Zack Riddle of Oregon, Wisconsin (Late Models), Robert Hansberry Jr. of Beloit, Wisconsin (Sportsman), and Nick Schmidt of Watertown, Wisconsin (Bandits) were crowned 2018 Champions at Madison International Speedway tonight as part of Whelen Engineering Championship Night.
It was a full night of action packed racing as Steve Carlson and Riddle (Late Models), Robert Hansberry Jr. and Gary Hellenbrand (Sportsman), Steve Dickson and Nick Schmidt (Bandits), Jim Ronspiez (6Shooters), and Ken Hutchens and Pat Echlin (Vintage Cars) took home feature wins.
The night was capped off by a tremendous fireworks program from Spielbauer Fireworks.
Steve Carlson and Zack Riddle Get the Wins in Late Model Action
Carlson and Riddle each took home a checkered flag tonight in the 25 lap features for the NASCAR Late Models. Riddle also claimed his second track championship in the Late Models after winning the 2015 crown.
Steve Carlson won the first 25 lap feature for the NASCAR Late Models. It was his first Madison win and ninth total this year in Wisconsin.
Brody Willett and Jon Reynolds Jr. brought the twenty-one car field to the green flag. Willett grabbed the early lead followed by Reynolds Jr., Steve Carlson, Nick Panitzke, and Jeremy Miller all in single file. On lap 4 Zack Riddle was up to sixth as Willett was up to a five car length lead out front.
As Reynolds Jr. and Carlson were fighting it out for second, Willett was able to build his lead to eight lengths. On lap 10 Carlson pulled to the inside of Reynolds Jr. to take the second position while Panitzke and Riddle both passed Reynolds Jr. one lap later.
Carlson quickly dialed in Willett and cut the lead to a car length at the half-way mark. On lap 17 Carlson took the lead coming out of turn four. Riddle was up to challenge Willett for second with five laps to go. This allowed Carlson to build his lead out front to nearly six car lengths, but the caution flag would come out on lap 22 when a large amount of fluid from a lapped car was put down on the track just ahead of the leaders. Fortunately, the field was able to avoid a near disaster.
This would set up a single file restart. When the field was coming to the green flag the cars of Panitzke and Will Rece made contact waving off the restart. Panitzke was forced to take his car to the pits. The second time was a charm for the veteran Carlson who jumped back out to the lead while Riddle took the second spot away from Willett.
But Carlson built his lead back to five car lengths and cruised to victory lane. Riddle, Willett, Bobby Wilberg, and Miller.
“We’ve had a really good year. A few weeks ago we wrecked this car so we brought it down tonight to see how it would do,” said Carlson.
Zack Riddle took the checkered flag in the second 25 lap feature. He now has 15 career wins in the division at Madison.
Rusty Hansen and Jason Schuler paced the field to the green flag. Hansen led the first lap with Schuler and Edmunds racing side by side for second. On lap 3 Edmunds found the room necessary to get by Hansen to take the lead with Shaun Scheel up to second, Bobby Wilberg to third and Zack Riddle to fourth.
A spin on lap 5 brought out the race’s first caution. Wilberg would elect to start outside the front row next to Edmunds. On the restart Edmunds was able to retain his lead over Wilberg, Scheel, and Riddle, but the race would stay green for only a lap as a spin brought out another caution flag.
For this restart Riddle chose to line up outside of Edmunds when the field came back to the green flag. Once again the race stayed green for only a lap but that was enough time for Riddle to wrestle the lead away from Edmunds shortly before the cars of Wilberg and Will Rece made contact ending Rece’s night and sending Wilberg to the pits for a quick repair.
This time the front row was Riddle on the inside and Miller on the outside. Riddle was able to maintain his lead followed by Miller, Edmunds, Steve Carlson, and Scheel. Out front Riddle was increasing his lead to six lengths over Miller. The best battle behind the top two was between Edmunds and Carlson for third.
With nine laps to go Miller was closing in on Riddle as the lead was down to less than five lengths but time was quickly running out. Four laps later the lead was just three car lengths.
With four laps to go a spin just ahead of the leaders brought out the caution flag. With less than five laps remaining the restart would be single file.
A great restart by Riddle allowed him to keep the lead, but Miller had his hands full with Edmunds, Carlson, and Scheel. This allowed Riddle to build his lead and race to victory lane while Miller came home second followed by Edmunds, Scheel, and Carlson.
“This team always comes on towards the end of the season. We were able to stay in the hunt early and finish the year strong,” said Riddle.
Zack Riddle turned the fastest lap of the season during qualifying with a time of 18.545 (97.061 mph). Riddle won the Dash and the overall Dash title.
Robert Hansberry Jr. and Gary Hellenbrand Take Home Sportsman Wins
Robert Hansberry Jr. and Gary Hellenbrand each won a 15 lap feature for the Dave’s White Rock Sportsman tonight. Hansberry Jr. is the 2018 track champion which is fifth title at Madison (2011, 2012, 2016, 2017, 2018)
Hansberry Jr. was victorious in the first 15 lap feature for the Dave’s White Rock Sportsman. It was his 24thcareer win at Madison.
Bryan Hellenbrand took the early lead over Sam Messel. But Ray Hellenbrand was on a mission and quickly passed Messel and then Bryan Hellenbrand to take the lead from the outside on lap 2. One lap later Hansberry Jr. powered his way past Bryan Hellenbrand to take the second position and set his sights on Ray Hellenbrand.
On lap 5 Ray Hellenbrand’s lead was down to just one car length over Hansberry Jr. On lap 7 Hansberry Jr. pulled to the inside of Ray Hellenbrand coming out of turn two to take the lead. With 5 laps to go the advantage was eight car lengths and growing.
But this race belonged to Hansberry Jr. who led the rest of the way and picked up the checkered flag. Ray Hellenbrand finished second followed by Gary Hellenbrand, Mike Taylor, and Bryan Hellenbrand.
“We’ve learned so much over the years,” said Hansberry Jr.
Sam Messel took the early lead in the second feature. On the fifth lap Mike Taylor pulled to the outside of Messel with both Hansberry Jr. and Gary Hellenbrand right behind. Messel and Taylor took turns leading the race. On lap 9 Messel cleared herself of Taylor, but Gary Hellenbrand was trying to work his way to the inside and would take the lead with five laps to go.
Hansberry Jr. hustled his way to second and with one lap to go was only a car length behind the leader. Despite Hansberry Jr.’s best efforts, he wasn’t able to get past Gary Hellenbrand who held him off at the line to pick up his second win of the season.
“I didn’t expect this. He (Hansberry Jr.) gave me a good run,” said Hellenbrand. “I have to thank my dad for all he does on our cars.”
“We keep telling ourselves we’ll stay home and not run for a championship. But I love this place so much that we had to be here,” said Hansberry Jr.
Gary Hellenbrand was fast qualifier with a lap of 20.019 (89.915 mph). Hansberry Jr. won the Dash and the overall championship fueled by seven wins.
Steve Dickson and Nick Schmidt Best of the Bandits
Steve Dickson and Nick Schmidt picked up feature wins tonight for the Pellitteri Waste Systems Bandits. Schmidt also picked up his first-ever Madison track championship.
Dickson returned to the Ring of Fire and picked up the first 20 lap feature.
Bill Kohn and James Junget led the field to the green flag. The two were quickly joined by Nick Schmidt and McKayla Adams before the caution flag came out on lap 3 when the cars of Schmidt and Kohn got together.
Junget and Steve Dickson paced the field back to green with Dickson jumping out to the lead. At the half-way point Dickson’s advantage was six car lengths over Junget with Ronnie Osborne and Jeremy Bredeson running third and fourth. Dickson continued to increase his lead while Junget and Osborne were fighting it out for second.
With three laps to go a spin on the backstretch brought out the race’s second caution setting up a single file restart. It was smooth sailing for Dickson who held off Junget to pick up the win. Bredeson, Osborne, and Kelsey Dobbs rounded out the top five.
“We wanted to get this car back since it’s our best car,” said Dickson after his car suffered heavy damage a couple of weeks ago at Rockford.
Nick Schmidt won the second 20 lap feature for the Bandits. It was his seventh feature win of the season.
Lyle Phillips and Brandon Junget raced side by side for the first four laps before Phillips took the lead and opened up a sizeable lead over Junget and Jeremey Bredeson. On lap 12 Nick Schmidt went to the outside of Bredeson to take third and one lap later took second from Junget.
Schmidt quickly closed the gap on Phillips and took the lead with five laps to go and never looked back as he rolled his way to victory lane. Phillips finished second followed by Junget, Bredeson, and McKayla Adams.
“I want to thank Gregg and Angie for giving us a place to race on Friday nights,” said Schmidt from victory lane. “I race four different tracks so it’s been a busy summer.”
Fast qualifier was Nick Schmidt who set a new track record with a lap of 14.695 (61.245 mph). He also picked up his third Dash win of the season and won the overall Dash title for the Bandits.
Jim Ronspiez Sweeps Both 6Shooter Features
Ronspiez swept both 12 lap features for the Roto Rooter 6Shooters.
Ronspiez and Chad Niday led the sixteen car field to the green flag. The two quickly ran away from the field and by the half-way mark were starting to make their way through lapped traffic. The big lead disappeared when the caution flag came out for a spin on the backstretch on lap 7.
Ronspiez and Niday continued to lead after the green flag waved with Ronspiez holding off the field to pick up the checkered flag. Niday finished second followed by Trevor Chilson, Kevin Whitford, and Sean Worman.
From victory lane Ronspiez said, “This division is so fun to race and for very little money. It’s great.”
Vanessa Morales took the early lead in the second 6Shooter feature with Dan Bishop in second followed by Ronald Osborne. On lap 5 the caution flag came out when the car of Sean Worman made heavy contact with the wall.
On the restart Ronald Osborne took the lead only to lose it when he went off the track one lap later giving the lead back to Morales. But Jim Ronspiez was just as fast in this race as he was quickly up to challenge for the lead with four laps to go. He was able to take the top spot away with one lap to go and hold on for the win. Morales finished second followed by Bishop, Kevin Whitford, and Jamie Prado.
Hutchens and Echlin Win Vintage Races
Ken Hutchens and Pat Echlin each won a 12 lap feature for the Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series.
Hutchens won the first 12 lap feature for the Upper Midwest Vintage Racing Series.
Pat Heaney jumped out to the early lead before the caution came out on the second lap for a stalled car. Heaney continued to lead when the race went green again, but Hutchens wasn’t about to let him get away. On lap 3 Hutchens worked his way to the inside of Heaney going into turn three to take the lead.
Hutchens built a solid lead while Heaney and Pat Echlin were racing for the second position. Heaney would win the race for second, but Hutchens would be the one taking home the checkered flag.
“This car was built in 1993 and is being retired after this season. What a great way to go out,” said Hutchens.
Pat Echlin won a thriller in the second 12 lap feature.
Pat Heaney took the early lead again in the second feature and put twenty car lengths between himself and Ken Lewis. But Lewis and Echlin were quickly closing the gap. On lap 6 Echlin was up to second and with four to go had cut Heaney’s lead to just a single car length.
With two lengths to go, a spin on the front shoot brought out the caution flag. With one lap to go Echlin pulled to the outside of Heaney and won the drag race coming down the stretch to pick up the win. Lewis, Ken Hutchens, and Bob Heine rounded out the top five.
“It was a good show for the fans,” said Echlin.
This concludes the weekly racing program at Madison for the 2018 season. The popular One on One Street Drags / Shine n Show Contest is still on tap for Thursday, September 13th. See twenty divisions of bracket racing on our 300 foot dragstrip. Cost per bracket is only $10.00. Pit gates open at 6:00 with practice / grudge racing starting at 6:30 and bracket races at 7:30. Grandstand admission and pit passes are just $10.00.
-Madison International Speedway Press Release. Zack Riddle Racing Facebook Photo