2022-23 Round 15

March Madness - Raven Raceway - Milwaukee, WI

March 23, 2023

Round 15 of 17

2023 March Madness presented by Rupena's

Strom Stops Streak

Milwaukee, WI – Running a partial schedule this season, Dean Strom hasn’t been able to adequately defend his series championship, but at tonight’s March Madness presented by Rupena’s he showed that he is still – Champ. Knocking out two of this season’s championship contenders and the hometown hero along the way, the Squirrel Shagged Enterprises pilot crushed the field at Raven Raceway scoring his second win of the season.

March Madness in IndySlotCar is the only race on the schedule that features the head-to-head bracket format. Seeding is based on qualifying and for the third time this season, Joe Heitz topped the speed chart. Heitz’s pole run of 3.974 seconds topped Strom by over two tenths of a second a gave him the number one seed. Dan Margetta clocked in third followed by Heitz’s Michael Shank-It Racing teammate Mike Kristof in fourth and CBD Racing's Bill Black in fifth.

The first round of racing kicked off with the seventh through tenth seeds running a minute per half. The ninth seed, Squirrel Shagged Enterprises' Steve Rist, upset #8 CBD Racing’s Brad Core in a close race that had Core struggling with handling in the second half. A rematch of the seven-ten matchup from last year between CBD’s Pete Dorn and Angry Squirrel’s Matt Hayek again went to the seventh seed, but this year it was Dorn in the seventh seed and with the win, he moved on.

Quarterfinal match-ups began with top seed Heitz taking on Rist and it went as expected with Heitz taking the victory by eight laps. The four-five matchup was next and Kristof the four seed was able to take a two lap lead in the first half over Black and hold on to a one lap victory to move on to the final four with his floodgates teammate.

In the southern portion of the tournament, second seed Strom matched up with hometown hero Dorn and the two raced tightly throughout the first half until Strom pulled away in the second half. Trying to chase the competition down, Dorn lost control and crashed off the track putting Strom in the final four. The last spot in the final four was a replay of last year’s battle between Margetta, the third seed, and sixth seed, John Wiedemann. The lead was exchanged multiple times early in the race, but after the halfway break Angry Squirrel Speedsport's Wiedemann took advantage of Margetta’s handling issues on his way to a two-lap victory.

The final four matchup between point leader Heitz and teammate Kristof ended quickly as twelve laps in, Kristof flew off the track, ending his night in fourth and putting Heitz into the final for the seventh week in a row and a chance to extend his win streak to a series record five in a row. The other matchup had two former series champions, Strom the two seed and Wiedemann the six seed. Strom backed up his seeding as he quickly got to the lead and never looked back. Strom cruised to a three-lap victory and gave the current point leader Heitz a shot at the Champ.

Heitz chose the outside lane for the final championship round, just as he had in all the other challenges with Strom choosing the inside lane. Strom also chose to run a borrowed body from rival Angry Squirrel Speedsport since his bodywork was catching the guardrails earlier in practice and qualifying. The race began as a classic battle with the two exchanging the lead a few times with Heitz getting ahead by about a half lap at the break. The switch of lanes at the break proved to be problematic to Heitz as the inside lane proved to be his kryptonite. Strom had no such problems as running the outside lane with A.S.S. bodywork allowed him to cruise into the lead and pull away from Heitz who seemed to slow in parts of the track and struggle in the corners. When the checkers flew, it was Strom grabbing his second win of the season and ending Heitz’s streak at four.

With two races left, Heitz remains the championship points leader adding six more points to the gap between him and Wiedemann who is now 21 points back. Black maintains third place, 57 markers behind second place. Hayek jumps up a spot and three points ahead of A.S.S. teammate Mike Lack who wasn’t in the field tonight. Kristof closed to within 25 points of fifth place as his final four run moved him into sixth place ahead of Rist by four points. Margetta’s fifth-place finish tonight has him just six points behind Rist. Core retains ninth place in the standings. With the victory, Strom moves into tenth-place in the standings while running a limited schedule. In other news, Strom and SSE are looking for a new PR director as the prior one was fired for scheduling his Champ Media Tour appearances in conflict with almost half of the races this season.

A quick turnaround has the competitors traveling to Wauwatosa for The Shrine Cup at the Shrine Desert Road Course. Black is the defending champion of this race and hometown hero Kristof scored the pole in the event last season.

March Madness Fast Facts

Race date: Thursday, Mar 23


Track: 2.5 mile Natural Terrain Road Course in Milwaukee, WI


Race distance:  8 minutes

Twitter:  @indyslotcar

IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com

2022 race winner: Joe Heitz (No. 06 Michael Shank-It Racing Honda-Daboiler)


2022 Firestone P1 Award winner: Brad Core (No. 86 CBD Racing Chevrolet-Daboiler)

Track qualifying record: Mark Walczak, 4.000 seconds, 2011

YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel


At-track schedule (all times local):

6:00 – Gates open

6:30 – Driver introductions

7:00 – Drivers meeting/ Chassis distribution

7:05 – IndySlotCar Series Practice

7:25 – Qualifying for the Firestone P1 Award (group qualifying/ fastest single lap)

7:55 – First Round of bracket racing

8:55 – Head to head final (8 minutes)


Race Notes:

·         Once again the IndySlotCar Series uses the special match-style format for the race that coincides with the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament.

·         Joe Heitz brings a series record tying four-race winning streak to March Madness and is the defending March Madness winner when the event was held at the Black Track.

·         Since returning to the schedule on a regular basis in 2020, there have not been any repeat winners.               

·         Heitz’s win at the Deckertring also moved him to the lead of the Husarsbilt Cup championship, the #06 pilot leads Angry Squirrel Speedsport’s John Wiedemann by 15 points with three races remaining on the schedule.

·         STAT WATCH: Brad Core’s pole position at the Deckertring makes him the fifth driver this season to score multiple poles, Mike Lack has the most with four. This was the third pole of Core’s career, moving to a tie with Chris Spehert, Steve Rist, Tom Spehert and John Baas, good for 19th on the all-time list. John Shea’s final four appearance at his home track was his 48th, moving up to 14th on the all-time list.

Bracket events HISTORY (8 events, 1996 – 1998, 2003, 2015, 2020 – Present)

Year               Race Winner                    Event Title                                                                                        Track

2/15/1996        Phil Cianciola                   In Style Valentine's Challenge                                    Shrine Road Course

2/13/1997        Phil Cianciola                   In-Style Pro Shop Valentine's Challenge                  Shrine Road Course

2/12/1998        Jim Kaehny                       Dean Foods Valentine's Challenge                                            Shrine Road Course

2/13/2003        Jim Kaehny                       Palermo's Valentine's 200                                           Shrine Road Course

3/19/2015        Mike Lack                         March Madness                                                             Badger Raceway

3/19/2020        John Wiedemann           March Madness                                                             Bermuda Raceway

3/18/2021        Steve Rist                         March Madness                                                             Rapids Oval

3/17/2022        Joe Heitz                           March Madness                                                             Black Track (oval)