West Bend, WI – Until about 30 seconds left in the West Bend Grand Prix, it appeared there would be a third different winner for the third race of the 21-22 IndySlotCar season, however Mike Kristof's late crash while leading allowed Dean Strom to retake the lead and score his second win in a row at the Lack Track.
The night began with Strom scoring his first Firestone P1 Award of the season with Bill Black again qualifying in the top three in each of the first three races.
Heat races grouped the drivers and cars by qualifying speed, with the three slowest qualifiers running in the first heat, Pete Dorn quickly developed problems when he hit the wall and broke a spring, the CBD Racing crew went to work on the car while Mike Kristof zoomed out to the lead and Matt Hayek struggled with a lack of power in his #28 Angry Squirrel Speedsport Honda-Daboiler. CBD Racing would get the #7 back out on track but many laps down and Dorn would finish eleventh on the night, Hayek only managed nine more laps that Dorn and wound up tenth. Kristof's #60 Honda-Daboiler cruised to an easy heat victory to advance to the final.
The second heat saw the two other Angry Squirrel Speedsport drivers, points leader John Wiedemann and Mike Lack line up with the #86 of Brad Core and the second Michael Shank-It Racing #06 of Joe Heitz. The Lack Track crowd was shocked to watch Brad Core's CBD Racing Chevrolet-Daboiler move out to the lead, the first time the second year driver had led a heat race, Core would hold onto the point into the second half, that's when the A.S.S. drivers moved out front with Wiedemann taking the lead and Lack chasing, while Heitz attempted to get past Core, but in the end, Wiedemann's #29 Honda-Daboiler would take the win and Lack moved into the transfer spot, but a pleased Core held off Heitz and the two would finish fifth and sixth respectively for the event.
In the final heat the fastest four qualifiers faced off and the pole sitter Dean Strom of Squirrel Shagged Racing streaked off to the lead while is teammate Steve Rist in the #4 Chevy-Daboiler, Ev Kamikawa in the PenskeHO Racing #12 and Bill Black in the third CBD Racing entry gave chase. Black would move to second place ahead of Kamikawa, while Rist, who won the Halloween race on the Lack Track last season, struggled with handling finished ninth. Strom's #1 car would take the win with Black coming just shy of the transfer position lap total set by Lack in the earlier heat for a seventh place finish a lap ahead of Kamikawa in eighth.
The final featured two drivers who have dominated the West Bend Grand Prix, Lack with four previous victories and Wiedemann with three, Strom has made regular appearances in the final, but Kristof never had. Early on in the 20 minute contest it looked like it was again going to be Lack hoisting the Duck trophy, but Strom stayed within striking distance and Kristof wasn't going away, while Wiedemann struggled in the outside red lane. All four drivers had solid, if unspectacular pitstops and Strom's lead continued to build, but with about three minutes left Kristof's #60 Michael Shank-It Honda-Daboiler worked his way past the defending Husarsbilt Cup champion on his home track and set his sights on Strom at the lead. With just more than a minute left Strom stuggled with handling and Kristof moved to the lead and appeared to be opeing up a gap, but, as the clock went below 30 seconds left in the contest Kristof made a mistake in the quick right-left combo of turns before the pit straight, crashing and Strom was collected in the melee but the Squirrel Shagged Enterprises #1 car was underway before the 60 and with too little time to catch Strom, Kristof would finish on the lead lap but have to be satifisfied with second, his best finish of the season. Meanwhile, Lack would finish on the podium three laps back and Wiedemann was closing on third place, but ran out of time.
Strom's second win in a row makes this the fourth multi-win season of his career and moves him ahead of Wiedemann for the Husarsbilt Cup championship by 16 points. Kristof was not only the Biggest Mover of the night with the charge from ninth to second, but zooms from tenth in the championship to fifth, just five points behind his fourth place Michael Shank-It Racing teammate Joe Heitz. The WBGP was Lack's first final of the season after two fifth place finishes holding a solid third in the champioship sitting 13 points behind his Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate JW.
The series returns to a track it hasn't seen in two full years, Quarry Heights Raceway, after Covid restrictions kept the track off the end of the 19-20 season and both events of the 20-21 calendar it will be good to return to the traditional home of the Halloween Havoc in two weeks.