Don Kreitz Jr. Breaks Lynn Paxton's All-Time Williams Grove Win Record Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com Mechanicsburg, PA June 30, 2000 - Don Kreitz Jr. cleaned house at tonight's Mitch Smith Memorial, the richest race in this year's Pennsylvania...
Don Kreitz Jr. Breaks Lynn Paxton's All-Time Williams Grove Win Record
Ken Plotkin - motorsport.com
Mechanicsburg, PA June 30, 2000 - Don Kreitz Jr. cleaned house at tonight's Mitch Smith Memorial, the richest race in this year's Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek. Set the fast qualifying time. Won his heat race. Won the feature. On top of that, he attained his 44th feature win at Williams Grove, breaking a four-way tie and Lynn Paxton's long standing record of 43.
So why was everyone booing him?
Wind back the clock five laps. Todd Shaffer had thrilled the packed grandstands by working his way up to the lead from an 18th place start. He now had a comfortable lead over Kreitz, who had led for half a dozen laps. Kreitz had looked like he was headed straight for Victory 44, until Shaffer blasted around the outside on the 19th lap. Kreitz in turn had a comfortable lead over third place nephew (and early race leader) Dave Ely. The only real action left on the track was Billy Pauch and Steve Siegel battling for fifth place, behind Fred Rahmer comfortably in fourth place.
With 25 laps in, if this was a regular Friday night, it would have all been over. But there were still five laps to go in the 30 lap Speedweek event. Even so, it looked like it was over: Mr. Excitement riding the cushion in full command, and the others trailing well behind him.
Then action was slowed - and bunched up - for a yellow on the 26th lap.
As the cars passed the cone on the backstretch for the restart, Shaffer stayed a little lower than usual, protecting his lead. Not getting traction, he immediately went back up to the cushion through 3 and 4. Kreitz kept his usual low line, but coming through 4 he decided to give the high side a try. Unfortunately, he took the line that Shaffer already occupied. Wheels touched. Shaffer spun, then did one full roll. With action stopped for the red flag, Shaffer climbed out of his car and slowly walked toward Kreitz. Todd was joined by several track officials, who were perhaps giving him elocution lessons for his upcoming speech with Kreitz.
The crowd's booing was interrupted with applause for Shaffer as he walked in front of the main stands. After a quick word with Kreitz, he returned to the pits and the field was restarted.
On the restart, Fred Rahmer immediately jumped into second, and took after Kreitz. The crowd was on its feet for the next four laps, cheering Fast Freddy on as he tried high, then low, then high, almost getting even once or twice, but not quite getting it done. On the last corner of the last lap, Kreitz and Rahmer came out of four on the cushion, nose to tail, with Kreitz taking the checker two car lengths ahead.
In Victory Lane, Kreitz attributed his contact with Shaffer to the importance of the race. "On that restart,", he said, "we just got a good run on him. Ninety percent of the time I'd probably leave that lane open but for 10,000 to win, you know... I was in front of him, so it was my track. I know that if it was Kauffman or Rahmer he never would have tried to stick his front end in there."
He had not expected Shaffer's move on the restart. "I thought he'd go right to the cushion, and when he went down in the slick, he just spun (his tires). He went down there probably to try to block me, knowing I wasn't going to go around him.
"He didn't get as good traction as he thought he would, because he was set up looser to run the top. I was surprised when he went down there. I just turned under him and got a run on him." Running more aggressively than usual, he figured he had made the pass - more or less. "My right rear hit his left front. That's my track, in front of him. Most of the time I'd give him that lane, but not for $10,000 to win. It was my track. It was nothing he would have never done to me."
Don thought that his real mistake came from not protecting his position six laps earlier. "Todd did a heck of a job coming around on 19. I knew it was him, and I knew where he was going. I probably should have went up there on the cushion and tried to block him, and never let him by."
More surprises were in store when he found Rahmer hot on his tail for the final 4 1/2 laps. "They told me Fred wasn't really going that good and Dave (Ely) was behind me. We tightened the car up some what on the red but I guess we didn't tighten it up enough or I wasn't sitting up in the seat enough or something. I seen that red car coming and I knew it was Rahmer. I thought for sure he had me. Going down the backstretch he actually had a run on me and I really figured he'd run me into three. I figured there's gonna be a wreck, cause I knew there there was no way I was going to lift. He gave me the lane. I was a wheel ahead of him. He did give me the lane, and we just got back to the line first. But I wouldn't have wanted it to be one more lap."
Don Kreitz will enjoy his 44 win record for as long - or short - as it lasts. "It's really great just to be up there with them guys. But I know it's only going to last a week, because Fred's going to be coming back on a mission next week. I'm glad we got to it first. I wish it would hold, but I know it's not going to. We're just going to keep pounding it out and try to knock a couple of more off."
<pre> Top 10 Finishers:
1. 69 Don Kreitz Jr. 2. 77 Fred Rahmer 3. 55X Billy Pauch 4. 7R Steve Siegel 5. 77E Dave Ely 6. 7 Keith Kauffman 7. 53K Skip Jackson 8. 22 James Chesson 9. 99 Danny Jones 10. 461 Curt Michael
Heat 1: 69 Don Kreitz Jr. Heat 2: 7R Steve Siegel Heat 3: 77 Fred Rahmer Heat 4: 88 Todd Shaffer
Fast Qualifier: 69 Don Kreitz Jr. 17:00 Qualifying Record: 16.858, Jac Haudenschild, Oct. 3, 1997