Wausau, WI – From start to finish, Justin Mondeik left no doubt about who had the best car at State Park Speedway Thursday night.
Mondeik brought out the broom for a clean sweep in the Auto Select Super Late Model class, claiming fast time, winning his heat race and then taking the 50-lap feature event on Throwback Thursday at the track for his first feature win of the season.
The Gleason driver passed Jay Van Der Geest on the 25th lap of the retro night’s main event for his third-ever super late model feature win at State Park and his first in almost exactly a year. Mondeik also won the feature just under a year ago on June 14, 2018.
Mondeik worked patiently but quickly through the field from his seventh starting spot. He was fourth on a lap 12 restart after the race’s lone caution for a spin by Travis Volm; passed Neil Knoblock on the outside for second place on lap 13 and then chased Van Der Geest for six laps before the race’s only leader to that point slipped high on the backstretch on lap 25. Mondeik quickly took advantage, taking the inside and clearing Van Der Geest a lap later.
Mondeik held a comfortable lead the rest of the way even as his car tightened up. Van Der Geest stayed within striking distance and in particular made up ground in the late laps in the corners, but Mondeik pulled away on the straightaways.
“It definitely was an exciting race,” said Mondeik in a trackside post-race interview. “That caution right away I didn’t really want that because I felt like we were moving forward, and then I wasn’t sure if we wanted the outside or not. We went to the outside, and I was able to get a pretty good run and pass two cars, and then ran Jay good for a couple laps and were able to get by him. We were getting a little bit snug at the end (but) we were just able to maintain.”
Mondeik finished second in the super late model point standings a year ago, just four points behind Luke Fenhaus for the championship. He moved into second this year, just four points behind Van Der Geest early in the season.
“We definitely want to shoot for a championship, but we also shoot for wins throughout the year,” said Mondeik. “I think sometimes you can get caught up too much in points racing and worrying about needing this position here or there. We just test hard and try to get as fast as we can, and I think it’ll all sort itself out.”
Jeremy Lepak finished third in the feature in his first appearance at the track this year. Brock Heinrich, Mike Olson and Travis Volm also staged a spirited battle for fourth over the final 15 laps, with Heinrich edging Volm for the position while Knoblock came back for sixth at the end.
Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Qualifier: Justin Mondeik, Gleason, 13.875 sec.
First Heat: 1. Jay Van Der Geest, Merrill; 2. Brock Heinrich, Wausau; 3. Mike Olson, Dorchester; 4. Nate Steif, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Mondeik; 2. Neil Knoblock, Wausau; 3. Jeremy Lepak, Ringle; 4. Travis Volm, Mosinee
Feature: 1. Mondeik; 2. Van Der Geest; 3. Lepak; 4. Heinrich; 5. Olson; 6. Knoblock; 7. T. Volm; 8. Steif
Defending champs Schramm, Seliger back in Victory Lane; Lecher gets first SPS feature
Throwback Thursday at State Park Speedway also was a throwback to just a year ago, as a pair of defending division champions took checkered flags in feature racing for the first time this season.
Brian Schramm won last year’s Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks championship, leading the class with five feature wins. The veteran racer had a quiet first few weeks this season but that changed as he copped his first feature win this season, holding off last week’s feature winner Alex Volm in the 20-lap main.
Schramm capped a good night that also included setting fast time, slipping inside Volm for second on lap 6 and then passing Kolton Guralski on the outside halfway through. Volm closed in on the leader in the final laps, getting to his bumper with just over two to go, but Schramm kept his car glued to the bottom and finished 1 1/2 car lengths ahead at the checkers.
“I could see him coming,” said Schramm of Volm after the race. “You can’t give up the bottom here, not a whole lot of guys go to the top but you’ve got to go there once in a while. It feels good, we finally got the car back where it should be.”
George Seliger is another driver who has been no stranger to Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane in the past and made his return there Thursday night. The three-time defending champion in the Snap-on Mini Mods, Seliger won the 20-lap feature race, holding off Greg Blount for his first feature win of the season.
Seliger inherited the lead after a lap 3 yellow for John Lietz’s car leaking fluid, and a stack up on the front stretch taking the flag resulted in Noah Gajewski getting spun into the bricks framing victory lane. Seliger then quickly got away from fast timer Greg Blount on the restart and held the point the rest of the way, flawless running a slightly higher groove even as Blount lurked several car lengths back most of the way.
“It’s always a toss-up, but tonight it came together,” Seliger said after the race of his win, which came just over a month after an accident on the half mile at Wisconsin International Raceway in a Midwest Dash Series race.
The night also included a first time feature winner in the Rockstar Energy Mini Stocks for the second straight week. Wausau’s Tom Lecher led all 15 laps for his first-ever feature win at State Park Speedway and became the third different feature winner in three races in the class.
Lecher started on the front row outside Kyle Check, and the two ran side-by-side for the first eight laps. The 2018 Marshfield Motor Speedway Bandit Division champion, Lecher held a slight lead every lap, though, cleared Check on lap 9 and led the rest of the way. Check held on for second after a final lap challenge from Kole Ferge, with Evan Pingel slipping in just ahead of Ferge at the line for third.
“It feels real good,” said Lecher after the race of his first feature win at the track. “We made a few changes to the car after the heat race because the car was pushing really bad. It was pushing in the feature but we got it to the front and got the win.”
Next up at State Park Speedway is the Flip Merwin Memorial next Thursday. Super late models and support divisions will be on hand, and the Mighty Bandoleros will also make their first appearance at the track this season. Fred Mueller Qualifying will begin at 6 p.m. with racing to follow at 7 p.m.
Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Brian Schramm, Wausau, 15.441 sec.
Heat: 1. Jeff Spatz, Wausau; 2. Alex Volm, Mosinee; 3. Kolton Guralski, Wausau; 4. Brian Plisch, Athens; 5. Schramm
Feature: 1. Schramm; 2. A. Volm; 3. Spatz; 4. Plisch; 5. Guralski
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Greg Blount, Marathon, 15.807 sec.
First Heat: 1. Jim Lietz, Mosinee; 2. Garret Strachota, Wausau; 3. Evan Call, Elderon; 4. Gary Garand, Weston
Second Heat: 1. Noah Gajewski, Marathon; 2. George Seliger, Wausau; 3. Blount; 4. Dale Louze, Mosinee; 5. Mike Heidmann, Edgar
Feature: 1. Seliger; 2. Blount; 3. Heidmann; 4. Strachota; 5. Louze; 6. Jim Lietz; 7. Gajewski; 8. Call; 9. John Lietz, Mosinee
Rockstar Energy Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Chad Ferge, Wausau, 16.813 sec.
Heat: 1. Ashley Schoone, Tomahawk; 2.Amanda Rowe, Mosinee; 3. Kyle Check, Shantytown; 4. Evan Pingel, Ringle; 5. Kole Ferge, Schofield; 6. Tom Lecher, Wausau; 7. C. Ferge; 8. Kendra Baumann, Wausau
Feature: 1. Lecher; 2. Check; 3. Pingel; 4. K. Ferge; 5. Rowe; 6. C. Ferge; 7. Schoone; 8. Baumann
-State Park Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Justin Mondeik Facebook