WSORR ROUND VI: HORD, EVANS, KONITZER DELIGHT BARK RIVER CROWD & YOUNG GUNS CONTINUE TO RISE ON WORLD SERIES TOUR 2008
BARK RIVER, Mich. (July 13, 2008) - The cheering fans at Bark River International Raceway went home happy when local favorite Chad Hord broke through for his first Lucas Oil World Series of Off-Road Racing Series (WSORR) win of 2008 in the PRO Light Pickup class at the high-speed track in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The festive atmosphere in victory circle continued moments later when Evan Evans, also popular with the Bark River fans due to his "never give up" motto and attitude, followed Hord to the checkered flag in the PRO 2WD battle. The cheers were nearly as loud for Rhonda Konitzer as the WSORR Round VI race marked only the third time in history that a woman driver reached the podium in a PRO off-road short course race, all by the Oconto Falls, Wisc., racer when she finished behind Evans, of Riverside, Calif., and Michigan's Ross Hoek.
Hoek, in his Skyjacker Goodyear Ford beat the rest of his PRO 2WD heavy metal competitors through turn one closely followed by Dan Vanden Heuvel in a Maxxis Chevy, Evans in his Potawatomi BFG Chevy, Dave Waldvogel in the Bendix Toyo Chevrolet, Kevin Probst in the E3 Sparkplugs Lucas Oil Toyo Chevy and Konitzer in a Goodyear Chevy. Hoek maintained the lead for the next three laps until Evans was able to slip by the leaders on a track he has had a lot of success on and separate himself from the field. A tire issue late in the race forced Vanden Heuvel to the pits and allowed Konitzer, who had passed both Waldvogel and Probst to take over the third spot and make another significant entry into the off-road racing history books. The win capped a big weekend for Evans, who races with hand controls due to injuries he suffered in a motorcyle accident, as he was the runner-up in the Round V contest. Vanden Heuvel sits atop the PRO 2WD points race at the halfway mark thanks to his Round V victory, Probst and Waldvogel are second and third in the points chase.
Hord, of nearby Felch, Mich., is the defending PRO Light Pickup class champion, but the Boss Plows Amsoil Kumho Mazda racer had just one podium finish to show for 2008 prior to his win in Round VI. The race was red- flagged initially when class points leader Jeff Kincaid's Potawatomi Traxxas( BFG Toyota tangled with the Goodyear Ford of Mark Oberg in turn one. Kincaid's truck ended up on top of Oberg's and work crews had to pull the two apart to rescue Oberg as he was trapped in the vehicle. On the restart, Round V winner Steve Federico in the Invisible Glass P F Changs Hankook Toyota grabbed the lead but Hord got by him on the second lap and cruised to the seven-second margin of victory. One of the emerging stars on the WSORR circuit, Jon Probst, in the E3 Spark Plugs Lucas Oil Toyo Nissan passed Federico midway through the race for the second spot. Probst made his very first podium appearance just the day before in Round V with another runner-up finish. Kincaid remains atop the points chase thanks to his four opening round wins in the class. Federico and Probst are now second and third.
Another "young gun" who is making a big name for himself on WSORR Tour 2008 is Dan Vanden Heuvel's son Mike, of Appleton, Wisc.,who walked away from Bark River with an impressive four wins. He capped the perfect weekend by duplicating his Round V wins in the SRT 1600 Buggy and 1600 Light Buggy in Sunday's races. The back-to-back 1600 Light Buggy wins allowed him to take control of the points lead in the class in his Toyo machine, just ahead of friendly rival Matt Gerald in the Potawatomi Goodyear buggy. In the Round VI race, Vanden Heuvel bested 25 other Light Buggies and was joined on the podium by Todd Lemke on BFGs and Steve Oman on Nokians. Then he once again jumped in the 1600 Buggy of John Huven to outshine the veterans in that class, finishing ahead of Mike Seefeldt and Bob Blaney, both on BFGs. Points leader Mark Steinhardt, also on BFGs, maintains his 1600 Buggy points lead at the halfway point, despite a crash in Round VI that briefly left him with a concussion and forced race officials to red flag the race.
Another emerging WSORR star, Keith Steele, of Madison, Wisc., was the big winner of the "shootout style" race between SRT Super Trucks and PRO 4x4 competitors. Just as in Round V, the two classes were combined on Sunday with the two-wheel drive machines given a "head start" before the 4x4's were allowed to try and chase the Super Trucks down. Again, it proved to be a very difficult task. Round V winner and local favorite Ben Wandahsega of Bark River, in his Potawatomi Toyo Chevy took the early lead, followed by longtime rival Dan Baudoux in the Mole Lake Casino BFG Ford, and Steele in his Monster Energy Goodyear Chevy. Round V PRO 4x4 winner Jerry Daugherty, in his JD Construction Mastercraft Goodyear Chevy, again took the lead in his class, racing just ahead of Kent Brascho in the Lucas Oil Goodyear Chevy. When Wandahsega and Baudoux slowed with mechanical issues, the powerful PRO 4x4's set their sights on Steele. With just two laps to go, Daugherty rolled his truck on a sharp turn but landed on his wheels and kept going although Brascho was able to slip by him and claim the second spot overall behind Steele and first in PRO 4x4. Daugherty and Al Drews in a Ford rounded out the PRO 4x4 podium and Ross Hoek in his Skyjacker Goodyear Ford and Baudoux finished second and third in the Super Truck scoring of the race. With six rounds of racing now complete, Brascho, of Pell City, Alabama, enjoys a commanding points lead in his PRO class and Steele, by virtue of his three wins and five podium appearances, is ahead of Super Truck veterans Baudoux and Wandahsega.
In the PRO Super Buggy clash, six buggies ran nose-to-tail from the drop of the green flag with Tim Lemons, Scott Schwalbe, John Frana, Gary Nierop, Ryan Mulder and John Mason all within two seconds of each other for the first two laps. The group diced back and forth but raced cleanly and it wasn't until the final two laps that Scwalbe in a BFG Toyota pulled over and relinquished the lead to John Mason of Laona, Wisc., in his Mendeola Goodyear Honda, who was also the Round V winner. Mason sped off to a four and a half second margin of victory over defending PRO Super Buggy champ Gary Nierop who finished less than a car length ahead of Tim Lemons, both in Goodyear Toyotas. The weekend's battles result in Mason taking over the top spot by a narrow two point margin over Lemons in the points race with Nierop holding down third place.
In the Stock Truck race, 22-year-old Mitch Dorr in a BFG Ford proved that his Round V win in only his fifth race wasn't a fluke by landing on the podium again, this time in third. Dorr, of Rockford, Ill., is the son of former off-road truck champion Geoff Dorr who serves as the team's crew chief. Eric Ruppel had to settle for his second consecutive second place finish in his Phils Inc BFG Ford as he nosed out Dorr at the finish but no one could contend with the speedy Al Konitzer in his Mole Lake Casino Miller Lite Goodyear Dodge. Konitzer from Oconto Falls, Wisc., led flag-to- flag and steadily pulled away from the field for an impressive fourteen second margin of victory. Craig Metz remains the class points leader heading into the second half of the season although the margin has tightened as Ruppel is now within five points. Scott Beauchamp, the defending class champ, is another two points behind Ruppel.
Tim Moeller of Hastings, Minn., took his third consecutive win in the Round VI Formula 4x4 race in his Goodyear Ford ahead of defending class champion Dave DeMaegd in a Goodyear Jeep with Crystal Reffke in a Maxxis Ford grabbing the third spot in her first podium finish. DeMaegd continues to lead the points battle with Jim Ridderbush second and Moeller moving up to third. Jim Van Rixel was the Enduro Truck winner for the second race in a row ahead of Marc Rogaczewski and Matt Dale. Rogaczewski is the class points leader. Shane Degroot was the Classix winner in a Kumho Chevy with Justin Keehner second and Rob Weiland in his Goodyear Chevy third and Weiland remains atop the points.
WSORR Tour 2008 now brings its $100,000 purse to Oshkosh, Wisc., for a first ever Friday-Saturday night doubleheader under the lights on July 25th- 26th. WSORR Rounds VII & VIII "Nights of Thunder" will take place at Oshkosh Speedzone Raceway in what is the first major Series off-road race action in the area in more than a decade. More information about the Oshkosh event and the World Series is available at www.wsorr.com.