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First Repeat Winner, Guess Who?
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(Muskego, WI) -- The 2018-19 season opened up with a record-tying six different drivers winning in the first six races, the opportunity for a new record of seven winners in seven races seemed highly possible with Dan Margetta coming into the Duane Sweeney Memorial Grand Prix as the two-time defending race winner and yet to score a victory this season and an 18 season streak of at least one win, Matt Hayek had yet to win and was looking like a favorite to get his first checkered flag of the season. But, none of this would happen as Mike Lack's skills as not only a five-time season champion driver but also a master car builder showed at the first of two "open class" races at the Road Course at Badger Raceway.
Dean Strom opened the night looking like the hometown crowd was going to have a big night, missing the track record by less than a tenth of a second with his #64 Manitowoc Alter Ego Racing Dallara-Honda in qualifying in just his fourth start of the season, it was Strom's first pole of the season.
Heat races were grouped by speed and that pitted the two Alter Ego Racing teammates of Strom and Hayek against Mike Lack, but as racing began it became apparent Strom had the speed but no handling and while Lack qualified up front he could not keep up with Hayek. Strom's frustration with the handling got the better of him and with just a few seconds left he crashed out of the race, coverage by the media of that wreck even overshadowed Hayek's win over Lack, which didn't please the Alter Ego Racing teammate. Amazingly, while he crashed out late, Strom would finish fifth for the event.
Ev Kamikawa had an easy time winning the second heat, but it was another case of the heat winner being overshadowed by other's misfortune as Dan Margetta hit the wall, limped the car back to pits and a lengthy repair was attempted including consultations from the Angry Squirrel Speedsport team, but ultimately the car was dead and Margetta finished ninth on the night, while Pete Dorn would have to settle for eighth.
The final heat was the only one that featured competition as Mike Kristof's #60 Michael Shank-It Racing's Dallara-Honda took an early lead over Bill Black in the #6 Lucas Oil Black/Atom Dallara-Honda and John Wiedemann in the #17 US Air Force Angry Squirrel Speedsport Dallara-Honda. Kristof and Black would trade the lead back and forth for the first half, but just after halfway Kristof's handling would go away, allowing Wiedemann to get past both Black and the #60, and that would be the order they would finish with Wiedemann moving on to the final, Kristof would unlap himself and then last that lap to Black and then unlap himself several times, but ultimately the 6 would finish sixth and the 60, seventh.
The 20 minute final was shaping up to be a great battle as Hayek, who has had a tough season with four straight seventh place finishes and a fifth against Mike Lack's #1 SealMaster Angry Squirrel Speedsport Dallara-Honda and Penske HO's Ev Kamikawa. Kamikawa eventually taking the lead with the Firestones on Hayek's car started to overheat and just past halfway, crashed out to finish fourth, his best result of the season. Lack would track down Kamikawa to take the point while Wiedemann was elevated to the podium when Hayek crashed out.
With Lack's second win of the season he moves to just one victory shy of series founder and fellow five-time Husarsbilt Cup champion Phil Cianciola's career win total of 36. This also extends his points lead to 37 points to his familiar pursuer, teammate John Wiedemann, while Ev Kamikawa moves to third place, eight markers behind "JW", Mike Kristof a surprising fourth, nine behind Kamikawa and Pete Dorn sits fifth, 14 arrears of Kristof.
In two weeks, round eight takes the series to Bermuda Raceway for the annual Christmas Classic, as much party as race and expect a major sponsor announcement before everyone dons their best "aloha" shirts for the tropical event.