Shane Stewart charges to Fremont Speedway opening night win

By Brian Liskai

FREMONT, Ohio – Shane Stewart has found a good fit with the Joe Gaerte and Tim Norman owned sprint car. The Bixby, Oklahoma driver took the lead on lap 18 from his 13th starting spot and went on to capture the opening night win in the Fort Ball Pizza Palace 410 Sprints at Fremont Speedway on JRC Transportation of Clyde night.

Stewart passed Phil Gressman with a low move on lap 18 to take the lead and then held off Byron Reed after the field was bunched up for a debris caution with four laps remaining for his second career Fremont victory.

It was also the opening night for the Kistler Racing Products FAST (Fremont Attica Sprint Title) Championship Series presented by Engine Pro and K&S Sales and Service.

“This is a testament to this team. The whole key was this thing was rotating around the bottom really good early on in the race. We were actually going to tighten it up and Joe (Gaerte) talked me out of it and it’s a good thing he did,” said Stewart beside his C&B Mushrooms, DDNI, Gaerte Engines, XYZ Machining, All Star Performance, Red Line Oil backed #3G. “I really can’t thank Chris Luck enough, DDNI, KPC Chassis, SST Shocks and of course Gaerte Engines…they all do their part.”

“I jumped in this thing in Florida and won two out of three and had a good shot at winning the third night and rubber laid down and of course the dumb driver picked the wrong tire and we blew a tire and lost the Ronald Laney Memorial Race. We didn’t start the way I wanted to tonight…I was a little off qualifying. The guys just did their job on the race car and it was a joy to drive in the feature,” added Stewart in the Engine Pro Victory Lane.

After crashing hard the previous week battling for the lead at Attica Raceway Park, Caleb Griffith, who hails from Castalia, Ohio, earned a measure of redemption in the Fremont Federal Credit Union 305 Sprints, as he took the lead from Alvin Roepke on lap 15 and cruised to his third career victory at “The Track That Action Built.”

“My hats off to my guys. They worked on this thing until late every night this week,” said Griffith, the track’s 2003 division champion. “I hung out in third for awhile and when we got to lapped traffic the car started to really click.”

“It’s a blast driving for Al Davis and these guys. There’s no pressure…whether we run last or first, they are here to have fun and I’m glad I can reward them with a win,” added Griffith beside his McDonald’s Restaurant, Ballville EZ Shop, Crown Battery, Erlin Trader, JLH General Contractor, B&L Heating and Plumbing, Fremont Fence backed machine.

Fostoria, Ohio’s Bob Dible started the year…well not performing so good. But, he worked hard on his Bob’s Machine Shop/BMS Engines truck over the week and it paid off. He led all 20 laps of the Fremont Fence & Guardrail Dirt Truck main to record his 12th career victory at Fremont.

“What a difference a week makes. At Attica it was so bad we went back home and put it on the drawing board and evidentially what ever we did worked,” said Dible, noting over the winter he changed from an S-10 to a Dodge Dakota. “I waited until the first of February to get started….it’s been a long three weeks. I have to thank all the guys that support Bob’s Machine Shop…that helps me keep racing. I have to thank my parents and my wife, who’s home watching our granddaughter and all my pit crew.”

Jody Keegan and Craig Mintz led the field to the green of the 30-lap 410 sprint feature with Keegan grabbing the lead as fourth starter Gressman slid into second. Keegan pulled away slightly while Gressman and Mintz battled for second with Reed holding off Chris Andrews and Todd Heller. Mintz would take the second spot on lap seven, but Gressman would scoot back by on lap nine. When Keegan caught the back of the field by lap 10, Gressman and Mintz closed quickly with Reed making it a three car battle for second with Andrews and Heller battling for fifth.

Gressman would drive under Keegan in turn two on lap 11 to take the lead as they raced into lapped traffic. Meanwhile Stewart had worked his way up to fifth and drove around both Reed and Mintz a lap later for third. At the half-way point, Gressman led while Keegan and Stewart battled for second with Reed, Mintz, Andrews, Heller and Brian Smith in tow. Stewart would take the runner-up spot on lap 16, with Reed getting around Mintz for fourth.

Stewart would execute his winning move on lap 18, diving under Gressman in turns three and four to grab the lead with Reed driving around Keegan for third. Keegan would get side ways in turn two, collecting Mintz to bring out the race’s first caution on lap 19. The restart order was Stewart, Gressman, Reed, Andrews, Heller, Smith and 20th starter Dean Jacobs. A lap later, Jacobs charge to the front ended when he spun in turn four. In that lap, Reed got around Gressman for the second position.

With a clear track, Stewart was able to pull away slightly from Reed with Gressman comfortably in third while Andrews battled with Heller, Brian Smith, 14th starter Dustin Daggett and 19th starter rookie Stuart Brubaker for fourth. Reed would get one final shot at Stewart when the caution flew on lap 26 when someone clipped one of the infield tire barriers, moving it onto the track. On the ensuing restart Reed tried to drive to Stewart’s outside as they raced side-by-side to the flag stand to complete the 27th circuit. But, once Stewart got his momentum, he pulled away slightly for the win. Reed, Gressman, Andrews, Heller, Smith, Brubaker, Daggett, Lee Jacobs and Dean Jacobs would round out the top 10.

In the 25-lap 305 sprint feature, Jess Stiger and Alvin Roepke would pace the field with the third year driver Stiger grabbing the lead over Roepke, Griffith, Seth Schneider, Nate Dussel, Jason Keckler and Jamie Miller. The caution would fly on lap four when Josh Harrison had mechanical problems with the running order Stiger, Roepke, Griffith, Dussel, Jimmy Colvin, Schneider, Miller, Paul Weaver and Keckler. The top five would remain that way until Stiger caught the rear of the field on lap 11. The veteran Roepke would drive under the youngster for the lead, bringing Griffith up to second.\

Roepke and Griffith would then race side-by-side with Dussel taking third from Stiger on lap 14, bringing Colvin into fourth as well. As they came down to complete the 15th lap, Griffith would use a lapped machine as a pick to drive past Roepke into the lead. The caution would fly on lap 16 for debris with the running order Griffith, Roepke, Dussel, Colvin, Miller, Weaver and Stiger.

Griffith set a blistering pace on the restart, catching the rear of the field just four laps later while Roepke and Dussel battled hard for second with Colvin, Weaver and Miller putting on a tremendous show for fourth. Griffith was pulling away, with Dussel finally taking second on lap 22, but he could not catch the leader. Griffith would drive to his third career Fremont win with Dussel, Roepke, Weaver, Colvin, Miller, Schneider, John Ivy, Dustin Stroup (from 18th) and Matt Merrill rounding out the top 10.

Dible and Craig Holland would lead the field to the green in the 20-lap dirt truck feature. Dible would use the bottom groove to take the lead while the second row of Brian Sorg and Kent Brewer would slide into second and third. With a lap in, the caution flew for Willie Keegan. On the restart, Dible pulled away while Sorg ran comfortably in second with Brewer waging a torrid battle with Holland, rookie Brian Melnek Jr., Gene Potridge, Steve Sabo and Chuck Roelle for third.

The top three continued to be Dible, Sorg and Brewer with Sabo taking fourth on lap 11 with the charging Dan Roepke Jr. from 17th to fifth. Roepke would take fourth from Sabo on lap 14 with Sabo regaining the position a lap later. The caution flew on lap 15 for Dustin Keegan and Steve Endicott who spun in turn four.

With five laps to go, Dible was again able to pull away while Sorg now had his hands full with Sabo, Brewer and Roepke. Sabo would take the runner-up spot on lap 18, but ran out of time to catch Dible. Sorg would finish third with Roepke, Brewer, Ball, Roelle, Holland, Jeff Wank and Keith Sorg rounding out the top 10.

Fremont Speedway will be back in action Saturday, April 28 for the Baumann Auto Group Night. It will be another Kistler Racing Products FAST Championship Series event for the 410 sprints with the 305 sprints and dirt trucks also in competition.

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Fremont Speedway – 4/21/2012

J.R.C. Transportation Night

Pizza Palace 410 Sprints (25 Cars)

[#]-Starting Position

Qualifying – Callie’s Performance

1. 55-Brad Bowman, 12.359; 2. 16-Chris Andrews, 12.437; 3. 3-Mike Linder, 12.459; 4. 14H-Todd Heller, 12.474; 5. 53-Phil Gressman, 12.561; 6. 12-Jarred Ridge, 12.599; 7. 5R-Byron Reed, 12.678; 8. O9-Craig Mintz, 12.679; 9. 60-Jody Keegan, 12.688; 10. 2+-Brian Smith, 12.732; 11. 9Z-Duane Zablocki, 12.749; 12. 40-Caleb Helms, 12.786; 13. 24H-Brian Sebetto, 12.788; 14. 14-Chad Wilson, 12.814; 15. 3G-Shane Stewart, 12.850; 16. 2M-Dustin Daggett, 12.879; 17. W20-Greg Wilson, 12.901; 18. O-Lee Jacobs, 12.907; 19. 5T-Travis Philo, 12.928; 20. 45L-Brian Lay, 13.021; 21. 35-Stuart Brubaker, 13.053; 22. 97-Dean Jacobs, 13.062; 23. 70-Brad Haudenschild, 13.192; 24. 48-Mike Burkin, 13.662; 25. 83M-Broc Martin, 26.174

Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 2M-Dustin Daggett[1] ; 2. 24H-Brian Sebetto[2] ; 3. 2+-Brian Smith[3] ; 4. 5R-Byron Reed[4] ; 5. 14H-Todd Heller[5] ; 6. 97-Dean Jacobs[8] ; 7. 83M-Broc Martin[9] ; 8. 5T-Travis Philo[7] ; 9. 55-Brad Bowman[6]

Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. W20-Greg Wilson[1] ; 2. 14-Chad Wilson[2] ; 3. O9-Craig Mintz[4] ; 4. 53-Phil Gressman[5] ; 5. 16-Chris Andrews[6] ; 6. 9Z-Duane Zablocki[3] ; 7. 70-Brad Haudenschild[8] ; 8. 45L-Brian Lay[7]

Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. O-Lee Jacobs[1] ; 2. 3G-Shane Stewart[2] ; 3. 40-Caleb Helms[3] ; 4. 60-Jody Keegan[4] ; 5. 35-Stuart Brubaker[7] ; 6. 3-Mike Linder[6] ; 7. 12-Jarred Ridge[5] ; 8. 48-Mike Burkin[8]

B-Main – Computer Man Inc. (10 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 55-Brad Bowman[1] ; 2. 3-Mike Linder[2] ; 3. 97-Dean Jacobs[7] ; 4. 5T-Travis Philo[5] ; 5. 45L-Brian Lay[6] ; 6. 12-Jarred Ridge[3] ; 7. 70-Brad Haudenschild[8] ; 8. 9Z-Duane Zablocki[4] ; 9. 48-Mike Burkin[9] ; 10. 83M-Broc Martin[10]

A-Main – (30 Laps)

1. 3G-Shane Stewart[13]; 2. 5R-Byron Reed[3]; 3. 53-Phil Gressman[4]; 4. 16-Chris Andrews[6]; 5. 14H-Todd Heller[5]; 6. 2+-Brian Smith[9]; 7. 35-Stuart Brubaker[19]; 8. 2M-Dustin Daggett[14]; 9. O-Lee Jacobs[16]; 10. 97-Dean Jacobs[20]; 11. W20-Greg Wilson[15]; 12. 45L-Brian Lay[18]; 13. 60-Jody Keegan[1]; 14. 40-Caleb Helms[10]; 15. 14-Chad Wilson[12]; 16. 55-Brad Bowman[7]; 17. 3-Mike Linder[8]; 18. O9-Craig Mintz[2]; 19. 5T-Travis Philo[17]; 20. 24H-Brian Sebetto[11]

Hard Charger: 3G-Shane Stewart[+12]

Fremont Federal Credit Union305 Sprints (22 Cars)

[#]-Starting Position

Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. OO-Alvin Roepke[2] ; 2. 67M-Matt Ferrell[1] ; 3. 25-Jason Keckler[3] ; 4. 1W-Paul Weaver[5] ; 5. 5-Dustin Dinan[6] ; 6. 5R-Jordan Ryan[8] ; 7. 22D-Dan Hammond[4] ; 8. 10-Josh Harrison[7]

Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 4M-Jamie Miller[4] ; 2. 36-Seth Schneider[2] ; 3. 8J-Jess Stiger[6] ; 4. 39-Matt Merrill[5] ; 5. 19R-Steve Rando[7] ; 6. 7X-Jay Howe[1] ; 7. 68G-Tyler Gunn[3]

Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 40-Caleb Griffith[1] ; 2. 8K-John Ivy[2] ; 3. 1-Nate Dussel[6] ; 4. 9-Jimmy Colvin[3] ; 5. 11F-D.J. Foos[4] ; 6. 10X-Dustin Stroup[7] ; 7. 22M-Dan McCarron[5]

A-Main – (25 Laps)

1. 40-Caleb Griffith[3]; 2. 1-Nate Dussel[7]; 3. OO-Alvin Roepke[2]; 4. 1W-Paul Weaver[9]; 5. 9-Jimmy Colvin[10]; 6. 4M-Jamie Miller[5]; 7. 36-Seth Schneider[6]; 8. 8K-John Ivy[12]; 9. 10X-Dustin Stroup[18]; 10. 39-Matt Merrill[8]; 11. 5-Dustin Dinan[13]; 12. 8J-Jess Stiger[1]; 13. 11F-D.J. Foos[15]; 14. 5R-Jordan Ryan[16]; 15. 19R-Steve Rando[14]; 16. 68G-Tyler Gunn[20]; 17. 22D-Dan Hammond[19]; 18. 7X-Jay Howe[17]; 19. 22M-Dan McCarron[21]; 20. 25-Jason Keckler[4]; 21. 67M-Matt Ferrell[11]; 22. 10-Josh Harrison[22]

Hard Charger: 10X-Dustin Stroup[+9]

Fremont Fence Dirt Trucks (24 Trucks)

[#]-Starting Position

Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 17-Bob Dible[5] ; 2. 8KB-Kent Brewer[3] ; 3. 45-Brian Melnek Jr.[6] ; 4. 95-Keith Sorg[8] ; 5. 14-Scott Beard[7] ; 6. 94-John Ivy[1] ; 7. 5JR-Jimmy McGrath Jr.[4]

Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 16-Steve Sabo[4] ; 2. 71-Craig Holland[2] ; 3. D1-Dustin Keegan[5] ; 4. 99X-Gene Potridge[1] ; 5. 79-Andrew Lutman[6] ; 6. 8-Steve Endicott[3] ; 7. 62-Cody Miarer[8] ; 8. 115-Ben Good[7]

Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 10 finishers transfer to the A-feature)

1. 4X-Brian Sorg[2] ; 2. O9-Jeff Wank[5] ; 3. 3R-Chuck Rolle[4] ; 4. O1-Art Ball[6] ; 5. P51-Willie Keegan[3] ; 6. 88-Dan Roepke Jr.[7] ; 7. 23M-Brad Mitten[8] ; 8. 18W-Cory Ward[1]

A-Main – (20 Laps)

1. 17-Bob Dible[1]; 2. 16-Steve Sabo[7]; 3. 4X-Brian Sorg[3]; 4. 88-Dan Roepke Jr.[17]; 5. 8KB-Kent Brewer[4]; 6. O1-Art Ball[11]; 7. 3R-Chuck Rolle[9]; 8. 71-Craig Holland[2]; 9. O9-Jeff Wank[12]; 10. 95-Keith Sorg[5]; 11. 8-Steve Endicott[16]; 12. 115-Ben Good[21]; 13. P51-Willie Keegan[15]; 14. D1-Dustin Keegan[10]; 15. 45-Brian Melnek Jr.[8]; 16. 99X-Gene Potridge[6]; 17. 62-Cody Miarer[19]; 18. 14-Scott Beard[13]; 19. 79-Andrew Lutman[14]; 20. 5JR-Jimmy McGrath Jr.[18]; 21. 18W-Cory Ward[22]

Hard Charger: 88-Dan Roepke Jr.[+13]