KAUKAUNA, Wis. (September 1, 2022) – Sometimes the last night of the year is the perfect time for first-time happenings. After many seasons of getting closer and closer, Michael Anthony was able to score his first Super Late Model win. After a few attempts with different teams, Dalton Zehr was able to secure his first Fox River Racing Club Championship.
Anthony outdueled fellow front-row starter Curt Tillman at the start of the 35-lap feature presented by Valley Liquor and Busch Light. He then held off Kyle Calmes on a restart with 12 laps remaining to seal the deal.
In Victory Lane, Anthony reflected on the journey to his first win since he began in the division in 2008. The victory held special significance for Anthony whose family has a long history of competing at Wisconsin International Raceway, both behind the wheel and as car owners.
In the first ten laps of the main, Anthony was able to build a healthy lead over the rest of the pack as Curt Tillman was left to try to fend off Calmes, Taylor Vandermoss and Sawyer Effertz. At the halfway point Calmes secured Second from Tillman and started to close the large gap on Anthony. Just a few laps later Effertz, Zehr, and fellow point contender Jeff VanOudenhoven moved into the Top Five.
As Calmes was closing the gap, Anthony approached lapped traffic. The race, and the Championship battle hit a critical point on lap 23. Aaron Fredrickson hit some fluid on the track, spinning in front of the leaders. Although most were able to miss, VanOudenhoven got into the same fluid and was unable to avoid the stopped car. His car was heavily damaged, and he would be forced to delay his bid for a sixth Championship until next year.
On the restart Anthony and Calmes jousted back and forth for three laps. Although Calmes had nosed ahead to the lead several times, Anthony reclaimed the top spot on lap 26. He then pulled away and left Calmes to try to fight off Effertz.
Over the final nine laps Anthony held a three-to-four-car-length advantage over the furious battle for the runner up spot. The battle helped him check out and score the win. Effertz nipped Calmes for Second, Zehr claimed the title with a Fourth Place finish, and Andy Monday rounded out the Top Five.
For Zehr, the Championship was another to add to his lengthy resume. It came as a bit of a surprise to the team as they didn’t plan to run the full 2022 schedule on Thursday nights. After the early rainouts and two feature wins to start the year, the team decided to chase the title, and were able to cap it off with four wins and 12 Top Fives in 14 events.
STRELKA SURPRISES FIELD, MONDAY CRUISES TO TITLE
It may not be surprising that Brent Strelka picked up his third Late Model win of the season, but the fashion he did it in was a bit out of the ordinary. Strelka missed qualifying, but still stormed through the field, grabbing the lead halfway through the 20-lap feature and never looking back.
The triple 7 club of Nathan Brantmeier, Even Beattie, Brian Henry held down the Top Three spots early in the main. On lap seven, Beattie made his move to take the lead from Brantmeier. This opened the door for Nate Van Wychen and Strelka to follow into the Top Three.
With some open space, Strelka made his move around Van Wychen and quickly went to work on Beattie. Coming to the line on lap ten Strelka jumped to the inside and took the top spot. Van Wychen followed one lap later, taking Second.
In the second half of the race the Top Five went into ride mode with Beattie and Henry behind the Top Two. In the Fifth spot, Bryan Monday was minding his own, making sure to lock in yet another consistent finish. Monday, who had been close to the Thursday night title on several occasions, had a commanding lead coming into the night. His Fifth Place finish was more than enough to claim the title.
Monday made some history with the Championship, as well. He became the first driver to win FRRC titles in three divisions (Sport Trucks and Sizzlin’ 4s).
VANDERLOOP WINS FIFTH SUPER STOCK FEATURE, TEAM OF MUELLER AND MEYERHOFER CLAIM SECOND STRAIGHT TITLE
It was a night of waiting in the Super Stocks. Cody Vanderloop had to wait for his Victory Lane interview (more on that later) and the Championship decision had to wait until after post-race inspection.
Vanderloop dashed through the field in the first half of the race, catching the Top Three by lap seven. He then shot around the outside of Trevor Howard for Third, Clint Evans for Second, and Chris Busse for the lead in the next two laps.
As Vanderloop built his lead, Howard patiently waited for his openings. Leading the point battle over the team car of Josh Mueller and Mitch Meyerhofer coming into the main, he needed just to stay out of trouble to hold the advantage. Howard came across the line in Third with Josh Mueller in Ninth.
However, a post-race disqualification took the finish and points away from Howard for the night. Despite a tough night that included a small fire in the heat race, the Championship was awarded to Mueller and his teammate Meyerhofer. The title is their second straight in the division.
VANDERLOOP GRABS SPORT TRUCK WIN TOO, WAUTIER SECURES TITLE
Cody Vanderloop was far from done when he took the Super Stock win. He then did what he had done earlier this year – jumped behind the wheel of his Sport Truck and won that feature too. Bobby Wautier claimed his second straight Sport Truck Championship with a Third Place finish.
The feature got off to a wild start with Kasey Vanderloop and Kyle Wittman hooking together momentarily behind early-race leader Kylee Vandermoss. That mini melee gave Jason Plutz the opportunity to dart into Second.
Plutz took the lead coming to the line on lap six. Three laps later Vanderloop chased down Jason Vanhandel and took Third. He then closed in on Vandermoss on lap 12 to take Second. One lap later Kasey Vanderloop and Vandermoss tangled, resulting in the lone caution of the race.
Cody Vanderloop held close with Plutz after the green flag, then took the lead. He held off a late challenge from Plutz, but held on. Wautier was Third, Vanhandel Fourth, and Landon Braatz was Fifth.
Despite feeling the heat late in the title run, Wautier put together another incredible season. He completed every lap of competition, collected eight wins, and was in the Top Five in each of the 14 features this season.
CZARAPATA BESTS FOURS, FICKEL HOLDS ON FOR TITLE
Jeremy Czarapata grabbed the last checkered flag of the season for the Sizzlin’ 4s with Justin Fickel holding off the team of Tom and Kurt Schweitzer by just four points.
Czarapata outdueled Shane Schwaller in the first four laps of the 20-lap feature event. He secure the lead after a side-by-side duel on lap six. Gavin Klein snuck up to take the top spot away from Czarapata on lap 11, but then begun to fade. Czarapata took the lead back with seven laps remaining. Larry Gintner followed him into Second a few laps later. Behind them Issac Therrien edged his way to Fourth in a mad scramble at the line over Schwaller.
In that crazy mix, Fickel fell out of the Top Five to finish Eighth. However, he was one spot ahead of Tom Schweitzer to hold on to the title. Perhaps the most important aspect of the night was Fickel setting fast time. He built his lead from one point to ten. After losing ground in the heat race, Fickel was able to ride in the feature, securing the title by staying ahead of Schweitzer.
OSTBERG RETUNS FOR FIGURE 8 WIN, ROCKSTAR RUSS IS CHAMPION
Nick Ostberg was in fine form in his return to the Figure 8s as he cruised to victory in the 13-lap feature. Behind him, Russ Lorbiecki, Ethan Beattie, and Terry Van Roy had a Championship battle to settle. Lorbiecki found his way to the top of the mountain with a Third Place finish.
For most of the race, Lorbiecki and Van Roy were stuck in traffic with Beattie ahead. Lorbiecki was finally able to shake free with four laps remaining. After a red flag came down for a couple of cars hooked together, Lorbiecki was able to fire off and surge past Beattie. It was all he needed to grab the title.
Behind Ostberg, Matt Bauer was Second, then Lorbiecki, Beattie in Fourth, and Craig Krueger rounded out the Top Five.
THAT’S A WRAP ON 2022… EVE IS NEXT
Although the Fox River Racing Club’s Thursday Night Thunder program has concluded for 2022, many of the same drivers will be competing in the Eve of Destruction next Friday, September 9 at WIR. More information, including ticket availability, is at www.wirmotorsports.com