HOLLY, Mich. – Christian Koehler is hoping to convert the momentum of his recent career-best finish with the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series presented by Engine Pro into even more success.
Koehler, a part-time competitor with the 410ci winged asphalt sprint car tour in recent years, grabbed a top-five result Saturday at Berlin Raceway, part of a consistent performance from start to finish.
The South Bend, Ind., native qualified sixth, ran well in his heat race and then finished fifth in the 30-lap main event at the seven-sixteenths-mile oval, the first top-five finish of his Must See Racing career.
“It’s definitely a good feeling,” said Koehler of his top-five effort. “To come out here and build on the way that we ran last time, which was all right, but not quite where we want to be … and to get up in the top five and be behind guys like Jimmy and Anthony (McCune) and Jason (Blonde) is just great for a team like ours. Heck, even Charlie Schultz was up there, and he was our feature winner last time we were here, so that tells you the competition level of this series that we were in the middle of all that.
“It feels good to be up there with that company and competing, so now hopefully we can try and get that first top three or maybe even that first feature win,” Koehler added. “We’re raising the bar.”
Koehler noted that he felt the speed in his No. 10k sprinter from the moment he laid a tire onto the race track for qualifying.
“That qualifying lab was pretty impressive, but you know, I had to let off a little bit coming out of (turn) four and that hurt us,” Koehler tipped. “Otherwise, we may have even been a little bit quicker, but we did a lot of things right and a lot of things we’re proud of right now. This car definitely has been hooked up, and if we can get everything dialed in right where it needs to be, we have a chance to go for a win.
“But yes, from the start, that qualifying lap definitely gave us a lot of hope.”
Koehler was among those who was able to navigate traffic well during the 30-lap Engine Pro Fast Car Dash feature event, staying on the lead lap for the entire distance and running as high as fourth before a late caution allowed Anthony McCune to rally past him on a green-white-checkered finish.
Still, however, Koehler was pleased with the overall effort of his family race team.
“It was a little bit crowded out there, but the slower cars did a good job of keeping it in one lane so that the faster cars could make it around them,” Koehler said. “A few times, we did have a couple of close calls running up on the back of slower cars … but that’s just a learning process for me as our car gets quicker and I learn more about how to get through that lap traffic.”
With one top-five finish in hand, Koehler’s long-term goal is continued improvement.
“We’re planning to be at the next race at Jennerstown Speedway, so hopefully everything goes good this Thursday when we run non-winged in the Anderson 125-lap event and then we can get the car set up for a winged race on Saturday and go out to Jennerstown and hopefully have another solid outing.
“The goal is to build on the last race and get another top five, if not better.”
Koehler and the rest of the Must See Racing travelers, including four-time defending series champion Jimmy McCune, current series point leader Anthony McCune, Canadian hotshoe Ryan Litt, Ohio veterans Charlie Schultz and Adam Biltz, National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Jeff Bloom and more will next test their skills during the second annual David D. Mateer Tribute Race, Sept. 14 at Jennerstown (Pa.) Speedway.
Additional heavy hitters expected to make the haul to Pennsylvania include recent Berlin winner Jason Blonde, all-time series fast qualifier and two-time champion Brian Gerster and Bobby Santos III, a former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour titlist.
The lightning-quick half-mile oval is welcoming Must See Racing back for a second-straight season, after Jimmy McCune won the series’ debut appearance last year to clinch his fourth championship.
Pit gates at Jennerstown open at 10 a.m. on Saturday, with a one-hour sprint car practice session scheduled from 12:45 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. in the afternoon. Sprint car qualifying begins at 3 p.m., with opening ceremonies and feature racing beginning just before 6 p.m. local time.
The Super Cup Stock Car Series will co-headline the racing card alongside Must See Racing, with late models, street stocks, chargers, modifieds and 4-cylinders also in action at Jennerstown as well.