(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) July 15, 2023 – With 11 accomplished competitors, five valued contributors and three dedicated racing families representing various eras of the track’s 73-year history in attendance as part of the second annual Plymouth Racing Wall of Fame Night induction program, four modern-day racers carved out their own slice of history by notching Plymouth Dirt Track Racing A-main victories at The Plymouth Dirt Track in Plymouth, Wis. on Saturday, July 15.
Kevin Karnitz of West Bend survived five caution and red flag restarts to secure his first Akright Auto PDTR-Midwest Sprint Car Association A-main victory of the 2023 season in the incident-plagued time-shortened 19-lap main event.
After battling side by side with polesitter Anthony Knierim of Franksville on the opening lap, fourth starter Brandon Berth of Cascade swept into the lead along the outside line on lap 2.
One lap later, sixth starter used the cushion to move past Berth into the lead in turn two on lap 3. With the smooth, wide and slick track surface receptive to sliders, Shane Wenninger of Kewaskum pulled one off to work past Berth into second lap 9.
As Karnitz ran away to an early half-lead advantage the first of five caution/red flag periods occurred on lap 12 when Alex Pokorski of West Bend brought out a red flag when he flipped his machine on its side in turn two.
On the restart, 2011 PDTR-MSA champion Ben Schmidt of Plymouth, who started ninth and came into the event as the winner of four consecutive PDTR-MSA 360 Sprint Car A mains, ripped off a slider to edge two-time PDTR and five-time MSA champ Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee and gain fourth on lap 13.
Five laps later, Davis charged back to re-engage Schmidt in trading sliders for fourth on lap 18. Just as Karnitz caught the rear of the field, a caution flag was displayed just after the completion of lap 19 when rookie Logan Julien of Oconomowoc, who started third, and Shane Wenninger collided and spun to a stop in turn three in an incident, which also collected two-time PDTR and four-time MSA champion Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh. All three contenders had to restart at the rear of the field.
The next four attempts to restart the event proved to be fruitless as Bill Taylor of Boltonville stopped on the back stretch to bring out the third caution of the race before Justin Erickson of Plymouth hit the turn two wall and stopped to produce the race’s fourth caution flag.
Following a six-car incident involving Randy Post of Oostburg, Shane Wenninger, Doug Wondra of Oakfield, Logan Julien, rookie T.J. Haddy of Waupun and Robbie Pribnow of Lomira sent Julien and Haddy flipping along the back stretch on the third consecutive restart attempt, the race was determined to be complete at the 19-lap mark due to the 25-minute time limit.
In earning his first main event victory of the 2023 campaign, Karnitz claimed his sixth career PDTR 360 Sprint Car A-main triumph and eighth career MSA 360 Sprint Car main event win.
“When they sprinkled the top of the track with water at intermission, I knew it would probably be good on the cushion, but I didn’t know how good it would be or for how long,” Karnitz said. “It turned out to be really good for us. I knew Ben [Schmidt] would be coming as the winner of four in a row and trying to get that fifth one. I figured people behind me would be throwing sliders considering the way the track was shaping up in the A main.
“I have to thank Dan Mayer for the opportunity to drive this Mayor Automotive car this year,” he said. “I also want to thank all of the sponsors and people that have been with me for many years now. This is a great win for us and pretty special as the first one for us together as a team.”
Schmidt placed second to fall just short of extending his record four consecutive PDTR 360 Sprint Car A-main victories, Davis wound up third, Berth placed fourth and PDTR-MSA 360 Sprint Car rookie T.J. Smith of Greenville moved up from the 16th starting spot to earn a fifth place finish.
T.J. Smith earned his first career PDTR-MSA 360 Sprint Car race victory in the 12-lap B Main.
Kurt Davis collected the fast qualifier award in the PDTR-MSA 360 Sprint Car division with a top lap of 12.817 seconds.
NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series driver Josh Bilicki of Menominee Falls, Wis. made the first Winged Sprint Car start of his career, earning a ninth place finish in the shortened 19-lap PDTR-MSA A main behind the wheel of Randy Sippel’s No. 38 car.
The 10th event of the 2023 PDTR campaign, which was sponsored by Butch and Janet Hafemann, drew a total of 27 PDTR-MSA 360 Sprint Cars.
During intermission, drivers Steve Edler, Frankie Heimerl, Woody Klug, Hal Kulow, Gary Laack, Ron Luedtke, John and Rodney Michaels, Ken Painter, Jim Pitzen and Scott Vollbrecht were inducted into the Plymouth Racing Wall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023.
Plymouth Racing Wall of Fame Class of 2023 inductees in the Dedication to Racing category include track workers Donna Bader, Beth and Tom Breyer and Evie Robel, along with car owner and mechanic Glenn Haddy.
In addition, the Akright, Ruh and Wondra families were inducted to the Plymouth Wall of Fame as part of the Class of 2023 in the Racing Families category.
The next Plymouth Dirt Track Racing program on Saturday, July 22 will feature the fifth event of the 2023 Super Six Late Model Series, along with the 360 Sprint Cars, Grand Nationals and B Mods.
Grandstand gates open at 4:30 p.m. with qualifying at 5:30 p.m. and racing at 6 p.m.
The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds is located at 229 Fairview Drive in Plymouth, Wis. For more information, visit www.plymouthdtr.com or check out Plymouth Dirt Track Racing on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
AKRIGHT AUTO PLYMOUTH DIRT TRACK RACING 360 SPRINT CARS
A Main (25 Laps): 1. 63K-Kevin Karnitz ; 2. 35-Ben Schmidt ; 3. 6K-Kurt Davis ; 4. 22B-Brandon Berth ; 5. 69S-TJ Smith ; 6. 16-Anthony Knierim ; 7. 12P-JJ Pagel ; 8. 11-Tony Wondra ; 9. 38-Josh Bilicki ; 10. 4-Alex Pokorski ; 11. 08-Katelyn Krebsbach ; 12. 98-Brandon McMullen ; 13. 7-Lance Fassbender ; 14. 69-Bill Taylor ; 15. 3-Justin Erickson ; 16. 20-Robbie Pribnow ; 17. 54-Randy Post ; 18. 30-Doug Wondra ; 19. 21H-TJ Haddy ; 20. 85J-Logan Julien ; 21. 53-Shane Wenninger ; 22. 44-Hayden Johnson 
B Main (12 Laps): 1. 69S-TJ Smith ; 2. 69-Bill Taylor ; 3. 21H-TJ Haddy ; 4. 08-Katelyn Krebsbach ; 5. 12P-JJ Pagel ; 6. 44-Hayden Johnson ; 7. 66T-Tristan Koenings ; 8. 2-Chris Clayton ; 9. 51-Jeff Neubert ; 10. 53A-Spyder Akright ; 11. (DNF) 92-Kevin Seidler
Heat 1 (10 Laps): 1. 35-Ben Schmidt ; 2. 85J-Logan Julien ; 3. 6K-Kurt Davis ; 4. 4-Alex Pokorski ; 5. 11-Tony Wondra ; 6. 69S-TJ Smith ; 7. 44-Hayden Johnson ; 8. 2-Chris Clayton ; 9. 66T-Tristan Koenings 
Heat 2 (10 Laps): 1. 53-Shane Wenninger ; 2. 20-Robbie Pribnow ; 3. 22B-Brandon Berth ; 4. 16-Anthony Knierim ; 5. 08-Katelyn Krebsbach ; 6. 30-Doug Wondra ; 7. 21H-TJ Haddy ; 8. 12P-JJ Pagel ; 9. 51-Jeff Neubert 
Heat 3 (10 Laps): 1. 98-Brandon McMullen ; 2. 54-Randy Post ; 3. 63K-Kevin Karnitz ; 4. 7-Lance Fassbender ; 5. 3-Justin Erickson ; 6. 69-Bill Taylor ; 7. 38-Josh Bilicki ; 8. 53A-Spyder Akright ; 9. (DNF) 92-Kevin Seidler 
Qualifying 1 (5 Laps): 1. 6K-Kurt Davis, 12.817 ; 2. 4-Alex Pokorski, 12.818 ; 3. 35-Ben Schmidt, 12.854 ; 4. 85J-Logan Julien, 12.866 ; 5. 69S-TJ Smith, 12.895 ; 6. 11-Tony Wondra, 13.069 ; 7. 2-Chris Clayton, 13.104 ; 8. 44-Hayden Johnson, 13.122 ; 9. 66T-Tristan Koenings, 13.168 
Qualifying 2 (5 Laps): 1. 22B-Brandon Berth, 13.124 ; 2. 20-Robbie Pribnow, 13.174 ; 3. 08-Katelyn Krebsbach, 13.372 ; 4. 53-Shane Wenninger, 13.393 ; 5. 16-Anthony Knierim, 13.531 ; 6. 21H-TJ Haddy, 13.603 ; 7. 12P-JJ Pagel, 14.035 ; 8. 51-Jeff Neubert, 14.117 ; 9. 30-Doug Wondra, 14.212 
Qualifying 3 (5 Laps): 1. 7-Lance Fassbender, 13.305 ; 2. 98-Brandon McMullen, 13.444 ; 3. 69-Bill Taylor, 13.590 ; 4. 54-Randy Post, 13.634 ; 5. 63K-Kevin Karnitz, 13.636 ; 6. 3-Justin Erickson, 13.693 ; 7. 38-Josh Bilicki, 13.855 ; 8. 53A-Spyder Akright, 14.259 ; 9. 92-Kevin Seidler, 15.609