By: Paul Reichert
Didn’t we just start the season? That was fans were wondering as we witnessed the final night of weekly racing at the LaCrosse Speedway for 2018. It turned an exciting and action packed night to conclude weekly racing before we crown champions at the Oktoberfest Race Weekend. Feature number one saw Michael Beamish breakthrough for his first ever La Crosse victory. Nick Panitzke claimed victory in the second feature and put himself back in the championship hunt heading to Oktoberfest.
Brent Kirchner shot past Justin Mullikin for the lead at the start of NASCAR Late Model feature #1. Kirchner would lead the first half of the race, but he would not drive away from Mullikin. Mullikin stayed within a few car lengths of Kirchner as the race continued. With the field catching up to the lead two, Mullikin made his move and got around Kirchner to take the lead on lap 13. With three laps to go, yellow flew for a major incident in turn three. Steve Carlson and Kirchner made contact, sending Carlson spinning into the infield grass. Michael Beamish lined up alongside Mullikin for the restart, and surged by to take command of the race. Beamish drove away to claim his first ever win at La Crosse. After the race, Beamish beamed with excitement in his interview. “The yellow gave me my opportunity to go for the win.” Mike Carlson and Nick Panitzke got by Mullikin late to take second and third, with Brad Powell rounding out the top five.
Tony Bagstad nosed ahead of Jerimy Wagner to take the lead early in NASCAR Late Model feature #2. Wagner fought back and got around Bagstad for the lead a lap later. Yellow flew on lap nine for a big incident on the front straight. The driveshaft failed on Mike Ehde’s car, causing him to spin. Unfortunately, he was in the path of both Tom Carlson and Randy Humfeld who piled into him. All cars were badly damaged, but all drivers were doing fine. Cole Howland took to the outside of Wagner on the restart, and Cole wasted little time to take the lead. Nick Panitzke charged through the field before catching and passing Howland for the lead on lap 12. Pantizke pulled away from the field over the final eight laps to claim another victory. After the race, Panitzke said “The car was on a rail tonight. We needed things to string out in the second feature, and they did.” Howland took second, while Brad Powell fought off both Matthew Henderson and Mike Carlson in the closing laps to maintain third.
Sam Niles took the lead from Keith Kirchner four laps into the Sportsmen feature. Niles would lead a train of challengers in the second half of the race that included Chris Weber, Dan Gilster, Steve Bachman and Tom Luethe. Niles kept them all behind him in the final few laps to score his first-ever feature win.
Jason Bolster took the lead on lap six of the Thunderstox feature, then had to fight off a hard charging Adam Moore to capture his first victory of the season. The lead in the Street Stock feature turned into a yo-yo going back and forth between Zach Liebsch and John Clauson. Liebsch took the lead for good with three to go and claimed his first win of 2018.
This was also the final night of Bud Dash racing for the top three divisions. Claiming the 2018 championships were Steve Carlson in the NASCAR Late Models, Tom Luethe in the Sportsmen and Mark Challet in the Thunderstox.
We also decided who the final four would be in the Late Model and Sportsmen Chase Championships heading into Oktoberfest. The NASCAR Late Model Chase will be settled between Nick Pantizke, Mike Carlson, Cole Howland and . The Sportsmen Chase has come down to Steve Bachman, Chris Weber, Tom Luethe and Sam Niles.
While racing takes a break before the 49th Annual Oktoberfest Race Weekend happens, there will be activity out here at the LaCrosse Speedway over the next few weeks. Join us next Saturday, August 25th for a special Saturday edition of the Friday Night Street Drags, presented by Sea Foam Motor Treatment. This will be a makeup of a rained out show from earlier in the season. Then on Saturday, September 1st, get your Labor Day weekend started with the annual Quarter Mile Mania show. The highlight will be the 200-lap enduro for four and six cylinder cars. You will also see the Street Stocks and the Mini-Vans in action. All the quarter-mile action starts at 7:30.
For more information about 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.