1998-99 Round 11

Sprecher 400 - Vernon Farms Superspeedway

February 4, 1999

Round 11 of 16

Sprecher 400


-Second win of season extends PPPG Cup /ead-

wauwatosa, WI (Feb. 4, 1999) - The newest event on the SlotGART racing series schedule, the Sprecher 400, turned out to be a game of strategy, both on the track and in the pits here Thursday, as Phil Cianciola clawed his way to the top with a one-lap victory over Chad Sorce. Being a de-slot event, Cianciola had to use a lot of patience to avoid trouble on the track. But that, combined with a surprise late-race pit stop that was a huge risk paid off with his second win of the year.

With Sorce, whose second place finish boosted him into fifth in the season standings, charging hard at the end of the race to close the gap, Cianciola gambfed on a quick pit stop to clean his tires. His two-lap lead was whittled to one, but with only t n laps remaining in the race, he held off Sorce for the win.

"That late extra stop was a huge gamble, but the crew made the right decision. I was picking up some marbles late in the race and losing grip. That stop gave me just enough to make sure I could hold off Sorce," Cianciola explained. The defending series champion collected every point possible on this night, setting a record in qualifying for the pole, then winning his heat race as well and extending his PPPG Cup lead to 10 points with five races remaining in the season.

It was a very happy night for Sorce and the Leinenkugel's team, since he failed to even make the race at the last event placing 11th. "We had a great car tonight," said Sorce. "Once Jim (Kaehny) crashed out I knew I had second place for sure, so even though I had some de-slots I thought I'd go ahead and make a hard run at Phil there at the end. We just ran out of time trying to catch him."

Kaehny, who remains in second in the standings, led for most of the first half of the Sprecher 400. But trouble with a fuel hose during a pit stop put him behind and into a fight for second with Sorce. "We got into a scuffle with Chad and we ended up touching wheels at one point and that put us out," Kaenhy said. He settled for a podium finish in third place.

Ev Kamikawa was well off the pace in fourth. Once again the Ferrari had handling problems in the Final, and a pit lane speed limit violation and an extra trip back into the pits for a penally stop didn't help his cause either. "I'll have to talk to the officials on that one. I had my thumb on the limiter button and I thought I was fine," he said. Kamikawa remains in third place in the standings.

One of the hottest drivers in the series cooled off a bit, as Dan Margetta could only manage fifth place in the de­ slot event. The Miller Lite crew worked at a furious pace to change an engine in the primary car just prior to the start of qualifying.

Indianapolis' Tony Perkins had a strong showing here, qualifying eighth then fighting his way up to sixth before a crash ended his night early. "We're very pleased. Any time you see the Blue Crew Player's team in front of Dave Austin that's a good thing," Perkins kidded.

Austin finished just behind Perkins in seventh place, involved in several mishaps on the track early leading him to

a de-slot, DNF.

Rounding out the field it was track owner John Baas in eighth, barely getting his Ford engine up to temperature before crashing out on the big tri-oval while working lap number 10. ''I can't believe that crap," Baas snorted after the race.

The de-slot rule may have meant a lot of strategy during the race, but since the rule is not in effect during qualifying, drivers really threw caution to the wind and set all kinds of speed records. Of the field of 12 drivers, every one of them except for 11th-place finisher and Consi race winner Tom Spehert, set a personal best during qualifying here. Cianciola's pole of 160 laps shattered the previous mark by 10 laps.

The next stop on the series will be at the Shrine road course for the Feb. 18th Valentine's Challenge- Presented by Pizza Hut. Jim Kaehny is the defending champion there.



0    WHAT: The 1st ever Sprecher 400

0    WHERE: Vernon Farms Super Speedway

0    WHEN: Thursday, Feb. 4th  6:30 p.m.



0    TRACK LAYOUT: Tri-oval

RACE LENGTH: 400 laps

0    RACE RECORDS: Qualifying- New Event

Race-      New Event

Wauwatosa, WI

RACE #: 11 of 16

0    NEXT EVENT: The Valentine's Challenge

Thursday, Feb. 18th

The Shrine                Wauwatosa, WI


This is a new race this season, added to the schedule at Vernon Farms, giving that track a third event in a single season, never done before in the series. And back by popular demand, another first- the de-slot rule will be in effect again, making this the first time the rule has been used twice in a season.



Year  Race Winner


Pole Winner





Things to watch for this year...

Since this is a new event you have to consider the track itself. Former winners here include Phil Cianciola and Jim Kaehny, so they know how to get it done here. And it's that time of year when drivers are just starting to count ahead to the number of races left in the season. Those with valuable positions to gain in the standings will have more on the line here and may take more chances, which could bite them in a de-slot event like this one. Oh yeah, two other words: Dan Margetta. Right now he's hotter than Lewinsky in the oval office!