LACROSSE, Wis. — If you weren’t at the 44th annual Oktoberfest ARCA Midwest Tour presented by Scag Power Equipment and Lester Buildings Oktoberfest 100 Sunday you missed one of the most unforgettable races in Oktoberfest history.
The end result was DOC 360 Touring Star Nathan Haseleu coming home with his first Oktoberfest Championship.
“It feels awesome. I’ve always wanted to put my name on that list. I’m overjoyed. To me this is the biggest race there is. My heart was pounding. My emotions were taking over. I just had to calm down. I had to tell my dad to let me drive the car and he just needed to do his job spotting,” laughed Haseleu.
Well they say that the last lap is the only one that counts. Ask Johnny and Travis Sauter just how true that is. Whenever you get a Sauter, or three in today’s case, in a race together, you are sure to see plenty of excitement, and that’s exactly what those who were at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway got to see.
Andrew Morrissey and Dan Fredrickson led the field to the green. Morrissey took the early lead and held on as the top four were pulling away from the rest of the field.
Johnny Sauter wasted no time rocketing his way into third by lap six. When Fredrickson saw the white No. 5 of J. Sauter in his rearview mirror he started to make his move on Morrissey for the lead on lap 10. Morrissey didn’t put up a fight but stayed with him as Sauter continued to close in. Sauter dove under Morrissey four laps later securing the second spot.
Nathan Haseleu and Travis Sauter started reeling in Morrissey in fourth and fifth. The first caution fell on lap sixteen as i-gogs Sunglasses Touring Star Jonathan Eilen hit the turn-two wall.
This set up a side-by-side restart. Fredrickson took the inside with J. Sauter on the outside. Morrissey and Haseleu made up row two with T. Sauter and Spiked Island Touring Star Chris Weinkauf behind them.
Another battle in the field was the battle for Rookie of the Year honors. James Swan led Dennis Prunty going into today’s event, but each had issues throughout the race making the battle go down to the wire.
Swan was the first to struggle pulling into the pits during the first caution, but made it back out before going a lap down.
As the race went green Johnny tucked back in behind Danny, and Morrissey settled into third. However Johnny had a plan all along and made the pass on Fredrickson. But it was all for not as the caution came out once again and the field reverted back to the previous lap.
A wreck in turn four collected a bunch of cars, including Dennis Prunty, again shaking up the ROY points. Mark Kraus got the worst of it taking a hard shot into the wall.
A great restart set it up all over again but this time Johnny got a good run on the outside. He powered to the lead coming out of two and started to stretch it out over Fredrickson and Morrissey. Haseleu and T. Sauter were battling for the fourth spot.
Travis Sauter moved into third and set his sights on Fredrickson and uncle Johnny. Danny was not letting Johnny get away.
Just as they started to encounter lapped traffic, Travis dove under Fredrickson. It was now a Sauter, Sauter show. Johnny breezed through the traffic giving himself a little breathing room, but as they got a clear track, Travis started reeling him back in. Fredrickson dropped back a bit and Haseleu was setting his sights on him.
Prunty and Swan were now within five positions of one another continuing to keep the ROY points tight. But Prunty once again had problems slowing in the turn two wall giving Swan a little more breathing room. Prunty returned to the track remaining on the lead lap.
The restart set up a front row full of Sauters, followed by Fredrickson and Haseleu. Not to be discounted in row three were Vita Ice Touring Star Skylar Holzhausen and DOC 360 Touring Star Chris Wimmer.
As the Sauters dove hard into turn one for the restart, Travis and Johnny made significant contact. Johnny kept the lead but Travis slipped back to third allowing Fredrickson the chance to sneak back into second.
Travis was on a mission and got around Fredrickson once again setting his sights on uncle Johnny with 43 laps to go. Slowly but surely, Travis was inching closer and closer. Haseleu was now all over Fredrickson for the third spot.
Johnny got caught up in lapped traffic allowing Travis to make up about six car lengths. With 30 laps to go he was within a car length as the two got an open track once again.
Within 15 laps to go, Travis looked to be giving all he had. At one point he thought about going to the outside during lapped traffic but thought better of it.
By this time the fans were on their feet with no intentions of sitting back down. With five laps to go Travis was on his bumper. They were encountering a lot of lapped traffic at this point. It was now or never. The white flag waved and then it happened…
As anyone going for the win would do, neither one of them held anything back. As they were lapping a car, they made contact causing Johnny to spin in turn two. They say blood is thicker than water, but when it comes to two of the most competitive drivers in the Midwest, all bets are off.
Uncle Johnny was not pleased with the result and showed his displeasure by spinning Travis on the backstretch under the caution. Either way both drivers would have been put to the rear for making contact ending the hopes for another Sauter in Oktoberfest victory lane. Both Sauters pulled into the pits and low and behold they were parked right next to one another.
But we still had a race to finish.
Consistency and patience paid off as Nathan Haseleu inherited the lead followed by Dan Fredrickson and Chris Wimmer. Because there were only three laps to go it was a single file restart. Once the race went green Haseleu had no trouble stretching it out a little bit and coming home with his first ever Oktoberfest Championship.
2013 ARCA Midwest Tour Champion Dan Fredrickson came home in second followed by Wimmer, Griffin McGrath and Erik Darnell.
“I owe it all to my crew guys,” said Fredrickson. “I’m lucky to have great sponsors and a great crew. This is a great series. It’s the best thing you can be in. It’s affordable, fun, and has the best competition around. The drivers are aggressive but great to race with.”
Nathan Haseleu, Dan Fredrickson, Chris Wimmer, Griffin McGrath, Erik Darnell, Steve Holzhausen, Tim Sauter, Matt Kocourek, Skylar Holzhausen, Ross Kenseth, Ty Majeski, Chris Weinkauf, Andrew Morrissey, Colin Reffner, Ryan Hinner, Jason Weinkauf, Nick Panitzke, Johnny Sauter, Travis Sauter, James Swan, Dennis Prunty, Cardell Potter, Rich Bickle, Nick Barstad, Jeff Storm, Jeremy Miller, Jonathan Eilen, Jacob Goede, Mark Kraus, Bryan Syer-Keske.