May 27, 2012; Francis Creek, WI – After finishing second in Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint Car action the last three events, Mike Kertscher finally found his way to the winners circle. On Sunday evening at 141 Speedway, Kertscher broke his string of runner-up finishes by holding off Scott Neitzel in a three lap dash to the checkered flag. The 30 lap A-main on the third-mile clay oval wasn’t without some wild moments.
A restart with three laps to go in the contest would see Kertscher square off with four-time and defending IRA champion Bill Balog. As the green flag flew after the final caution race leader Balog would be challenged by Kertscher as the pair exited turn two. Balog found himself pinched between the wall and Kertscher as the pair made contact. Balog’s machine began to tumble down the backstretch, while Kertscher was able to stay on his wheels and keep going. Third place running Scott Biertzer who was having his best run of the season also became entangled in the incident rolling his machine onto its side, while trying to avoid Balog’s crippled ride.
When the dust settled and the race resumed Kertscher was able to hold onto the lead the final three laps to earn his first victory of the 2012 season and completing a sweep of the nights acting action. Neitzel would finished runner-up three car lengths behind for his best performance of 2012.
Earlier in the evening Kertscher established a new track record becoming the first driver to turn a lap of under 11 seconds in qualifying at the tight third-mile clay oval. Kertscher turned in a blistering laps of 10.750 seconds erasing the old mark of 11.001 seconds which was set by Neitzel in May of 2010.
The evening began with a season high 33 Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint Cars checking into the pit area. The number barely edged out the 32 machines which appeared at Wilmot Raceway a couple weeks ago.
Four heat races would be held with victories going to Kertscher, Phillip Mock, Tommy Sexton and Bill Warren.
The B-main event would see 16 drivers competing for the six remaining transfer spots. Bill Wirth would score the victory fending off the challenges of Jeremy Schultz in the closing laps for the win. Scott Thiel, Scott Young, Brandon Thone and Russel Borland earned the transfer spots finishing third through sixth respectively.
The 30 lap main event rolled trackside with all scheduled 22 starters ready to take the green flag. Biertzer would find himself sitting on the pole of the contest with Neitzel to his outside. Balog and Kertscher made up row two. The field roared to life taking the green flag but before the first lap was complete Bill Warren rolled his machine down the front stretch ending his evening.
The race resumed again this time completing four laps before Scott Thiel began to climb the wall in turn one before doing a series of flips through turn two. Thiel climbed from his machine unhurt, but he too was done for the evening.
Racing began in earnest with the next restart with Balog showing the way and Biertzer in tow, followed by Kertscher, Neitzel and Brian Kristan in the top five.
Kertscher was able to pull off a perfect slide job on Biertzer to claim second as lap five began and he now set out after Balog who has opened up a small lead.
By lap ten Balog and Kertscher began to work lapped traffic with the pair weaving between the back markers. Balog had extended his lead to a dozen car lengths before Kertscher began to reel in the leader. By the halfway point Kertscher had closed in on Balog’s rear nerf bar. He then swung to the outside down the front stretch as the duo worked through lapped machines and briefly nosed ahead.
Balog was quick to rally however, shooting back to the lead and re-establishing the gap on second running Kertscher. The laps quickly passed and with five circuits remaining Balog was comfortably out front while Kertscher found himself having to fend off the challenges of Biertzer to hold onto the second spot.
The outcome of the race would take a drastic turn with three laps to go as a caution flag flew for a spin by Russel Borland who looped his ride in turn four. This bunched the field and put the leaders back within sight of one another as the lap machines were filtered to the tail of the field.
It appeared to be another classic showdown for the win between front-running Balog and Kertscher, but the duel went awry as the pair ran out of space making contact in turn two right after the return of the green flag. Balog who had his ride damaged the night before at Wilmot suddenly found himself upside down in his borrowed machine, ending his bid for this fourth victory of the season and scoring his second straight DNF.
Biertzer also saw his fine run upended when he tipped onto his side while trying to avoid Balog’s machine. Behind this fray, Kristan who was next to inherit the second spot, would roll to a stop and he was unable to finish the final three laps. As a result Neitzel suddenly found himself in second for the restart.
The race resumed and the final three laps pulled off without incident with Kertscher making his way to checkered flag for the win. Neitzel was able to hold off a hard charging Mike Reinke to claim second. Reinke who had started in the 10th spot would be credited with third. Tommy Sexton who was victorious the night before at Wilmot Raceway earned a fourth place finish this evening. Jeremy Schultz finished fifth the highest of any car transferring from the B-main. Phillip Mock, Todd King, Scott Young, Robbie Pribnow and Darrell Dodd completed the top ten finishers.
Next week the IRA Sprints will contest it’s only triple-header weekend of the 2012 season. On Friday Night, June 1st the series travels to Jackson Speedway in Jackson, MN for the Big Game Treestands Sprint Shootout. The following night, Saturday June 2nd, the series comes back to Wisconsin for an event at Cedar Lake Speedway for the inaugural Triple Crown event featuring a $3,000 to win IRA 410 Outlaw Sprint Car feature. Also on hand will be NASCAR Late Models and NASCAR Modifieds. The triple header weekend wraps up with a stop at Eagle Valley Speedway in Jim Falls, WI on Sunday evening June 3rd.
For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com
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@example.com
Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints:
30 Lap A-Main: 1.) Mike Kertscher; 2.) Scott Neitzel; 3.) Mike Reinke; 4.) Tommy Sexton; 5.) Jeremy Schultz; 6.) Phillip Mock; 7.) Todd King; 8.) Scott Young; 9.) Robby Pribnow; 10.) Darrell Dodd; 11.) Brandon Thone; 12.) Russell Borland; 13.) Ken Jay Fiedler; 14.) Billy Balog; 15.) Scotty Biertzer; 16.) Brian Kristan; 17.) Scott Uttecht; 18.) Bill Wirth; 19.) Brian Porschty; 20.) Nick Alden; 21.) Scotty Thiel; 22.) Bill Warren
B-Main: (Top 10) 1.) Wirth; 2.) Schultz; 3.) Thiel; 4.) Young; 5.) Thone; 6.) Borland; 7.) Kurt Davis; 8.) Kris Spitz; 9.) Michael Decker; 10.) Doug Wondra
Heat 1: 1.) Kertscher; 2.) Alden; 3.) Kristan; 4.) Reinke
Heat 2: 1.) Mock; 2.) Balog; 3.) Dodd; 4.) Pribnow
Heat 3: 1.) Sexton; 2.) King; 3.) Neitzel; 4.) Portschy
Heat 4: 1.) Warren; 2.) Uttech; 3.) Biertzer; 4.) Fiedler
Qualifying: (Top 10) 1.) Kertscher, 10.750 Seconds (NEW TRACK RECORD); 2.) Balog, 11.000 Secs; 3.) Neitzel 11.011 Secs; 4.) Biertzer, 11.088; 5.) Reinke 11.109; 6.) Mock 11.324; 7.) Sexton, 11.458; 8.) Thone 11.627; 9.) Wirth 11.630; 10.) Schultz 11.632