2014-15 Round 6
Nightmare Before Christmas - Quarry Heights Raceway - Wauwatosa, WI
Round 6 of 15
December 4, 2014
Strom Wins The Nightmare!
(Wauwatosa, WI) -- Dean Strom had the Indy Slot Car field covered Thursday night at Quarry Heights Raceway, scoring a clean sweep of the Halloween Havoc re-dubbed Nightmare Before Christmas with this season's move to December. Strom took his first pole of the year, backed it up with a heat win and then toyed with the field, leading the entire way, in the 20-minute finale.
“This car was perfect right from the first lap of practice,” said Strom. “I was really able to just set my own pace in the final and cruise.”
The Out of the Box Racer started the feature event from the green lane and immediately jumped to a lead over Dan Margetta, Husarsbilt Cup points leader Ev Kamikawa and defending series champion Mike Lack.
Kamikawa, a heat race winner earlier in the night, battled the handling of his Penske HO, Dallara-Chevrolet in the red lane and fell off the pace in the first half of the race. Meanwhile Lack set a steady and consistent pace while holding down the third spot.
But the standing room only crowd was drawn in to the battle between bitter rivals Margetta and Strom. Margetta drove the wheels off of his Burgetta Racing entry in an attempt to keep up with Strom. Every time Margetta pulled ahead of Strom, he’d turn up the wick and drive back past Margetta. Strom appeared to be playing with Margetta like a cat plays with a half-dead mouse.
Strom’s crew gave him an ultra-fast pit stop, setting up the driver to establish his own pace in the finale’s second half. Strom cruised while Margetta drove out of the slot lap after lap.
Late in the race, Margetta was heard over his team radio to say, “Most times I’m happy with a second place run, but tonight, losing to him sucks.”
At the checkers, Strom scored the win with a comfortable 12 lap margin over Margetta while Lack and Kamikawa completed the top four.
The win was not without controversy. In the opening minutes of the race, Margetta, frustrated by his inability to get by Strom drove into the popular racer as the pair exited turn two. Strom’s car flew off the course, landing in the grass outside the turn. Margetta was called for a stop and go penalty, even though his car was still on the racing surface. All involved thought the penalty from race control was for rough driving. When pressed, the race director admitted he got the two cars mixed up and it was Strom who should have been called for a penalty. Margetta drove the rest of the race with a chip on his shoulder, but could still do nothing with Strom and his potent Dallara-Honda.
Hometown favorite Matt Hayek couldn't advance to the finale through his heat race and settled for fifth in the final rundown. John Wiedemann struggled all night long at his least favorite track on the circuit, finishing sixth. Target Fitz-Ganassi teammates Mike Fitzlaff and Mike Kristof had a night to forget, slogging their way to a seventh and eighth place runs respectively.
Strom took home 23,000 IndySlotCar bucks of pole-to-win money by winning the pole and the feature. It marked the first time he had ever accomplished that feat.
The win was Strom’s first of the 2014-15 season and propelled him into third place in the championship standings while Kamikawa and Lack are now tied for first.
The IndySlotCar Series next travels to the Shrine Desert Road Course for the annual running of the Christmas Classic.
WHAT: The Nightmare Before Christmas
WHERE: Wauwatosa, WI
WHEN: Thursday, December 4, 2014 7pm
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: MBC Slotcar Network, YouTube
2013 CHAMPION: Mark Walczak
2013 POLESITTER: Matt Hayek
TRACK LAYOUT: Natural Terrain Road Course
RACE LENGTH: 20 Minutes
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying – 2013 – Matt Hayek – 4.025
Race – 2009 – Mark Walczak – 261
Margin of Victory – Largest – ‘13 – 15 laps – Mark Walczak; Smallest – 1 lap – Dan Margetta – ‘12
RACE ROUND: 6 of 15 in the 2014-2015 IndySlotCar Series
(Wauwatosa, WI) -- A shocking pre-race announcement, Thursday night, at the Halloween Havoc overshadowed the actual on-track race. Reigning, and five-time IndySlotCar Series champion Mark Walczak informed the assembled media, fans and drivers that the race would be his last this season, and possibly his career.
“I just have a lot going on in my life right now,” stated Walczak. “I don’t want my life events to get in the way of the league and all the fun that everyone has on race night.”
If the race is indeed Walczak’s final IndySlotCar run, he went out in true championship style. Fast qualifier and hometown favorite Matt Hayek took the double checkers in the first heat. Walczak finished second and secured a transfer spot into the night’s headliner. JMM Racing driver John Wiedemann pulled away to an easy win in the second heat, leaving bitter enemies Dan Margetta and Dean Strom to battle for the final transfer spot. The heated exchange came down to the final seconds before Strom threw the car out of his lane, handing Margetta a spot in the 20-minute final.
The first half of the final was an instant IndySlotCar Series classic. Dan Margetta and Walczak exchanged haymakers, hooks and jabs for the entire ten minutes, crossing the line in a virtual dead heat. During the break, series officials reviewed the tapes and declared Margetta the first half winner. Pit crews for both Margetta and Walczak stumbled in the second half, but the crews were equally as bad. But with the pit stop miscue behind him, Walczak showed why he is a five-time series champion and the series all-time winningest driver. Walczak turned up the heat on the competition and separated himself from Margetta and Wiedemann. In an effort to keep up with Walczak, Hayek threw his machine to the floor late in the run. Hayek, fresh off a one-race probation, then proceeded to frustrate league officials by dropping an on camera, profanity-laced tirade that would make the heartiest trucker blush.
But nothing could distract Walczak during the second half as he pulled away to a 15-lap margin of victory over Margetta. Wiedemann was an even more distant third. Honda power plants did occupy the entire podium.
D&D Racing driver, Mike Kristof, who earlier in the evening timed in third, drove to a fifth place finish in the final run down. Karen Carpenter Racing’s Strom placed sixth while drinking the driver’s lounge out of Tanqueray. JMM Racing teammates Mike Fitzlaff and Mike Lack completed the rundown. Lack, who came into round five as the championship point leader suffered his worst performance of the season. Lack, claiming to be Sergio’s illegitimate son was surely weighed down by his gold chains and rock-star wig, saw his point lead whittled down to 32 markers over his teammate, Wiedemann.
Barring a Brett Favre-like retirement, Walczak leaves the IndySlotCar Series as a five-time champion; the all-time winningest driver while owning or sharing five other marks.
NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS HISTORY (21 events, 1993 - Present)
Year Race Winner
1993 Jim Chitel – Shrine Desert Road Course
1994 Dave Austin - Shrine
1995 Phil Cianciola – HO Road America
1996 Dave Austin - HORA
1997 Jim Kaehny - HORA
1998 Jim Kaehny - HORA
1999 Phil Marich - HORA
2000 Ev Kamikawa - HORA
2001 Dan Margetta - HORA
2002 Jim Kaehny - HORA
2003 Larry Rotter - HORA
2004 Dan Margetta - HORA
2005 Ev Kamikawa – Road Wisconsin
2006 Mark Walczak – Lake Country Motorplex
2007 Dan Margetta - LCM
2008 Mark Walczak – LCM
2009 Mark Walczak – Quarry Heights Raceway
2010 John Weidemann – QHR
2011 Dan Margetta – QHR
2012 Dan Margetta – QHR
2013 Mark Walczak - QHR
Most Wins – Dan Margetta-5; Mark Walczak-4; Jim Kaehny-3; Dave Austin-2; Ev Kamikawa-2
-Ev Kamikawa is on a two race winning streak, moving ahead of Mike Lack for the Husarsbilt Cup points lead.
-Hometown favorite Matt Hayek is on a personal two race winning streak, having won the only two starts he’s made this season.
-Ev Kamikawa has moved two points ahead of Mike Lack for the lead in the championship battle
-Mike Lack took solo 7th place for all-time poles with 14 after taking the Turkey Trot pole position.
-Ev Kamikawa becomes the second place all-time Heat Race winner with 80, one ahead of series founder Phil Cianciola.
-Dean Strom equals Chad Sorce with 37 Finals appearances, good for 13th all-time.
-Mike Fitzlaff made all sorts of moves on the all-time lists including passing Chris Spehert in all-time laps turned with 27,657 placing him eighth all-time, moved in to the top ten in starts with his 136th race at the Turkey Trot ahead of fan favorite John Baas and finally, also equaling three other drivers for fourth place in the DNFs, tallying his 30th.
-John Wiedemann reached a landmark at the Turkey Trot with his 100th start, putting him at number 17 on the all time list, JW’s DNF also pushed him ahead of defending champion Mike Lack for 14th place all-time with 19.