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Wiedemann Wallops West Bend

West Bend GP podium (l-r): (not)Ev Kamikawa 2nd, John Wiedemann, Pete Dorn 3rd

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(West Bend, WI) -- John Wiedemann opened up the night with a record qualifying run and kept on running past the field to set a new race record in his dominating victory at the West Bend Grand Prix on the Lack Track.

It was apparent early that the Angry Squirrel Speedsport team brought some serious firepower for Wiedemann. While the provisional pole was set by his teammate Mike Lack, at 4.009 seconds for his best lap, Wiedemann came along and not only destroyed the field by three-tenths of a second, but went two-tenths below his own track record with a 3.791 second circuit. The A.S.S. team also brought in a rookie, Steve Rist, but it quickly became obvious that he was a ringer, as he qualified behind only his two teammates.

While the Wiedemann's #17 US Air Force car took off to the atmosphere in the first heat race, Lack's #1 Sealmaster car struggled with handling problems and just held on for a fifth place finish, but at least, unlike the two opening races of the season, he did, finish, but missed the final for the first time this season. Their rookie teammate challenged Lack and eventually was able to get by him for second place and the lap total would be good enough for the transfer position, to become just the second driver in series history to make it to the final in his debut start. (The answer to the trivia question is: Dave Rosno). However, getting to the final is one thing, making a challenge in it, is another, here, Rist struggled and would settle for fourth place on the night.

Pete Dorn returned to the Lack Track with high hopes, Lack Track being the site of his first ever final four appearance the the field missing a couple of stout regulars, Dan Margetta and Dean Strom, Dorn's gold and black #5 would easily handle Mike Kristof's Michael Shank-It Racing's SiriusXM machine and his Black-Atom Racing teammate Bill Black, who would finish seventh and eighth respectively.

The third heat featured two drivers who had crashed out together at the Fall Brawl, so Ev Kamikawa and Mike Fitzlaff were looking to change their fortunes. Kamikawa qualified well back in seventh, but he raced out to a lead over "Fitz" and Tom Spehert who came into the night with the championship points lead after a win and a third place. But Fitzlaff and Spehert could not challenge the PenskeHO #12 as Fitz would come up a couple laps short of the transfer to finish sixth, while Tom wound up ninth.

With Kamikawa in his first final of the season and while quick, had nothing to challenge Wiedemann finishing second and Dorn unable to challenge was pleased to make a podium for the first time since the Stardust 500 in March.

Wiedemann's 21st career victory set an event record by completely 261 laps, trouncing the old record of 250 that he set in 2016. The win also moves him to first place in the Husarsbilt Cup championship points, nine ahead of Tom Spehert.

More good news for Wiedemann as the series makes a visit to his home track, Turtle Creek Park Raceway, for a rare "Club Car" event early in the season in two weeks.


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Matt Hayek