Sunday, March 26, 2017

The Story From Mansfield: Windom and Haudenshild Battle Highlights Return To Dirt; Helms Sweeps Weekend; Schlenk Bests Late Models

Patience is a virtue. And those that had patience following some opening night surface hiccups were rewarded with some fantastic racing...

Rick Rarer Photo

On Saturday evening, history was made as Mansfield Motor Speedway returned to dirt after an extended period serving as a paved destination.  And what a night it was. The massive crowd on hand was treated to an amazing battle for the win between Jac Haudenshild and Chris Windom that left a good many fans standing at the end of the 30 lap Wingless Sprint main event. Meanwhile, Caleb Helms broke out the broom and finished off the weekend sweep of Attica and Mansfield in 410 Sprint action while former UMP National Champion Rusty Schlenk put the CJ Rayburn house car in Super Late Model victory lane.

Rick Rarer Photo

Wingless Sprints

Following a heartbreaking result in the 410 Sprint main event earlier in the night, Jac Haudenschild had a chance for redemption in the Wingless Sprints. If there were ever a true home track for Haudenshild, Mansfield may classify in a geographical sense. Just down the road from his hometown of Wooster, OH, an overwhelming majority of the crowd on hand appeared to be with him throughout the night. And after having drawn the pole for the feature, he looked to be primed for a huge victory.

USAC regular Chris Windom had other ideas though, and when the green flag dropped, he commenced making his way forward from his top five starting position on a track that was challenging and against a stout field to boot.  Front row starting Shane Cottle wrested the lead away from Haudenschild on lap two and looked like he may be on the way to victory in the early going while behind him, Landon Simon stayed close to the front as the top four cars gained some early separation from the rest of the field.

Rick Rarer Photo

Cottle would surrender the lead around the lap seven mark when he broke coming out of turn two, bringing out the caution flag.  Haudenschild inherited the lead with the filed re-stacked behind him.

And the show jumped to another level...

On the restart, Haudenshild was stalked by Windom who was relentless in his pursuit as the two cars put a significant gap between themselves and the rest of the field, putting lapped traffic behind them with reckless abandon while switching grooves sometimes twice on the same lap. Both drivers navigated the rough portions of turn one and turn two and the lappers while making passes that others dared not attempt as they traded the lead.  Windom looked at times that he might run away from the field as Haudenschild lost momentum from time to time, but the wily veteran made up ground quickly and passed Windom down low with the laps winding down.

Sue Smith Photo

But it was Windom who took the last pass in the final two laps to collect the $5,000 paycheck while Simon held on to round out the podium.

"Holy cow, Jac Haudenschild is a badass," Windom said. "Let's hope I can be able to do that when I'm his age. He fought us as hard as he could until the end and I knew he would. He just never gave up, but neither did we. It turned out to be a really fun race, it was a tough track to get a hold of. It had ruts we had to miss and we had lapped cars and a lot of obstacles to overcome but I can't be more proud of these guys. I know they had to overcome a lot tonight to make this work and hats off to everyone and the fans who stuck around to watch this, I think we ended up putting on a good show for them."

Finish (30 Laps)

1. Chris Windom  2. Jac Haudenschild 3. Landon Simon 4. Carmen Perigo 5. Dallas Hewitt
6. Michael Fischesser 7. Tyler Gunn 8. Dustin Stroup 9. Matt Westfall 10. Justin Owen
11. Chad Wilson 12. Steve Little 13. Kirk Jeffries 14. Jeremy Duposki 15. Bob McMillan
16. Dustin Smith 17. Jeremy Shambaugh 18. Aaron Middaugh 19. Riley Vanhise 20. Brent Matus
21. Shane Cottle 22. Brandon Matus 23. John Garvin

Heat Winners: Shane Cottle, Jac Haudenshild, Landon Simon

Rick Rarer Photo

410 Sprints

Caleb Helms found winning so nice, he did it twice!  Having taken his first career 410 Sprint victory less than 24 hours beforehand at Attica Raceway Park, Helms made his way through an impressive field to take home the honors on Saturday night. However, had it not been for Haudenschild's misfortune with just three laps to go, it might not have happened.

Haudenschild started on the front row alongside pole sitter Brian Lay, and quickly put the field behind him, as he set a blistering pace in the early going. Behind him Danny Mumaw and Travis Philo gained some separation from the rest of the 27 car field as Haudenshild found himself in lapped traffic just three laps in.  Seventh starting DJ Foos would be among the early hard chargers while Haudenschild was putting distance between himself and the pack as was 14th starting Tim Shaffer, and Helms who started 12th.

Sue Smith Photo

Helms worked like a ninja, passing cars with efficiency and speed, creeping up on the field while all eyes were on Haudenschild at the front. Mumaw and Philo exchanged spots up front towards the halfway point of the 30 lap feature.  Mumaw was then passed for good by Foos while being stuck behind TJ Michael for perhaps a little longer than he would have liked as Shaffer climbed to the seventh spot. And while all was going on, Helms had finished moving himself through the top half of the field and was running second, when Haudenshild suffered a flat tire on lap 26.

Haudenshild had looked to be in command and control when the air came out, ending his chance of reaching victory lane.  He would end up returning to the work area for a tire change and would actually put up a valiant effort in coming home with a top ten finish.  Once the action got back underway following the caution, Helms easily kept the field behind him to collect his second win on the weekend and second 410 Sprint win of his career.  The young driver then revealed an obstacle he had to overcome to get the win in victory lane.

"I just have to thank Jesus for all his grace and my dad and granddad for all their support," Helms said. His car rolled into victory lane and had to be slowed manually as it was found that Helms had been driving with no breaks in the final portion of the race. "I had a little bit before the yellow and after it, I had nothing."

Finish (30 Laps) 

1. Caleb Helms 2. DJ Foos 3. Danny Mumaw 4. Tim Shaffer 5. Brian Lay 6. Jordan Ryan
7. Cole Duncan 8. Jac Haudenshild 9. Ryan Myers 10. Phil Gressman 11. Jordan Harble
12. Travis Philo 13. Ryan Gurbaugh 14. Tyler Dunn 15. Cale Conley 16. TJ Michael
17. Lee Jacobs 18. Mitch Harble 19. John Garvin 20. Bryan Knuckles 21. Brandon Matus
22. Troy Kingan 23. Shawn Valenti 24. Brent Matus 25. Dylan Kingan 26. Bob Lyme
27. Jeremy Kornbau

Heat Winners:  Danny Mumaw, Travis Philo, Shawn Valenti

Super Late Models

Coming into the evening, it was hard to call a favorite to win among the 15 Super Late Models on hand. Few if any, had any setup advice to work with. However with the way Rusty Schlenk's season has started, he might not have needed any.  The veteran wheel man could seemingly put his car anywhere on the surface on this night as he survived an attrition filled main event to collect the win and his second podium finish on the weekend.

Craig Wolford and Corey Conley started on the front row of the 30 lap feature, and from the drop of the green flag, Conley proved to be a driver to contend with as he bolted out to the early lead. Behind him, defending Attica champion Matt Irey, Doug Drown and Schlenk made a formidable chase pack in the early going.

Sue Smith Photo

After a couple of early cautions saw Ryan Markham, Wolford and Irey either have to leave the race or head to the tail of the field, Conley continued to keep his car at the front with Drown and Schlenk moving forward at a rapid pace.  Drown got around Schlenk  on an early restart and made his way around Conley on lap five but his lead would be short lived as his drive shaft fell out shortly thereafter.  On the restart, Conley once again set the pace running the low groove while Schlenk attempted to make up ground on the top side of the surface.  The two drivers then battled for the lead and were neck and neck until Schlenk made his way around for good on lap 12.  Conley would not surrender though, desperately trying to find his way back under Schlenk with lapped traffic becoming a factor.

Meanwhile, Casey Noonan had been moving forward from his ninth starting position and had made his way around Conley for second and was in hot pursuit of the leader but would run out of laps as Schlenk held on for the victory.

"I can't thank CJ enough," Schlenk said. "He called me this winter and talked me into coming back and wanted me to pretty these cars up so we could sell them, hopefully we did a little more than that tonight. We didn't expect a $5,000 win this early in the season. I knew we had a good car at LaSalle on Thursday night, we had a few things we needed to change on it but we got to Attica so late that we couldn't make adjustments on it. We took a third place finish last night and probably had a car that could win it. I really pride myself in being able to move around, I try to find something that works for us. We probably had a second or third place car tonight, this thing needs a little bit of tweaking but right out of the box this thing was awesome. I just had to avoid some of the holes and it helped us win this thing."

Finish: (30 Laps)

1. Rusty Schlenk 2. Casey Noonan 3. Corey Conley 4. JR Gentry 5. Larry Bellman 6. Brad Mickley
7. Rob Metz 8. Doug Barid 9. Dave Hornikel 10. Doug Drown 11. Matt Irey  12. Craig Wolford
13. Ryan Markham

Heat Winners: Matt Irey, Corey Conley

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