Frank Filskov Memorial Main Event Approaches Perfection for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints at Plymouth. Balog's Sweep Etches His Name In The Record Books
By Jeffrey Sachse
September 15, 2012; Plymouth, WI – The main event for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints approached perfection on Saturday Night. I took just over six minutes from the time the green flag fell, until Bill Balog was crossing under the checkered flag with the victory during the running of the 27-lap A-main event at the 16th Annual Frank Filskov Memorial Race contested on the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wisconsin.
The distance of 27 laps run in honor of the number which Filskov carried on his can would run the entire distance from green to checker without a single slowdown. In addition, all 22 drivers which started the event were still on the track at the conclusion of the contest. Balog, clicking off laps just over 12 seconds each, managed to weave through lapped traffic and keep Mike Kertscher the winner of the most recent Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint event behind him to collect a single season record 17th victory matching the number on his 17b machine. Taking the main event win was the icing on the cake Balog as he completed a sweep of the show having earlier won his heat race and setting the pace in qualifying for the 27 drivers that timed in for the show.
Kertscher established himself in second near the mid portion of the contest and was able to match Balog's pace, but he was unable to close the gap to challenge for the victory. Mike Reinke, the evening's hard charger would fight his way through the field up to third at the conclusion of the contest. Reinke and his crew's efforts this season have been rewarded with 24 top ten A-main finishes in the 26 races held so far and amazing amount of consistency given the wide variety of tracks the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series competes on.
In addition to the 27 Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints which has checked into the pit area, a total of 33 cars completed in the 360 Sprints and an additional 20 WIMSA Mini-Sprints were on hand to do battle. This gave fans a field of 80 open-wheeled sprint cars which would take to the track during the program. Several drivers pulled double duty racing in both the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint portion of the program and in the 360 sprint class. These drivers included Scott Neitzel, Wayne Modjeski, Ken Jay Fiedler and Jeremy Schultz.
Ben Schmidt dominated the 25-lap A-main contest in the 360 Sprints outrunning Danny Schlafer, while Mike Neau topped the Mini-Sprint action.
The 22 car field of the Frank Filskov Memorial main event saw Scott Neitzel launch from his pole starting berth to take the opening lead of the contest, while Phillip Mock making his first start in a recently purchased machine attempted to fight off both Kertscher and Balog for the second spot.
Mock, still getting the handle on his new ride began to drift back in the field with Kertscher holding the runner-up spot until lap five when Balog was able to work into the position at Kertscher's expense.
Neitzel meanwhile was already encountering lapped traffic on the tight third-mile bullring by lap six. Balog working several different lines was able to catch Neitzel making the pass for the lead with an inside move on lap eight.
Deeper in the field was Reinke who began to make his way forward while facing the challenges of lapped machines and tough competition near the front of the field. Reinke was able to pick off positions reaching the top five before the halfway point of the contest.
Without any cautions to slow his pace Balog continued to increase his margin on Neitzel as the laps began to wind down and Neitzel soon found himself challenged by Kertscher for the second position. Kertscher hugging the bottom groove would work past Neitzel for the runner-up spot with ten laps to go in the event but he was having difficulty making headway in cutting Balog's lead.
Reinke meanwhile continued his charge and was the next driver to put Neitzel down a position when he took over the third spot on lap 22.
The lead trio continued to slice through lapped cars but without the assistance of a caution to close the gap on Balog there was no serious bid for the lead over the final laps and Balog recorded the win by a dozen car lengths over Kertscher. Reinke crossed the line in third ahead of Neitzel and 2011 Wilmot Raceway champion Tommy Sexton who backed up his earlier heat race win with a top five feature finish this evening.
John Haeni making his second start of the 2012 season turned in a sixth place performance. Mock and Steve Meyer finished seventh and eighth respectively, the final cars on the lead lap. Leading series rookie Robbie Pribnow finished highest of the transfer cars from the B-main taking ninth and Bill Wirth completed the top ten.
The green to checkered run for the main event was the third occurrence of a non-stop main event for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints this season. The most recent green to checkered run happened just a week ago at Amsoil Speedway in Superior, Wisconsin. The other non-stop main occurred at Rice Lake Speedway in mid-July.
In earlier action Pribnow would take top honors in the B-main, stealing the lead on a restart with two laps to go from 2012 Plymouth Dirt Track Sprint champion Jeremy Schultz. Schultz would chase Pribnow to the checkered taking second. Michael Decker, Johnny Fahl and Scott Uttech comprised the top five finishers.
Heat race victories this evening were captured by Balog, Sexton and Wirth.
With a majority of events having only very minor incidents the wildest accidents occurred in qualifying. Johnny Fahl was just starting his second qualifying lap when his ride lost a wheel entering turn one, he successfully slowed his machine while the tire took flight but his car rolled onto its side as it came to a halt in turn three. Fahl was able to compete later in the evening, successfully making the feature through the B-main.
The only machine which took heavy damage during the program was that of Aaron Schafer who appeared to have the steering break on his car entering turn three as he was coming up to speed to take the green flag for his qualifying laps. His car sailed off the embankment and slapped the wall that protects the pit area from the race track. His ride would be too heavily damaged to continue in competition for the balance of the evening.
Only two races remain for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints before the 2012 season concludes. Next Saturday Night, September 22nd the rain delayed Jim Wipperfurth Memorial race will take place at Beaver Dam Raceway. The racing is set to get underway at 6:30pm. The season will conclude at the Dodge County Fairgrounds on Saturday Night September 29th with the running of the Dick Witt Memorial race.
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 protected].
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
A-Main: 27 Laps: 1.) Bill Balog; 2.) Mike Kertscher; 3.) Mike Reinke; 4.) Scott Neitzel; 5.) Tommy Sexton; 6.) John Haeni; 7.) Phillip Mock; 8.) Steve Meyer; 9.) Robbie Pribnow; 10.) Bill Wirth; 11.) Wayne Modjeski; 12.) Jereme Schroeder; 13.) Jeremy Schultz; 14.) Russel Borland; 15.) Michael Decker; 16.) Bill Warren; 17.) Scott Uttech; 18.) Kris Spitz; 19.) Ken Jay Fiedler; 20.) Johnny Fahl; 21.) Darrell Dodd; 22.) Dennis Spitz
B-Main: 12 Laps: (Top 10): 1.) Pribnow; 2.) Schultz; 3.) Decker; 4. Fahl; 5.) Uttech; 6.) Dodd; 7.) Fiedler; 8.) Allen Hafford; 9.) Patrick Hayes; 10.) Brandon Thone
First Heat: 1.) Balog; 2.) K. Spitz; 3.) Schroeder; 4.) Modjeski
Second Heat: 1.) Sexton; 2.) Borland; 3.) Neitzel; 4.) Reinke
Third Heat: 1.) Wirth; 2.) Haeni; 3.) Warren; 4.) D. Spitz
Qualifying (Top 10): 1.) Balog, 11.709 Seconds; 2.) Kertscher, 11.751 secs; 3.) Mock, 12.007 secs; 4.) Pribnow, 12.062; 5.) Neitzel, 12.073; 6.) Warren, 12.094; 7.) Meyer, 12.103; 8.) Reinke, 12.104; 9.) Haeni, 12.150; 10.) Modjeski 12.176