2012-13 Round 3
Slots A' Fun 400 - Stardust Speedway
October, 5, 2012
Round 3 of 16
Walczak Hits It Big At Slots-O-Fun 400
Little Las Vegas, NV - Series history was made Thursday evening in the Slots-O-Fun Grand Prix as Mark Walczak made a second half comeback to take the victory and become the IndySlotCar Series all-time win leader. Walczak wasted no time ascending the series winner list and with his second victory in as many races passed Phil Cianciola with win number 37 to top the list. The always statistically aware driver had the overall wins goal on his mind entering this season and knew history was made when he took the checkered flag. "I feel like I hit the jackpot," exclaimed Walczak in victory lane. "It's nice to get the record and knock Phil [Cianciola] down a spot."
The Slots-O-Fun Grand Prix at the Las Vegas' Stardust Speedway kicked off with a surprise as track owner RJ Foyt's driver Mike Kristof set fast time in qualifying and shocked the field by capturing his seventh career pole. The opening heat race exposed some of the desert tracks issues as problems in turn two affected both John Wiedemann and home town favorite Chris Spehert. Wiedemann was able to rally in the second half of the race to tie Everet Kamikawa at the finish line. Series officials and race marshalls were unable to determine the race winner and and the official results were postponed until the completion of heat racing. It was discovered later that "replacement" marshalls from New Jersey were used as a cost savings measure by the Stardust track.
The second heat race was won by TMWR driver Dean Strom and the third went to his teammate Walczak with Mike Fitzlaff in transfer contention scoring the same amount of laps as heat one competitors Wiedemann and Kamikawa. Polesitter Kristoff crashed out of his heat race, unable to capitalize on his qualifying speed. Officials decided that the three drivers vying for the heat one win and transfer position would race a short twelve lap qualifying session to determine who would race in the final. Kamikawa hit the track first and a quick spin in turn one hindered his time. Wiedemann was next and also spun in turn one but beat Kamikawa's overall time by fourteen hundredths of a second. Fitzlaff saved the best for last and turned in the quickest time sending himself and KV Racing teammate Wiedemann to the finals while a dejected Kamikawa finished fifth overall.
More drama ensued in the start of the feature as the outside lane had issues that warranted repair in the opening laps of the race. While the track issues were never fully repaired, the race went on. Fitzlaff paced the field in the opening half followed closely by Strom and then Walczak, about 10 laps back. Wiedemann fell quickly behind due to the track issues in the outside lane and would never be in contention. Following pitstops in the second half of the race, Walczak made his move. First he passed Fitzlaff, who was struggling in the outside lane, and then he set his sights on teammate Strom. While Walczak's crew seemed to hit the right setup for their driver, Strom struggled just enough to fall victim to Walczak's speed. Walczak took the lead and the checkers by a nine lap margin for his second victory of the season. "The car handled a hell of a lot better in the blue lane," said Walczak. "A big thanks goes to my crew for making the right changes during the pitstop. I'm just happy that my teammate and I could place one and two in this race."
With the Slots-O-Fun Grand Prix victory, Walczak vaults into the points lead as he chases his fifth Husarsbuilt trophy. Fitzlaff drops to second in the standings, fourteen points back, followed by Wiedemann and Strom. Matt Hayek jumped up two spots into the top five in the standings. The series heads up north next to the West Bend Grand Prix for short track road course racing on October 13th.
Stardust Speedway Seeks/Delivers Major Celebs, Slots A' Fun
Track management has been trying to locate Sergio...as we'd like him to be grand marshal for Thursday night's "Slots A Fun Grand Prix". We've only heard sketchy reports at to his whereabouts...one person told us he was currently locked in a Panamanian jail and someone else told us he was working as a high-priced escort on the French Riviera. We tend to believe the "jail" story...but we also hope that neither is true and that Sergio is "in country" and will be able to attend the race. It would just not be "Slots A Fun" without Mr. Fun himself: Sergio!
Pre-race festivities will feature a concert from the only celeb bigger than Sergio. For months now speculation that the slot machine maintenance man at Slots A' Fun was the King of Rock n' Roll, Stardust Speedway management began investigating the rumor, the race promoter finally was able to confirm the identity of the man and he has agreed to give a concert before the IndySlotcar Slots A' Fun 400 .
We'd also love to give a shout out to our title sponsor: the lovely "Slots A' Fun" Casino located on the Las Vegas Strip between the beautiful Circus Circus and the one-day-to-be-completed Echelon Place. Where else in Las Vegas can you play the poker slots AND enjoy a $1.00 hotdog? Where else in Las Vegas will you find a complimentary bike rack adjacent to the casino entrance? Where else in Las Vegas would you be able to park your 1985 Ford F-150 in front of the casino? Nowhere else...but "Slots A' Fun"!