WAUSAU, Wis. (Aug. 25) – The number three was a good one for both Justin Mondeik and Travis Volm on Season Championship Night at State Park Speedway.
Mondeik joined some exclusive company at the track with his third consecutive Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech championship, while Volm picked up his third feature win of the season, holding off Mondeik on the final night of weekly racing at the Rib Mountain quarter-mile for 2022.
Mondeik (716 points) finished 21 points ahead of Jason Weinkauf (695 points) to become just the third late model driver to win at least three consecutive championships at State Park. The Gleason driver joins two legendary names in the track’s history, following Dick Trickle (three straight in 1970-72 and again in 1981-83) and Wayne Breitenfeldt (seven straight from 1994-2000) as the only drivers to accomplish the feat in the track’s top division.
Mondeik also joins the club that includes Volm of drivers in all classes to win at least three straight championships. In addition to Breitenfeldt and Trickle, only Lyle Nowak (1996-2000 in legends), Volm (2011-13 in pure stocks), George Seliger (2016-18 in mini mods) and Brian Schramm (2018-20) in pure stocks have won at least three straight titles in the same class.
The 10th and 11th starters, respectively in an 11-car field, both Volm and Mondeik patiently made their way to the front in the 60-lap feature before battling each other for the final 22 laps.
Volm made the quicker charge to the front, moving into the top five just six laps in and past Dillon Mackesy into third on lap 18. He then zipped past early leader James Swanson for second on lap 21 and pressured Weinkauf for the lead before a competition caution after 30 laps.
Weinkauf would briefly clear Volm for the lead after the lap 31 restart, but the battle between the two No. 76’s would flip on lap 36 when Volm got under Weinkauf in turn 2, taking the lead and clearing him a lap later.
While his top championship challenger Weinkauf and Volm moved to the front, Mondeik dealt with heavier traffic early in the feature and was in eighth place on lap 20 when he had a brief scary moment. Rayce Haase spun in turns 3 and 4 in front of Mondeik, who steered clear and moved into sixth after Haase and Noah Gajewski were sent to the back after contact caution the yellow.
Mondeik quickly moved past Swanson for fourth two laps after the lap 20 restart, and then took to the outside to pass Mackesy on lap 27. He then followed Volm past Weinkauf on lap 38 into second, then spent the final 22 laps chasing the leader.
Mondeik made a brief attempt on the outside for the lead on lap 45 but quickly tucked back in behind as Volm held the inside line and got a good run off the corners. The two continued to run nearly nose-to-tail until a Gajewski spin in turn 2 on lap 54, setting up a final seven-lap sprint to the finish. Volm got a good jump on the inside of Mondeik on the restart, though, and went largely unchallenged over the final laps.
Weinkauf finished third in the feature, his tenth top-3 finish in ten nights and third finish of third this year after seven runner-up placements. The Merrill native entered the night 12 points behind Mondeik in the standings and was going for his first-ever State Park Speedway track championship, and for a time early on was in position to capitalize with Mondeik near the back. Weinkauf’s chances faded as Mondeik made his way through the field, and he finished second to Mondeik in the standings for the second straight year.
The race began with Swanson and Mike Cox Jr. starting on the front row, and Swanson would lead the first 17 laps, the strongest run of the season for the former New Jersey resident and ARCA Series driver now living in Pembine. He first cleared Cox on the opening lap and later fended off the outer groove challenge of Alex Volm to lead until Weinkauf moved into second and then made his move on the outside of Swanson on lap 18.
Mark Mackesy finished fourth in the feature with Dillon Mackesy fifth. Swanson would slip back to ninth at the finish.
Auto Select Super Late Models pres. by C-Tech
Fast Qualifier: Justin Mondeik, Gleason, 13.816 sec.
First Heat: 1. Alex Volm, Mosinee; 2. Dillon Mackesy, Athens; 3. Mike Cox Jr., Hazelhurst; 4. Noah Gajewski, Marathon; 5. James Swanson, Pembine
Second Heat: 1. Jason Weinkauf, Merrill; 2. Mondeik; 3. Rayce Haase, Wausau; 4. Travis Volm, Wausau; 5. Mark Mackesy, Wausau; 6. Jerry Brickner, Wausau
Feature: 1. T. Volm; 2. Mondeik; 3. Weinkauf; 4. M. Mackesy; 5. D. Mackesy; 6. Brickner; 7. Haase; 8. Gajewski; 9. Swanson; 10. A. Volm; 11. Cox
Strachota ekes out mini stocks championship over Breitenfeldt in tiebreaker; Stankowski borrows car to clinch in pure stocks
WAUSAU, Wis. (Aug. 25) – The season-long battle between Garret Strachota and Eric Breitenfeldt for the Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks championship at State Park Speedway was so close, even the final checkered flag of the season didn’t reveal a season champion initially.
When Mark Schoone of Gleason edged Breitenfeldt to win the 20-lap feature on Season Championship Night while Strachota finished fourth, the result was a dead heat tie between Strachota and Breitenfeldt for the title with 828 points each. The championship came down to a tiebreaker, and Strachota held the advantage to claim his third career mini stocks crown at the Rib Mountain quarter-mile.
The first tiebreaker in the event of a tie is feature wins, and Strachota finished the season with four victories. That is one more than fellow Wausau driver Breitenfeldt, who crossed the line first in three features and also inherited the top spot after a disqualification in a fourth, though that is not considered an official win as first-place points are not awarded after a disqualification. If tied in feature wins, Strachota would’ve also had the advantage in the second tiebreaker of most fastest qualifying efforts, with a 3-0 advantage over Breitenfeldt.
Strachota and Breitenfeldt were part of a ferocious four-car battle for the win in the feature with Mark Schoone and his daughter Ashley Schoone. Mark Schoone and Breitenfeldt raced side-by-side for the lead for the final nine laps, with Ashley Schoone and Strachota right behind them right to the finish.
Breitenfeldt held a slim lead on the outside of Mark Schoone on laps 12 and 13, and after contact between the top two Strachota made an attempt to pass both of them on the high side on lap 14. Strachota would back out, and the top two would remain nearly deadlocked for the next five laps.
Mark Schoone finally gained a slim advantage coming to the white flag, with Breitenfeldt still on the outside. Schoone would hold on to win by half a car length, and Ashley Schoone edged ahead of Strachota by 29 one-thousandths of a second to finish third. One more position difference from Strachota would’ve given Breitenfeldt an additional five points needed to clinch the championship outright.
With the help of a fellow racer, Wausau’s Mitch Stankowski clinched his second straight Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks championship while Athens native Brian Plisch scored his first-ever feature win at State Park Speedway on a night when one of the track’s greats also closed out a stellar racing career.
Plisch took the lead from early leader Jim Annala of Westboro on lap 7, cleared him three laps later and pulled away as the pack raced side-by-side behind him. He went on to his second career feature win, his first coming earlier this season at Golden Sands Speedway.
Meanwhile, a smooth and often dominating season for Stankowski took a bad turn in practice laps before qualifying, when his car stalled coming off the track with a broken transmission. Stankowski was able to borrow the car of fellow competitor Brett Breitenfeldt, though, and despite pulling off late in the feature he finished 16 points ahead of Schramm in the season standings.
The night also marked the final race for Schramm, who is retiring from racing after an outstanding career at State Park that includes six track championships, including three straight in the pure stocks from 2018-20. Schramm posted a heat win on his final night and finished second in the feature.
Season Championship Night in the Snap-on Mini Mods proved to be a big one for the class’s two Snap-on sponsored No. 31 cars. “Snappy” Joe Kuehn of Wausau wrapped up his first-ever mini mods championship, while Wausau’s Josh Willhite ran away with the 20-lap feature race.
Willhite stormed into the lead on a lap 4 restart and quickly built a straightaway lead on his nearest competition. He held that lead to the end and cruised to his third feature win of the season.
Kuehn entered the night needing to just start the feature to clinch the championship, and he finished the season 10-for-10 in posting top five finishes, coming in fourth. He finished 54 points ahead of Willhite in the season standings, while Chad Ferge saw his feature race end early after hitting the outside wall in turn 2 and dropped behind Willhite to finish third in the standings.
Zach Degner of Merrill finished second in the feature and also added a heat win in his first race at State Park and the return of the George Seliger No. 06 car to the track. Normally a racer on dirt at Tomahwak Speedway, Degner drove the car of Seliger, his friend and a four-time SPS mini mods champion who passed away in a motorcycle accident July 31.
Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Jevin Guralski, Wausau, 15.416 sec.
First Heat: 1. Brian Plisch, Athens; 2. Dave Cabelka, Wausau; 3. Jim Annala, Westboro: 4. Kyle Check, Shantytown
Second Heat: 1. Brian Schramm, Wausau; 2. Guralski; 3. Mitch Stankowski, Wausau; 4. Jeff Spatz, Wausau
Feature: 1. Plisch; 2. Schramm; 3. Cabelka; 4. Guralski; 5. Spatz; 6. Annala; 7. Check; 8. Stankowski
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Chad Ferge, Wausau, 15.857 sec.
First Heat: 1. Hunter Landwehr, Stratford; 2. Dale Louze, Mosinee; 3. Joe Kuehn, Wausau; 4. Brian Marquardt, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Zach Degner, Merrill; 2. Josh Willhite, Wausau; 3. Ferge; 4. Keagen Benz, Wausau
Feature: 1. Willhite; 2. Degner; 3. Louze; 4. Kuehn; 5. Landwehr; 6. Jim Lietz, Mosinee; 7. Benz; 8. Marquardt; 9. Ferge
Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Garret Strachota, Wausau, 16.589 sec.
First Heat: 1. Zack Rogers, Wausau; 2. Mark Schoone, Gleason; 3. Heidi Cuff, Endeavor; 4. Mike Heidmann, Edgar; 5. Kendra Baumann, Wausau
Second Heat: 1. Branden Sischo, Stratford; 2. Amanda Rowe, Mosinee; 3. Tyler Muller, Sun Prairie; 4. Joey Blaschka, Wausau; 5. Brad Lecher, Wausau
Third Heat: 1. Ashley Schoone, Gleason; 2. Eric Breitenfeldt, Wausau; 3. Tom Lecher, Wausau; 4. Strachota; 5. Zach Budleski, Wausau; 6. Luke Mikula, Wausau
Feature: 1. M. Schoone; 2. Breitenfeldt; 3. A. Schoone; 4. Strachota; 5. Sischo; 6. Blaschka; 7. Rowe; 8. Mikula; 9. T. Lecher; 10. Muller; 11. Rogers; 12. Cuff; 13. Budleski; 14. Baumann; 15. B. Lecher