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Setting Up a Showdown
(Wauwatosa, WI) -- After a two month layoff the IndySlotCar Series returned to action, appropriately, the schedule brought everyone to the traditional home of the series, the Shrine Desert Road Course and the Shrine Cup. The penultimate round of the championship would bring together the contenders for the Husarsbilt Cup as John Wiedemann, Mike Lack and Matt Hayek to continue to finish what was supposed to have long since been settled back in April.
The latest date in history for an IndySlotCar race, started out with a real battle for the pole position as Dan Margetta laid down an early track record lap with Steve Rist showing speed not far behind him. But it would be the six time champion who would pull out the fast time of the night as Mike Lack would take pole with a 4.150 lap over Margetta's #88 Hardly Steinbrenner- Margetta Racing's 4.165. Lack's Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammate John Wiedemann and the man he is chasing to get to the seventh title would qualify fourth and Matt Hayek struggled to eighth.
The opening heat race would pit Wiedemann against Hayek's #15 Alter Ego Racing Honda along with Pete Dorn and early on was a tight battle between all three, but handling would be a problem for Dorn's #5 Black Atom Racing Honda who would finish seventh on the night, while Hayek tried to keep pace, but came up a couple laps short to Wiedemann and then had to hold on to see if the transfer spot would get him into the final.
Heat number two would have the closest racing of the night as fifth qualifier Ev Kamikawa's #12 PenskeHO Chevrolet would take on the Hondas of Bll Black, the slow qualifier of the night and Mike Kristof's #60 from Michael Shank-It Racing. The lead was traded between all three drivers throughout the race, just when it looked like one driver would gain an advantage they would make a mistake and allow the others back in. In the end, the veteran Kamikawa would open a two lap lead, but it was the final turn that decided second place and ultimately the transfer spot as they passed Matt Hayek's lap total to relegate him to sixth place, Black would pass Kristof just as the clock stopped and the #77 Black-Atom Racing was just ahead and Kristof would have to settle for fifth on the night.
Expectations for the final heat, was that it would be a shoot out, as the three fastest qualifiers were lined up together. Early on Steve Rist surprised the defending champion Lack and Margetta as the #41 RJ Foyt Racing pilot took the lead. Margetta would battle to take the point while Lack's #1 SealMaster Angry Squirrel Speedsport Honda struggled with handling issues. But just before half-way Margetta climbed the hill into turn two, banged the #88 off the mountains and then ricocheted across the track and out of the race. ceding second place to Lack. Meanwhile just past the midpoint both Rist and Lack spun coming out of the final turn and down the front straight, but Rist's ABC Supply car took a wild right turn just before start-finish and flew off the track gifting the heat win to Lack as Rist and Margetta would finish eighth and ninth on the night.
With the two Angry Squirrel Speedsport teammates and lead competitors for the championship lined up alongside Kamikawa and Black, it appeared to be anyone's race. While Black had qualified last, he raced much faster, Kamikawa would eventually have trouble with handling and finish fourth. Both A.S.S. drivers had lengthy pit stops that allowed Black to close in on Wiedemann while Lack showed speed and handling he hadn't in the heat race. Black and JW battled for second place right to the finish, with Wiedemann receiving the five point advantage that second place gets over third and Lack's fifth win of the season and his fourth at the Shrine would bring him from 14 points back to just three behind with the HO Indy 500 left to settle it all in two weeks.
Matt Hayek sits a more distant 36 markers back, however, with the double points of the 500, a win and a bad day for the Angry Squirrels and who knows? The season that started out all Hayek, could still pay off in the end. The long awaited 27th running of the HO Indy 500 at South Shore Superspeedway will be held Saturday, June 13th. Stay tuned!