TUNDRA PRE RACE NOTES: Round Three LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway
Nick Murgic (12) has enjoyed success at LaCrosse. He’ll have to fight off Claire Decker (01) and an upstart field for his first TUNDRA win (Jeff Blaser Photo)
About the Event
· Official Event Name: Round Three
· Times: 4 p.m. – Pits Open, 6 p.m. – Stands, 6:15 p.m. – Qualifying, 7:30 p.m. – Racing
· Other Divisions – Exhaust Plus Sportsmen, United Auto Supply Thunderstox
· TUNDRA Format – Qualifying, Leo’s Upper Dells Bar Gong Show, Last Chance Race (15 Laps), Waterfurnace Shootout (20 laps), 40-lap Feature
· Ticket Prices: Adults $15, Students (12-17) $8, Kids ages 6-11 $4, 5 & Under Free
About LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway:
· Layout: Five-eighths mile, Banking: bottom: 5 degrees, Middle: 8 degrees, top: 11 degrees (asphalt)
· Location: Hwy 16 & Cty Rd M, N4985 Cty Rd M, West Salem, WI 54669
· Phone: 608.786.1525
· Web site: www.lacrossespeedway.com
Past TUNDRA LaCrosse Winners:
· Inaugural Event
TUNDRA 2013 Schedule
· May 27 – Round One – Golden Sands Speedway (Winner: Dalton Zehr)
· June 22 – Round Two – Jefferson Speedway (Winner: Nick Panitzke)
· July 3 – Round Three – LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway
· July 19 – Round Four – Golden Sands Speedway
· August 10 – Round Five – Marshfield Motor Speedway
· September 8 – Championship Round – Slinger Speedway
All-time TUNDRA Stats available at: http://www.tundrasuperlates.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/TUNDRA-Stats2.pdf
We’ve Actually Been Here Before
Unlike the last trip for the TUNDRA Travelers, many have seen, and have participated in events at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Although most hadn’t even witnessed live laps at Jefferson, the race was relatively clean with only one caution and plenty of thrilling three-wide racing on the quarter mile.
The Future is Now!
14 of the expected 37 entries for Wednesday’s Round Three competed in the 2012 Futures Race. A good number of them enjoyed success in the opening Super Late Model event of Oktoberfest. Some even parlayed that success into strong runs on the following night in the Trickle 99.
Casey Johnson – less than a week after nearly swiping a win in the National Short Track Championships from Rich Bickle at Rockford, Johnson set fast time and a new Futures track record. He went on to finish seventh. On Friday night, Johnson grabbed a win in the sandwich segment in a power-packed field for the Trickle 99.
Derek Lemke – the 2012 NASCAR Minnesota Rookie of the Year had the strongest run of anyone entered for Round Three at last year’s Futures Race. He finished fourth in his first trip to LaCrosse. He finished sixth in “the Stubby” on Friday night.
Billy Mohn – the TUNDRA Traveler was one of few drivers to be near the top five throughout the event. Mohn qualified sixth and finished fifth in the Futures. On Friday Mohn found success in the Trickle 99, as well, with segment finishes of 15th, 4th and 10th.
Maxwell Schultz – making his TUNDRA debut, the 22-year-old from Reedsville, Wis., recorded the second fastest lap in qualifying for the Futures. He went on to finish sixth. Schultz qualified into the Trickle 99 the next night with segment finishes of 20th, 21stand 13th.
Eugene Gregorich Jr. – The Russian Rocket finished ninth in the Futures Race on Thursday after qualifying tenth. He enjoyed better success on Friday in the Trickle 99. Gregorich recorded fifth place finishes in the second and third segments. He finished 13th in the first segment.
Jordan Thiel – Thiel grabbed a 14th place finish in the Futures Race in 2012. On Friday Thiel clocked in with the seventh fastest lap for the Trickle 99 and picked up segment finishes of 21st, 22nd, and 17th. A good run at LaCrosse could propel him back into the Dean’s Satellite Rookie of the Year chase.
Murgic Has Been Stout
Making his second TUNDRA appearance of the year, many eyes are on Nick Murgic to be up front in Round Three. If history is any indication, Murgic is a safe bet. In last year’s Trickle 99 Murgic qualified fourth and had segment finishes of fourth, 14th and 15th. While his overall wasn’t as strong in 2012 as it had been in years past, Murgic has a long list of top ten segment finishes and a fast time in the Trickle 99 (2010).
Panitzke’s Got the Mo’
If Murgic is indeed up front, could Round Three turn into a Nick and Nick show? After teaming with Cardell Potter and grabbing a win at Jefferson, Nick Panitzke has emerged as a serious title threat. He carries all of the momentum into Round Three, but doesn’t quite have the history on his side at LaCrosse. Panitzke finshed 23rd in last year’s Futures Race.
Dalton Wants It Back
If Panitzke is to repeat his success of Round Two, TUNDRA point leader Dalton Zehr will be looking to remain in close proximity. Zehr stretched his point lead to 16 due to passing points in Round Two. LaCrosse may act as a wild card for Zehr. Last season he finished eighth in the Futures Race, however, he did so in Frank Kreyer’s Super Late Model.
Speaking of Kreyer…
The 2011 Alive For Five Champion showed his was well and alive at Jefferson in Round Two with his second-place finish. The run to second pushed Kreyer to third in TUNDRA standings. Kreyer could intensify the battle with another strong run at LaCrosse. With a past win and multiple top ten finishes in Trickle 99 segments, Kreyer has proven he knows the fast way around the five-eighths mile.
Only 21 points separates second place Nick Panitzke from 12th place Billy Mohn in TUNDRA standings heading into Round Three. With the possibility to accumulate passing points the top 12 could see a major face lift by the time TUNDRA rolls to Round Four.
With Rookie Battle Remaining Tight
Paige Decker stayed atop the rookie standings at Jefferson. Her lead is a slim two points over Matt Pyburn. Claire Decker sits 13 points back of her older sister in the rookie chase. Jordan Ives is 27 back and looking to make up ground. The teammates Thiel and Chris Brooks are tied at 164 points each.
This is Going to be Different
The 2012 Oktoberfest Race Weekend was one of the coldest in recent history with temperatures dipping into the 20s and 30s once the sun went down. The forecast for Wednesday’s Round Three calls for 77 degrees with a low of 57.
LaCrosse Locals in the Mix
A pair of West Salem drivers who call LaCrosse Speedway home on Saturday nights will try their hands with the TUNDRA Super Late Model drivers. Adam Degenhardt sits eighth in LaCrose Late Model points. He will be utilizing a Super Late Model he brings to select events and is eyed as a potential favorite. Nick Clements will see how his LaCrosse Late Model stacks up with the touring Super Lates.
Former Dells Raceway Park Champion Kenny Reiser will make his return to TUNDRA at LaCrosse in Round Three. Reiser finished sixth in each of the last two seasons with TUNDRA at DRP. The Waukan, Iowa driver is no stranger to traveling though, as he used to tour with the Wisconsin Challenge Series.
And the Thunder Rolls
Don “Thunder” Turner has reached legendary status by competing in every Oktoberfest Race Weekend. That’s right, he’s 43 for 43. The LaCrosse native will be looking to parlay that experience into success in his second TUNDRA start. Turner competed in an Alive For Five event in 2011 at DRP.
Selk Steps In
Chad Selk will be subbing for Tom Lindquist, who sits in a tie for fourth in TUNDRA standings. Lindquist will not be able to make the trip to LaCrosse, but will compete in the remaining three events of 2013.
Red Eye Racing
Both Mike Egan and Casey Johnson will be competing in the Slinger Nationals Tuesday and are entered for Round Three on Wednesday. Egan will utilize his own ride at Slinger, and will continue with the GEM Motorsports entry at LaCrosse. Johnson plans to utilize the same racer for both events.
TUNDRA Traveler Travis Dassow, who has teamed with his fiancé Kelsey Bauer, will also pull double duty. Dassow will race Slinger tonight and crew for Bauer tomorrow at LaCrosse.
TUNDRA will make a return trip to Golden Sands Speedway on Friday, July 19. A total of 40 drivers entered on Memorial Day with many new drivers expressing interest in trying Plover for the next round of TUNDRA action.