2015-16 Round 13
Stardust 500 - Stardust Speedway - Greendale, WI
March 3, 2016
Round 13 of 16
Wiedemann Wins In Vegas
Greendale, WI – It turned out to be survival night at the Stardust Speedway. John Wiedemann used up a little Las Vegas luck in the Stardust 500 to score his third victory of the season in the IndySlotCar Series.
Fast drivers in qualifying struggled with their rides during the racing sessions either crashing out of the races, crashing into other cars or just got frustrated with trying to turn a lap.
Mike Kristof scored the pole with the quickest four lap run in the qualifying session. It was the first pole of the season for the Target Fitz Ganassi Racing driver on a great day for the team as Kristof's teammate Mike Fitzlaff was third quickest.
Heat races were run with the races setup by qualifying results pitting the top speedsters against each other. Fitzlaff took a dominating win in the opening heat race and looked like the man to beat in the final. MaD Motorsports pilot Dean Strom suffered mechanical issues midway through the race but recovered well, finishing second and holding the provisional transfer spot to the final. Kristof left all the glory on the track in qualifying as he completely struggled to find his way around the track and finished third.
The second heat race was a barn burner with the latest series winner Matt Hayek taking on JAM Racing's Amy Butler and putting on quite a show for the fans that wandered by to watch the race. Lap after lap the two raced side by side while lapping Wiedemann and Tom Spehert, which was amazing as the two drivers in the back of the pack were running speeds quicker than the gang in the first heat race. But, the excitement ended in the second half as Butler's car inexplicitly launched off the track, ending her night. Hayek cruised to an easy victory over Wiedemann, but Wiedemann secured the transfer spot with his run.
The final heat race featured reigning series champion Mike Lack and Stardust 500 defending champion Ev Kamikawa taking on hometown hero Chris Spehert and his Spehert Autosport rookie teammate Pete Dorn. Spehert took off with the early lead as Lack had a rough start. By the end of the first half Spehert and Lack waged a great battle while exchanging the lead several times. The second half proved to be a difficult run for Spehert as he ran in the yellow lane which proved to be the downfall of many during the evening. Lack pulled away to a convincing heat race win, his ninth of the season, and secured his spot in the final for the eleventh time in thirteen races this season.
The 500 lap final started off with a number of wrecks as drivers tried to get a handle on their lanes. The one driver that was comfortable was Fitzlaff who stormed to the lead. Wiedemann quickly got his car on pace and started turning his quickest laps of the night while trying to run down the leader. And then the carnage began.
Fitzlaff was the first driver to crash off the track. While running with the lead. His car spun, found an opening in the track wall and Fitzlaff found himself on the floor and done for the night. That left three drivers.
Pitstops to start the second half were relatively uneventful with the exception of strange commercial announcements coming across the radio from race control. And then the carnage continued.
Lack was the next driver to find an opening in pit wall, tumble his car through it and land on the floor to end his night. And then there were two.
With about a twenty lap lead over Hayek, Wiedemann put his ride on cruise control to try to avoid the pitfalls that his teammates and former race leader succumbed to. Hayek, running in second spot seemed to have other ideas as he drove into Wiedemann's car multiple times between turns one and two. Lap after lap, Hayek continued to try to destroy the leaders car until Wiedemann hopped out of his ride and proceeded to have a Yarborough/Allison meeting with him. When the two resumed racing, Hayek resumed his aim on Wiedemann's ride. Eventually the checkers flew and Wiedemann took the win, the lucky thirteenth of his career.
Time will tell if Hayek will be penalized for the rough driving that he displayed in the race. Hayek has been penalized previously in the series for rough talk, but it didn't seem to have any effect.
Wiedemann was able to chip a few points off of the points lead held by his JAM Racing teammate. But as Lack continues to race his way into the final race after race, it looks like he is getting ready to hoist his third series championship trophy. Fitzlaff's second fourth place finish in a row vaulted him over Kamikawa into fifth place in the championship point standings.
The series reconvenes in two weeks at The Shire Desert Road Course for round fourteen in the IndySlotCar schedule to race the Shrine Cup. Hayek is the defending champion of the race although there is some question if series officials will allow him to compete or if he will be suspended.
WHAT: Stardust 500
WHERE: Greendale, WI
WHEN: Thursday, March 3, 2016 7pm
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: IndySlotCar Channel on YouTube
2014 CHAMPION: Ev Kamikawa
2014 POLESITTER: Matt Hayek
TRACK LAYOUT: Short Oval
RACE LENGTH: 500 laps
EVENT RECORDS: Qualifying – 2012 – Mike Fitzlaff – 7.843
Lap – 2007 – Mark Walczak – 1.703
Race – 2012 – Dean Strom – 11:02.1
Margin of Victory – Closest – 2010 & 07 – Chris Spehert & Jim Iverson – 2 laps;
Largest – 2013 – Dean Strom – 30 laps
RACE ROUND: 13 of 16 in the 2015-2016 IndySlotCar Series
Vegas – Ev Kamikawa ended a nearly two year dry spell winning the Stardust 500 as he held off the hard charging Target Fitz Ganassi driver, Mike Fitzlaff. Rookie Corey Galbraith in just the second start of his career made the final and finished third, much will be expected from a such fast start to his career, while the second Target Fitz Ganassi car of Mike Kristof was just happy to find himself amongst the finalists.
The heat races showed how tight the competition can be on the Vegas tri-oval as points leader Mike Lack missed his first final in seven races to finish fifth, just ahead of his JMM Racing Teammate John Wiedemann. Hometown favorite Chris Spehert could manage just a seventh place finish in only his second start of the season and ahead of his teammate and father, Tom, who also was making just his second start of the 13-14 season. Dan Margetta struggled on the tight oval to finish ninth and pole sitter Matt Hayek touched wheels coming out of turn four in his heat and spun off the track and out of the race to finish last.
STARDUST 500 HISTORY (8 events, 2006 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name Track
9/28/2006 Jim Iverson Reinhart FoodService 400 Milwaukee International
9/27/2007 Jim Iverson Reinhart FoodService 400 Milwaukee International
9/18/2008 Mike Fitzlaff Reinhart FoodService 400 Milwaukee International
10/8/2009 Ev Kamikawa Reinhart FoodService 400 Milwaukee International
10/7/2010 Chris Spehert Reinhart FoodService 400 Milwaukee International
2/2/2012 Dean Strom Stardust 400 Stardust Speedway
3/14/2013 Dean Strom Stardust 400 Stardust Speedway
2/27/2014 Ev Kamikawa Stardust 500 Stardust Speedway
Most Wins – 2-Ev Kamikawa, Dean Strom, Jim Iverson
§ Matt Hayek scored his first win of the season at his home track of Quarry Heights, bringing number of different winners for the season to seven.
§ Mike Lack, finished second at Deslotmania, to come up short in his quest for a record breaking fifth win in a row, but continues to grow his Husasbilt Cup points lead over his nearest competitor, teammate John Wiedemann, who finished fifth and now sits 88 points back.
§ While his four race winning streak ended, Mike Lack continues to ride a string of five straight finals.
§ Mike Fitzlaff has made three of the last four finals.
§ A battle for third place in points has heated up between teammates, Dean Strom and Matt Hayek, as just five points now separate the MaD Motorsports pair.
§ Meanwhile, Ev Kamikawa is just two markers ahead of Mike Fitzlaff for fifth place.
§ Mike Fitzlaff has pulled even with Mike Lack for seventh on the all-time Heat Win list with 58.
§ Dean Strom is now in a three way time for 10th in Heat wins with 36, equal to John Wiedemann and John Shea.
§ Strom has also equaled John Shea on Finals appearances with 46, good for T-12.
§ Mike Fitzlaff has passed Hall of Famer Jim Iverson on the all-time Laps list for 11th with 26,621, Fitz also passed HOF member Jim Iverson for starts with 157 to move into eighth.