2012-13 Round 2
Lia Sophia Grand Prix - Rapids International
September 20, 2012
Round 2 of 16
Walczak Ties Cianciola's All-Time Wins Record
Rapids – Mark Walczak took another step towards rewriting the IndySlotCar Series record books, Thursday night, in the Lia Sophia Grand Prix at Rapids International. Walczak scored his 36th career series victory, and moved him into a tie atop the all-time win list with Hall of Famer Phil Cianciola.
Walczak used a steady, workmanlike performance, leading nearly the entire 20-minute distance. Starting in the yellow lane, Walczak briefly surrendered the lead to teammate Dean Strom at the drop of the green flag. Strom’s stay up front was short lived, however, as Walczak masterfully worked the speedway’s tricky inner section.
Walczak and Strom ran one-two as the second half started. The normally steady Target Mark Walczak Racing pit crew suffered major problems on both team drivers pit stop, opening the door for KVHO racers John Wiedemann and Mike Lack. But Wiedemann’s pit crew also let him down. To add insult to injury, Wiedemann also suffered a penalty which resulted in him completing ten laps with the opposite hand.
Once the pit stops cycled through, the leader board still showed Walczak at the top, while the battle heated up for the runner-up position between Strom, Wiedemann and Lack. The handling on Lack’s ride went away as the race wore on while the battle between Strom and Wiedemann intensified. Wiedemann pulled away in the final minute to secure the second position with Strom settling for the final step on the podium. Lack came home fourth.
“We’ve got the first win of the season in the books,” said Walczak from victory lane. “Now we can focus on getting the record and work towards another championship.”
Heat wins went the way of Walczak, Lack and Strom. The heat races were full of drama. In the first heat, fast qualifier, and hometown favorite, Ev Kamikawa launched his #4 National Guard car off the circuit, just seven laps into the race. Kamikawa sustained serious injuries to his left forearm along with lacerations to his face. At press time, no further details were known about the former champion’s condition.
Heat number two saw Mike Fitzlaff open up a commanding lead, dominating the race all the way through its final seconds. As all eyes were on second running Strom, who was attempting to secure the transfer spot, Fitzlaff’s throttle stuck, sending the popular title contender off course and over the wall, ending his day in disappointment.
John Wiedemann took the transfer spot from Matt Hayek in the third and final heat.
Fitzlaff was credited with fifth in the final Lia Sophia Gran Prix running order. Hayek, Tom Spehert, Mike Kristof and Kamikawa rounded out the field.
The race was a late addition to the 2012-13 HO Indy Slot Car schedule. Track and series officials made the bold decision to run drivers through the street circuit in the opposite direction, a move that added many twists to the event, but proved to be very popular.
The IndySlotCar Series teams now head to another new event, the Slots ‘O Fun 400, the first of two visit's to Las Vegas' Stardust Speedway , October 4th