Auto racing: Area drivers looking to get off to fast starts
Fifteen nights of points racing are scheduled for this summer at Deer Creek Speedway, including tonight’s scheduled 6 p.m. season opener.
It will mark the 24th season opener at Deer Creek, the 18th since the Queensland family took over as promoters. And though there is plenty of time for drivers to make up for a subpar performance in the opener — the track points titles aren’t decided until Aug. 24 — history shows that a good race on opening night can be a springboard to success throughout the season.
Last year, feature winners on opening night at Deer Creek included Nate Wasmund (USRA Modifieds), Neil Eckhart (Wissota Super Stocks), Justin Froemming (Wissota Midwest Modifieds), Blake Adams (Wissota Street Stocks) and Jimmy Broszeit (USRA B-Modifieds).
Wasmund went on to handily capture the season championship in the USRA Mods division, locking up the title a week prior to the final race of the year, and topping runner-up Josh Angst by 88 points in the final standings.
Adams joined Wasmund as an opening-night winner and track champion last year. Adams held a slim 11-point lead over Nick Schwebach entering track championship night, but Adams — who won four features at Deer Creek in 2018 — pulled away in the season finale to beat Schwebach by 28 points.
Eckhart nearly made it a trio of opening winners-turned track champions. He battled for the top spot in the Super Stocks standings with fellow veteran Jeff Brauer throughout the season. Eckhart won three times in 2018, but Brauer’s consistency was enough for him to earn his seventh track title, edging Eckhart by 10 points. Brauer is now tied with Jason Cummins for the most championships in Deer Creek history.
Other defending track points champions include Jason Haugerud (Wissota Midwest Modifieds), and Kylie Kath and Jim Chisholm, who tied for the USRA B-Modifieds title.
It’s been three years since a driver repeated as an opening-night feature winner. Brandon Davis won three consecutive openers in the USRA Modifieds division, from 2014-16. Davis is also the last Midwest Modified driver to win back-to-back season openers, doing so in 2008-09.
Brauer also accomplished the feat three years in a row in his Super Stock, from 2013-15.
A back-to-back winner on opening night has occurred just once in the Street Stocks class since 1996; Darin Toot did it in 1996 and 1997.
The feat has not been accomplished in the USRA B-Modifieds division, which was instituted as a weekly class at Deer Creek in 2010. Cole Queensland is the only multiple-time winner on opening night, having won the feature in 2014 and again in 2016.
CHATEAU OPENER PUSHED BACK A WEEK
Rain and snow in recent weeks has forced Chateau Speedway in Lansing to push its practice session and season opener back one week.
The track will host its practice session from 5-9 p.m. Tuesday. Pit admission is $30 per car for driver and pit crew. The grandstand will be open for free.
Chateau’s season opener is now scheduled for Friday at 7:15 p.m.