There was a new format for this year’s Kocourek Automotive Lodi Memorial Race presented by Bartelt Insurance. After an initial dice roll after qualifying, there could be a potential of two more inverts throughout the course of the 100-lap feature event. During a competition caution at lap 33 and lap 66 the leader would roll the die. An even number meant the line-up would remain the same, but an odd number would mean a total invert.
The new format, though, had little effect on the dominance that Tim Sauter showed over the course of 100 laps to pick up his second straight Kocourek Automotive Lodi Memorial Race presented by Bartelt Insurance win.
“It’s good, I got to race with Wayne when I was a rookie, so I got to see him and I recognize some of his people yet to this day, crew members and stuff like that,” said Sauter. “I think it’s important; the tradition and family and friends, so it always feels good to win one of these.”
Jeremy Lepak stared on the front row, jumped out to the early lead and led the first 33 laps. When the competition caution flew at lap 33, he rolled a three, placing a total invert on the field. That placed Ryan Blashe and Reagan May on the front row for the restart.
As the field went green, fast qualifier Ryan Hinner had problems and was forced to retire for the night. This was the second car to experience a race-ending mechanical failure as Mark Mackesy pulled into the pits during opening pace laps and was unable to start the race.
Reagan May got a good restat and was able to get by Blashe to take the lead. Jason Weinkauf closed in on Blashe for second, but Sauter was right there to spoil the party. Sauter worked his way past Weinkauf and Blashe and into second and set his sight on May for the lead. Weinkauf followed Sauter though and into third.
On lap 49 Sauter closed the gap on May, dove to the inside and made quick work, taking the lead one lap later. Sauter stretched his lead while Jay VanDerGeest worked his way to the front. VanDerGeest and May came back strong, working their way into second and third respective.
When the competition caution flew again on lap 66, this time it was Sauter’s turn to roll. He rolled a 4, keeping the line-up the same for the final 34 laps.
Sauter easily jumped out to the lead again on the restart as VanDerGeest settled into second. May worked her way around Weinkauf and moved into the third sport and closed in VanDerGeest for second.
On lap 75 as VanDerGeest and May battled for the runner-up position, the two made contact, sending VanDerGeest around and both to the rear of the field.
Another caution flew just three laps later and Sauter held the lead, just as he had done before.
Weinkauf, now in second, was under fire from MG Gajewski for the second spot, with Gajewski taking the position on lap 79.
The caution flew for the third time in five laps as VanDerGeest and Volm tangled at the rear of the field.
This started Gajewski to the outside of Sauter on the restart. Gajewski hung with Sauter on the outside for a few laps, before Sauter cleared the No. 22 machine of Gajewski and put distance between himself and the rest of the field.
With eight laps to go, Lepak, who had to work his way back to the front after the invert on lap 33, worked his way past Weinkauf and up into the third position and May worked her way past Weinkauf as well and into fourth.
There was no looking back for Sauter as he took the checkers to win back to back Lodi Memorial Races.
“The way the new format worked out it wasn’t good for the fans,” said Sauter, “The fastest five cars got to the front of the first invert and the way you would normally race I was gonna have to pass them for the win. But the way the invert went, I never had to pass the. I just got the lucky roll and that was it. There were a lot of restarts there at the end. My car was good,” said Sauter as he paused, “I thought I could beat them.”
-Jana Wimmer: Speed51.com Midwest Editor, Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo Credit: Tim Loos