Oregon, Wis (August 24, 2002)--Justin Diercks won the RE/MAX Challenge Series, NASCAR Touring, Howie Chaussee Automotive 250, Saturday night at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin. The win was the second of his career. Diercks...
Oregon, Wis (August 24, 2002)--Justin Diercks won the RE/MAX Challenge Series, NASCAR Touring, Howie Chaussee Automotive 250, Saturday night at Madison International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin. The win was the second of his career.
Diercks took the lead on lap 198 and pulled away to a 5.181 second win over second finishing Eddie Hoffman. Tim Schendel, Ron Breese, Jr and rookie Josh Vadnais rounded out the top five. The fourth place run for Breese was his best finish of the season in a part-time campaign.
"My car got a little lose there when I was behind Steve (Carlson) and I told my crew chief Nick, 'I gotta have two tires, I don't want to let this thing slip away,'" said Diercks. "Pretty much everybody else made just one stop and we made two and that was the difference for us."
The race was spiced up nine lead changes among eight different drivers.
The 250-lap grind had an auspicious beginning. Diercks and Pete Moore led the 24 starters to the green flag when inside row four starter Ryan Hanson had the transmission on his Magic Construction Ford falter. Hanson's mount never got up to speed, causing a 10-car chain reaction pileup behind him. Eliminated were Larry Hunter, Nathan Haseleu, Bryan Roach, Scot Field and Erik Darnell while the machines of Paul Menard, Jeremy Lepak, Les Ferris and Jeff Way were all sent to the pits repairs.
Since one full lap was not completed NASCAR officials ordered a complete restart.
On the restart, Pete Moore beat Diercks to corner one and led the first lap before giving way to the hard charging Breese. Defending race champion, Brian Hoppe, started sixth and quickly worked his way up to challenge Breese, taking the top spot on lap eight.
Hoppe sent the field on a long green flag run, one that allowed Steve Carlson to work his way past Diercks for the second position on lap 22. Carlson proceeded to track down Hoppe setting the stage for another classic Hoppe/Carlson battle. The pair raced away from the rest of the field with Carlson working his way under Hoppe for the lead on lap 74.
The race was put under the caution flag on lap 96 when Chad Barker looped his machine in turn two. All the lead lap cars used the opportunity to visit pit lane for service.
When the green flew again on lap 103, Carlson led Hoppe, Diercks, Hanson and Hoffman. It was on that restart, however, that Hoppe's race fortunes changed. An apparent broken valve spring caused Hoppe's machine to lose some power and eliminated any chance the hometown driver had of victory.
Diercks and Hanson quickly moved up to challenge Carlson. A caution on lap 153 for another spin by Barker gave Diercks the opportunity to pit a second time. Only six cars remained on the lead lap at the time, meaning Diercks didn't have far to go to get to the front once the green flag reappeared.
"We had a real good run going last race out at Kaukauna and we let a good finish slip away," said Diercks. "I didn't want to stay out and risk letting another good opportunity slip away."
Once back under way on lap 163, Hanson flexed his muscle, driving under Carlson for the lead. Once out front, Hanson quickly opened up a two-second advantage.
A Jon Lemke spin on lap 174 put the field under caution once again. After being sent back under way for just a lap, caution appeared one final time for debris on the speedway.
In that brief tour under green, Breese and Vadnais got a great jump on the rest of the field and used the double file restart to get around Hanson and back on the lead lap.
While circulating the track under caution, Hanson, the leader, suddenly ducked down pit lane with troubles under the hood of his mount, handing the point back to Carlson.
"I don't know what happened," said a disappointed Hanson. "The oil temperature gauge was pegged all race and then right before we pulled in the water temperature gauge went through the roof. I didn't need to blow it up, so I pulled in."
The problems robbed Hanson of a sure top three finish and possibly his first career series win.
"I don't know what happened to Ryan Hanson," said Diercks in victory lane. "That kid was flying. Our car was good but he was probably the fastest car out there."
Carlson's stay at the front didn't last long, however. A right rear tire that was steadily losing air sent Carlson free falling through the field over the final 60 laps. In the end, Carlson finished in eighth position, two laps off the pace.
Carlson's demise set up a wicked battle for the lead between Hoffman, Schendel and Diercks.
"Those were a crazy 15 laps," said Hoffman. "Tim was working on Steve and then I had to work on Tim and Justin was working me over. But when Justin got out front and got comfortable he could leg it out and it was pretty much over."
The win earned Diercks $6,550 and kept him fifth in the season-long point championship. Despite his motor woes, Hoppe gained eight points on Carlson in the chase for the championship. Carlson leads Hoppe by 52 markers with three races remaining on year.
For the sixth time this year, Vadnais was the highest finishing rookie. With three races remaining, Vadnais has now secured 2002 RE/MAX Challenge Series Rookie of the Year honors.
The RE/MAX Challenge Series next travels to Elko (Min) Speedway, September 29, to headline the 12th annual Fall Festival of Speed.