McMullen picks up win and championship
Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh closed out his first career Plymouth Dirt Track Racing 360 Sprint Car championship in grand style by claiming his fourth A-main triumph of the season in the 2017 PDTR finale before a capacity crowd at The Plymouth Dirt Track on the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth Saturday, Sept. 30.
The PDTR 360 Sprint Car A-main featured some of the best wheel-to-wheel action of the night up in the front of the pack and throughout the field. 2010 PDTR 360 Sprint Car champ Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee got the initial jump to lead the opening lap of the 25-lap event from the pole position.
As Davis worked the low groove at the head of the pack, two-time PDTR 360 Sprint Car champion Danny Schlafer, who started second, ran the high groove in an attempt to track down the leader.
Meanwhile, the third-starting McMullen worked around third starter Paul Pokorski of West Bend to seize third on lap 3. After a caution flag slowed the pace one lap later, McMullen got a big jump along the outside groove on the ensuing restart to challenge Davis and Schlafer for the top two spots.
However, Davis and Schlafer collided entering turn one, which resulted in the two winningest drivers in Midwest Sprint Car Association history sliding into the turn two wall where they collected eighth starter Jim Melis of Glenbeulah, who had been running fifth in the early stages of the race.
With three of the top-five cars eliminated from contention for the victory, McMullen inherited the lead on the ensuing restart, followed by Pokorski and 2011 PDTR 360 Sprint Car champion Ben Schmidt of Howards Grove, who started 12th.
Schmidt got a huge run on the restart to bolt underneath McMullen in turn one on lap 5 to gain the top spot. Schmidt maintained a slight edge over McMullen over the next five laps until the leaders began to encounter lapped traffic.
On lap 11, McMullen used the slower traffic to his benefit as he dove low to sneak past Schmidt in turn two on lap 13. Schmidt battled back to regain the top spot in turn two on lap 14, but McMullen used an aggressive line around the high groove to wrestle the lead away from Schmidt again on lap 17.
Schmidt remained within striking distance, while fifth starter Kevin Karnitz of West Bend powered in two to slip past Schmidt on lap 22 and gain the runner-up spot. Out in front of the field it all McMullen, as he rolled to his 12th career PDTR 360 Sprint Car A-main victory and 17th career triumph of his Midwest Sprint Car Association career.
Along with the PDTR championship, the eighth-year 360 Sprint Car driver nailed down his third consecutive MSA title. Karnitz finished a strong second, Schmidt was third, Pokorski wound up fourth and 11th starter Justin Miller of Plymouth came home fifth.
“I’m so proud of my family-operated team, including everyone on the crew that helps to get the car ready to run well every week and all of our sponsors that make it possible to do this for an entire season,” McMullen said. “It’s been a great year. I couldn’t be happier.”