Franz Rebounds to Win at Junction Motor Speedway, Add to Points Lead MCCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. (Sept. 10, 2005) -- Brian Franz rebounded from a sub-par performance on Friday to win tonight at Junction Motor Speedway, leading 23 of the 25 laps in...
Franz Rebounds to Win at Junction Motor Speedway, Add to Points Lead
MCCOOL JUNCTION, Neb. (Sept. 10, 2005) -- Brian Franz rebounded from a sub-par performance on Friday to win tonight at Junction Motor Speedway, leading 23 of the 25 laps in the O'Reilly/NCRA Modified Series feature, presented by Hoosier Racing Tires.
Franz was 11th in the feature on Friday after finishing fourth in both the C and B features. Tonight he left little doubt he was someone to be reckoned with, as he won the first heat from 10th on the grid to easily capture the pole for the feature.
Greg Stephens started on the outside of the first row with Friday's winner, Jason Friesen, starting third, directly behind Franz, who took the early lead going into turn one.
Franz and Stephens raced side-by-side down the backstretch before Stephens moved in front to lead the first lap. Franz, Friesen, Brian Powers, and Joe Cleveland rounded out the early top five.
Two laps later, Franz tried the low groove on the back and retook the lead from Stephens. Friesen also moved up to challenge Greg for position as they raced side-by-side at different spots around the 3/8-mile high-bank oval.
With this happening behind him, Franz began to pull away from the others. Friesen finally passed Stephens for second and then began to reel in the leader. In doing so, Stephens tagged along as well so that the three of them were fighting for positions on lap eight.
The trio ran together up front for several more laps before they began to put some distance between themselves and Stephens. Powers, Cleveland and Chad Wheeler were battling for fourth, although they were lagging behind the leaders.
Friesen finally caught Franz and had his best shot at the lead on lap 15. Jason went low coming out of turn four with Franz right beside him, wheel-to-wheel. Franz won the drag race to the start/finish stand, and Friesen never got close enough to try that again.
"I showed him the line a little too early probably," Friesen said. "I thought we were good enough to take him off of four, but he was better there, there's no doubt about that."
"Friesen just about had me then, but he did show me the line," Franz agreed. "I moved down clear to the bottom and then I picked it up quite a bit."
With a comfortable lead up to that point, perhaps Franz had become a little too comfortable. That all ended when Jason stuck his racecar to Brian's inside.
"He (Friesen) surprised me actually; I had no idea he was that close," Franz said. "I was getting a little hesitant there and slowed up a little bit."
"He was fast and got beside me. I was lucky to get the lead back."
Behind the leaders, the stage was being set for a sprint to the finish. Wheeler, who entered the night trailing Franz by 70 points in the championship battle, was moving through the field after having won the B and starting 15th in the A feature.
On lap 14, Powers, Cleveland and Wheeler went three wide down the backstretch. Wheeler roared by both drivers and moved into fourth on the 15th circuit. Three laps later he caught Stephens, and passed him for third on the high side coming out of turn four to complete lap 19.
It was Franz, Friesen and Wheeler when the only caution of the race came out on lap 23. The restart gave Friesen and Wheeler the chance they were waiting for but neither of them could take advantage of it as Franz pulled away over the last three laps for his fourth victory of the season. It was also the 17th of his NCRA career, the best mark for the modified series.
"We made quite a turnaround from last night," he said. "We made a lot of changes on the car today and went back to our normal setup."
Although the yellow flag could have been a blessing to Friesen and Wheeler, with so many pace laps run under the caution it may have worked against them, allowing their tires to cool off.
"It must have; I couldn't get going to beat the band," Friesen said. "Brian had a good start. I could not get off of four and the longer we ran the worse I was."
Wheeler agreed the extra parade laps hurt his chances of moving up in the running order.
"I was so good when we passed Stephens (on lap 19) but then we started running them (tires) down," he said.
"With so many pace laps under the caution, I knew the tires were going to cool off. When the tires cool off, it evens everybody out for a couple of laps and I didn't have time for them to heat back up."
Unofficially, Franz extended his lead to 115 points with only one show left. The two-time defending series champion says he doesn't worry about the points; he just goes out and races, knowing the points will take care of themselves.
"We just have to go run good, finish the season out and see what happens," he said.
Cherokee Casino and Heat 1 (10 laps):
1. Greg Stephens, Wichita, Kan.; 2. Brian Franz, Newton, Kan.; 3. Brian McGowen, Wichita, Kan.; 4. Jarrod Johnston, Concordia, Kan.; 5. Alan Dix, Stockton, Kan.; 6. Brandon Blochlinger, Concordia, Kan.; 7. Scott Styskal, David City, Neb.; 8. Jerry Phillips, Galva, Kan.; 9. Steve Burch, Junction City, Kan.; 10. Mike Stearns, Rising City, Neb.
Cherokee Casino and Heat 2 (10 laps):
1. Jason Friesen, Sutton, Neb.; 2. Brian Powers, Wichita, Kan.; 3. Brent Burkhart, Hutchinson, Kan.; 4. Shannon Gilchrist, Derby, Kan.; 5. Chad Wheeler, Muskogee, Okla.; 6. Troy Johnson, Concordia, Kan.; 7. Tony Gregg, Hastings, Neb.; 8. Justin Bell, Wichita, Kan.; 9. Shawn Brock, Joplin, Mo; 10. Marc Hurd, Wichita, Kan.
Cherokee Casino and Heat 3 (10 laps):
1. Joe Cleveland, Bennington, Kan.; 2. Dave Hardesty, Minneapolis, Kan.; 3. Dustin Briley, Goddard, Kan.; 4. Lonnie Veteto, Belleville, Kan.; 5. Scott Green, Derby, Kan.; 6. Travis Govern, Wichita, Kan. 7. Brent Bohmont, Martell, Neb.; 8. Jason Roe, Wichita, Kan.; 9. James Libra, Elk Creek, Neb.; 10. Brian Levander; 11. J.C. Wyman, Griswold, Iowa.
1. Chad Wheeler; 2. Troy Johnson; 3. Tony Gregg; 4. Marc Hurd; 5. Alan Dix; 6. Scott Styskal; 7. Jason Roe; 8. J.C. Wyman; 9. Travis Govern; 10. Jerry Phillips; 11. Brent Bohmont; 12. James Libra; 13. Brian Levander; 14. Steve Burch; 15. Mike Stearns; 16. Justin Bell; 17. Shawn Brock.
1. Brian Franz; 2. Jason Friesen; 3. Chad Wheeler; 4. Jarrod Johnston; 5. Brian McGowen; 6. Shannon Gilchrist; 7. Brian Powers; 8. Scott Styskal; 9. Tony Gregg; 10. Joe Cleveland; 11. Dave Hardesty; 12. Scott Green; 13. Troy Johnson; 14. Alan Dix; 15. Dustin Briley; 16. J.C. Wyman; 17. Brandon Blochlinger; 18. Brent Burkhart; 19. Marc Hurd; 20. Jason Roe; 21. Lonnie Veteto; 22. Jerry Phillips; 23. Travis Govern; 24. Greg Stephens.