WILMOT, Wis. – The Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint series has been fortunate to have had a solid rookie class this season.
Showing the way in the Rookie of the Year chase has been Jeremy Schultz, a former champion in area 360 sprints, who had shown the speed to run with the front of the pack.
Series officials knew it was not if, but when, the standout rookie pilot would capture his first IRA victory. Schultz answered that question on Friday night during the running of the Kenosha County Fair events at Wilmot Raceway as he was able to fend off a late race charge by 5-time and defending champion, Bill Balog, to earn the victory.
The victory came on a fast and tacky, third-mile, clay oval with Schultz having to negotiate lapped traffic in the closing laps all while Balog applied the same pressure which had netted him so many victories over the years. Schultz proved he had the speed and the talent to turn back the challenges of one of IRA’s finest and perhaps begin to build a legacy of his own.
While Balog did not reach victory lane, the efforts of Balog and his B2 Motorsports team might consider second place a victory. Uncomfortable with the way the engine in his car was responding Balog ‘s crew swapped motors after qualifying. Unable to make the heat race, Balog started the B-main where he finished second to transfer to the the main event. Balog then charged through the pack from his 12th place starting spot to reach second by the time the checkered flag fell in the 30 lap main event.
The evening started with 31 drivers checking in for qualifying and the excitement began to build early with Brett Triplett eclipsing Balog’s track record at the third-mile clay oval blistering the track with a lap of just over 12.5 seconds.
Drama continued in the heat races with Mike Kertscher and Todd King making contact resulting in both King and Kertscher flipping their rides. Kertscher, who already had won an event at Wilmot this season on the IRA tour, was able to return for the B-main thanks to quick work by his crew. Kertscher then would outrun Balog to earn the B-main victory and place himself in the main event.
A big invert would place Schultz on the pole of the contest, with Wayne Johnson, a regular at Knoxville Raceway and a former multi-time winner in the IRA sprints starting to his outside.