From Brian Liskai
ATTICA, OH (September 11, 2020) – A few weeks ago Craig Mintz was down on himself. He had crashed at Attica Raceway Park and decided to take some time away from racing to clear his mind and get refocused. It paid off Friday, Sept. 11 as the two-time Attica track champion took the lead with just six laps to go and survived a late race caution to score his first win of the season on Kistler Racing Products/Jon Wright’s Custom Chrome Plating/American Powersports presents the Mark Keegan Classic Season Championship Night.
“We haven’t won in a couple of years and I can’t tell you the last time we won at Attica. We have been struggling. And it’s not my guys…it’s me mentally. Some nights I’m not here mentally. Tonight we had a pretty good night overall. It was fun racing with Travis (Philo) and Cale (Conley) at the end. My wife is probably mad because she wasn’t here but I love her and my son and daughter. I have to thank my dad and Rich and we threw a new guy on our team tonight…it’s amazing to be here. To be honest with you this is a 2017 GF1 (chassis) so George Fisher must have been up there looking out after us,” said Mintz beside his Real Geese Decoys, Eagle Ignition Leads, KS Sales & Service, Kistler Racing Engines, Elite Wings backed 09.
“There were nights I sat home on Fridays and Saturdays and barely could watch because I wanted to be here. But I knew for the best for the team was take some time off and go build another race car and have it set up the way we wanted and come back strong rather than keep banging your head against the wall,” added Mintz about his 15th career Attica 410 victory.
Republic, Ohio’s Cap Henry racked up his first ever Attica Raceway Park track championship with his sixth place finish in a season that saw him win seven features at the track.
“My visor got so fogged up I couldn’t see those guys and I knew I should quit racing with Craig when I couldn’t find him. I just kind of backed up to make sure we could finish that thing. I can’t say enough about my team…it’s a team effort and I’m just proud of these guys. It’s incredible. We got really close last year and just couldn’t do it so to seal it off this year…it’s been a remarkable season. I haven’t won a championship in anything since I was a little kid in go-karts,” said Henry of his Lane Racing team.
Mansfield, Ohio’s Matt Irey came into championship night just 16 points behind Devin Shiels. All Irey could do was win and hope Shiels finished worst than third. Irey did his part but so did Shiels. Irey took the lead with five laps to go and drove to his second late model victory of the season at Attica and the fifth of his career. Shiels held on to finish third and claim his second track title by just two points.
“This thing has been a rocket ship all year. We broke a motor last week and we put the small motor in to come out tonight. I couldn’t do this without all my family and my wife…I got married two weeks ago. We did everything we could….just came up a little bit short,” said Irey beside his Mid-Ohio Graphics, Rod Eddleblute’s Garage, Robin Jakubick Realtor, Artisan Concrete, Flenner Water Well & Excavating, Kilgore & Harring CPA backed #36.
For Shiels, the pressure of having to finish in the top three to win the track title was pretty intense.
“I love double point nights…not. We blew the water pump off last week for our worst finish of the year. Luckily it wasn’t a point night,” said Shiels.
Fremont’s Paul Weaver put an exclamation point on his phenomenal year in the Fremont Fence 305 Sprints, dominating the 25 lap feature for his seventh win of the year and 56th of his career in the division. It wrapped up his fourth track title in the last five years.
“I have to thank B&B Drains…Pam and Steve Brown came on board last year and Dave Rice and Bob Hampshire for helping get the motor going…that’s the most expensive part. Anyone can buy a race car but the motors are out priced basically,” said Weaver of his B&B Drain Service, Hampshire Racing Engines, M&L Excavating, Seagate Sandblasting, Weaver Performance backed #1W.
Travis Philo and Ricky Peterson brought the field to green for the 30-lap 410 sprint feature with Philo grabbing the lead over Peterson with Cale Conley, Mintz, Cap Henry and Tim Shaffer battling hard for third. Mintz drove into second on lap two and closed quickly on Philo.
While the battle for the lead was entertaining so was the race for third between Conley and Henry. At the half-way point the leaders were slicing and dicing through heavy lapped traffic and Conley capitalized, taking second from Mintz on lap 17 and closed on Philo. But Mintz regrouped and retook the runner-up spot on lap 20 and four laps later drove under Philo for the lead.
The only thing that slowed Mintz’ march to the checkers was a caution with two laps to go. Mintz got a fantastic restart and drove away to the win over Conley who took second on the restart, Philo, Shaffer and Chad Kemenah.
With his fifth place finish, Kemenah has tightened the point battle with Cap Henry in the All Pro Aluminum Cylinder Heads/Kistler Racing Products Attica Fremont Championship Series Presented by the Baumann Auto Group heading into the championship night Saturday at Fremont Speedway.
Nate Potts and Mike Bores brought the field to green for the 25 lap late model feature with Bores, who scored the win a week ago, taking the lead over Shiels, Larry Bellman, Potts, Ryan Missler and Irey.
Bores pulled away to a commanding lead while the action behind him was heating up. Shiels ran comfortably in second with Bellman and Irey locked in a torrid battle for third. The leaders raced into heavy lapped traffic by the 12 circuit with Bores lead beginning to evaporate as Shiels and Irey closed. Irey took second with nine laps remaining and closed to within half a car length of Bores.
The only caution flew with five laps to go and on the restart Irey drove around Bores for the lead. Bores continued to drive under Irey but could not make the winning pass as Irey took the checkers over Bores, Shiels, Missler and Gregg Haskell.
Weaver and Jim McGrath comprised the front row of the 25 lap 305 sprint A-main and when the green flew a multi-car incident brought out the red; there were no injuries. On the second attempt for green Weaver drove into the lead and pulled away while the action behind him was entertaining.
A caution with seven laps to go put Seth Schneider, Matt Foos and Jamie Miller right on Weaver’s rear bumper but the veteran was able to pull away once again. A final caution with four laps to go would not slow Weaver’s march to the win and championship. He pulled away for the victory as Miller, Schneider, Foos and Kody Brewer rounded out the top five.