Wilmot, WI — (June 6, 2015) — One month ago, Blake Nimee scored his first career podium finish. It was a highlight in the career of the hard charging youngster from Oswego, IL. One week later, Nimee was tumbling down the backstretch after clipping another car that had tagged the wall. For all his efforts it had seemed at time fate hasn’t been kind to the racer whose tenacity has been challenged but never broken.
Perhaps hardened by the challenges endured, Nimee started tonight’s Raymond Neeve Memorial A-main event in the 8th spot, and then methodically picked off car after car to work his way into contention in the closing laps of the race. He entered the final lap chasing down Ben Schmidt, a multi-time champion in 360-sprint action. Schmidt is among the hardest charging drivers on the IRA circuit this season and he had already repelled challenges from several drivers in this evening’s contest.
Heading into the third turn Nimee dove deep in the corner executing a slide job, which Schmidt countered with a cross over move. In the drag race to the finish Nimee nosed ahead. He was able to reach the finish line first by a matter of a few feet.
Officially Nimee’s first career Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint series victory goes into the record books with a margin of .068 seconds. Nimee dedicated the win to his grandfather who had helped him start his racing career and had passed away. Nimee, and his family rebuilt the team. Those efforts were rewarded this evening.
For Schmidt, it was his third second place performance of the 2015 season in addition to his first career IRA victory at Beaver Dam. Those performances have now created a situation where he and Bill Rose are fighting tooth and nail for the season title. The series now heads to Schmidt’s hometrack, the Sheboygan County Fairpark, and he brings with him, plenty of momentum.
Third place tonight went to Bill Balog. Balog piloting his Hans Lein owned #2 machine had won all four of his IRA appearances this year heading into tonight’s action. Though his win streak is at an end he still had made the podium at every show so far.
The main event had rolled off with Nick Alden setting the pace from his pole position, and Schmidt accepting the green flag from outside the front row. Schmidt was able to gain the upper hand, with Alden having to fend off the challenges of Todd Daun and Rick Kelsey. Four laps went into the books with Schmidt showing the way when the first caution of the contest flew when fast qualifier, and Rookie of the Year contender Kyle Marten came to a stop in turn four.
On the restart Schmidt went back to the lead, but he and Alden began to swap the top spot with a series of sliders, and cross over moves. Schmidt again gained the upper hand. On lap six Alden got completely sideways in turn two and was quickly passed by both Daun, and Kelsey.
On lap 8 the next yellow flag was shown as Scott Uttech came to a stop on the racing surface after he and Mike Reinke made contact. Both retired from the contest.
This restart Schmidt had his hands full with Daun, the 2014 Wilmot Raceway champion. Daun managed to slide under Schmidt to briefly lead on several occasions, but each time Schmidt was able to repel the challenge. Kelsey meanwhile watched from his third spot.
Another pair of cautions occurred keeping things tight at the front of the field. The first of these for a gathering between Scott Biertzer, and Brian Kristan, while the later caution involved Alden who came to a rest on the front stretch while running in the top five.
Underway again Schmidt was still in control at the halfway point with Daun still frantically looking for a way to the lead. Further back Nimee was making progress, as was Balog. Nimee cracked the top five and managed to overtake Dave Uttech for the fourth spot just prior to the final yellow flag of the race when Dennis Spitz spun in turn two. Spitz had been running solidly in the top 6 at the time.
The gloves were off as the final dozen laps began. Schmidt again was able to deflect Daun’s challenges but the battle had escalated to the point of nearly making contact as both drivers fought for every inch of real estate. Kelsey meanwhile was unable to capitalize as Nimee now sought the third spot. After a brief battle Nimee garnered the third position.
Schmidt finally got the upper hand on the lead with six laps to go while Daun now was forced to defend his second spot. Nimee was able to work under Daun in turn two as the pair nearly bumped wheels. Nimee then was able to squirt ahead with the second position, and now had four laps to catch Schmidt. Just behind the lead duo Kelsey and Balog were fighting tooth and nail for the fourth spot.
With the finish drawing near Nimee was able to reach Schmidt’s rear nerf bar as the white flag flew. Schmidt blazed down the backstretch into the final two turns when Nimee executed a bold slider past Schmidt. Schmidt had successfully countered dozens of slide jobs this evening, but this one gave Nimee the small advantage that he would hold the final 50 feet to the checkered to steal the win. Schmidt had to settle for second.
Behind the lead pair, Daun was fighting to hold third over Balog, but a miscue in the final turn saw Daun loop his machine within sight of the finish. Balog sailed past to earn the final podium spot. Kelsey, who had held a position in the top five all evening, was rewarded with a fourth place finish, his best run of the 2015 season.
Jeremy Schultz made an impressive drive fro 18th to fifth, advancing the most positions during the contest.
Bill Rose, the point leader heading into the program, made a surprise appearance in a Chris Hartnell owned ride this evening. The car, which won an event with Sheldon Haudenschild at the wheel last year, gave Rose a solid sixth place showing.
Dave Uttech finished seventh just ahead of Scotty Neitzel in eighth. Kris Spitz and Scotty Thiel completed the top ten finishers.
In earlier action, Phillip Mock, the winner of two local 410 sprints shows here at Wilmot raceway, handedly won the B-main. Mock would later finish 11th in the main event. Schultz was second in the B-main followed by Russel Borland, and Kyle Marten in the transfer spots. Trey Detweiler finished fifth, making him an alternate for the main event.
Nimee, Dave Uttech, Daun and Dennis Spitz captured heat race victories.
Marten was the fastest driver in qualifying tonight. He bested the field of 33 that had checked in for competition. Marten’s lap of 13.650 seconds topped that of Kelsey who was second quick with a lap of 13.748 seconds. Rusty Egan nailed down the third quickest lap with an effort of 13.824 seconds.
The top twenty-five cars all timed within a second of the new track record.
A complete results summary from this event will be sent within the next 24 hours
The series now heads to the Sheboygan County Fairpark for an event next Saturday evening, June 13th.