For the sixth straight year State Park Speedway (WI) kicks off its season by welcoming the ARCA Midwest Tour to town. Every year the local State Park drivers look forward to welcoming the touring stars of the Midwest Tour to their home track. But just because they welcome them, that doesn’t mean they’re not ready to defend their home turf.
This year the Midwest Tour drivers will have their work cut out for them. The latest entry list boasts 27 entries and includes the past three State Park Speedway Champions, Jeremy Lepak, MG Gajewski and Mark Mackesy.
“They bring a different atmosphere to the track and you have to step it up a notch because of the tight competition,” added Gajewski.
Mackesy is one of two local driver to ever make his way to Victory Lane when the Midwest Tour is in town. The State Park Speedway veteran inked his name in the record books when he won the inaugural Midwest Tour event at the track in Wausau, Wisconsin. The only other local to hold off the stars of the Midwest Tour was Tim Sauter in 2014, who will also be back to try his hand again this year.
“That win meant a lot to me,” said Mackesy. “To beat the list of drivers that day was amazing, it was a Cinderella story. It will take a lot to beat Ty (Majeski) and (crew chief) Toby (Nuttleman) this year. Hopefully my crew chief, Mike Gwidt, and I can hit on the right setup this year.”
While Mackesy hopes to play the role of spoiler once again, you can’t count out Gajewski or Lepak when they hit the track at State Park Speedway. This marks the first time Lepak will be back on track since winning the 2015 title and it was Gajewski who took the checkers in the final State Park Speedway event of 2015.
“It has been an honor being State Park Speedway’s 2015 track champion,” said Lepak. “I think it gives me a lot of confidence going into the race that I’ll be a top competitor to contend for the win.”
“It’s a big race, it gets the drivers and fans excited for the year,” said Gajewski. “You always want to win but a top five in a big race would be a success.”
With a distance of 100 laps scheduled on Saturday afternoon, all three drivers agree one of the most important things is just to be there at the end. On the small ¼-mile track in Wausau, things can happen quickly, so it’s important to stay out of trouble and give yourself a chance at the end.
“It definitely takes a good car that’s stays underneath you for all 100 laps and stay out of trouble to win,” said Mackesy.
“It takes really going through the car more thorough than normal and going through the car and making sure everything is just right,” said Lepak. “Everyone that runs the series always brings well prepared cars to the race tracks.”
Qualifying for the Cabin Fever 100 is scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. CT. There will be an autograph session at 5 p.m. before racing begins at 6 p.m. ET.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Speed51.com