Jefferson, WI – Lyle Nowak made the right move at the right time en route to his first Mid-American Stock Car Series win of the season, as the circuit returned to Wisconsin’s Action Track, the Jefferson Speedway Saturday night.
Multiple story lines and a nice helping of drama kept fans guessing throughout the course of the 50 lap headliner, the 5th stop on the 2014 tour.
First to shine in the spotlight was pole sitter Rick Tackman, JR, who took command early from front row mate Greg Beebe. Tackman quickly established a steady rhythm at the point, leading Beebe and Erik Pierce on a slight break-away from the rest of the field.
But wasting little time on a forward march was defending champion Brad Keith. After a top three qualifying effort, and a solid heat finish, Keith appeared poised to continue his momentum from his best run of the year two weeks prior at the Milwaukee Mile.
Keith hugged the inside line and began picking off spots steadily. He advanced to 4th from his 4th row starting spot by the 10th lap. In two more laps he was third, and only lap later, just Tackman was ahead of him.
Erasing Tackman’s lead became a lot easier on the 14th lap as Dusty Krebs slipped free in the first turn bringing out the first of only two event cautions. Tackman chose the inside line for the restart, with Keith setting up to his outside. As the green waved, Keith proved that not only was the bottom line to his liking, the outside wasn’t too bad either as he powered past Tackman before settling into his favorite groove.
A few laps later, the second caution sent Mark Brooner to the pits on the hook, with the restart a carbon copy of the first – Keith from the outside besting Tackman for the lead.
With the champ in 2013 form, it appeared like the race would be for the second podium seat. Pierce managed to take second from Tackman, with the rest of the front runners evolving into a lead pack that included Nowak, fast qualifier Kenny Joosten, points leader Jeff Holtz and Eric Lingford, making his first series start of the year a good one.
The first twist of fate hit Holtz. Coming into the race with two wins on the season, all indications were that he would add at least his fifth straight top five finish. But thanks to a right front tire going soft, he was forced out of contention, eventually hanging on for a 17th place finish one lap down.
With Holtz out of the picture, Pierce still had Joosten and Nowak to contend with as they kept up the pursuit of Keith. Then it became obvious- they weren’t just chasing Keith, they were running him down. Quickly.
Like Holtz, Keith had become the victim of a tire gone bad; in his case the left front. With just 13 laps to go Pierce made the move to try and take the lead from the inside, with Keith gamely trying to hold the line. With Joosten tracking behind Pierce, Nowak made the split-second decision that would win him the race – jump outside.
The move paid big dividends as he was able to jump from 4th to 1st in a single pass. With Pierce having to check up, Joosten was able to get by for second, but before he could do so, Nowak built a big enough margin that Joosten couldn’t quite get close enough to mount a serious challenge the rest of the way.
“That’s being in the right place at the right time,” Nowak commented. “That first caution, I chose the inside and we went from something like 4th or 5th back to 10th. Second caution, I chose the inside again, but I had my good friend Kenny ahead of me; he was fast and I thought I’d let him blaze a trail through.”
The strategy paid off as they closed on the faltering Keith. “I could see Brad coming back to us,” he said. “I knew there was going to be nothing on the bottom because everyone was filling that hole up, so I went to the top.”
With wife Marcy relaying Joosten’s position to him, Nowak knew he had enough of an edge to run the line he wanted without having to “over-protect” the bottom. He had done his homework- watching the route Jefferson weekly competitor Casey Johnson had taken in winning the companion TUNDRA Super Late Model feature just prior to the MASCS main.While it wasn’t a win, Joosten did cap off a good night and break a string of bad luck with the runner-up showing. Pierce ran in the top three for all 50 laps, matching his high water mark for the 2014 season.
Lingford made the most of his first series effort of the year, finishing in the thick of the hunt with a fourth place run, just ahead of Tackman who carded his first top five of the year.
While it might not be an official award, hard-charger honors would belong to Scott Dunning. Starting deep in the field – inside the 10th row – Dunning worked his way up through the pack to finish sixth. 2012 champ Jeremy Spoonmore’s title hopes received a needed shot in the arm as he too rebounded from a disappointing qualifying run to place 7th – coupled with Holtz’ tire trouble.
Mark Pluer, Scott Null and Dan Gilster rounded out the top ten.
MASCS fans will remember the near tragic turn of events during the 2013 season that befell the Nowaks; a crash coming back from a race that wiped out their hauler but not their spirit. Despite having most of the crew out for various commitments, the team was once again strong all night.
“We had the accident last year and that really set us back,” Lyle said. “We had to really take a step back – and regroup. But I think we’re back now!”
The Nowak team will next get the chance to run at the track that Lyle grew up at – State Park Speedway in Wausau, WI – stop number six on the 2014 MASCS tour on Thursday night, July 10th. It will be a quick turnaround – with round number seven three nights later at the Slinger Super Speedway on Sunday night July 13th for the Prelude to the Slinger Nationals.
For updates, news, and series information, visit the MASCS website atwww.midamericanracing.com.
For more information on State Park Speedway, visit the track’s website atwww.stateparkspeedway.com.
For more information on Slinger Super Speedway, visit the track’s website atwww.slingersuperspeedway.com.
Jefferson Speedway: Mid-American Stock Car Series 50 Lap Feature
(1-10) – Lyle Nowak, Wausau, WI: Kenny Joosten, Wonder Lake, IL: Erik Pierce, Lake in the Hills, IL: Eric Lingford, Wind Lake, WI: Rick Tackman, JR, Waukesha, WI: Scott Dunning, Bolingbrook, IL: Jeremy Spoonmore, Somonauk, IL: Mark Pluer, Brookfield, WI: Scott Null, Lake Mills, WI: Dan Gilster, West Salem, WI
(11-20) – Chris Storey, Burlington, WI: Greg Beebe, Waukesha, WI: Tim Fulford, Solsberry, IN: Ben Glascock, Indianola, IA: David Slack, Engadine, MI: Ryan Gutknecht, Oak Creek, WI: Jeff Holtz, Franksville, WI: David Verhagen, Green Bay, WI: Brad Keith, West Bend, WI: Dusty Krebs, Hartford, WI
(21-24) – Ken Calhoun, Johnsburg, IL: Butch Mierendorf, Waterloo, WI: Mark Brooner, Tomah, WI: Jimmie Evans, St. Francis, WI (DNS)
Heat 1 – Glascock, Fulford, Dunning, Mierendorf, Brooner
Heat 2 – Tackman, Spoonmore, Null, Gilster, Nowak
Heat 3 – Gutknecht, Keith, Calhoun, Joosten, Pluer
Fast Qualifier – Joosten (14.972), Holtz, Keith, Nowak, Verhagen, Gilster, Pierce, Lingford, Beebe, Tackman
Series PR – www.mdmracepix.com