2022-23 Round 9

Rupena's Raven 250 - Raven Raceway - Milwaukee, WI

January 5, 2023

Round 9 of 17

2023 Rupena's Raven 250

Flood Gates Open At Raven For Heitz

Milwaukee, WI - After knocking on the door all season long, Joe Heitz finally kicked it down and scored his first victory of the 2022-23 IndySlotCar season. Heitz overcame early race struggles to take the lead in the second half of the Rupena’s Raven 250 and be the first to the checkered flag at Raven Raceway.

Ev Kamikawa started off the 2023 portion of the season in style putting his #12 PenskeHO Daboiller-Chevrolet on the pole with a 4.234 second lap around the rolling terrain road course. Hometown hero Pete Dorn came up just a bit short with a 4.265 second time to clock in second on the grid. John Wiedemann was third quickest, followed by Michael Shank-It drivers Heitz and Mike Kristof.

With thirteen drivers on the grid, the last chance qualifier (LCQ) was needed to trim the field to twelve. Rookie Brian Miller, in his second career race, was up against 7-time champ Mike Lack and veterans Matt Hayek and Steve Rist. The task was daunting and experience won out with the veterans putting it to the rookie and moving forward to the field of twelve.

Heats were filled up on a last-to-first basis and the group in the first heat included long-time veterans Dan Margetta and Kamikawa with Wiedemann and Dorn thrown into the mix. It was the veterans who led early with Wiedemann and Dorn having issues keeping the pin in the slot. Kamiakwa and Margetta switched back and forth controlling the top spot and at the break it was Margetta in front with a slight lead. When the second half began things turned around. Now Margetta struggled and fell back from his second place standing to the clutches of Wiedemann and Dorn. Wiedemann gave it all he had to make up for driving mistakes in the opening half and passed Margetta and even pulled side by side with Kamikawa. But one mistake too many did him in as Kamikawa maintained the point and took the win a lap ahead of Wiedemann. Dorn came back from six laps behind Margetta to finish two laps ahead of him, the two would wind up sixth and seventh respectively for the night.

Heat two had the two most recent champions, Dean Strom and Lack up against Kristof and Brad Core. The battle of the champs was on as Lack led the opening half over Strom by two laps at the break. Things evened out in the second half with Lack struggling a bit and Strom picking up the pace. Strom was able to pass Lack and then hold on for the win by a lap at the end. Kristof finished third, six laps behind and was followed by Core, the pair ninth and tenth for the event.

The final heat had the tightest and quickest battle, and the end was quick for one driver. Just six turns into the race, Matt Hayek’s ride vaulted over a crushed guardrail and flew off the track, ending his night without a single lap scored. Back at the front was a tussle for the lead between championship contenders Heitz and Bill Black. It was neck and neck throughout the race as neither driver was able to get away from the other one. At the end it was Heitz taking the victory with Black finishing on the same lap. Both drivers were so consistent that they both scored the same amount of laps in each half, 62. Even though Black finished in second, he was able to best Wiedemann’s lap total by three and he would move on to the final to race Heitz again. This left Wiedemann fifth on the night.

The final was set with championship contenders Black and Heitz set to battle current series champion Strom and multi-time champion Kamikawa. At the start, it was Black at the point and pulling away from the field. Kamikawa and Strom followed close behind, but Heitz was having all sorts of problems. Due to what is assumed to be an electrical issue, Heitz’s car slowed to pace lap speed and the field just passed him by. After checking his chassis and reconnecting the ECU numerous times, the car finally came back to life and for the remainder of the half, Heitz was running a tenth or two faster than anyone else. But the damage had been done. When the half ended it was Bill in front followed by Strom and Kamikawa, who were three laps back. Heitz was in last, eight laps behind the leader.

Then at the beginning of the second half, in the drawing of a card, everything changed. Black came in to complete his pit stop just a couple laps into the second half and his pit stop completed him. The “death card” reared its ugly head and Black’s time at the front and evening of racing was over.

The rest of the field took their turns pitting with Strom next. Strom’s pit was slow and to add insult to injury, he was penalized because his fuel nozzle was not engaged (odd for an electric powered car) and had to drive ten laps with the opposite hand. Stops got better with Kamikawa in for a quick nine second stop and Heitz even quicker with only a six second stop.

After all the excitement of pit stops settled in, Kamikawa had taken over the lead and Heitz was a few laps back tied with Strom. Heitz quickly dispatched Strom and put the hammer down to catch Kamikawa. The two former teammates battling for the point with Heitz getting out front when Kamikawa struggled with handling. Heitz pulled away to take the victory three laps ahead of Kamikawa while Strom settled for third.

The victory, fourth of Heitz’s IndySlotCar career, vaulted him up to third place in the point standings and made him the seventh different winner in nine races this season. Wiedemann with a fifth place finish maintains the point lead after the “death card” stole a great finish from Black. Black, in second place is now 15 points behind JW and 27 ahead of Heitz. Lack fell back to fourth, 16 behind Heitz. Hayek’s off track excursion leaves him maintaining fifth place, 26 behind teammate Lack and eight ahead of nemesis Steve Rist, a one point gain for Rist.

Up next on the schedule is race number 10 of the season on January 19th, a visit to Hayek’s Quarry Heights Raceway for the ever super popular “racing” event that everyone is beyond in love with, the Quarryfest Deslotmania. Yes, it is another Deslot race and who isn’t happy about that. Hayek is the two-time defending champion and four-time winner of this race. It’s like he owns the place.


Rupena's Raven 250 Fast Facts

Race date: Thursday, Jan 5


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


Race distance: 250 laps

IndySlotCar Website: indyslotcar.com

2022 race winner: Mike Lack (No. 27 Angry Squirrel Speedsport Honda-Daboiler)


2022 Firestone P1 Award winner: Dean Strom (No. 1 Squirrel Shagged Enterprises Chevrolet-Daboiler)

One-lap qualifying record: Mark Walczak, 4.000 seconds, 2011


Race record: Pete Dorn, 20 minutes 13 seconds, 2020

YouTube Broadcast: IndySlotCar Channel


At-track schedule (all times local):

5:30 – Gates open

6:30 – Driver introductions

6:55 – Drivers meeting/Chassis distribution

7:00 – IndySlotCar Series Practice

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

7:50 – Heat races

8:45 – Raven 250 (250 laps)


Race Notes:

·         With his win at Bermuda Raceway, John Wiedemann has now won three of the opening eight rounds of the 2022-23 season and opened up a 17 point lead in the Husarsbilt Cup championship over Bill Black.  It was his fourth career Christmas Classic victory, equaling series founder and former Christmas Classic host, Phil Cianciola for the most wins.

·         Bill Black is having a stellar start to his season, coming off his third second-place finish at the Christmas Classic, Black also has a win and total of five final appearances.

·         Mike Lack is the defending Raven 250 winner, taking home “The Incident” trophy for the fourth time tied the record. Lack sits third in the standings 52 markers behind his A.S.S. teammate. The #27 driver has four pole positions, no other driver has multiple poles this season, but has only appeared in two finals, including a win at the Fall Brawl.

·         With 17 races on the schedule this season, the Raven 250 is the middle point of the season, with eight down and eight races scheduled to follow.

·         STATS WATCH: Joe Heitz in fourth in the standings has as many final four appearances as first and second, Wiedemann and Black with five. Heitz is the only driver in the top eight in the standings that has not appeared in all of the races so far this season. Dean Strom’s start at the Christmas Classic was the 204th of his career moving ahead of his former teammate and Hall of Famer Larry Rotter and Mike Fitzlaff to seventh all-time. Pete Dorn equals Hall of Famer Jim Iverson’s start total of 111, tied for 18th. John Shea’s return to action continues to elevate his standing on the all-time starts list, moving past Tony Perkins to 20th with 103 runs.

RAVEN 250 HISTORY (23 events, 2000 - Present)

Date                   Race Winner                    Event Name                                                                                            

2/17/2000        John Shea                         Milwaukee Bucks Challenge – Raven Raceway**                

3/1/2001           Chad Sorce                       Milwaukee Bucks Challenge                      

1/31/2002        Phil Cianciola                   Palermo’s Pizza Challenge*

1/2/2003           Larry Rotter                     Saz’s 250                                          

10/2/2003        Larry Rotter                     Saz’s 250                                          

1/6/2005           Phil Cianciola                   Saz’s 250                                          

1/5/2006           Dan Margetta                 Saz’s 250                                          

1/4/2007           Dan Margetta                 Quizno’s Grand Prix                      

1/3/2008           Mark Walczak                 Quizno’s 250                                  

1/8/2009           Mark Walczak                 Raven 250                                       

2/4/2010           Mike Fitzlaff                     Raven 250                                       

1/6/2011           Dan Margetta                 Raven 250                                       

1/5/2012           Mark Walczak                 Raven 250                                       

1/3/2013           Mark Walczak             Raven 250

1/2/2014           Dean Strom                      Raven Bowl 250

1/8/2015           Mike Lack                         Raven 250 at Rapids – Temporary oval at Rapids International

1/7/2016           Mike Lack                         Raven 250 – Turtle Creek Park Raceway

1/5/2017          John Wiedemann           Raven 250 – race returns to Raven Raceway

1/4/2018           Bill Black                           Raven 250

1/2/2019           Mike Lack                         Raven 250

1/23/2020        John Wiedemann           Raven 250

1/21/2021        Pete Dorn                     Raven 250

1/6/2022           Mike Lack                         Raven 250 presented by Ultimate Truck


Most Wins – 4-Mike Lack, Mark Walczak; 3-Dan Margetta; 2-John Wiedemann, Phil Cianciola, Larry Rotter

*-Dave Austin bottle/nose incident

**-All races held at Rave Raceway through 2014