green flag
is set to fly at 7:30pm.


Heat 1: Tony Izzo, Jr., Wendell Wallace, Dale McDowell, Jon Kurshinsky, Earl Pearson,Jr.
Heat 2: Rick Eckert, Bill Frye, Marshall Green, Rick Aukland, Mitch Johnson
Heat 3: Shannon Babb, Billy Moyer, Lance Matthees, Johnny Johnson, Kevin
Heat 4: Skip Arp, Freddy Smith, Terry Phillips, Dan Schlieper, Gary Webb
Heat 5: Clint Smith, Russ Scheffler, Ray Cook, Kerry Hansen, Jeff Wildung
Heat 6: Scott Bloomquist, Brian Birkhofer, Steve Francis, Mike Nutzmann, Jim Curry
B-feature 1: J. Johnson, Weaver, Kurshinsky, Tony Bahr, Mike Goodremote
B-feature 2: Schlieper, Aukland, Nutzmann, Bart Hartman, John Gill
WISSOTA Late Chance: Pat Doar, Mitch Johnson, Goodremote, Jerry Redetzke, Ashley Anderson

Feature: Bloomquist, Arp, Frye, Babb, Wallace, F. Smith, McDowell, Moyer,
Francis, Birkhofer, Phillips, Izzo, Jr., Cook, Green, Hartman, Ball, Matthees,
Eckert, Scheffler,(DNF) Weaver, C. Smith, M. Johnson, Doar, Aukland, J. Johnson, Schlieper

WISSOTA Street Stocks
Heat 1: Todd Nelson, Arlin Diercks, Cory Davis, Curt Myers, Rick Hanestad
Heat 2: Jay Kesan, Josh Moulton, Charlie Weber, Paul Berg, John Bandemer
Feature: Kesan, Myers, Diercks, Hanestad, Weber, Davis, Berg, Nelson, Mark