David Gravel of Watertown, CT made his first ever visit to Wilmot(WI) Raceway most memorable scoring an impressive victory in the 30-lap main event for the traveling STP World of Outlaws (WO) Sprint Car Series on Friday, May 9.
“It’s been a dream come true,” said Gravel, who has driven for three different car owners this season. “It’s just so amazing. We’ve been so fast every time we’ve been on the track. We had a lot of adversity with things happening and motor trouble and all that. I wish I was in this (Roth Motorsports) car at the beginning of the year.”
“It’s just one of those things, when you get put into situations and start on the front row, you get used to it and try to treat it like any other start,” said Gravel, referring to his win the 6-lap dash which secured him his front row starting berth heading the 24-car field.
Gravel bested the field of winged sprint car warriors from 11 states plus Australia, overtaking WO point leader Joey Saldana of Brownsburg, IN on lap eight as the pair, along with third place running Paul McMahan of Nashville, TN, darted their way slicing through back of the pack during the closing laps.
For 21-year-old Gravel, the Wilmot win marked his second in the past three WO and third of the season, tying him for the series lead in that category. Gravel’s other wins were at Merced Speedway March 28 and Eldora Speedway May 3.
A pair of early race cautions for minor incidents on seven and 12, saw the two restart side by side each time. Saldana took the outside lane of the double-file, riding the cushion. Gravel found enough speed on the bottom groove to slide up in front of Saldana into the lead on lap eight.
“Joey (Saldana) got the lead and at Eldora I lost the lead early, too,” said Gravel, dedicating the victory to his former car owner, Tom Leidig, who fell ill this past week. “I’m sure Joey wishes he would have chosen the bottom on that restart. Everything worked our way. I can’t believe how good we’re running this year.”
The front two went wing to wing around the famed one-third mile clay oval located on the Kenosha County Fairgrounds for the final several laps with Gravel scoring the victory by less than a car length(0.154 seconds) over Saldana. Third place Paul McMahan of Nashville, TN held off a fast finishing Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, CA who came in fourth.
“Hats off to the Roth team,” said Saldana, current WO point leader. They did an awesome job. They were good all night. I definitely chose the wrong line (on the restart) and paid the price for it. We got into lapped traffic and Paul (McMahan) showed me where I needed to be and I got moving around a lot better. I had a shot there. I just didn’t get it done.”
“If it worked before you want to use it again and it just didn’t work,” said Saldana, noting the pressure from third place finisher McMahan actually aided his second place finish. “The biggest thing is the guys are pretty smart racers, too, and when I saw Paul start moving around there I knew I needed to start moving around. We were in the right spot, just didn’t get it done.”
“We were pretty good, we just got cars spinning out and doing 360s(spins and continuing), it cost me a lot,” said McMahan, referring to the incidents which brought out the caution flags. “I lost a lot of ground to Joey(Saldana) and David(Gravel) there. We had a pretty good race car. I was racing with Joe and he was running the bottom so I had to move up and that opened the bottom for Brad(Sweet). He gave me a big flyer at the end, but I was able to keep on the top and just barely beat him to the finish line(for third).”
Fifth place Kraig Kinser of Bloomington, IN bested his father, 25-time World of Outlaw Champion Steve Kinser, who came across sixth. The night marked the elder Kinser’s final appearance at Wilmot during his “Salute to the King” Tour as he is retiring from the series at the end of the 2014 season.
Kerry Madsen of St. Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia, earned the KSE Hard Charger Award by improving seven positions from his original starting spot to take seventh. Darryn Pittman of Owasso, OK finished eighth. Donny Schatz of Fargo, ND was ninth. Sammy Swindell of Germantown, TN completed the top 10.
Interstates Racing Assn. (IRA) reigning champion Billy Balog of Hartland, WI finished 15th. Reigning Wilmot Raceway sprint car champion and 2013 IRA Rookie of the Year Jeremy Schultz of Beaver Dam finished 20th. Phillip Mock of Kenosha, WI, who won the season opening IRA main event in Beaver Dam(WI) Raceway for his first ever series feature win on April 19, finished 21st.
Balog scored the feature birth with a runner-up finish in the third 8-lap heat race. Schultz finished fifth in the fourth heat to secure a spot. Mock made the main event with a second place finish in the 12-lap last chance qualifier.
Other IRA and Wilmot regulars on hand with their best finishes coming in the last chance race were sixth place Todd Daun of Pleasant Prarie, seventh place Tommy Sexton of Antioch, IL who won the May 3 opening night sprint car feature at Wilmot, Kenosha’s Dave Uttech in eighth, Jereme Schroeder of Lake Villa, IL ninth, Beaver Dam’s Russell Borland 10th, New Berlin’s Scott Uttech 11th and Plymouth’s Brandon Thone 12th.
Wilmot Raceway returns to action hosting Family & Armed Forces Night on Saturday, May 17 featuring modifieds, street stocks, Pro-4 plus Bandit 4-cylinder stock cars along with Wisconsin-Illinois motorcycle engine powered winged mini-sprints. Grandstand gates open at 5 pm with racing at 6:45.
Next stop for the IRA is Saturday, May 17 at Beaver Dam Raceway before returning to its roots when it comes to Wilmot Raceway on Memorial Day weekend Saturday, May 24.
The IRA began in 1968, competing on “the old track” behind Wilmot High School. The original founders, Ray Toft, formerly of Antioch now residing in Trevor, WI, Duane “Whitey” Harris, formerly of Lake Villa, now spending most of his time in northern Wisconsin, and the late Junior Dodd of Beach Park, who passed away earlier this spring, will be recognized as part of the special program. Modifieds, street stocks and mini-sprints are on the Wilmot program as well.
Wilmot Raceway is located on the Kenosha County Fairgrounds in Wilmot, WI. For updates go the www.wilmotraceway.com.
WILMOT RACEWAY NOTES: Friday night marked the third time the World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series raced at Wilmot, with Mark Dobmeier winning in 2006 and Daryn Pittman winning in 2008. … Cody Darrah was the fastest qualifier around the 1/3-mile Wilmot Raceway, marking Darrah’s first quick-time of the season. Also earning qualifying points were Brad Sweet (4 points), Joey Saldana (3), Paul McMahan (2) and Steve Kinser (1). … Kraig Kinser, Daryn Pittman, David Gravel and Jason Sides earned heat race victories. … The dash draw was a 6 for the 10th time this year. … David Gravel won the dash to earn his second World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series A-main pole of the season.
WINNERS: Brad Sweet - 3 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 14, Tucson International Raceway on March 8 and Calistoga Speedway on April 5);Daryn Pittman – 3 (Thunderbowl Raceway on March 14, Calistoga Speedway on April 6 and Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 19); Donny Schatz – 3(Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 15, The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 6 and Devil’s Bowl Speedway on April 19); David Gravel – 3 (Merced Speedway on March 28, Eldora Speedway on May 3, and Wilmot Raceway on May 9); Kerry Madsen – 2 (Stockton Dirt track on March 22 and El Paso Speedway Park on April 15); Joey Saldana – 2 (Perris Auto Speedway on April 12 and Salina Highbanks on April 25); Rico Abreu – 1(Thunderbowl Raceway on March 15); Cody Darrah – 1 (Kings Speedway on April 11); Steve Kinser – 1 (Volusia Speedway Park on Feb. 16); Paul McMahan – 1 (The Dirt Track at Las Vegas on March 5); Shane Stewart – 1 (Eldora Speedway on May 2); Sammy Swindell – 1 (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 on April 26).
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Statistical Report; Wilmot (Wis.) Raceway; May 9, 2014
A-Main – (30 Laps): 1. 83-David Gravel, Watertown, CT [$10,000]; 2. 71M-Joey Saldana, Brownsburg, IN [$5,500]; 3. 51-Paul McMahan, Nashville, TN [$3,200]; 4. 49-Brad Sweet, Grass Valley, CA [$2,800]; 5. 11K-Kraig Kinser, Bloomington, IN [$2,500]; 6. 11-Steve Kinser, Bloomington, IN [$2,300]; 7. 29-Kerry Madsen, St. Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia [$2,200]; 8. 9-Daryn Pittman, Owasso, OK [$2,100]; 9. 15-Donny Schatz, Fargo, ND [$2,050]; 10. 1-Sammy Swindell, Germantown, TN [$2,000]; 11. 7S-Jason Sides, Bartlett, TN [$1,500]; 12. 4-Cody Darrah, Red Lion, PA [$1,200]; 13. 18-Ian Madsen, St. Mary’s, New South Wales, Australia [$1,100]; 14. 7-Craig Dollansky, Elk River, MN [$1,050]; 15. 17B-Bill Balog, Hartland, WI [$1,000]; 16. 77X-Wayne Johnson, Oklahoma City, OK [$900]; 17. 1S-Logan Schuchart, Hanover, PA [$800]; 18. W20-Greg Wilson, Benton Ridge, OH [$800]; 19. 17M-Joey Moughan, Springfield, IL [$800]; 20. 5J-Jeremy Schultz, Beaver Dam, WI [$800]; 21. 1M-Phillip Mock, Kenosha, WI [$800]; 22. 79-Blake Nimee, Oswego, IL [$800]; 23. 9X-Paul Nienhiser, Chapin, IL [$800]; 24. 1A-Jacob Allen, Hanover, PA [$800]. Lap Leaders: Joey Saldana 1-7, David Gravel 8-30. KSE Hard Charger Award: 29-Kerry Madsen [+7]
Last Chance Showdown – (12 Laps – Top 4 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 9X-Paul Nienhiser  [-]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart  [-]; 3. 1M-Phillip Mock  [-]; 4. 79-Blake Nimee  [-]; 5. 4S-Danny Smith, Chillicothe, PA  [$200]; 6. 19-Todd Daun, Pleasant Prarie, WI  [$180]; 7. 83D-Tommy Sexton, Antioch, IL  [$175]; 8. 68-Dave Uttech, Kenosha, WI  [$160]; 9. 43-Jereme Schroeder, Lake Villa, IL  [$150]; 10. 23-Russell Borland, Beaver Dam, WI  [$150]; 11. 7U-Scott Uttech, New Berlin, WI  [$150]; 12. 94-Brandon Thone, Plymouth, WI  [$150]
Qualifying: 1. 4-Cody Darrah, 12.815; 2. 49-Brad Sweet, 12.817; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana, 12.865; 4. 51-Paul McMahan, 12.886; 5. 11-Steve Kinser, 12.927; 6. 15-Donny Schatz, 12.983; 7. 17B-Bill Balog, 12.986; 8. 1-Sammy Swindell, 12.994; 9. 77X-Wayne Johnson, 13.012; 10. 29-Kerry Madsen, 13.045; 11. 83-David Gravel, 13.071; 12. 18-Ian Madsen, 13.077; 13. 11K-Kraig Kinser, 13.080; 14. 9-Daryn Pittman, 13.092; 15. 9X-Paul Nienhiser, 13.128; 16. 7S-Jason Sides, 13.186; 17. 7-Craig Dollansky, 13.230; 18. W20-Greg Wilson, 13.253; 19. 1A-Jacob Allen, 13.274; 20. 1M-Phillip Mock, 13.281; 21. 19-Todd Daun, 13.289; 22. 79-Blake Nimee, 13.296; 23. 17M-Joey Moughan, 13.300; 24. 5J-Jeremy Schultz, 13.365; 25. 4S-Danny Smith, 13.393; 26. 1S-Logan Schuchart, 13.491; 27. 68-Dave Uttech, 13.511; 28. 94-Brandon Thone, 13.602; 29. 7U-Scott Uttech, 13.651; 30. 83D-Tommy Sexton, 13.654; 31. 43-Jereme Schroeder, 13.672; 32. 23-Russell Borland, 13.708
Heat 1 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 2. 11-Steve Kinser ; 3. 4-Cody Darrah ; 4. 77X-Wayne Johnson ; 5. 7-Craig Dollansky ; 6. 4S-Danny Smith ; 7. 19-Todd Daun ; 8. 7U-Scott Uttech 
Heat 2 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 2. 29-Kerry Madsen ; 3. 15-Donny Schatz ; 4. 49-Brad Sweet ; 5. W20-Greg Wilson ; 6. 1S-Logan Schuchart ; 7. 83D-Tommy Sexton ; 8. 79-Blake Nimee 
Heat 3 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 83-David Gravel ; 2. 17B-Bill Balog ; 3. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 4. 1A-Jacob Allen ; 5. 17M-Joey Moughan ; 6. 68-Dave Uttech ; 7. 9X-Paul Nienhiser ; 8. 43-Jereme Schroeder 
Heat 4 – (8 Laps – Top 5 finishers transfer to the A-feature): 1. 7S-Jason Sides ; 2. 51-Paul McMahan ; 3. 1-Sammy Swindell ; 4. 18-Ian Madsen ; 5. 5J-Jeremy Schultz ; 6. 1M-Phillip Mock ; 7. 94-Brandon Thone ; 8. 23-Russell Borland 
Dash – (6 Laps, finishing order determined first 8 starting positions of A-feature): 1. 83-David Gravel ; 2. 71M-Joey Saldana ; 3. 51-Paul McMahan ; 4. 11K-Kraig Kinser ; 5. 49-Brad Sweet ; 6. 9-Daryn Pittman ; 7. 4-Cody Darrah ; 8. 7S-Jason Sides 
World of Outlaws STP Sprint Car Series Championship Standings