2019-20 Round 8
Christmas Classic - Bermuda Raceway - Wauwatosa, WI
December 19 , 2019
Round 8 of 16
New Kid In Town
(Wauwatosa, WI) -- There was talk on the street, it sounded familiar, a driver returned to the event he began his career at one season earlier with a debut pole position, with great expectations, everyone was watching Joe Heitz. The people in the paddock by now all seemed to know Heitz but with the potential they treated him like he was something new. He might be the Johnny come lately, the new kid in town of the IndySlotCar Series, but the #22 PenskeHO driver knows everybody loves him and didn't want to let them down.
In qualifying it looked like Heitz might repeat his pole at the Christmas Classic at Bermuda Raceway, but that grinch Dan Margetta put his #88 Hardly-Steinbrenner Margetta car on the point instead with a new track record qualifying lap. In fact, the top six qualifiers equaled or beat the qualifying record set by Heitz in that first start last season. It was Margetta's series record setting 49th pole position, passing Hall of Famer Phil Cianciola, taking away the founder's last statistical record. Margetta now has his name atop every statistical category.
Heats were grouped by qualifying pitting the three fastest in the first heat, Margetta and Heitz were joined by a surprisingly quick Tom Spehert. It was Heitz who got the jump on the veteran Margetta early on and built a sizable lead but in the second half, Margetta would chip away at that lead and by the time ran out the #88 Dallara-Honda was just one straight away behind, Margetta would have to watch and wait to see if the Transfer position would get him to the final. Spehert would have to settle for seventh.
In the second heat Dean Strom, Mike Lack, Pete Dorn and Alex Hayek would line up and while the defending champion Lack went out front but was never able to shake Dorn and the two would be close to the finish with Lack advancing to the final with the win, but Dorn eclipsed Margetta's lap total grabbing the transfer spot and Margetta would be locked into fifth for the night. Strom meanwhile was struggling with a stomach virus and Alex Hayek making his first start of the season, could not get a handle on the car, the two would finish ninth and tenth.
The final heat had some surprising combatants as points leader Matt Hayek and third place John Weidemann were joined by Bill Black and Mike Kristof. Once the race was underway it appeared that Wiedemann's #19 Angry Squirrel Speedsport car was trailing a long line of sand, but whatever it was, JW would clear the field and advance to another final while for the second race in row Hayek would miss a final after making the first six and winding up sixth for the event. Black and Kristof finishing eighth and eleventh respectively. Kristof, the defending race winner would disappoint the hometown crowd as he parked the car for the last few laps.
The final featured the two members of Angry Squirrel Speedsport, Lack and Wiedemann have been battling for second in the Husarsbilt Cup championship behind Hayek all season, while Heitz's speed was impressive early on and Pete Dorn looked to keep everyone honest. Heitz held the lead throughout the 20 minute race, but got some help by bad luck for the #1 A.S.S. crew with a terrible 30 second pit stop dropping Lack back to fourth, allowing Wiedemann to move to second and Dorn to the last step of the podium. For the last few minutes it was obvious Heitz was going to make history as long as he kept the Chevy powered #22 on track, ultimately the gap would grow to 13 laps and for just the 27th time in the 27 seasons of the IndySlotCar Series, a new driver would take the checkered flag.
With his win Heitz leaps from seventh to fourth in the standings while Hayek's lead in the championship would shrink by just five markers to 54 with one half of the season complete. The 2020 portion of the season begins at Raven Raceway for the Raven 250, where Mike Lack is the defending winner.
Christmas Classic Fast Facts
Race date: Thursday, Dec 19
Track: Bermuda Raceway, 1.8 mile Natural Terrain Road Course in Wauwatosa, WI
Race distance: 20 minutes
IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com
2018 race winner: Mike Kristof (No. 60 Michael Shank-It Racing)
2018 Firestone P1 Award winner: Joe Heitz (No. 20 Fuzzy’s w/A.S.S.)
One-lap qualifying record: Joe Heitz, 2.418 seconds, 2018
Race record: Mike Kristof, 421 laps, 2018
YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel
At-track schedule (all times local):
5:00 – Gates open
6:30 – Driver introductions
7:00 – Drivers Meeting/Chassis Distribution
7:05 – IndySlotCar Series Practice
7:30 – Qualifying for the Firestone P1 Award (group qualifying/ fastest single lap)
8:00 – Heat races
8:50 – Christmas Classic (20 minutes)
· Mike Kristof is the defending race winner, it was his second win of the season.
· Mike Lack is coming off his second win of the season at the Duane Sweeney Memorial GP, but still sits 59 points behind Matt Hayek for the Husarsbilt Cup.
· Matt Hayek missed a final for the first time at the Sweeney Memorial.
· Joe “Carnage” Heitz is the defending Firestone P1 Award winner at the Christmas Classic, a pole in his first start was an IndySlotCar first. Heitz also leads all drivers with at least 15 starts, with a 43.75% DNF/start rate.
Christmas Classic PRE-EVENT QUOTES:
Mike Kristof No. 60 Michael Shank-It Racing: If winning at your home track is like kissing your sister, then I hope to smooch her every year.
Matt Hayek No. 15 Alter Ego Racing: Talk to my lawyer.
Bill Black No. 77 Black-Atom Racing: I will be there(?)
CHRISTMAS CLASSIC HISTORY (24 events, 1993 - Present)
Date Race Winner Event Name Track
12/16/1993 Phil Cianciola Shrine Christmas Classic Shrine Road Course
12/15/1994 Dave Austin Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine Road Course
12/14/1995 Phil Cianciola Tomy Christmas Classic Shrine 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
12/17/2015 Mike Lack Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/1/2016 John Wiedemann Christmas Classic Shrine Desert Road Course
12/14/2017 Matt Hayek Christmas Classic Bermuda Raceway
12/13/2018 Mike Kristof Shorewest Christmas Classic Bermuda Raceway
*-Vista Rio Rancho Raceway renamed to original name
Most Wins – 4-Phil Cianciola; 3- John Wiedemann; 2-Mike Lack, Mark Walczak, Dan Margetta, Jim Kaehny