2015-16 Round 8
Christmas Classic - The Shrine Desert Road Course - Wauwatosa, WI
December 17, 2015
Round 8 of 16
Lack Is On The Nice List
Wauwatosa, WI – Mike Lack won his second race of the season with his victory at The Shrine Desert Road Course Christmas Classic event. The current points leader and defending champion of the IndySlotCar Series held off a late battle from Dean Strom to take his second trip to the winners circle at the legendary track.
MaD Motorsports driver Matt Hayek captured the pole in qualifying, besting Team Penske pilot Ev Kamikawa by just 47 thousandths of a second.
The heat races were setup in a first to last order based on qualifying speed, putting the top three quickest drivers in competition. Lack took the win in the opening heat race while Kamikawa finished second and left pole sitter Hayek out of the final. Strom won the second heat race and Amy Butler, Lack's JAM Racing teammate, captured victory in the third heat race. Kamikawa scored the most laps of the non-winners to take the transfer to the final.
Lack jumped out to the lead early in the final and held on throughout the halfway break lane change and pitstops. But his competition was not far behind and late in the race it was Strom who looked the quickest as a few missteps by Lack shortened the distance between the two. Time was not on Strom's side and pushing his car to its limits began to cost him as well as spins allowed Lack to pull away to a slightly comfortable lead. At the end Lack captured the checkers with just a lap between himself and second place Strom. Kamikawa closed in at the end and finished in third, four laps behind Strom. Butler finished fourth in her third final this season.
Hayek placed fifth on the night followed by John Wiedemann, Mike Fitzlaff and Mike Kristof. Tom Spehert's streak of two finals in a row came to an end with his ninth place run and the rookie battle for the evening was won by Pete Dorn with a top ten run as Bill Black crashed while chasing Amy.
Lack's victory along with Wiedemann's sixth place finish allowed Lack to move ahead to a 26 point lead in the points battle. Strom holds down third, 56 points behind Wiedemann with Hayek in fourth and Kristof in fifth.
Up next on the schedule is a trip north to Menomonee Falls for the Raven 250 at Turtle Creek Park on January 7th. Dean Strom is the defending champion of the event that moves to it's third track in as many seasons. Last year's event was run on a temporary oval at Rapids, before that it was only run on it's original home, the late Larry Rotter's Raven Raceway.
WHAT: Shrine Christmas Classic
WHERE: Wauwatosa, WI
WHEN: Thursday, December 18, 2014 7pm
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE: IndySlotCar Channel on YouTube
2014 CHAMPION: John Wiedemann
2014 POLESITTER: Mike Kristof
TRACK LAYOUT: Natural Terrain Road Course
RACE LENGTH: 20 minutes
EVENT RECORDS 2004-present: Qualifying – 2012 – Mark Walczak – 4.510
Race – 2014 – John Wiedemann – 226 laps
Margin of Victory – Closest – 2010 – Walczak – inches; Largest – 2011 – Walczak – 16 laps
RACE ROUND: 8 of 18 in the 2015-2016 IndySlotCar Series
John Wiedemann held off his teammate to take the Christmas Classic at the Shrine Desert Road Course Thursday night in Wauwatosa. It was "JW's" first win of the season and helps move him to third in the standings behind his Lack-Wiedemann Motorsports teammate Mike Lack and Penske HO driver Ev Kamikawa.
Sometimes a driver gets a qualifying car and sometimes it's a "race" car. Wiedemann picked a "race" car tonight as qualifying didn't go that well for him. Mike Kristoff, at his home track, set the top qualifying speed with a run of 4.588 seconds and scored his eighth career pole. Behind Kristoff was Burgetta Racing driver Dan Margetta and Penske HO's Ev Kamikawa, the series point leader coming into tonights event. Behind all of them was Wiedemann, at the tail of the field and just over three tenths of a second off the leaders pace.
The night would feature tight races with multiple drivers on the lead lap together and multiple lead changes. Heat racing was especially tight. The first heat race included the top four qualifiers. Target Fitz-Ganassi's Mike Fitzlaff made his presence known leading the opening half of heat race one with teammate Kristoff on his bumper and Kamikawa right behind. Margetta, who exclaimed in practice that he had the "winning car" struggled six laps off the lead pace. The second half proved to be the same for the leaders, but a different story for Margetta. Clearly the fastest car on the track, he was able to close the distance between himself and the lead pack when, with 19 second left in the race, disaster struck. Margetta's rocket ship of a racecar flew off the track and his night was done, there would be no win for the "winning car". Fitzlaff took the victory. Kristoff finished second with Kamikawa two straightaways behind, a distance that would prove to be crucial. The second heat race was a Lack-Wiedemann Motorsports show with Wiedemann and Lack leading from start to finish. Matt Hayek made a charge in the second half to hope for a transfer to the final, but all that effort was for nothing when he wrecked and was ignored by marshalls who were attending to Amy Butler's car that had flown off the track. Hayek missed the transfer by just over a lap.
With Fitzlaff and Wiedemann getting wins and Lack scoring the most laps of non-winners only one transfer spot remained. That spot went to Kristoff with his finish just two straightaways ahead of points leader Kamikawa. Kamikawa was relegated to fifth and would lose the points lead.
The final continued the tight racing theme as Lack, Fitzlaff and Wiedemann paced the opening half without more than lap between the top three. Kristoff fell back a bit and then, with a couple minutes left in the opening half, mysteriously spun and flew off the track leaving the rest field to battle for positions on the podium.
Pitstops proved to be crucial. Lack, the leader at the break, hit pit road first and with the crew having issues remained there for twenty long seconds. Fitzlaff was next in and out with an blazing fast 8 second stop and Wiedemann followed with a ten second pit for service. Lack's pit struggles and a change of lanes proved beneficial to Wiedemann as he sped to the lead three laps ahead second place. For the rest of the race, which Wiedemann said was "the longest seven minutes of his life", Wiedemann and Lack battled with neither the leader able to get away nor the chaser to gain any ground. When time expired and the checkers waved, Wiedemann took the event win for the second time in three years and extended the Lack Wiedemann Motorsports streak of Christmas Classic victories to three. Lack finished second with Fitzlaff taking third after battling handling issues at the end of the race.
CHRISTMAS CLASSIC HISTORY (20 events, 1993 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name Track
12/16/1993 Phil Cianciola Shrine Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/15/1994 Dave Austin Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/14/1995 Phil Cianciola Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/12/1996 Jim Kaehny Tomy Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/18/1997 Jim Kaehny Tomy Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/17/1998 Dan Margetta Parma Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/16/1999 Phil Marich Championship Racing Magazine 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/13/2001 Chad Sorce Christmas Classic Sanibel Speedway
12/12/2002 Phil Cianciola Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/19/2003 Dan Margetta Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/16/2004 Phil Cianciola Piggly Wiggly 400 Sanibel Speedway
12/15/2005 Jim Iverson Chipotle Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/14/2006 John Shea Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/13/2007 Ev Kamikawa Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/18/2008 Larry Rotter Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/16/2010 Mark Walczak Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/15/2011 Mark Walczak Christmas Classic Vista Rio Rancho Raceway
12/6/2012 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course*
12/19/2013 Mike Lack Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/18/2014 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
*-Vista Rio Rancho Raceway renamed to original name
Most Wins – 4-Phil Cianciola; 2-John Wiedemann, Mark Walczak, Dan Margetta, Jim Kaehny
§ John Wiedemann’s win at the Duane Sweeney Memorial and Mike Lack’s spectacular crash and DNF leaves Lack with just a three point margin in the Husarsbilt Cup championship.
§ John Wiedemann became the first driver to score a second win this season with his Sweeney victory.
§ After a slow start to the season missing two races and not scoring a final four in the first five races, Ev Kamikawa has now made the last two finals.
§ The Rookie of the Year battle shows Pete Dorn holding a 13 point edge over his Spehert Autosport teammate Bill Black.
§ John Weidemann’s win at the Sweeney Memorial moves him into 11th all-time with 12 wins.
§ JW also pulled even with John Shea with 36 heat wins at T-10.
§ Dean Strom moves into 13th all-time in starts with 119.
§ Mike Lack’s DNF gives him 19 which moves him to 15th on the all-time list.