Luxemburg, WI – Kyle Marten knows something and it’s a secret. Chances are he’s not telling what it is as it has been the key to victory lane at Luxemburg Speedway. The soon to be 2015 Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint series rookie of the year has found the fastest way around the banked third-mile oval. This evening he took a convincing win in the second annual Battle by the Bay hosted by Six Four promotions. The triumph was the second of his career, with the first coming one year ago when the series made it’s first trip to the track in nearly a decade. Marten’s trip to the winner’s circle added his name to the list of 18 different drivers to have won in IRA competition this season.
Last season Marten surprised series regulars with a gritty performance that allowed him to gain his first career IRA victory by outrunning Phillip Mock in the first inaugural Battle by the Bay. This year he survived a tangle with seven-time series champ Bill Balog and put his battered ride back in victory lane. He also had to outrun Ben Schmidt, and Bill Rose, two drivers locked in a heated battle for the 2015 series title.
While Marten celebrated with his crew atop the podium; Rose, and Schmidt thrilled the fans with a late race battle that saw the pair exchange second position during the final lap. Rose had the advantage at the line earning his third runner-up performance of the season. Schmidt who briefly held the spot with a stunning pass on the white flag lap, surrendered the position when Rose made a determined move in the final turn.
The second place run for Rose surely felt like a victory after arriving at the track late due to his hauler having mechanical issues. With no time to prepare the car Rose went into the evening having to scramble to make the show. He was able to lay down a respectable fifth in qualifying, and then made his way into the main by transferring through the heat in spite of very little track time.
Schmidt’s third place effort this evening was enough to augment his point lead. He’s now 31 markers ahead of Rose. Schmidt had come into the night just 8 points ahead of Scotty Neitzel who is seeking his third series championship. Neitzel finished solidly in ninth but lost ground in the title chase. He is now 34 points back from the lead.
Coming into the night Jeremy Schultz, and Blake Nimee were also in the title hunt, and though mathematically still alive for the championship, by finishing behind Schmidt and Rose it has become much more difficult to obtain the crown.
The 24 car starting grid pushed off with Wayne Modjeski sitting on the pole. Balog, having a series leading four wins this season started outside the front row. At the drop of the green flag Balog used the cushion to power ahead of Modjeski. Before lap two began the caution flew when Rick Kelsey slid off the turn one embankment, and tagged the wall that protects the pit area. Kelsey was unhurt but was done for the evening.
Balog executed the restart perfectly blasting into the lead while Modjeski surrendered the second spot to Marten who had started in the second row. Modjeski held onto third until the fifth circuit when Rose annexed the position.
By lap eight Balog had caught the tail of the field, and Marten used the opportunity to close the gap on the leader. The pair began to slice through traffic with Marten applying heavy pressure to Balog even surging ahead briefly on lap 10.
Using every inch of the raceway the pair battled through back markers but the intense battle was halted when they made contact on lap 12. Balog slid over the nose of Marten’s ride, and slammed the wall beginning a series of end over end tumbles coming to a rest upside down in turn two resulting in a red flag.
Balog emerged from his battered ride unhurt but done for the evening. Marten’s car also sustained damage, most notably the nose wing that was crumpled on the front of his car. Marten elected to stay trackside, and was now the lead car when the race resumed.At the drop of the green Marten brought the field back up to speed while Rose, now second, began to apply the pressure. Rose was able to move alongside Marten in the low groove on several occasions over the next few laps.
Confident his car was up to the task Marten again put the pedal down, and began to pull away from Rose.
The final slowdown in action occurred on lap 16 when a wild scramble occurred in turn one. Bill Wirth, Raymond Hensley, and Scotty Thiel all went over the top of the berm. Thiel took a wild spin into the pit chute but skillfully avoided any contact on his way off the track. The field quickly realigned and action resumed with Marten showing the way.
With 10 laps to go Marten had a six car length advantage on Rose with Modjeski, Schmidt, and the most recent IRA winner Jordan Goldesberry holding down the top five spots.
Schmidt began to charge surpassing Modjeski for third on lap 22. He then began to reel in Rose as the final five laps began.Once again the leaders were fighting for position through lapped traffic with Marten making precise moved to extend his lead. Schmidt meanwhile had caught Rose just before the white flag and made a successful pass for second.
Marten was able to streak to the finish without a serious challenge but second place came down to the wire as Rose swept past Schmidt for the position in the final turn. Goldesberry reached the line in fourth just ahead of Jeremy Schultz who completed the top five.
Blake Nimee, whose car began to show signs of smoke early in the contest, was able to nurse his ailing ride home solidly in sixth. Modjeski who had maintained a podium position throughout much of the contest had his brakes fade over the final laps falling back to seventh. Mike Reinke, Neitzel and Mock completed the top ten finishers.
There was also plenty of action in preliminary events.
Nimee found himself having to battle into the main event through the B-main which he took in convincing fashion. He scored the victory over the evening’s fast qualifier Todd King. Bill Wirth, Josh Walter, Dennis Spitz and Paul Pokorski made up the top six, and the drivers who transferred into the main event.
Heat races were captured by Kelsey, Modjeski and Steve Meyer.
The ultra tacky racing surface provided a very fast track this evening. Under nearly perfect weather conditions for a late summer race, Todd King scorched the track with a 10.964 second lap to establish a new track record. The old mark was established by Balog last year when he turned in a lap of 10.989 seconds. Nimee was second quick with a 11.039 second effort and Schmidt was third fast with a lap of 11.098 seconds.
The championship chase will continue to unfold at the Dodge County Fairgrounds with the running of the Checkered Classic on Saturday night.
Known as the “Horsepower Half-mile”, the intensity will ramp up as the 900 horsepower winged sprints will be approaching 130 mph on the long straights. Located just east of Beaver Dam, WI the track has a throw back feel to the glory days of short track racing.
Open wheel star Rico Abreu made a late race pass in IRA standout Mike Reinke for the victory in the last appearance for the series.All totaled over two-dozen drivers are expected to accept the challenge at Dodge County on Saturday night.
The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series will be joined by the Midwest Sprint Car Association MSA 360 Sprints. Plus the Mid-Am Stock Car Series and Vintage cars will also take on the big half mile clay oval!
Pit Gates open at 2:00pm, Spectator Gates open at 4:00pm. Warm ups are schedule for 5:00pm pm with hot laps to follow. Opening ceremonies will take place at 6:15 pm. Spectator admission is $20 for adults. Students ages 6 through 12 are admitted for $5. Children ages 5 years and younger are admitted FREE.
The final race of 2015 will be held on Saturday night October 3rd at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth.For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com or by logging onto the series Facebook page at www.facebook.com/irasprints the series is also on twitter at #IRA_sprints. The IRA Sprints are presented by its long time supporting series partners. The series support is led by title sponsor Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, and associate series partners Osborn & Son Trucking, TW Metals, Hoosier Tire, Cedar Creek Motorsports, Cummins Onan, and Carriage Auto Body.