2016-17 Round 16
HO Indy 500 - South Shore Superspeedway - St. Francis, WI
April 8, 2017
Round 16 of 16
Weather: 66 - Partly cloudy
A Most Dramatic Finale
St. Francis, WI -- In what is undoubtedly the most unlikely series of events to lead to a championship, Mike Lack won his first HO Indy 500 and took his fourth straight Husarsbilt Cup season championship at South Shore Superspeedway Saturday. The day started out looking like the leader coming into the race, John Wiedemann, Lack's JAM Racing teammate, was going to have a pretty easy time taking the championship, qualifying sixth, ahead of his closest rival, Dan Margetta and two ahead of Lack, who wound up eighth on the grid, just making the field of eight that advance to the heat races.
The qualifying session itself was a full 50 minutes of drama as Mike Kristof ran an unlikely time of 9.480 seconds for his four lap total and then had to wait for Matt Hayek, who showed promise in two waved-off attempts and Ev Kamikawa clearly was on pace, but a spin in turn four on his last lap wiped out what could have been a third HO Indy 500 pole in a row. Hayek's final attempt on his primary car was a solid second at 10.072 but not enough to challenge Kristof, who had his first pole at the "500" since 2004. That left the question of who was going to stay in the field, including points leader John Wiedemann, whose primary car found itself in the eighth spot, on the bubble. Kamikawa's first back-up car bumped Wiedemann out, "JW" then attempted to bump back into the field with two more cars that came up short, meanwhile Spehert Autosport team owner Chris Spehert began searching for enough speed to get into the show with other back-ups. Wiedemann finally found a machine to get him solidly on the grid with a 10.424, sitting fifth as the session time ran down. Kamikawa took two more cars out onto the track, each coming up well outside the bubble-time of Bill Black, who sat nervously waiting with 10.511. After Kamikawa's final back-up car also came up short, the only car available was John Wiedemann's back-up car, since he had put Mike Lack's car in the field. Discussions between Black and Wiedemann had given Black the right of first refusal on the car, since he sat on the bubble qualifying could have ended there, but in sportsman move that guarantees him that prize at the banquet, he allowed his teammate and team owner Chris Spehert to give it a shot, he did not waste it, running a solid 10.236 seconds in his four lap run to fourth place and knocking Black out of the race.
Heat races and lanes are chosen in qualifying order and with John Wiedemann out-qualifying Margetta, and only two spots for the 24-year veteran to chose, either in the same heat with the man he trailed by five points or wait to the second heat. "Dangerous" Dan lived up to his name as the two top contenders would face off in the first heat, along with fourth in points, Matt Hayek and Chris Spehert. Pole-winner Mike Kristof and the odd man out at this point, Mike Lack lining up in the second.
Neither Wiedemann nor Margetta had the pace in the heat race and the two would finish third and fourth, respectively, and leaving Margetta the odd man out no matter what happened, but JW would have to wait and watch, while Hayek took advantage of his speed to advance to the final, keeping his title hopes alive and bringing fellow two-time 500 winner Chris Spehert along, who was making the most of the opportunity he had been given in qualifying.
In the second heat, Kristof kept up his qualifying pace and easily won, but Mike Lack had to do some hustling in order to save any chance he had to still take another championship, as he just clipped Mike Fitzlaff at the end to move into second place and advance to the 1000 lap final.
There were three scenarios for the championship as the HO Indy 500 got under way: either Kristof or Spehert win and Wiedemann takes the Husarsbilt Cup, second place qualifier Hayek wins and he is champion or eighth place qualifier Lack wins and takes his fourth championship. Kristof sprinted out to an early lead that he held through the first two sets of fuel stops, even his team's slow pit work on the tire change stop at half-way didn't cut into his lead too deeply, while Lack was passing Hayek for second, the #9 car came into the next to last pit stops, the "pit cards", Kristof's car came into the pit box, but it never left, as the "death card" stole his first win since the 2015 HO Indy 500 and took most of the possibility that Wiedemann would be champion, as Spehert sat a distant third to new race leader Mike Lack and Hayek. Mike Lack scored his first HO Indy 500 victory and his fourth and without a doubt, most unlikely championship. Hayek finishing second and Spehert was closing in the waning laps of the race but a victory in itself, considering where the day started, in his first 500 start in 7 years.
The final tally showed Mike Lack with 646 points, just eight ahead of his teammate John Wiedemann, with Dan Margetta 17 behind and Matt Hayek just 19 back. Easily the closest championship among so many drivers in the series' 24 year history and the most dramatic climax to a season ever!
The season awards banquet will be held in a couple of weeks, video highlights will be available on the IndySlotCar Channel after that.
The next season of IndySlotCar racing will begin around Labor Day, as we celebrate our 25th season of racing!
Larry Rotter Memorial Grand Prix Fast Facts
Race date: Saturday, Apr 8
Track: South Shore Superspeedway, 2.5 mile oval
Race distance: 1000 laps
Entry List: HO Indy 500
IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com
2016 race winner: John Wiedemann (No. 19 Fitz JAM Racing Dallara-Honda)
2016 Chick-fil-A Brookfield P1 Award winner: Ev Kamikawa (No. 3 Penske HO Racing Dallara-Chevrolet)
Qualifying record: Ev Kamikawa, 8.933 seconds, 2015, Single Lap: Dan Margetta, 2.183 seconds, 2013
Race record: Mark Walczak, 40 minutes, 51.711 seconds, 2008
YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel
At-track schedule (all times local):
10:30 – Driver introductions
11:00 – IndySlotCar Series Practice
11:20 – Qualifying for the Chick-fil-A Brookfield P1 Award (single car, four lap qualifying, 50 minutes session for the top 8 positions in the heat races)
12:10 – Lunch
12:30 – Heat Races
1:00 – HO Indy 500
· John Wiedemann leads the Husarsbilt Cup points by 3 over Dan Margetta, essentially a two man race, with defending three-time champion Mike Lack 36 points behind and Matt Hayek now 48 points back.
· Wiedemann is the defending winner of the HO Indy 500 and has won the race two of the past three years, other multiple winners of the “500” expected in the field are Matt Hayek, the only back-to-back winner in the races 23-year history, Chris Spehert and…
· Four-time race winner Ev Kamikawa has won the pole at the HO Indy 500 the last two years.
· With double points, the race will not only determine the championship but other points battles down the ranks, for third between Lack and Hayek, potentially for fifth place between three drivers, Mike Fitzlaff currently holds the spot, 21 ahead of his teammate Mike Kristof and 24 ahead of Bill Black and Amy Butler holds a one point lead over Pete Dorn for ninth.
HO Indy 500 PRE-EVENT QUOTES:
Dan Margetta No. 3 Penske HO Racing: That’s what Strom gets for taking me out!
John Wiedemann No. 19 JAM Racing: Are we playing “Go fish” at this race too?
HO INDY 500 HISTORY (23 events, 1994 - Present)
Date Race Winner Track
5/19/1994 Phil Cianciola The Shrine Track
5/18/1995 John Shea Edgewood “The Edge” Superspeedway
5/18/1996 Dave Austin
4/26/1997 Ev Kamikawa
4/18/1998 Jim Kaehny
4/17/1999 Phil Marich
4/15/2000 Phil Cianciola
4/21/2001 Jim Kaehny
4/12/2002 Ev Kamikawa
4/13/2003 Larry Rotter
4/17/2004 Chris Spehert
4/9/2005 Dan Margetta
4/18/2006 Ev Kamikawa South Shore Superspeedway
4/14/2007 Jim Iverson
4/12/2008 Mark Walczak
4/18/2009 Chris Spehert
4/10/2010 Matt Hayek
4/9/2011 Matt Hayek
4/14/2012 Ev Kamikawa
4/13/2013 Mike Fitzlaff
4/5/2014 John Wiedemann
4/11/2015 Mike Kristof
4/9/2016 John Wiedemann
Most Wins – 4-Ev Kamikawa; 2-John Wiedemann, Matt Hayek, Chris Spehert, Jim Kaehny, Phil Cianciola