The first race of Speed51.com’s Summer Thunder TV Series presented by PFC Brakes started off Thursday night at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin for the 14th Annual Flip Merwin Memorial 75 for the Super Late Models.
At the end of the night, it was Wausau’s own MG Gajewski taking the checkered flag and winning the Flip Merwin Memorial for the second straight year. However, the race did see its fair share of controversy when he and then second-place running Justin Mondeik got together in turn four with just 12 laps to go, causing Gajewski to spin. Mondeik would then tap out, giving Gajewski the lead back, allowing him to go on for the win.
“We didn’t think it was gonna go as good as it did,” Gajewski told Speed51.com. “We started in the back and we got a break right in the beginning, which got me up to like sixth. After that, we just kept picking away at them and the whole race just came to me like that.
“I was hoping that he would do the gentleman thing and tap out, which he did,” Gajewski said about the incident with Mondeik. “I applaud him for the great sportsmanship there. I knew on that last restart there, he (Knoblock) was going to dive it in there as hard as he could and we barely held on.”
Kulwickl Development driver Justin Mondeik spent the beginning of the race in the back, before using restart strategy to work his way into second. He talked to Speed51.com about the incident with Gajewski.
“We by far had the best car,” Mondeik claimed. “We started on the outside at the beginning of the race and got freight trained to the back. We caught the leader and ran patiently for three or four laps behind him. He kept giving me the inside on corner entries. We came into three and he gave me the lane again. I was up to his side and he diamond it off the inside of four and I was off the pavement so I felt it was right to tap out. He just didn’t give me a lot of room like I felt like I deserved, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.”
After another caution, Neil Knoblock restarted on the outside front row for the final restart, coming home in second. It was a huge improvement from where his day started.
“The coil broke in first practice and we got it fixed” Knoblock explained. “But then in second practice the clutch slipped. We qualified tonight with the clutch slipped, but it was lucky to put us on the front row at least. I just wanted to ride around for the first fifty laps or so. MG caught me going into three and so I just let him go and see if I could get by him at the end. He was just a little better than me at the end, but we got another week to fix it so we’ll be alright.
For Gajewski, it was his second straight Flip Merwin Memorial win. The former State Park Speedway track champion had wanted to win the Merwin Memorial for a long time before winning last year’s edition, and was just as excited the second time around.
“It won’t sink in for a while,” he said. “The way people were talking about winning two, let alone back-to-back, I can’t believe it. The car has been good all year. (Car owner) Eddie Holmes has been good with me and he’s been in and out of the hospital the last month, so hopefully this will be a boost for him to get better.”
The next race in the Speed51.com Summer Thunder TV Series takes place at the Fayetteville Motor Speedway (NC) for the FUEL Late Model Series race on Saturday, June 23.
-By Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com