Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (June 28, 2003)--Championship point leader Ron Breese, Jr extended his lead atop the standings after capturing the win in the prestigious NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Al...
Lake Geneva, Wisconsin (June 28, 2003)--Championship point leader Ron Breese, Jr extended his lead atop the standings after capturing the win in the prestigious NASCAR Elite Division, International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series, Al Schill, Jr Memorial 150 presented by True Value, Saturday night at Lake Geneva (Wis) Raceway. The win was his second of the season and extended his point margin to 59 points.
Eddie Hoffman chased Breese over the final 75 laps but came up 1.125-seconds short at the checkered flag. Jon Lemke, Nathan Haseleu and Brian Hoppe rounded out the top five.
"This is such an honor to win this race," said Breese. "I feel like I went to college with Al, Jr; we went to the college of racing. We used to race against each other every weekend and then I'd spend Saturday night at his house and we'd go to Slinger on Sunday. What happened to Al was just a tragedy."
The Al Schill, Jr Memorial 150 is run in honor of the promising second generation driver who died in 1999, just hours after competing in the Midwest Series opener.
The race got off to an auspicious start when second row, inside starter Eric Fransen's mount never accelerated after the green flag flew. That caused a mad scramble behind him. Later that lap, Brian Hoppe and Jeff Way got turned around in turn four which necessitated a complete restart. Series rules call for all cars to complete one lap.
The complete restart allowed Fransen to limp his mount to the pit area where his crew made hasty repairs. Fransen, the leading Victory Circle Chassis Rookie of the Year competitor, was able to answer the bell for the restart, but because he pitted, he had to start from the rear of the field.
Once back underway, Tim Schendel took the early lead from his outside row one starting spot. Lake Geneva Raceway late model point leader Jamie Wallace gave chase with Jeremy Lepak, Breese and Lemke in hot pursuit.
Wallace pressured Schendel early and used his experience of the .33-mile oval to work past the youngster and take the lead on lap 14.
Breese used the opening Wallace created and also got past Schendel. Once in the runner-up spot, Breese wasted little time going to work on Wallace, charging past him and taking the lead on lap 18.
Wallace cut a left rear tire down just a few laps later, forcing him to make a visit to pit lane and ending his chance for a solid finish.
Hoffman started from the eighth spot and steadily worked his way to the front of the 24-car field. By the race's mid-point Hoffman was in second position and pressuring the leader.
Breese held strong during the green flag runs and opened a one to two-second advantage. But restarts after two brief cautions for minor solo spins involving Wallace and Dave Finney gave Hoffman shots at Breese.
"The car was good on restarts for 10 laps or so," said Hoffman. "We needed a restart with about four or five laps to go; that would have been fun. But we didn't get that. We had a good enough car for second but not quite good enough for the win, so we've got to take what we got."
Breese knew Hoffman was going to be tough on the restarts and that, after the field is bunched up, anything can happen.
"I have to give Eddie credit," said Breese. "On the couple restarts we had, he raced me hard, but clean."
Lemke withstood a furious late race charge from Haseleu, the Bud Pole fast qualifier, to gain his fourth top-five finish of the season.
"We're going to forget about the first two races," said Lemke, who posted poor runs to start the 2003 campaign. "From there on out we've been in the top five. Car owner, Tim Schumacher, and this whole team deserve to be running how we're running now."
Fransen recovered from having to start shotgun on the field and drove to a ninth place run, one spot behind fellow rookie Lepak. Tim Sauter got to the speedway just minutes before qualifying ended and timed Jeff Victor's Ford in 14th. In the main event, Sauter advanced eight spots and earned the POWERade Power Move of the Race award and the $750 that goes along with the honors.
The International Truck and Engine Corporation Midwest Series travels next to I-94 Speedway, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, July 5 for the running of the July Spectacular 150.