Schmidt wins Scheffler Tribute Race

by Jeff Pederson
Special to The Review


JUSTIN SCHMIDT of Cleveland celebrates in victory lane after winning the Russ Scheffler Tribute Race at the Plymouth Dirt Track Saturday night. – Photo by RC Custom Design JUSTIN SCHMIDT of Cleveland celebrates in victory lane after winning the Russ Scheffler Tribute Race at the Plymouth Dirt Track Saturday night. – Photo by RC Custom Design PLYMOUTH – Justin Schmidt of Cleveland collected the biggest victory of his seven-year Dirt Late Model racing career by capturing the 30-lap Russ Scheffler Tribute Race at The Plymouth Dirt Track Friday night at the Sheboygan County Fair Park.

The special Friday night PDTR program honored the memory of Scheffler who posted a PDTR-record 92 race victories, including 45 A-main triumphs, in PDTR Late Model competition between 2005 and 2016, along with winning the PDTR Late Model title in 2007.

Scheffler passed away in September 2017 at the age 54. The event attracted a strong field of 28 Late Model drivers from throughout the state of Wisconsin who were vying for the $2,274 firstplace check, along with extra purse money, courtesy of several area businesses.

CODY EICKBERG (34) of Plymouth and Shane Long of Sheboygan Falls compete in a B Modified heat race at the Plymouth Dirt Track Saturday night. – Photo by RC Custom DesignCODY EICKBERG (34) of Plymouth and Shane Long of Sheboygan Falls compete in a B Modified heat race at the Plymouth Dirt Track Saturday night. – Photo by RC Custom Design
In the 25-lap PDTR 360 Sprint Car A-main, Ben Schmidt of Howards Grove posted the victory and points leader Matt Loehr of Dotyville won the rain-shortened 10-lap Grand National A-main. Rain forced the cancellation of the Cellcom B Modified A-main event.

Pole-sitter Tim Buhler of Greenbush took the lead at the drop of the green flag in the Russ Scheffler Tribute Race as Justin Schmidt, who started second, settled into the runner-up spot.

On lap two, Schmidt charged in to pressure Buhler for the top spot. Two laps later, Schmidt swung around the 2016 PDTR Late Model champion to assume the top spot exiting turn two.

Four laps later, 2014 PDTR Late Model champion Mitch McGrath of Waukesha, who started sixth, executed a low move to take third in turn three on lap eight. The first caution of the race appeared on lap 10 for debris in turn one.

On the restart, McGrath shot past Buhler along the high groove to assume second while Taylor Scheffler of Waukesha, who started fifth, followed suit to charge into third place on lap 12.

Over the final 18 circuits, McGrath worked the top, bottom and middle of the track in an attempt to wrestle the lead away from Schmidt. However, Schmidt fended off each of McGrath’s challenges as the leaders began to work through lapped traffic over the final six laps.

On the final lap, McGrath mounted one final challenge along the low groove in heavy lapped traffic but it fell just one car length short at the finish line. Schmidt held on to post his eighth career PDTR Late Model A-main victory, including three of the first four A mains of the 2018 PDTR season, and pocket the big $2,274 Russ Schleffer Tribute Race first-place check.

McGrath had to settle for second, Nick Anvelink of Navarino put on solid performance, charging from 10th at the start to finish third, Taylor Scheffler placed fourth after starting fifth and Buhler rounded out the top five.

The first four laps of the 25-lap Sprint Car A-main included a whirlwind of action as outside front-row starter Justin Miller of Plymouth led the opening lap after pole-sitter Danny Schlafer of Sussex drifted high in turn one during the first lap.

On lap two, PDTR Sprint Car rookie sensation Travis Arenz of Sheboygan, who started third, slipped past Miller to take over the top spot. Two laps later, Schmidt charged up from his outside thirdrow starting spot to mount a challenge for the lead along the outside groove.

Schmidt then executed a daring outside pass of Arenz in turn two on lap four to assume the top spot. After a pair of caution flags on lap 17 and lap 18 for spins involving Plymouth’s Nich Melis, Waldo’s Chris Clayton and Waupun’s Tyler Brabant, Schlafer battled back to gain second on lap 19.

As the laps wound down, Schmidt maintained a solid full-straightaway margin over Schlafer en route to his ninth career PDTR Sprint Car A-main victory and 24th overall Midwest Sprint Car Association A-main triumph of his career.

Schlafer finished second, Arenz wound up third, 2010 PDTR Sprint Car champion Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee finished fourth after starting eighth and Jim Melis of Glenbeulah, who started seventh, completed the top five.

Matt Loehr, who started on the outside of the front row, outpowered Appleton’s Jason Fish to take the lead in turn one of the opening lap of the Grand National A-main.

After a caution on lap three, twotime PDTR Grand National champion Don Sorce Jr. of West Allis, who started third, powered his way into the runner-up spot, while sixth starter Dan Sorce of West Allis followed into third place on lap 4.

As the wind picked up and a rainstorm approached, Loehr maintained the top spot over the next six laps until rain began to fall on lap 10, forcing the remainder of the race to be cancelled. Per PDTR rules, all A-main events that reach the 10-lap mark are considered complete – giving Loehr his sixth career PDTR Grand National A-main victory.

Dan Sorce placed second, Sorce Jr. was third, fifth starter Roger Lee of Wind Lake took fourth and Fish rounded out the top five.

Justin Reed of Camp Point, Ill., was victorious in the Late Model B-main. Tom Naeyaert of Shawano won the Late Model non-qualifier’s dash. Adam Miller of Plymouth captured the Sprint Car B-main and Justin Bauer of Sheboygan Falls was victorious in the B Modified B-main.

The next PDTR program will take place Saturday, beginning at 6 p.m.

For more information, visit www.plymouthdtr.com or check out Plymouth Dirt Track Racing on Facebook.


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