Largest Crowd in Cedar Lake Speedway History Turns Out on Earnhardt Jr Night. On a perfect summer night, the largest crowd in the 50 year history of the Cedar Lake Speedway turned out to take part in Dale Earnhardt Jr Night on Thursday July 12.
Largest Crowd in Cedar Lake Speedway History Turns Out on Earnhardt Jr Night.
On a perfect summer night, the largest crowd in the 50 year history of the Cedar Lake Speedway turned out to take part in Dale Earnhardt Jr Night on Thursday July 12. In addition to Earnhardt, four other NASCAR drivers were on hand including Kenny Wallace, Greg Biffle, Sterling Marlin and Todd Kluever. Kenny Wallace participated in both the DTRA Modified and Late Model divisions while Todd Kluever drove in the DTRA Late Model class, as 31 late models and 29 modifieds were on hand. With Dale Jr flagging the final two Race of Champions, the other four NASCAR drivers each drove a late model in the two-segment race. Sterling Marlin won the first segment with Kenny Wallace topping the second segment. In the regular racing program, Dave Cain won his seventh DTRA Modified feature of the season at CLS while Mike Nutzmann earned his first win of the season in a very good DTRA Late Model feature event.
The first NASCAR driver to arrive was Kenny Wallace. Kenny immediately headed to the pits to check on his modified ride and to familiarize himself with the late model cars he would be racing for the evening. As the crowd continued to swell, Greg Biffle and Todd Kluever arrived. The anticipation was building amongst the fans. Soon a caravan of pickup trucks entered the pit area and drove trackside with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Sterling Marlin. The entire group of NASCAR drivers then did interviews with track announcer Chris Stepan. Following the interviews, the five NASCAR drivers dispersed with Dale Jr heading for the large autograph tent behind the west side concession building and the others heading to either the pits or another autograph area on the east side of the track. It was then time for racing action to get underway.
The first of three DTRA modified heats rolled trackside to get the competitive racing portion of the program started. The first heat had some heavy hitters in it. Shaun Kelley, driving Joe Beebeau's modified, immediately raced into the lead at the drop of the green flag. The first caution of the evening flew with four laps in when Dave Cain, Craig Thatcher and Ron Schreiner raced three-wide coming off turn four. Contact amongst these cars resulted in the cars of Thatcher and Schreiner receiving some damage. As Schreiner slowed, Tyler Keyser had nowhere to go and ran into the back of his car. Thatcher, Schreiner and Keyser were out. Kelley held the lead through the first six laps, but on lap seven Dave Cain drove by enroute to the win. Kelley held strong for second with Rick Friendt and Owen Grube completing the redraw positions. The second heat ran ten laps nonstop. Mike Kelley Jr grabbed the lead on the opening lap and appeared headed for the win, but Jason Schill came from behind after dropping back as far as sixth place and made a last lap pass to steal top honors. Kelley Jr finished second ahead of Jake Hartung and Jamie Lemke. The final heat race featured Kenny Wallace in his own St. Louis Cardinals modified. Joey Jensen looked strong up front, as Wallace picked off car after car to move into the second place spot. A caution with seven laps in closed things up, but Jensen held the point on the restart. Suddenly while entering turn 1 on lap nine Jensen's car slowed. Kenny Wallace and the rest of the field sped on by, as Jensen pulled into the infield the next time around with a breakdown. Wallace went on to win, much to the delight of the huge crowd, with Mike Mueller, Kevin Viebrock and Jason Gross completing the top four finishers.
Three heats for the DTRA Late Models followed the modifieds. Mike Nutzmann raced in front of the field in the first heat race and survived a couple of restarts to post the win. Scott Gilberts, in his first DTRA appearance of the season at CLS, ran a strong second with Tom Nesbitt and Bryan Wennen placing in the top four spots and earning a chance in the redraw for feature race starting spots. Todd Kluever, driving for the first time ever in a dirt late model, finished ninth. Current track point leader Brent Larson led all 10 laps in a nonstop second heat race. Caley Emerson, Jeff Keeney and Rick Egersdorf rounded out the top four finishers. Kenny Wallace was in the third and final late model heat race. Unlike his modified, Kenny did not win or even place in a feature race transfer position. It was Rapid Ron Schreiner leading all the way in another 10 lap caution-free race. Steve Laursen advanced to second place from his 7th starting spot. Ashley Anderson was third and Mike Bear fourth. In both DTRA divisions, the top six heat race finishers transferred to the feature race with the remaining cars having to run a B Main.
As the NASCAR stars signed autographs and participated in VIP functions, the B Mains for each division were brought up to the staging area and soon the DTRA Modifieds were on the track and ready to race. Slowed by just one yellow flag, the modified B Main saw Dave Lear lead the first couple of laps before Ron Schreiner came from the back of the pack to take the lead. Schreiner went on to lead the final nine laps. Tyler Keyser, Lear, Steve Lavasseur, Scott Splittstoesser, and Al Stettner earned feature race transfer positions. No sooner than the mods were done, the DTRA Late Models were ready to rumble for their 12 lap B Main. Kelly Anderson held off Eric Breeschoten in a quick caution-free 12 lap race for the win. Joey Jensen, driving Kevin Ayotte's car, was third with Kenny Wallace, Jeff Martire and Don Shaw also gaining entry to the feature race.
The race program kept moving right along with the 24 car starting field for the DTRA Modified feature race set to go. Marc Johnson was unable to start, so 23 cars roared to life under flagman Jeff Stacken's green flag. With Dave Cain starting outside front row, it would basically be a battle for the runner-up spot. NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace started 12th, as the redraw was not kind to him. Only one caution slowed the fast-paced 20 lap race with seven laps in the books when Shaun Kelley's car suffered a flat tire and spun exiting turn two. Kelley's crew was able to change the tire and he returned to tag the tail. This caution was very timely for Jake Hartung. Hartung was running third when his car looped around in turn 4, but the caution was already waving for Kelley. Mike Kelley Jr experienced some problems with his car during this caution and drove pitside, joining Dave Mass as early retirees from the feature. The race then ran nonstop to the finish. Dave Cain dominated up front to garner his 7th CLS feature win of the season and the $1,000 top prize. Kevin Viebrock held off Jamie Lemke for second. Lemke, in his first CLS appearance of the season, turned in a strong performance to ride home in third. Jason Schill finished fourth while Kenny Wallace advanced seven positions to complete the top five finishers. Rounding out the top ten were Jason Gross, 18th starter Tyler Keyser, Jake Hartung, rookie mod driver Mark Froehlich, and Chris Carlson. Twenty of the twenty three starters finished the race.
Following Dave Cain's Victory Lane celebration, the 25 car starting grid for the DTRA Late Model main event rolled on to the track. Todd Kluever was added as a provisional starter. Mike Nutzmann and Ashley Anderson brought the field down for the green flag to get the 30 lap feature underway. Nutzmann took the lead with Anderson a close second. Just one lap into the race, Don Shaw and Todd Kluever tangled on the backstretch. Both cars were able to restart. Nutzmann continued to lead when the race went back to green with Anderson in second. Ron Schreiner, Brent Larson and Steve Laursen were slowly working their way forward as the laps clicked off. The second and final caution flew on lap 12 when Jeff Martire turned around on the frontstretch. This wiped out a good size lead that Mike Nutzmann had built up. The race for the top spot would stay close after this. Anderson was still second with Scott Gilberts third, Schreiner fourth, Rick Egersdorf fifth and the Larson and Laursen duo sixth and seventh when the green replaced the yellow. Ashley Anderson immediately put the pressure on Nutzmann for the lead. Anderson was able to take over the top spot on lap 19, but Nutzmann came back strong to regain the #1 spot on lap 20. Anderson made several more attempts, as the leaders began working through lapped traffic. The raced stayed green, as the large crowd focused on the battle for the lead. A couple of times Anderson pulled to the inside of Nutzmann coming off turn four, but Mike had the momentum up top and would edge back by for the lead. At the conclusion of 30 laps, it was Mike Nutzmann holding off Ashley Anderson for the $2,500 win. Anderson finished a few car lengths back. Ron Schreiner got by Scott Gilberts on the final lap to finish third. Steve Laursen completed the top five. Brent Larson, Rick Egersdorf, Tom Nesbitt, Eric Breeschoten from 20th, and Caley Emerson rounded out the top ten in what ended up being a very good and very entertaining DTRA late model feature race. Only three cars dropped out of the race.
Very few fans had left at this point, since it was soon time for the special two-part Race of Champions to take place. With Dale Earnhardt Jr in the flagstand, the remaining four NASCAR drivers brought four late model cars out to compete against each other. In addition to the two Patchen Racing machines painted in event sponsor 3M colors, the feature winning car of Mike Nutzmann and one owned by Larry Stockwell were used. Greg Biffle and Todd Kluever drove the #16 & #06 3M cars while Kenny Wallace was in the Nutzmann #2 car and Sterling Marlin wheeled the Stockwell #8 machine. The first 8-lap segment saw Sterling Marlin pass Greg Biffle just past the halfway mark for the lead and eventual win. Wallace was third and Kluever fourth. The second segment would see the cars inverted from the way they finished the first half. Kenny Wallace took the lead and never looked back to win the final segment over Greg Biffle, Sterling Marlin and Todd Kluever. It was then time for the NASCAR drivers to parade around the perimeter of the track for the fan photo opportunity. Many fans in the large crowd ringed the inside of the fence to get a close look before the stars had to head back to Chicagoland for the NASCAR racing weekend, thus concluding a very entertaining and well run racing program at the Cedar Lake Speedway. Earnhardt Jr remarked to some of the track owners that he had really enjoyed himself and would like to return for another visit some time in the future. The large crowd began to head for home after a fun evening spent at one of the nation's premier dirt track facilities.
Racing action at the Cedar Lake Speedway continues on Saturday night July 14 with the 6th Annual Billy Anderson Memorial for the ASCS Northern Plains Region 360 sprint cars. The DTRA late models, modifieds and super stocks are also on the program scheduled to get underway at 6:30pm at the track where champions race and stars shine. See you at another fun-filled 2007 racing event at the Cedar Lake Speedway soon!
DTRA Amsoil Modifieds
Heat 1 Dave Cain, Shaun Kelley, Rick Friendt, Owen Grube, Tim VanMeter, Don Brightbill, Al Stettner, Ron Schreiner, Tyler Keyser, Craig Thatcher
Heat 2 Jason Schill, Kelley Jr, Jake Hartung, Jamie Lemke, Mark Froehlich, Dave Mass, Dave Lear, Steve Lavasseur, Jeremy Gross, Scott Splittstoesser
Heat 3 Kenny Wallace, Mike Mueller, Kevin Viebrock, Jason Gross, Chris Carlson, Marc Johnson, Joey Jensen, Jim Raboin, Patrick Murphy.
B-Main Schreiner, Keyser, Lear, Lavasseur, Splittstoesser, Stettner, Gross, Murphy, Raboin
A-Main Cain, Viebrock, Lemke, Schill, Gross, Keyser, Hartung, Froehlich, Carlson, Mueller, Kelley, Grube, Friendt, Splittstoesser, Lavasseur, VanMeter, Brightbill, Lear, Stettner, Schreiner, Kelley Jr, Mass
DTRA Impact Printing Late Models
Heat 1 Mike Nutzmann, Scott Gilberts, Tom Nesbitt, Bryan Wennen, Jeff Lien, Jim Carlson, Jeff Martire, Roger Herrick, Todd Kluever, Larry Stockwell, Don Shaw
Heat 2 Brent Larson, Caley Emerson, Jeff Keeney, Rick Egersdorf, Mike Hesselink, Paul Hipsag, Kelly Anderson, Joey Jensen, Steve Hucovski, Doug Herrick
Heat 3 Ron Schreiner, Steve Laursen, Ashley Anderson, Mike Bear, Chuckie DeSmith, Mike Balcaen, Eric Breeshoten, Kenny Wallace, Toby Patchen, Mike Raboin
B-Main Anderson, Breeschoten, Jensen, Wallace, Martire, Shaw, Hucovski, Patchen, Herrick, Stockwell, Raboin, Herrick, Kluever
A-Main Nutzmann, Anderson, Schreiner, Gilberts, Laursen, Larson, Egersdorf, Nesbitt, Breeschoten, Emerson, Bear, DeSmith, Hesselink, Keeney, Carlson, Balcaen, Hipsag, Wennen, Jensen, Shaw, Lien, Anderson, Martire
Race of Champions
Race 1 Sterling Marlin, Greg Biffle, Kenny Wallace & Todd Kluever
Race 2 Kenny Wallace, Greg Biffle, Sterling Marlin & Todd Kluever