WAUSAU, WI – After just missing out on State Park Speedway track championships each of the last two years by slim margins, Justin Mondeik is back for another shot in 2020.
Opening night showed that Mondeik should be right in the thick of the points again this year. The Gleason driver won the initial Auto Select Super Late Models feature of the season, claiming the 60-lap main event on the first night of racing this year at the quarter-mile oval.
Mondeik drove through the field from his 10th starting spot in a field of 12 super lates. He passed Mark Mackesy on the 45th circuit to take the lead and withstood a late restart to hold off Gabe Sommers of Plover for the win.
Mondeik won his second straight feature dating back to last season, as he also won the 2019 season finale. It was a second straight near-miss for the title, though, as he finished six points behind champion Jay Van Der Geest, that coming after finishing four points behind Luke Fenhaus for the super late model championship in 2018.
For most of Thursday’s race it appeared Mackesy would be tough to catch, as the Wausau veteran took the lead on the first lap from the outside front row and led the first 44 laps. He withstood an early challenge from Jeremy Lepak and paced a group of eight cars running single file closely behind.
Mondeik slowly moved up, passing Brock Heinrich for third on lap 33 and then going outside Lepak for second five laps later. It took just five more laps before he was to Mackesy’s bumper, and he moved outside the leader on lap 44, led at the line on lap 45 and was clear in first soon after.
Mondeik was pulling away when caution came out with nine laps left after third-place running Luke Fenhaus stalled in the fourth turn with a flat tire. That set up a restart with Sommers moving to the outside of the front row with a chance to challenge for the lead, but Mondeik cleared him quickly.
Sommers got back to Mondeik’s bumper twice in the final six laps, but the 2019 Larry Detjens Memorial winner at SPS got no closer and finished 1 1/2 car lengths back. Mackesy finished third, with M.G. Gajewski of Wausau fourth and Lepak fifth.
Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Time: Justin Mondeik, Gleason, 13.727 sec.
First Heat: 1. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 2. Curt Tillman, Rockton, Ill.; 3. Dillon Mackesy, Athens; 4. Nathan Steif, Wausau; 5. Jeremy Lepak, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Gabe Sommers, Plover; 2. M.G. Gajewski, Wausau; 3. Luke Fenhaus, Wausau; 4. Mondeik; 5. Mike Olson, Dorchester; 6. Brock Heinrich, Wausau
Feature: 1. Mondeik; 2. Sommers; 3. M. Mackesy; 4. M.G. Gajewski; 5. Lepak; 6. Olson; 7. Heinrich; 8. D. Mackesy; 9. Fenhaus; 10. Tillman; 11. Travis Volm, Mosinee; 12. Steif
Genett, Seliger, Ferge all pick up hard-earned feature wins on opening night
Kyle Genett did not plan to race at State Park Speedway this year, until making a last-minute decision just before the 2020 season opener to add on to his already busy racing schedule.
It proved to be a wise choice. Racing at State Park for the first time since 2017, Genett won the 25-lap Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks feature in Thursday night’s season opener at the Wausau quarter-mile.
Genett wheeled to victory the Travis Weisenbeck-owned 19th Hole car, which was raced regularly by Mitch Stankowski up until last year. A former regular at SPS who has focused on dirt track racing in recent years, Genett passed Wausau’s Jeff Spatz on the fifth lap and led the rest of the way for his first feature win at the track since the 2017 opener.
Genett got to the point after an early shuffle at the front, one that saw Kole Ferge take the lead on the first lap before Spatz went ahead on lap 2. Spatz proved tough to pass for a couple laps until Genett drove inside of him out of the fourth turn on lap 5.
Once ahead, Genett held a 10-car length lead the rest of the way to best a competitive field. He finished ahead of defending champion Brian Schramm of Wausau. Fast timer Alex Volm of Mosinee placed third, while Kolton Guralski and Dave Cabelka of Wausau were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Wausau’s George Seliger and Greg Blount of Marathon staged a points battle in the Snap-on Mini Mods that went right down to the final lap of the season a year ago, one that ended with Blount winning his first title in the mini mods and snapping Seliger’s run of three straight championships in the class. The two were at the front again Thursday night, but Seliger held off Blount to win the 20-lap feature.
Seliger cleared Weston’s Gary Garand for the lead on lap 11 to end an eight-lap side-by-side battle between the two. He had no time to rest, though, as Blount followed right behind to move into second.
The defending champion looked high and low, even catching some grass off the apron in turn four, but Seliger held on to win by 1 1/2 car lengths. Garand finished third with Noah Gajewski of Marathon fourth.
Like Seliger and super late model winner Justin Mondeik, Chad Ferge of Weston also finished second in the points in his class a year ago, and he got the 2020 season off on the right foot by winning the Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks feature.
Ferge worked his through the field from the ninth starting spot and took the top spot on lap 13 of the 20-lap main, going by on the inside after early leader Jason Hopinka of Kronenwetter drifted high in turns three and four. Ferge would go on to finish ahead of Shawn Kemnetz of Hancock by five car lengths. Wausau’s Garret Strachota finished third, Steve Clark of Kronenwetter posted his best career feature finish coming in fourth and Hopinka rounded out the top five.
Wausau’s Kendra Baumann also was a double winner in the class, claiming the first heat and then winning the 10-lap semi-feature. She led start-to-finish and came across ahead of Daniel Lashua in the semi. Makayla Last edged fellow rookie Jeremy Whitman at the line for third after some of the best side-by-side racing of the night over the final four laps.
Thursday night racing returns again next week at State Park Speedway, with the Central Wisconsin Racing Association Stars to Legends late model series visiting. Pure Stocks, Mini Mods and Mini Stocks also will race, with Fred Mueller Qualifying beginning at 6 p.m. and racing to follow at 7 p.m.
Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Alex Volm, Mosinee, 15.297 sec.
First Heat: 1. Jeff Spatz, Wausau; 2. Dave Cabelka, Wausau; 3. Kole Ferge, Schofield; 4. Todd Kuehl, Wisconsin Rapids
Second Heat: 1. Kyle Genett, Rangeline; 2. Kolton Guralski, Wausau; 3. A. Volm; 4. Brian Plisch, Athens; 5. Brian Schramm, Wausau
Feature: 1. Genett; 2. Schramm; 3. A. Volm; 4. Guralski; 5. Cabelka; 6. Spatz; 7. K. Ferge; 8. Plisch; 9. Kuehl
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Greg Blount, Marathon, 15.580 sec.
Heat: 1. Gary Garand, Weston; 2. Blount; 3. George Seliger, Wausau; 4. Noah Gajewski, Marathon; 5. John Lietz, Mosinee; 6. Kevin Tessmer, Wausau
Feature: 1. Seliger; 2. Blount; 3. Garand; 4. N. Gajewski; 5. Lietz; 6. Tessmer
Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks
Fast Time: Kyle Check, Shantytown, 16.787 sec.
First Heat: 1. Kendra Baumann, Wausau; 2. Daniel Lashua, Wausau; 3. Jeremy Whitman, Plymouth; 4. Makayla Last, Wausau; 5. Steve Koepke, Edgar; 6. Travis Lang, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Shawn Kemnetz, Hancock; 2. Evan Pingel, Ringle; 3. Tyler Custer, Stratford; 4. Eric Breitenfeldt, Wausau; 5. Ashley Schoone, Gleason; 6. Jason Hopinka, Kronenwetter; 7. Amanda Rowe, Mosinee
Third Heat: 1. Chad Ferge, Weston; 2. Steve Clark, Kronenwetter; 3. Tom Lecher, Wausau; 4. Garret Strachota, Wausau; 5. Check; 6. Zach Budleski, Wausau; 7. Karley Kemnetz, Hancock
Semi-Feature: 1. Baumann; 2. Lashua; 3. Last; 4. Whitman; 5. Koepke
Feature: 1. C. Ferge; 2. S. Kemnetz; 3. Strachota; 4. Clark; 5. Hopinka; 6. Check; 7. Pingel; 8. Schoone; 9. Custer; 10. Breitenfeldt; 11. Budleski; 12. Baumann; 13. Lashua; 14. K. Kemnetz; 15. Rowe; 16. Lecher
-State Park Speedway Press Release
-Photo credit: Speed51 Photo