By: Paul Reichert
Summer is now in full effect in the Coulee Region. With the 4th of July holiday here, it is a time to celebrate summer and this great country of ours. A huge crowd turned out for a special Tuesday night show at the LaCrosse Speedway, the annual Star Spangled Spectacular. The top two in the points were the main attractions of the evening. Reigning track champ Nick Pantizke scored the win in the first feature, while Steve Carlson drove off with the victory in feature number two.
Multi-time Madison champ Bobby Wilberg got around Mike Carlson to lead the first five circuits of feature number one for the NASCAR Late Models. Yellow flew on lap six for Brad Muller’s hard hit into the turn three wall. On the double file restart, fast qualifier Cole Howland motored by Wilberg to take over the race lead. Cole put some distance on Wilberg, who had to fight off the likes of Jacob Goede, Nick Panitzke and Steve Carlson. Yellow slowed the race with six laps to go for Jonathan Eckelberg’s stalled car on the front straight. After battling with Howland for the first two laps after the restart, Pantizke got around to take control of the race. A late race yellow set up a two-lap shootout, but no one had anything for Pantizke as he powered his way to his second straight win. Howland held off Steve Carlson for second, while Goede and Wilberg completed the top five.
The second feature for the NASCAR Late Models did not start well as Melissa Rusch and Jonathan Eckelberg came together on the front straight. Michael Beamish got by Nick Clements on the second try to take the top spot. Beamish would hold the lead through a second yellow just before halfway for contact between Jacob Goede and Matthew Henderson on the front straight. As the field came to green, another yellow quickly flew when Cole Howland lost it in turn four. Beamish now had Steve Carlson on his bumper. “The King of the Short Tracks” got around Beamish with six laps to go. A third caution came out with five laps to go for Carter Christenson’s spin. The checking up also caused Tony Bagstad to run up against the front straight wall. Carlson would drive away from the field on the final restart to claim his fifth win of the season. After the race, Carlson said “In the first feature, my car was a top five car at best. My crew made some adjustments, and my car came to life in the second feature.” Beamish scored a career-best second, followed by Panitzke, Clements and Wilberg.
Steve Bachman got to the front of the Sportsmen feature by lap three, and then the black 14 left the entire field in his wake. Bachman would build up a quarter-lap advantage over Chris Weber to capture a runaway win.
Brad Warthan returned to the Thunderstox wars for the first time in five years. Driving Brandon Gallagher’s car, Warthan took the lead on lap three and drove off a comfortable win in the feature event. The Hornet feature witnessed a great side-by-side battle between Kris Berg and Jimmy Bjorkman. Bjorkman would get the better of that battle and cruise to the win. Capping off the evening was the Race in Total Darkness. Adam Moore would stay ahead of Brad Warthan to claim a ‘lights out’ win.
Action continues on Saturday night, July 7th with the NASCAR Late Models, Sportsmen, Thunderstox, Street Stocks and their 2nd Over the Line Wins novelty race. Gates open at 6:00, qualifying takes place at 6:15 and racing begins at 7:30.
For more information on LaCrosse Speedway or the 2018 schedule of events, please call the office at 608-786-1525 or visit lacrossespeedway.com. LaCrosse Speedway is proud to be a NASCAR Hometrack, part of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.