LM: 2004 season review

2004 ASA Late Model Series: A season to remember The 2005 ASA Late Model Series Presented by GM Performance Parts is fast approaching. Before we know it, teams will be pulling into the pit area in anticipation of the first event of the 2005 ...

2004 ASA Late Model Series: A season to remember

The 2005 ASA Late Model Series Presented by GM Performance Parts is fast approaching. Before we know it, teams will be pulling into the pit area in anticipation of the first event of the 2005 season at the Baer Field (IN) Speedway in Ft. Wayne, Indiana on Friday and Saturday May 6-7.

The series, now in its' third season of existence has seen drivers from all walks of life participate in what is now the fastest growing and most highly anticipated touring series in the country. Let's take a look at what was the 2004 racing season for the ASA Late Model Series.

What a successful season we had, a great car turnout all season long, in all 85 drivers received championship points in 2004. An average of 36 cars per night greeted the fans in the grandstands at all 13 shows.

A season high 54 teams pulled into the pit area at the ASA Late Model Series opener at Madison (WI) International Speedway in Oregon, Wisconsin, just outside of Madison WI, on Saturday May 8, 2004 for the running of the Blain's Farm & Fleet/DeWalt Tools/Carhartt 100 to watch NASCAR Nextel Cup star, Matt Kenseth, the last NASCAR Winston Cup champion set fast time and then go on to win the first ever event under the ASA Late Model banner, after the series inaugural season in 2003 as the USPRO Cup Series. Kenseth, in front of a capacity hometown crowd fended off 2004 Madison ASA Late Model track champion, Ron Breese Jr., and current NASCAR Craftsman Trucks pilot, Todd Kluever to pick up the first ever win under the ASA banner. Veteran, Bobby Wilberg and a promising rookie named Bobby Stremme would finish off the top five.

The series' second event saw the teams travel to Fort Wayne, Indiana and the Baer Field (IN) Speedway, the site of this seasons 2005 opener, for the running of the First General Homes 100 on Sunday May 16, 2004. That promising rookie, Bobby Stremme made the racing world stand up and take notice by setting fast time around the semi-banked ½ mile over a stout 40-car field on hand. In the 100-lap main event, another driver made the racing world rub its' collective eyes once again as Wadsworth, Ohio pilot, Jack Smith scored perhaps the most surprising victory of the young season as he held off hometown hero, Tommy Cook to score the biggest win of his career. Another rookie driver started making waves as Rockton, Illinois youngster, Dan Lensing would record a third place showing ahead of yet another young pilot, 2005 Pat Bourdow Memorial Rookie of the Year title contender, Brian Campbell and Bobby Stremme, who would rack up his second consecutive fifth place showing.

For the series third stop, the teams traveled to the relatively new, Lake Erie (PA) Speedway in Erie, Pennsylvania, on the shores of Lake Erie for the running of the Erie 100 on May 29, 2004. 33 cars checked in for the Memorial Day Weekend show and another young lion, Jason Setser would set fast time around the multi-grooved 3/8s mile. Buckeye State driver, Ryan Tedesco would show the young upstarts how to get things done however as the New Philadelphia OH driver would hold off stiff challenges from Wisconsin traveler, Chad Wood, and Doug True to give the Main Event Racing Series veteran his first career ASA Late Models triumph. Two more upstarts made their presence known as Dan Jung, another 2005 Rookie title contender, and 14-year-old Landon Cassill would complete the top five.

The immaculate Mansfield (OH) Motorsports Speedway was the site of the series fourth stop in 2004 as the ASA Late Model teams rolled into the high-banked ½ mile on June 4, 2004 for the running of the Mansfield 100. Ryan Tedesco, hot off his win the previous week at Lake Erie (PA) proved to the 35 teams on hand that his showing the previous week in the Keystone State was no fluke. Tedesco would set fast time and go on to win his second series victory in a row! Jack Smith would finish second ahead of Jason Setser, Bobby Stremme, and Chad Wood, who would round out the top five.

For the series fifth stop, the ASA Late Model teams traveled up to the Berlin (MI) Raceway in Marne, Michigan on June 11, 2004 for the Berlin 100. The Johnny Benson Jr./West Michigan White Caps Baseball Team owned 7/16s mile owned fairgrounds speedway located just off I-96, saw 37 teams pull into this beautiful facility located just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. Brian Campbell offered fans and teams a preview of what to expect in 2005 by setting fast time on his home track and then during the 100-lap feature, nearly pulling off the victory. However, South Bend, Indiana's Bobby Stremme had other ideas and the Hoosier State driver would fend off the hometown hero to score his first career series win. Campbell settled for second as Doug True scored his second third place showing of the season while Michael Rush and Doug Mahlik would complete the top five.

Grundy County (IL) Speedway in Morris, Illinois, just West of the windy city of Chicago was stop number six for the 2004 ASA Late Model Series as 33 teams made the trip across I-80 for the Terry's Automotive Group 100 on June 19, 2004. Current NASCAR Craftsman Trucks driver, Todd Kluever would show the traveling stars of the ASA Late Model Series how to get around the unique 1/3 mile as the Sun Prairie, Wisconsin star would set fast time and go on to win the 100-lap feature going away. Another rookie, Mike Satkowiak would make fans and teams alike again stand up and take notice with a strong runner-up showing. Veteran Buckeye State competitor, Scott Baker scored his first top five finish of the season with a third place showing ahead of Ryan Tedesco and Tony Rosebrugh, who would crack the top five for the first time.

The Trick-Track of the World, the Tri-City (MI) Motor Speedway located in the tiny town of Auburn, Michigan told the teams of the ASA Late Model Series that they were halfway through the 2004 season and a unique five-turned ½ mile greeted the teams and left them shaking their heads and wondering what they had gotten themselves into for the seventh race of the season. The Meier Financial Group 100 on the bright, sunny, Sunday afternoon of June 26, 2004 was awaiting the 28 teams that made the haul into the Great White North and it was Bobby Stremme adapted to the unique layout of the historic track as he set fast time over the field. The 100-lap feature will be remembered for years to come. The battle between Stremme and hometown hero, Mike Satkowiak had the fans on their feet screaming the last 10 laps as they went high and low on each other, setting each other up, using lapped cars as picks, bouncing off the walls the last two laps. Both drivers traded the lead several tim es before Stremme would take the lead for the last time coming out of turn five on the checkered flag lap to score his second victory of the season and in some observers eyes, this race became the turning point in Stremme's outstanding rookie season! Satkowiak settled for second as Jason Setser, Scott Baker, and Doug True would round out the top five.

The teams thought they had recovered enough from the excitement and the uniqueness of Tri-City when they pulled into the Shady Bowl (OH) Speedway, in the little town of DeGraff, Ohio for the eighth race of the season on July 17, 2004. The teams thought Tri-City was unique until they saw the 3/10s mile roller coaster oval and realized they had to run 100 laps on the track best described as a 3/10s mile road coarse! Jason Setser would set fast time for the second time this season, but it was Ryan Tedesco scoring his third feature win of the year and second in his home state over Jack Smith, Dan Lensing, Scott Baker, and Doug True.

The Indianapolis (IN) Raceway Park on Saturday July 31, 2004 was next on the agenda for the ASA Late Model Series and the running of the SK Hand Tools 100 on the huge .686 mile paved oval. 44 teams checked into the pit area and Bobby Stremme once again set fast time and for the second time of the 2004 season, he would sweep the program! Just like he did at Tri-City a month previous, Stremme would score his third victory of the season in convincing fashion over veterans, Doug Mahlik and Scott Baker. Ryan Tedesco finished fourth and Michael Grueneberg recorded his first career top five with a fifth place showing. The point's battle was starting to heat up as Stremme, Baker, and Tedesco were neck and neck for the overall championship while Stremme was trying to fend off Dan Lensing and Mike Satkowiak for the rookie title!

After nearly a month off to regroup for a final run towards the end of the season, the newly reopened, Calhoun County (MI) Speedway, in Springport, Michigan was the site of race number 10 of the 2004 season for the ASA Late Model Series on August 21, 2004. 36 teams checked into the semi-banked 3/8s mile paved oval for the Calhoun County 100 presented by K105.3 FM and RV Performance. Jason Setser would set fast time for the third time of the year and in a caution filled 100-lap feature. Asheville, North Carolina driver, Stephen Leicht, a development driver for Wal-Tom Racing, made his first career ASA Late Model Series appearance pay off in scoring the big win over Buckeye State veteran, Scott Baker. Mike Satkowiak, Doug True, and Bobby Stremme would complete the top five.

The teams then headed out West into the state of Iowa and the Hawkeye Downs (IA) Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for the Barron Motor Supply 100 over the Labor Day weekend, September 4, 2004. 33 teams signed in for race number 11 and it was hometown favorite, Brad Osborn showing the travelers how to get around the ½ mile fairgrounds oval in qualifying. Green Bay, Wisconsin veteran, Doug Mahlik however would show the way in the 100-lap feature and record his first career series win. Scott Baker continued his late season run at the series championship as the Akron, Ohio veteran posted his second runner-up showing in a row. Canadian visitor, Don St. Denis, in his first career series appearance posted a strong third place showing ahead of Calhoun County winner, Stephen Leicht and another hometown favorite, young Landon Cassill.

A return visit to the Madison (WI) International Speedway on September 11, 2004 for race number 12 of the ASA Late Model Series season saw the points battles heat up in both the series and rookie title chases. 41 cars were on hand as rookie pilot, Dan Lensing set fast time over a strong field of competitors and finished second to Todd Kluever in the Trackside Charities 100. Unfortunately at post-race inspection, Kluever was deemed illegal, giving the win and the sweep of the program to Lensing for his first career series victory. Bobby Stremme inherited second ahead of Bobby Wilberg, Andrew Morrissey, and Chad Wood who would round out the top five.

Rockford (IL) Speedway in Loves Park, Illinois was the site of the 2004 ASA Late Model Series Season Championship event and final race of the 2004 season. The Rockford 100 was part of the tracks historic, National Short Track Championships and the 33 teams on hand didn't disappoint as the 100-lap feature was exciting throughout. Bobby Stremme was on pace to secure both the Series overall championship as well as the Rookie of the Year accolades. In qualifying, young Travis Dassow was the fast qualifier and in the feature event, Bobby Wilberg led the way during the 100-lap grind on the high-banked 1/4 mile as the Orfordville, Wisconsin veteran would go on to win the Season Championship feature over Rockford regular, Ricky Bilderback. Ron Breese Jr., would finish third ahead of Bobby Stremme and Scott Baker. With Stremme's fourth place finish, the South Bend, Indiana driver would go on to clinch the 2004 ASA Late Model Series Championship as well as the 2004 Rookie of the Yea r award.

Stremme would win the championship over Scott Baker, Dan Lensing, Doug True, and Jack Smith, the final top five. Ryan Tedesco, Scott Whetzel, Jason Setser, Mike Satkowiak, and Tommy Cook would round out the final top 10 in the overall point's standings. As for the Rookie of the Year title, Stremme would win that too over Lensing, Whetzel, Setser, Satkowiak, and Cook.

The 2005 schedule looks to be the most anticipated in recent memory for any traveling series. The 2005 opener for the ASA Late Model Series Presented by GM Performance Parts is on May 7th down at Baer Field (IN) Speedway in Fort Wayne, Indiana. The Lexington, Michigan based series will make only two appearances in its' home state. Saturday May 14th at the Calhoun County Speedway and on July 1st at the Kalamazoo Speedway. Overall 16 shows in nine different states. From as far West as I-70 (MO) Speedway in Odessa, Missouri on June 18th and Hawkeye Downs (IA) Speedway in Cedar Rapids, Iowa on September 2nd. The series will travel as far East as Jennerstown (PA) Speedway in Somerset, Pennsylvania on August 13th. The series is heading way up North over the Labor Day weekend in keeping with ASA's tradition of a show in the Gopher State at I-94 (MN) Speedway in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Halfway between St. Cloud and Internation al Falls!

The Hoosier State of Indiana will see the ASA Late Models the most in 2005 as Three shows alone are at Baer Field with the opener on May 7th as well as the International Gold Cup 100 on August 5th and then again on September 11th. Illiana (IN) Motor Speedway, in Schererville, Indiana, just South of Gary IN gets a show on June 4th, while the beautiful Indianapolis (IN) Raceway Park is booked on July 30th.

Two shows are on tap in Ohio as the immaculate Mansfield (OH) Motorsports Speedway is set for July 16th while the Sandusky (OH) Speedway is all set for an August 20th show. One show is set in Illinois as the Rockford Speedway will host the series as part of the National Short Track Championships on September 23-25. Two shows in the cheese state as the racing capital of America will see the ASA Late Models on May 27th at Madison International Speedway and the LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedwa y will host the 2005 door closer as part of their traditional Oktoberfest on October 7th. Should be extremely exciting to follow all season long. You can check out all the happenings of the 2005 ASA Late Models Series Presented by GM Performance Parts by clicking on: www.asalatemodels.com

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Series Stock car
Drivers Matt Kenseth , Johnny Benson , Landon Cassill , Todd Kluever , Stephen Leicht , Jack Smith