LUXEMBURG, Wis. – Three track champions capped their title seasons with feature wins, highlighting racing action Friday night at the Luxemburg Speedway.
Shawn Kilgore (IMCA Modifieds), Josh Long (IMCA Northern Sport Mods) and Keith Kickbusch (Street Stocks) all celebrated twice; as division champs and feature winners on the night. Joining the trio in victory lane were Barry Van Straten in the IMCA Stock Cars and Wes Salentine in the IMCA Hobby Stocks.
In the Modifieds, a late season Kilgore hot streak had propelled him to a 19 point edge on Todd Dart entering the night, meaning he just needed to avoid disaster to claim the title. The two were racing side by side in the early going as Tyler Hackett paced the field, when a sliding Scott Ratajczak brought out a caution on the 7th lap.
The restart opened the door for Kilgore to jump quickly into fifth. Four laps later he was fourth, chasing down Hackett, Kyle Kudick and Cory Cochart up front. In just two more laps he used the outside line to power around Hackett, then pull away to the uncontested win.
The victory capped a remarkable August for Kilgore that included three feature wins in the previous four races. Dart would settle for second in the season standings, racing up to a fourth place feature finish behind Kudick and Hackett.
Brandon Czarapata had the IMCA Stock Car title clinched entering the night, easing any championship pressure on the class.
Van Straten split the seams from his second row starting spot with a daring three-wide move to take the lead as the green flag flew. As Kyle Frederick and Dave DeGrave dueled back and forth for the runner-up spot behind him, Van Straten steadily pulled away to a comfortable advantage.
Shawn Havel eventually passed both Frederick and DeGrave with eight to go to claim second, but by that time, Van Straten’s lead was insurmountable. Late charges by Matt Junio and Rod Snellenberger netted the duo third and fourth place finishes respectively.
Long had the Sport Mod title in his pocket prior to the division’s feature, but ended his season in style with a late charge to the checker.
For most of the race, it appeared like the trophy would belong to either leader Andy Ratajczak, Brian Bruechert or Hunter Parsons who raced in a tight pack out front.
Long secured fourth with just six laps to go, and with time running out, chased down the lead threesome. In just two laps he grabbed third, then second from Bruechert one lap later.
With two to go, he powered to the inside of Ratajczak for the lead, then raced away to his third victory of the season.
If there was to be any championship drama on the night, it was up to the IMCA Hobby Stocks to provide it. Derek Moede entered the night with a slim two point margin on Dan VanPay, and only five on Sawyer Haese.
The feature proved to be a race within a race. As Cody Junio tried to fend off Salentine and Scott Boulanger for the win, VanPay and Moede diced their way through the field toward the front of the pack with the title on the line.
Salentine used the inside line to slip past Junio for the lead with five laps to go, but he couldn’t shake his pursuers.
On the final lap, the top four of Salentine, Boulanger, Junio and VanPay were in a tight pack with Moede close behind. It appeared like VanPay was destined to finish fourth, meaning he would lose the championship to Moede by a single point.
But heading to the checker out of the final corner, Junio slipped just high enough to open the inside groove for VanPay. Salentine crossed the line the winner, with Boulanger just behind him in second. VanPay and Junio headed for the stripe in a near dead-heat, with VanPay gaining the edge by a matter of inches as they crossed the line.
The point gained on the final pass meant that VanPay would earn two more than Moede in the event, leading to a tie for the Hobby Stock crown.
The Street Stock finale was somewhat less dramatic as Kickbusch had the crown won before the green flag flew. Set up on the outside of the second row on a restart on the seventh lap, he shot to the outside of leader Jason Kostichka to take the top spot. From there, it was Kickbusch on cruise control en route to his eighth feature win of the season.
Kostichka out-dueled Frank Dorn after a race-long battle to take the runner-up spot.
With the regular season in the books, the Speedway’s focus shifts to the annual Tisler Salvage Fall Classic slated for the weekend of September 13th and 14th. Friday night’s events include a full WDLMA Late Model program, as well as qualifiers for Modifieds, Stock Cars, Sport Mods, Hobby Stocks and Street Stocks. There will also be “Race of Champions” heats and features in three divisions.