South Bend, IN– It was a great night for racing as the South Bend Motor Speedway hosted another exciting night of competition and honored one of the speedway’s founders. Trophies were presented to the five feature winners by the family of Tom Romanowski, one of the original builders of the historic speed plant. During intermission, crewmembers, wives and girlfriends of the drivers participated in three special races for mechanics and powder puff racers and a number of vintage racing machines toured the oval compliments of the Michiana Vintage Racing Association. In feature action, Brian Ross backed up his Bellman Oil Company Late Model win of a week ago while, Bryant Ragsdale, Rich Hensley and Danny Brown Jr all added to their season win totals in the Front Wheel Drive, Mini Stock and Street Stock divisions, respectively. Mark Swan posted what may be his first ever feature win in the Sportsman class after apparent winner, Charlie Cotton did not pass post race tech inspection.
In the Street Stock race for mechanics, Danny Brown Sr of LaPorte took the car usually driven by Vernon Knight to victory lane over a stout field of 12. In the FWD portion, Stephanie Long of Tippecanoe outran 5 male drivers, in the car usually
driven by Jamie Layne, for their mechanics race win. The FWD Powder Puff race saw five brave ladies take to the track. In what could best be described as an ‘exercise in caution,’ they all drove very carefully. Lisa Olling of South Bend jumped out to an early lead but was passed by Niles driver, Keri Martz on lap two. Amy Eisenhardt of New Carlisle muscled the lead away on lap four but, as the lead pair came upon the slower car of Alyson Cretacci of Walkerton, Martz vaulted around the outside and went on to win over Eisenhardt, Lisa Metz of South Bend, Olling and Cretacci. For their efforts, each winner received a trophy and now maintains bragging rights until next year.
The first feature on the program was the Street Stock 30 lapper with 18 drivers scheduled to compete. After slamming the wall during heat race action, South Bend’s Derek Wunder was unable to make the call. At the finish, it was Danny Brown Jr of LaPorte taking home his 4th feature win of the season over a determined Kevin Clash of South Bend. Josh Highbaugh of Jones, MI held off South Bend’s Cindy Stremme for 3rd with Vernon Knight of Michagan City rounding out the top five. LaPorte’s Austin Woodcox, Greg Gifford of Michigan City, Kenny Esmont of South Bend, Matt Sullivan of Hartford, MI and Chad McGinnis of Elkhart completed the top ten. Knight held off Kyle Thornton of Osceola and McGinnis for heat race one while Brown Jr bested Andrew Rigley of Mishawaka and James Haisley of South Bend in heat two. Brown Jr turned in fast qualifying time.
Fifteen drivers presented for the start of the Mini Stock 25 lap main which saw several drivers eliminated after a pileup in turn one. At the end, it was veteran Rich Hensley of South Bend taking home his 4th win of the season. Following Hensley at the checker was South Bend’s Derek Davis and Michael Mast from New Paris. David Raley Jr of Osceola and Kevin Davis of South Bend completed the top five with Nick Kretchmer of Granger, Mike Freese of LaPorte, Jeremy Parrott of Mishawaka, Howard Fisette of South Bend and Ed Martz of Niles rounding out the top ten. David Raley bested Freese and Brandon Nieto of Mill Creek in the first heat while Mast topped Drew Davis of South Bend and Hensley in the 2nd heat. Zachery Newgent of South Bend turned in fast qualifying time in the Jim Newman Racing Special.
The Sportsman 40 lap main was red flagged when Doug Bannow of LaPaz smacked the turn one wall and flames shot from under the hood. When action resumed, Claypool’s Charlie Cotton blasted through the field and took the checker flag from starter,
Mike Stutsman. However, in post race inspection, the J&B Pallet Ford Taurus was stripped of the win resulting in Mark Swan of South Bend being awarded his first feature win of the season over points leader, Brandon Zachary of Paw Paw and Rodney Smith of Elkhart. Rick Wolkens of Niles was next ahead of Rich Boal of Plymouth. South Bend drivers, Corey Woods and Robert Haisley led Jeremy Blocher of Niles, Bannow and Lyn Papke of New Buffalo to round out the top ten. In heat race action, Wolkens beat out Bannow and Swan in heat one with Scott Fairchild of Mishawaka beating out Corky Knight of Hebron and Woods in heat two. Woods, driving the Woods Motorsports Pink Cadillac, topped qualifying as the top 3 qualifiers were separated by less the . 002 seconds.
The Front Wheel Drive 20 lap feature saw 19 of the 20 competitors making the call. Bryant Ragsdale of Mishawaka survived a multi car melee in the back stretch to claim his 6th feature win of the season ahead of Sean Stuart of North Liberty and points leader Tom Taylor of Michigan City. Brandon Cretacci of Walkerton was next over Braxdon Sims of Walkerton, James Trussell of Niles, Jason Harmon of Elkhart, Ed Martz of Niles, Helmut Forstinger Jr of South Bend and Jeremy Campbell of Rolling Prairie. Stuart topped Harmon and Jeff Harrell of Niles in the first heat as Jamie Layne of Mishawaka beat out Doug Fox of South Bend and Aaron Agostino of South Bend in the second heat. Tom Taylor topped the field in qualifying.
The Bellman Oil Company Late Model 50 lap feature saw 12 cars taking the green with North Liberty’s Mike Verduin jumping out to an early lead. Brian Ross of Elkhart worked his way through traffic and into the lead position with Paw Paw’s Brandon Zachary in hot pursuit. At the finish, it was Ross taking home his 2nd win in as many weeks ahead of Zachary and Steve Stacy of Plymouth, Rich Boal of Plymouth and Joe Fadke of Brook. Mike Tutino of Walkerton led Cory Lindsey of Kingsford Heights, Buchanan, MI’s Kenny Lollar Jr, Verduin and Bob Golubski Jr of South Bend. Charles Darr of Garrett was the surprised winner in the first heat over Golubski Jr, and Lollar Jr. Stacy topped Ross and Lindsey in the second heat. Ross posted fast qualifying time.
In the season points battles, Tom Taylor leads Doug Fox for the FWD title while Brandon Zachary appears to have the Sportsman title in the bag with a 213 point lead over runner-up Corey Woods. Rich Hensley stands ready to post his 2nd championship in as many years as he holds a comfortable lead over Zachery Newgent in the Mini Stocks and Josh Highbaugh leads Danny Brown Jr in Street Stocks. The Bellman Oil Company Late Models will very likely not be decided until the very last turn of the very last lap as, going into Saturday’s events, Steve Stacy only held a 6 point advantage over Brandon Zachary. With both drivers turning in good finishes, this one will go down to the wire for sure.
This Saturday, the stock car portion of the season will come to a close and the champions will be crowned. Following a huge autograph session, with all drivers invited to bring their cars onto the front stretch so fans can meet their favorites and get their autographs one more time, the drivers will buckle up and settle it all with the season championship features. Pit gates will open at noon with practice for all divisions getting underway at two. Spectator gates open at 4 pm as qualifying is set to get underway at 5 and the autograph session promptly at 7. Feature racing will begin around 8. A pit pass is $25 while adult general admission is just $10. Kids 6-12 are admitted for just $5 while those 5 & under are free with an adult. Small coolers and snacks are welcome but NO alcohol or glass containers, please. In the unlikely event of inclement weather, the raindate will be the following Saturday.
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www.racesouthbendmotorspeedway.comor follow us on Facebook. You can also keep up with all the news at www.stockcarextreme.com/SouthBendMotorSpeedway. Thank you for you continued support and we’ll see you at the races.