2012-13 Round 8
Shorewest Christmas Classic - The Shrine Desert Road Course
December 6, 2012
Round 8 of 16
Wiedemann Gets First Win Of the Season at Shorewest Christmas Classic
Wauwatosa, WI - John Wiedemann took his first win of the 2012-13 season winning the Shorewest Christmas Classic over his KVHO teammate Mike Fitzlaff, RJ Foyt's Matt Hayek third and Dean Strom fourth. Points leader Mark Walczak finished fifth losing 19 points of his 31 point lead on the championship. The IndySlotCar Series reached the midway point with the running of the Shorewest Christmas Classic at the track returning to its historic name, The Shrine Desert Road Course, formerly known as Vista Rio Rancho Raceway.
Defending champion of the race, Walczak set the pace in qualifying and captured the pole over Wiedemann and Fitzlaff. In heat race action Fitzlaff won heat one over Dan Margetta, who struggled early with handling issues. German driver Johannes Schlict finished third in only his second career race and Mike Kristof crashed out ending an event top five finishing streak. Wiedemann took the win in the second heat after a tight battle with Hayek. Drama continued in the third heat with Chris Spehert leading early and Ev Kamikawa crashing out after 46 laps. Strom grabbed the lead away from Spehert and held off a hard charging Walczak for the win. Walczak struggled in the first half of the heat race and dug too deep of a hole to climb out of in the second half and ended up five laps short of the "transfer to the feature" spot which was secured by Hayek.
The first half of the feature race was one of the tightest in terms of competition that has been seen throughout this season. Each driver took a turn at the front with Hayek and Wiedemann battling for the lead late in the opening half only to be passed by Fitzlaff as the halfway break was reached. Starting the second half, Fitzlaff lead the field followed by Wiedemann, and then Hayek and Strom barely a lap behind. After mandatory pitstops for all drivers, Wiedemann went to the front and was able to put a couple of laps distance between himself and second place Fitzlaff. As time ran out, the battle heated up and pressure on the leaders intensified. Wiedemann got caught up in a couple of incidents and the faster car driven by Fitzlaff raced back to the lead. Over the final few laps the lead was exchanged numerous times and a final spin by Fitzlaff gave Wiedemann the cushion needed to cruise to the win. Hayek finished third and Strom rounded out the field only eight laps back in the tightest finish of the season.
The victory was the first for Wiedemann this season and cracked a twenty-seven race winless streak dating back two seasons ago when he won at Franklinland in 2011. Walczak continues to lead in the Husarsbilt Cup championship standings, but Wiedemann's win cut the lead to twelve points with half the season to go. Fitzlaff strengthened his hold on third place while Kamikawa maintains fourth but is now facing a challenge by Strom who is only five points behind in fifth.
Following a break for the holidays, the IndySlotCar Series continues with the second half of the season on Thursday, January 3rd, contesting the Raven 250 at Raven Raceway. Walczak is the defending champion of this race and is also tied with Margetta for the most wins at Raven Raceway with three career victories.