Auto Racing: Wisconsinite Chris Weinkauf wins ARCA event at Grundy County Speedway
By Tony Baranek email@example.com June 20, 2014 11:30PM
Chris Weinkauf uses the bottom groove to take the lead and win the first heat during the ARCA Midwest Tour event Friday night at Grundy County Speedway. Weinkauf went on to lead all 100 laps of the Calypso 100/Wayne Carter Classic. | Brian Nolte/For Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 21, 2014 6:39PM
Close, but unchanging.
Those were the first 70 laps of Friday night’s ARCA Midwest Tour Calypso 100/Wayne Carter Classic at Grundy County Speedway.
The final 30?
Not close, and unchanging. Unchanging up front anyway, where Chris Weinkauf completed a wire-to-wire victory before a large throng at the three-eighths-mile oval.
The win was the first on the ARCA tour for the 39-year-old Merrill, Wisconsin, native.
“We figured we had one due,” Weinkauf said. “We qualified real bad so we got some track position (for the heat), so that obviously helped us and got us where we were at.”
That would be on the pole for the feature, after winning the first of two heats. Weinkauf quickly jumped in front of front-row partner and other heat winner Nick Barstad, a position Weinkauf stayed in for the entire race.
The best challenge to Weinkauf was made by 2013 race champion Jonathan Eilen, who spent many laps glued to the back bumper of the leader.
Weinkauf and Eilen were soon joined by Ty Majeski, and the trio took off from the pack and stayed in 1-2-3 close order until lap 69, when Weinkauf lapped Larry Schuler on the outside and took off.
“Eilen is really really good at the end of a race so we weren’t sure if he had something for us in the late stages,” Weinkauf said. “But then when they started battling we pulled away.”
Shortly before Weinkauf’s pullaway, Majeski swiped second place from Eilen.
“About halfway through there we had a plug wire or something must have come out, because she was running on only seven cylinders,” Eilen said. “But that’s the way it goes sometimes.”
Majeski, who won the ARCA event earlier in the season at Illiana Speedway, couldn’t make up ground on Weinkauf as they worked through lapped traffic.
“It was really tough racing out there,” Majeski said. “It’s real tough to pass here. I had to start pretty deep in the field and wore the tires out a little more than I needed to. But it was fun racing with Jonathan there at the end, and it was nice to bring it home second.”
Grundy points leader Ricky Baker was the top local finisher, landing in fourth, ahead of Eddie Hoffman, Cardell Porter, Nathan Haseleu, Matt Kocourek and James Swan.
A wreck-filled second leg of the Grundy/Illiana Street Stock Challenge went to Chris Woodall.
Woodall took the lead on lap 17 from Peter Hernandez, who was behind the wheel of Cheryl Hryn’s No. 8. Woodall beat Eddie Ligue to the line by 2.210 seconds.
“It was tough at the start (with several yellows). It felt like 100 laps instead of 30,” Woodall said. “I finally got a good restart and got on the outside and got the lead. I was in good shape once I got the lead, and thankfully I held on to it.”
Hernandez held on for third, ahead of Bob Davis, Jacob McKown and Craig Matteson.
Street stock heats went to Michael Gerike, Mark Ross Jr. and Davis.
The second leg of the Grundy/Illiana Pure Stocks Challenge saw less mayhem. Spencer Leake passed Ryan Gilliam on lap 7 and ran away with the 20-lap event. Ryan Lagestee was second, followed by Ricky Wilson, Dan Schmeissing, Matt Baikie and Blaine Passini.
Pure stock heats were captured by Tom Crawford Sr., Gilliam and Schmeissing. The semi went to Justin Mikel.