Plymouth’s McMullen wins Portschy Memorial feature

by Amy Juech Special to The Review


BRANDON MCMULLEN of Plymouth proudly displays the checkered flag after winning the Brian Portschy Memorial 360 Sprints feature Saturday night at the Plymouth Dirt Track. — Photo by Frank Motorsports BRANDON MCMULLEN of Plymouth proudly displays the checkered flag after winning the Brian Portschy Memorial 360 Sprints feature Saturday night at the Plymouth Dirt Track. — Photo by Frank Motorsports PLYMOUTH — Nick Melis and Doug Wondra brought the Brian Portschy Memorial 360 Sprints feature field to the green flag Saturday night which opened the Plymouth Dirt Track Racing program.

Nick Melis took control of the field early with Brandon McMullen and Kurt Davis right behind. Davis got by both to lead lap four until Melis battled back.

Donny Goeden and John Krebsbach attempted to pass Tim Haddy for 10th. There was a lot of rubber put on the racing surface, leaving only a high and low racing groove.

Haddy and Wondra ran tight together to settle 10th. McMullen joined Melis and swapped the lead a few times until McMullen stayed first and started to pull away and lap traffic. McMullen managed to keep lapped traffic between himself and second-place Davis.

Wayne Modjeski pulled ahead of Justin Miller to take over fifth. The first caution waved for Haddy and Krebsbach after tangling in turn 3. Modjeski advanced the most on the restart. Wondra and Shane Wenninger both got redirected and drove through the infield in turns 1 and 2, and managed to keep pace along the backstretch.

Haddy retired to the infield on lap 21 with mechanical issues. Randy Walters finished the evening with a sour-sounding motor. McMullen (Plymouth) crossed the double checkers first and won his second Brian Portschy Memorial feature. Second place went to Davis (West Allis), followed in order by Modjeski (Oak Creek), Justin Miller (Plymouth) and Goeden (Kewaskum).

A somewhat slick racing surface greeted the drivers for the start of the 30-lap Frank Filskov Memorial Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprints main event. Modjeski, who had captured heat race wins in both the Outlaw Sprints and the local 360 Sprint series this evening, started on the pole for the contest.

Modjeski led briefly before being overtaken by fellow front-row starter Mike Reinke who rim-rode his way to the lead, officially pacing the first lap. Modjeski held onto theNo. 2 slot until lap four when Dave Uttech used the high side to slip into second position.

Reinke quickly started to build a gap on the field, and had a full straightaway advantage on Uttech by the time he reached lapped traffic on lap eight. Bill Rose, who is currently locked in an epic point battle with Ben Schmidt (Howards Grove) and Scotty Neitzel, took his turn in the runner-up role nabbing second at Uttech’s expense on lap 12.

Thiel followed Rose past Uttech to reach the third spot after having started in the eighth position. It took just two more laps before Thiel slipped by Rose to become the next driver to hold runner-up honors.

Out front, Reinke found himself in heavy lapped traffic at the halfway point of the contest, allowing Thiel, who is very familiar with the Plymouth Dirt Track racing surface where he competed many seasons in a 360 Sprint car, to close the gap.

Further back, Nimee was slicing through the pack, having reached the seventh position after starting in the 14th spot. On lap 18, Modjeski’s fortunes took a turn for the worse as a fire erupted under the hood of his machine. He expertly guided the car to the infield and the rapidly responding safety crew extinguished the flames so quickly that a caution was not needed for the incident.

With 10 laps to go in the race, Reinke’s lead had evaporated. Then Thiel, making a well-timed dive to the bottom of the track in turn four, managed to work past Reinke for the lead and quickly scrambled away, darting through back markers.

Fans began to notice Nimee who had been picking off cars at an increasing pace, making his way by Rose for the third spot on lap 22 and then closing the gap on Reinke.

Out front, Thiel was extending his lead – putting cars down at a rapid pace. Unfortunately for Thiel, that pace was halted on lap 25 when Bill Wirth jumped the cushion in turn four, coming to a halt. At the same time Uttech’s tire shredded in the same turn – drawing the only caution of the event.

By Bumper to Bumper IRA Sprint rules, lapped traffic is moved to the tail of the field, leaving the win decided among the leaders. As such, Thiel had both Reinke and Nimee on his back nerf bar for the restart.

When the green flag fell, Thiel bolted back into the lead while Nimee sliced his way under Reinke to battle for second. Thiel managed to build a six-car-length lead before Nimee secured the runner-up spot and he quickly closed the gap on Thiel.

With two laps to go, Thiel got into the cushion in turn 4, allowing Nimee to work underneath, and the battle was on. With amazing forward bite, Nimee was able to surge ahead to take the lead as the white flag waved.

Thiel tried one last charge on the outside but the maneuver fell short as Nimee (Oswego, Ill.) flew past flagman Jim Barr’s twin-checkered flags with a three-car-length advantage. Thiel (Sheboygan) had to settle for runner-up honors for his efforts.

The final podium spot came down to the final laps with former 360 champion and IRA rookie of the year Jeremy Schultz making his way past Reinke to earn the third spot.

Reinke earned his second straight top-five run – finishing fourth this evening. Kris Spitz patiently worked his way up to fifth by the finish for his best performance of the 2015 season.

Zach Boden won the Badger 600 Mini-Sprints feature. Will Gerrits finished second, followed by Chad Bogar, Jared Cech and Norm Ehrke, respectively.


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