Rookie Van Iten Claims First IMCA Modified Feature Flag!
By Joe Verdegan
May 17, 2002; Luxemburg, WI. – Green Bay rookie Eric Van Iten grabbed the lead on lap six and held on to win his first career 25 lap IMCA modified feature at Luxemburg Speedway Friday night.
A total of 104 cars took part in the program. The field included 39 IMCA modifieds, 31 IMCA stock cars, 23 street stocks and 11 sport trucks.
A bit of drama developed at the start of the race when polesitter and defending champion RM Van Pay was forced to pit prior to taking the green. Van Pay was forced to rejoin the field from the back. That moved Mike Coel of Baileys Harbor into the pole position. Coel shot into the lead at the drop of the green, with Van Iten and Jared Siefert in hot pursuit.
Coel maintained the lead until lap four when Van Iten scooted around the Baileys Harbor driver to take the lead. A yellow flew one one circuit when Dean Maurer and Eric Scribner tangled in turn three. When racing resumed Van Iten kept the lead when Coel, who was running second, spun in turn one as the green flag was thrown. Coel refired his racer and the contest stayed green with Siefert closing in on Van Iten in the second spot. While Siefert was able to keep Van Iten within striking distance Van Iten kept a three car length buffer between the two.
By lap 10 Beaver Dam ace Jay Schraufnagel had charged from his eighth starting spot and began reeling in Siefert, pressuring the Green Bay driver for second. Van Iten had built his cushion over Siefert and Schraufnagel. Van Iten began sifting his way through lapped cars by lap 16. Van Iten put his machine on cruise control the balance of the race, chalking up his first feature win in a modified. Siefert survived late pressure from Schraufnagel to hang on to second. Schraufnagel took third, followed by Todd Dart and Eddie Muenster, who burst through the field from 19th to take fifth place, padding his points lead in the process.
Defending IMCA stock car champion Benji LaCrosse marched from his 12th starting spot and emerged on top of a race long lead-swapping battle with Pulaski’s Brandon Czarapata to win the 22 lap IMCA stock car feature. LaCrosse became the first driver to repeat as a feature winner in the division.
Horicon’s Jeremy Christians wrestled the lead away from polesitter Corey Lemirande on the opening circuit of the contest. On lap three action slowed when Greg Gretz and Brian Bruechert locked horns in turn four, drawing a yellow. When racing resumed, Brandon Czarapata stormed from his row seven starting spot into the third spot by lap three. Czarapata bolted past second place runner Kyle Frederick into second on lap five, and slipping by Christians for the lead on lap six. Meanwhile LaCrosse had threaded his way through the field to take second away from Christians. LaCrosse stuck his racer in the low groove, as he and Czarapata proceeded to swap the lead four times over the course of the next five laps.
John Heinz joined the fray by lap 15, making it a four car battle for the lead. LaCrosse stayed committed down low, and the move paid off as the hometown driver hung on for the tough win. Trailing LaCrosse at the checkers were Czarapata, Heinz, Tim Van De Hei and Jason Czarapata.
Green Bay’s Mike Coel grabbed the lead at the halfway point and cruised to victory in the 20 lap street stock feature. The win was Coel’s first of the season.
The contest was slowed by five yellow flags, four of which flew in the first four laps of the race. Trailing Coel at the checkers were Phil Hiles, Ed Anschutz, last week’s winner Charlie Kroll and Dan “Hollywood” Davister.
New Franken’s Dean Wiltzius scored a sweep in the sport truck class, winning both the 12 lap feature and 8 lap heat race. The feature win was Wiltzius’ first of the season.
The action was halted during the third modified heat when Bruce Jerovetz flipped his racer off the track near turn two. Jerovetz escaped uninjured but his car received significant damage.
WISSOTA late model drivers Tim Buhler of Glenbeulah, Doug Blashe of Marion and Greg Dhein of Waupaca thrilled the crowd with an exhibition race at intermission. The drivers were preparing for the June 7 “Battle of The Burg'” 50 lap late model feature to be held on June 7.
Next Friday night the bombers will make their second appearance of the season as the rotating class for the week. They will be joined by the IMCA modifieds, IMCA stock cars and street stocks. Action gets underway promptly at 7 p.m.
LUXEMBURG SPEEDWAY RACE RESULTS 5-17-02
25 Lap feature – Eric Van Iten, Green Bay; Jared Siefert, Green Bay; Jay Schraufnagel, Beaver Dam; Todd Dart, Algoma; Eddie Muenster, Green Bay; Brian Mullen, Seymour
12 lap semi-feature: Randy LeMieux, Sturgeon Bay; Dean Maurer, De Pere; Eddie Muenster; Dan Ratajczak, Frog Station
First 10 lap heat: Siefert; Scott Mullen, Seymour
Second: RM Van Pay, Green Bay; Chris Derenne, Luxemburg
Third: Jay Schraufnagel, Beaver Dam; Brian Mullen
Fourth: Van Iten; Mike Coel, Baileys Harbor
IMCA stock car
22 Lap feature – Benji LaCrosse, Luxemburg; Brandon Czarapata, Pulaski; John Heinz, Green Bay; Tim Van De Hei, Green Bay; Jason Czarapata, Pulaski; Jeremy Christians, Horicon
12 lap semi-feature – Van De Hei; Craig Paque, Algoma; Heinz; Jason Czarapata
First 10 lap heat: Kyle Frederick, Gillett; Brian Bruechert, Kewaunee
Second: Greg Gretz, Kewaunee; Shawn Kilgore, Kewaunee
Third: Dave Davister, Luxemburg; Christians
20 Lap feature – Mike Coel, Green Bay; Phil Hiles, Appleton; Ed Anschutz, Algoma; Charlie Kroll, Algoma; Dan Davister, Luxemburg; Laurel Ettien, Luxemburg
8 lap semi-feature – Troy Wilson, Sobieski; James, Tebon, Algoma; Von Eychteson, Forestville; Ettien
First 10 lap heat: Charlie Kroll; Hiles
Second: Anschutz; JR Van Rixel, Abrams
12 Lap feature -Dean Wiltzius, New Franken; Kevin Strebel, Green Bay; Ed Danoff, Green Bay
8 lap heat – Wiltzius; Dave Davister, Luxemburg