The 50th Anniversary season for the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints will draw to a close this Saturday night in a big way. The Checkered Flag Classic will be held at one of the largest, and fastest tracks on the IRA tour as the Winged 900 horsepower machines invade the Dodge County Fairgrounds half-mile clay oval located just three miles east of Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
Tight point battles in several top ten positions within the IRA Sprint series standings will add additional drama to an already action-packed program that will also feature the final point night for the MSA 360 Sprints.
Fans will get event more high-speed action with the addition of Late Models to the program. This gives fans a chance to see the fastest cars on clay, both open-wheeled and fendered. The Late Model portion of the show will showcase the fastest full-bodied cars to race in the state. If speed is the attraction the Dodge County Fairgrounds needs to be your destination this Saturday night.
Heading into the program the 2016 Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint series title is still on the line but it’s currently in the hands of 2013 Rookie of the Year Jeremy Schultz to seal the deal and bring home the title. Schultz, who wrapped up his third Wilmot Raceway Sprint Car title last weekend comes into the show with an 86 point lead on his nearest rival Scotty Thiel.
To make the crown his Schultz needs to lock himself in the main event and take the green flag, once that happens he will earn his first career Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint Series title. Schultz will have earned the crown with an impressive 22 top ten finishes in 29 starts, and 17 top five performances which included a streak of nine straight top five runs during the mid-portion of the 2016 campaign.
Thiel remains a mathematical possibility for the championship but he will need help. Not only will he have to increase his odds by claiming the victory, which would be his fourth of the season, he will need to see Schultz have some bad luck and somehow miss the main event.
No matter the outcome Thiel has a breakout season with the Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprints this year having collected three victories including back to back wins during a weekend main event sweep back in mid-June.
However, the closest point battle among the leaders will determine the fifth through seventh position. Last season’s Rookie of the Year Kyle Marten holds down the fifth spot with a 17-point gap on Blake Nimee. Marten has remained consistent throughout the year while Nimee has been hampered by various mechanical troubles and plain bad luck. For either driver, a top five point finish is a solid foundation heading into 2017.
Not to be counted out of the battle of Matt Vandervere. The young charger had turned in an impressive season and has showcased his developing talent. Whatever the outcome for Vandervere the 2016 season will go into the books as a breakout year for the talented racer. Vandervere is a mere 20 points back from the fifth spot.
The other battle to watch for is for the final top ten position.
Scott Uttech currently has the spot by 13 points over Ben Schmidt. Uttech who competes on a modest budget had performed well when avoiding mechanical ills that have plagued his late season performances. Schmidt on the other had made a dramatic comeback after losing a ride with a race team he had been with for years. Schmidt has driven the 2016 schedule behind the wheel with four different race teams before landing a ride owned by Brandon Thone.
A top ten finish for either driver is perhaps salvation for a rather trying year.
Other drivers expected to make some noise this Saturday night include Scotty Neitzel. The two-time Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint series champ won the most recent IRA event at the track held back in August and confidence is high in the Neitzel camp for a repeat.
Mike Kertscher is another driver to watch having won two events over the past two weekends. First, he outran Mike Reinke for the victory at the Beaver Dam Raceway in the most recent IRA event that was held two weeks ago. Then he captured the win on championship night at Wilmot Raceway. A victory at Dodge County Fairgrounds would allow Kertscher to conclude his season running the table with three straight wins.
Reinke who pressured Kertscher at Beaver Dam is running his 25th season in motorsports and would like to close out the campaign with a victory. Reinke has three runner-up performances this year but thus far a victory has eluded him. Remarkably quick, Reinke remains one of the hardest charging drivers on the circuit and the Dodge County Fairgrounds track plays directly to his driving style.
Add to the mix seven-time series champ Bill Balog who is seeking to earn one more win this year to close out the season with an even dozen checkered flags to his credit.
Fans can witness all the drama this Saturday Night, October 1st at the Dodge County Fairgrounds.
The event will showcase the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints which will be joined by the MSA/PDTR 360’s and area WDLMA Late Models.
Pit Gates will open at 3:00 pm, spectator gates open 5:00 pm, with warm-ups at 6pm with hot laps to follow, qualifying is set for 6:45 pm with racing to follow at the completion of qualifying.
Spectator Admission is $25 for adults, with children ages 6-12 admitted for $5. Children ages 5 and younger are FREE with an adult admission.
The Dodge County Fairgrounds is located on highway 33, just 2 miles east of Beaver Dam and just west of highway 26.
For additional information please see http://www.dodgecountyfairgrounds.com
For more information on the IRA Outlaw Sprints check out the tour website at www.irasprints.com or by logging onto the series Facebook page at www.facebook.com/irasprints the series is also on twitter at #IRA_sprints.
The IRA Sprints are presented by its long time supporting series partners. The series support is led by title sponsor Bumper to Bumper Auto Parts & Service Centers, and associate series partners Hoosier Tire, Osborn & Son Trucking, TW Metals, Cummins Onan, and Twin Lakes Marine.