by: Terry Lenhertz
Twenty-one Pirtek Renegades checked in on Saturday night at Cedar Lake Speedway with $1,000 of extra purse money on the line thanks to the GT Transport Hot Shot Challenge. Cam Schafer racked up the most passing points in winning heat one from the third row, while rookie Zach Nelson and “the Machine”, Ryan Johnson each scored their first career UMSS victories winning the second and third heat races respectively. The top four in passing points qualified for the GT Transport Hot Shot Challenge of electing to start in the back row for the extra $1K – and both Schafer and the #69s of Jon Lewerer accepted.
Britt, Minnesota’s Nick DaRonco and Scott Brandt paced the Reaction Time Sports podcast lineup to green with DaRonco taking control early. Mike Mueller was again strong down low while Brandt and Jake Kouba battled early on, but all eyes were on the sprinters of Lewerer and Schafer. Lewerer was into the top 12 with just a few laps scored and Schafer was right behind him as the duo sliced their way forward. A hard crash on lap eight involving Nelson and Johnny Parsons brought out the red flag. Parsons was eventually alert and communicative, but he did initially require medical attention after a tremendously hard roll in his #12 mount. During the stop in action, Lewerer was also forced to retire due to a power plant issue.
Back under green, it was still DaRonco showing the way in front of Mueller, Kouba and Brandt, but Schafer had already cracked the top ten, restarting eighth. With just two more laps in, Schafer was up to fifth and before the crossed flags flew on lap 15, he had caught and passed DaRonco for the lead. Once in front, Schafer stayed aggressive on the top side and stretched his lead, deftly working through lapped traffic. At the double checkers, Schafer’s #54 hotrod was parked in Rock Auto victory lane for an astounding tenth time this season, a series record. The win also cemented Schafer alone at the top the all-time Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series win list with 37 feature wins, surpassing Brooke Tatnell’s 36 career stickers. DaRonco finished a strong second in front of Kouba and Mueller, while Zach Widdes turned in a career best fifth place finish.
In other Renegade action, “The Joker” Chris Lewis snared checkers at Grand Rapids Speedway on Thursday night for the Northern Renegades, while Paul Schultz picked up a win Friday in Superior and another in Ashland on Saturday. Out west, Joel Larson notched his second win of the summer at Devils Lake. The Pirtek Renegades return to action on Saturday, July 31, as the winged warriors travel into Northern territory to lock horns at the Hibbing Raceway.