By: Eric Huenefeld
After running every feature for the past three years at the Rockford Speedway, and after coming close to his ultimate goal on multiple occasions in that 3 year span, finally Wayne Freimund made the trip to the top of the mountain Saturday night at the Rockford Speedway.
Freimund, the veteran racer from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, was able to survive the unpredictable first third of the 30 lap Stanley Steemer NASCAR Late Model feature, and then held off multiple advances from Matt Berger to claim the win and become the fifth different winner in six Late Model features this season.
Brandon Eash and Mark Hartline led the 15-car field to green, and immediately began to battle for the top spot. After a lap and a half of paint swapping, Hartline was able to take the lead and jump out to a three car length lead on the field. Behind Hartline, the battling was fast and furious, as former track champions Ricky Bilderback and Jerry Gille began to pick their way through the field. As the two champs began to move towards the top five, Eash began to close back to Hartline's bumper. Just as Eash and Hartline began to close up and battle for the lead, trouble broke loose behind them.
As the field made their way through turn four on the ninth lap, Bilderback's machine would snap right, veering into the wall and bringing out the yellow flag. The field bundled up behind Bilderback and Gille was unable to avoid the mess. Both cars were damaged, with Gille able to continue on, but Bilderback drove away with heavy right and front side damage and would retire for the night. Another mess would ensue on the restart, with the leaders Hartline and Eash bottling up the field out of turn four. Matthew Clossey would catch John Beinlich and send him to the infield, and the race would have to be restarted again. Eash and Hartline were sent to the back for bottling up the start, and suddenly the race took a new look.
Freimund would inherit the lead, and see two 2012 feature winners on his bumper on the "cone restart" in the form of Mitch Garfield and Matt Berger. After a good fight, Berger would get past Garfield for second spot and as the race neared halfway, Berger began to reel in Freimund. But after several attempts at the top spot, Berger would have to settle for second as Freimund was first under the checkered flag. Garfield would finish the race in third, followed by Fast Qualifier Matthew Clossey in fourth and Jake Gille in fifth.
The Miller Lite American Short Tracker division has provided lots of excitement in each of its features this season, and Saturday night was no exception. Saturday nights American Short Tracker feature also provided a first time winner in the form of Chris Jones. Jones would have to work hard early, passing multiple cars in the frantic early laps, moving past Eric Connell and Keith Pierce for the race lead on lap six. As Jones got to the lead, business continued to pick up behind him, and space became rare. The free-for-all lasted only a couple more laps until the yellow flag would fly.
The yellow came out as the field got bunched up in turns one and two. 2012 Feature winners Nick Cina Jr and George Sparkman ended up entangled and as Cina spun, Connell would jump his car off the right rear of Cina. Connell and Sparkman would eventually continue from the back of the field, while Cina's night was done.
On the restart, Jones would have a mirror full of Scotty Hoeft and Joe LaMarca. LaMarca, looking for his second feature win of the season, would try to go after Jones, but would have his hands full with Hoeft over much of the final 15 laps. The second place battle allowed Jones to keep the rest of the field at arms length as he strode forward to victory. Meanwhile, as Hoeft and LaMarca wrestled for second, it was Sparkman who made a furious charge back through the field, ending up in fourth at races end, challenging LaMarca for third.
The top contenders in the Rockstar Energy Drink Roadrunner division played a game of "beat the clock", as all three of the races top finishers came from the back of the 23 car field. Howie Ware, Bobby Frisch and Anthony Lloyd all made the trip from the back to front in the 20 lap feature event in short order and by races end were battling each other for the lead amidst lap traffic. Ware was the first one to the front on lap number eight, as Frisch and Lloyd were still picking their way through the field. But by lap 12, the top three were on their own island, and with two laps remaining, Ware began to fall back to the lead duo. But despite last ditch efforts by Frisch and Lloyd to steal a late race win, Ware held on, winning his second straight Roadrunner feature. Josh Carter finished fourth, and Jason Van Hise rounded out the top five.
After a slow start, the Crap Scrapper Hornet division's 15 lap feature provided some action and a first time winner. After a bold move on lap number four, Klint Egelhoff took the lead and never let up, storming ahead of the pack and winning the divisions' main event by a wide margin. Thomas Andrus came home in second spot, with opening night winner Jeremia Rychecky charging from deep in the field to finish third.
The American Super Cups also made their first appearance of the year at the Rockford Speedway, with Brian Baldyga taking the win in the non-stop 25 lap feature event. Mick Ellis finished in second, with Andy Forrester in third.
To see results, please visit www.rockfordspeedway.com.
This article was posted to the website on June 11th, 2012
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