Brock Heinrich once again received more drama than he bargained for at State Park Speedway, but this time with a happy ending.
Taking the lead early in the feature for the second straight week, Heinrich dealt with three restarts, a light pole crashing down and a final laps battle with the three-time defending champion in the Auto Select Super Late Models main event. The Wausau driver prevailed through it all, though, taking the 50-lap feature for his second win of the season at the Rib Mountain quarter-mile.
Heinrich took the lead from Wausau’s M.G. Gajewski on lap 7 but had to weather three restarts thereafter, two with Justin Mondeik of Gleason on his outside. The final came with just three laps left, but after a side-by-side battle for two laps Heinrich pulled clear of Mondeik on the final lap, and then fended off a last corner attempt on the inside by Mondeik to win by a car length at the finish.
“We had a really good long run car, but on the short runs it just doesn’t like to fire up,” said Heinrich after in a trackside interview, with members of his pit crew and team also in Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane. “All I’ve got to ask is, why can’t we just get an easy one? These guys bust their (butts) all week long getting the car as fast as it is, and it seems like something is always trying to get us at the end.”
A night that ended with a pre-July 4th fireworks show saw one of the lights go out early after an incident on lap 19 of the feature. Wausau’s Rayce Haase was racing for position when he spun on the backstretch and slammed into the light pole just past the mid portion of the back straight. Haase would walk away, but the hit cracked the light pole, and it would slowly tumble over and crash to the ground, taking out all of the lights on the back straightaway at the time.
Two of the three light poles would come back on after a red flag, but the race would resume with a brief dark spot on the track where the light pole had stood before the cars entered turn 3. Heinrich would hold off Gajewski on the lap 19 restart and started to drive away, but the cars were bunched back up again after Jerry Brickner spun in turn 2 with 24 laps to go to bring out the yellow again.
Mondeik had also gotten by Gajewski on the previous restart and would line up outside of Heinrich on the lap 27 resumption. The top two would race side-by-side for four laps, with Mondeik edging ahead and nearly clearing for first several times before Heinrich surged back inside and took over first on lap 30.
Heinrich would continue to lead by a couple car lengths as the laps wound down while fierce battles back in the pack included Wausau’s Jevin Guralski and Jason Weinkauf of Merrill contesting third and Gajewski and Travis Volm of Wausau running side-by-side for nearly 10 laps for fifth. The battle between Guralski and Weinkauf would eventually have Weinkauf, winner of the past two features in the class, nudging inside for third on lap 46. The cars would then make contact on the backstretch on lap 48, though, causing Guralski to spin into the infield entering turn 3 and bringing out a final caution.
Mondeik again got a good start on the outside and led lap 48 by a nose, and the cars were dead even coming to the stripe for the white flag. Heinrich gained momentum with more laps and finally pulled ahead on the final lap, and Mondeik dropped behind on the backstretch to set up a final attempt coming to the checkers before settling for second.
Heinrich won his second feature this season and first since opening night back in May. He also said the win carried extra significance coming on the same night of the Dave Lashua Memorial for the pure stocks class, as Heinrich started out racing in the pure stocks class at State Park against Lashua.
Gajewski finished third with Volm coming in fourth and Marathon’s Noah Gajewski fifth. Weinkauf dropped back to seventh at the finish with Guralski coming in eighth.
Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Qualifier: Jason Weinkauf, Merrill, 13.702 sec.
First Heat: 1. Brock Heinrich, Wausau; 2. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 3. M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 4. Noah Gajewski, Marathon
Second Heat: 1. Travis Volm, Wausau; 2. Justin Mondeik, Gleason; 3. Weinkauf; 4. Jevin Guralski, Wausau; 5. Rayce Haase, Wausau
Feature: 1. Heinrich; 2. Mondeik; 3. M.G. Gajewski; 4. T. Volm; 5. N. Gajewski; 6. Mackesy; 7. Weinkauf; 8. Guralski; 9. Brickner; 10. Haase
-State Park Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: State Park Speedway/QCWilly