Fan Notes from Friday Mansfield Sprint Car World Championship Prelims

Friday, May 31, 2019
Mansfield Motorsports ParkMansfield Motorsports Park (Tom Myers) 5/31/2019- I was here yesterday for the opening round of double features……and with a 15% chance of rain, a big shower settled over the track midway through hot laps and washed the thing out. Afterwards, it was sunny and clear for the remainder of the evening. Ohio weather this spring has mimicked living in a rain forest. I mean, 15% chance, and every time a race is scheduled this year….we get 100% rain!..or at least it seems this way.

Friday was better, much better. I left work early and arrived at the track as they were starting hot laps, around 5:30 or so. The lady at the pit shack recognized me….she said, you are Tom Myers. I asked her if it was a good thing that she remembered my name or if it was for bad reasons? Ha Ha. After a laugh, I got my pit pass and off I went. I walked directly to the stands to grab a seat and immediately found a friend who we see at Attica quite often. Pops is not feeling good so I was flying solo this evening. It felt good to find a familiar face….It’s always better when you can find someone to talk racing with while at the track.

This facility is amazing. It’s state of the art seating, lighting, etc. The stands are huge and even with a big crowd there is still room to find seats! The track looked smooth and tacky at first….but when the cars got on, it developed some dry spots and ruts but remained tacky in other spots. During hot laps, the dust was showering the grandstand and it was thick. Luckily the wind started blowing from the west later in the evening and kept the dust at bay. The bump in turn 3 looked like it was gone this year and that’s good. New dirt was sifted and put on the track this spring and this was the first action of the year on it.
Sammy SwindellSammy Swindell 60 cars are in the pits tonight. Wow, what a field! Dewease, Madsen, Brown, Wolfe, Wagner, Kofoid, Shaffer, Swindell, Haudenschild, Reutzel, Gio Scelzi, PPM, Cory Eliason and Dave Blaney, to name a few. Hunter Schuerenburg is driving the Swindell Speed Labs 39 car tonight. Danny Mumaw is in a Grove sponsored 28 car. Cale Conley is in his own 3c car again, after his All Star ride folded up. Kody Swanson is here in a black 12 car. That was kind of a surprise to see him but very cool.

We get word after hot laps that Dale Blaney is changing a motor. Already some adversity! It’s so important to time well with this format because every time you are on the track you are earning points…points that accumulate and determine your heat race and feature positions on Saturday for the big money. Chet Christner, my favorite announcer is here. We just learned from Chet that the grass covered hill area around turn 3 and 4 is called the grassy knoll!

There are two groups of timers. The top 12 timers are inverted in the heats. The fastest time trial car in each heat will start 4th. Ryan Broughton had to time 3 times because of a transponder malfunction! On the third try, his left wing panel flies off! But he keeps it under control!
Paige PolyakPaige Polyak The fast way around looks like it’s in the middle of the turns. It’s bumpy and loose up high and bumpy down low. . Justin Peck pops out of gear and doesn’t get a good time. Lance Dewease is your fast timer in group 1 and Aaron Reutzel is fast timer in group 2. Now on to the heat races.

There will be 6 heats, 8 laps each, top 5 go to one of tonight’s A mains. Heat race winners will re-draw for starting positions at the front of the A mains. After some track work, the track is smoother but still dusty in spots. Caleb Helms wins heat one followed by Ryan Smith. Defending champion Tim Shaffer made a nifty move diving under Mumaw at the exit of turn 4 down low between the wall and Mumaw to grab third. Mumaw was 4th followed by Lance Dewease. The leader has an advantage right now because it’s hard to pass with the best groove being in the middle. Not a lot of passing yet.

In heat 2, Trevor Baker spins in turn 2 and collect Dale Blaney. After a soft roll over, Blaney is done for the evening. Restart and heat 2 finish is Dean Jacobs, Abreu, Swindell, Eliason, Conley. Heat 3 got us Lee Jacobs, Kofoid, Bayston, D.J. Foos and Jordan Ryan. Heat 4 finish with the group 2 cars is Reutzel, Duncan, McMahon, Schurenburg, and Wolfe. Duncan lead the whole race until the last lap when he bobbled in turn 3 and Ruetzel made up about 10 car lengths and passed him out of 4 for the win. Heat 5 finish is Paige Polyak, with Haudenschild 2nd followed by PPM, Henry 4th and Zearfoss 5th, Dave Blaney 6th. On the last lap, teammate Gio Scelzi threw a torrid slider at PPM in turn 3, in an attempt to grab the 3rd spot….but he carried too much steam and rode up the track into the turn 4 wall and did a soft roll over. In the last heat it was Madsen, Brown, Saldana, Wilson, and Swanson. The other cars all dropped out or crashed out.
Cory Eliason (Prelim 1 A main Highlights from
Cory Eliason (Prelim 1 A main Highlights from
Madsen looks fast as does Reutzel. Actually, just a few racers look comfortable racing through the bumps and their cars seem to glide over the bumps. Their cars seem to be much more stable than the others. Most of the cars really hop or bounce through the ruts, causing the driver to lift or wrestle the steering to get the car pointed back in the right direction. It must be the shocks or the setup that keeps you smoother than the others through the ruts and ridges.

The track was running the show pretty fast. The B mains were underway around 8:45 and were entertaining. Wagner, Michaels, Peck, Gee and Hobaugh were the transfers from B main 1. The B main 2 finish was Tyler Gunn, Dave Blaney, Brubaker, Harble and Sye Lynch….all moving onto the 2nd A main.

After more track work, we were on to the 30 lap A mains. They smoothed the track out again but didn’t put water on it. It looked to be retaining some moisture and surprisingly, it didn’t take rubber, even after the 2nd A feature. The front of the first A main was Helms on the poll alongside Lee Jacobs, with Dean Jacobs and Abreu in row 2. After 3 start attempts, because of false starts and some tangles at the back, even one including Kofoid, we finally got going. Kofoid was a row 3 starter who spun in turn 2 on one of the starts and had to go to the tail to start his race. On the last and first good start attempt, Helms was outgunned by Jacobs.
Aaron Reutzel (Prelim 2 A main Highlights from
Aaron Reutzel (Prelim 2 A main Highlights from
D.J Foos brought out a yellow on lap 2 by stopping on the front stretch. Jacobs then led a good portion of this feature as Helms faded. Caleb’s motor would stumble on the restarts and that hurt him for position almost every time. Abreu got by Helms around lap 7 or 8 and set sail for Jacobs and got within striking distance in traffic a few times but couldn’t pass. Jacobs then spins it out in turn 1 on lap 13, handing Abreu the lead. The running order is Abreu, Helms, Shaffer, Ryan Smith, Swindell, Eliason, up from 11th, and Kofoid, up from the tail! Then you have Dean Jacobs, Bayston, Peck, and Conley. Rico’s front wing is cockeyed as well as Ryan Smith’s front wing. On the restart Abreu forges ahead looking unbeatable as Helms fades. On lap 21 the order was Rico, Shaffer and Sammy Swindell in third until Swindell cuts down a tire in turn 3 and now Eliason is in third followed by Helms and Kofoid, who is now in 5th! On the restart, Conley gets upside down….but not before Eliason gets by Shaffer for 2nd and Kofoid gets past Helms for 4th. On the red flag stop, Rico gets interviewed and says his strategy is to run like hell! Ha Ha. Rico is using the high line and keeping up good momentum but Eliason is really coming! When action resumes, Eliason gets past Abreu on lap 24 and wins it followed by Shaffer, Koifoid, Bayston and Helms. Nice race Eliason, who wins it from the 11th starting spot!

In A main 2, the front row is Paige Polyak on the pole alongside Kerry Madsen. Row 2 is Ruetzel and Duncan with Haudenschild and Brown in row 3. We get the 2nd A main going and on lap 1, McMahon gets a flat and Schurenburg breaks the front axle…both go to the pits. Then on the 2nd lap restart Polyak bounces through turn 3 and gets sideways and does a soft roll and Haudenschild t-bones her. Duncan has a rear end lock up as well, stopping in turn 4. When action resumes, Madsen takes command and looks to be the eventual winner but he slows on lap 16 bringing out the caution. He was done for the night and visibly upset about it. Ruetzel had been lurking in second and got close to Kerry in traffic a few times, putting on a nice battle, but could not pass. The running order is now Reutzel, Henry, PPM, Zearfoss, Brown, Saldana, Gunn, and Lucas Wolfe, Dave Blaney and Gio Scelzi. On the restart, Reutzel goes on to win, powering thru the turns effortlessly followed by Henry, and Brown, PPM, Saldana and Zearfoss.

Wow, that was a lot of racing, let’s do this again tomorrow! Thank you Mansfield Motor Speedway and thank you to the drivers and race teams! (Night 2 was postponed)