McMullen masters MSA Gravity Park debut


July 4, 2020 – Following a misfortune-plagued 2019 season, thus far luck has flipped back to the good side for three-time Midwest Sprint Car Association champion Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh during the 2020 season.

After racking up his first MSA A-main victory of the 2020 season at Beaver Dam Raceway in Beaver Dam, Wis. one week ago on Saturday, June 27, McMullen made it two-for-two as he fended off a late charge from MSA point leader Travis Arenz of Sheboygan to claim the main event triumph in the inaugural Firecracker 30 at Gravity Park Speedway in Chilton, Wis. on Saturday, July 4.

A strong field of 33 MSA 360 Sprint Car checked into the pit area for the first-ever MSA event at Gravity Park and fourth overall series race of the 2020 campaign.

On the drop of the green flag for the Firecracker 30 MSA A main, Plymouth’s Adam Miller jumped into the lead from the pole position with outside front row starter Nich Melis of Plymouth following in second. Miller paced the opened two laps, before the first of six caution flags appeared on lap 3 for a two-car incident in turn one involving Chris Larson of Greenfield and Waupun’s Tyler Brabant.

Following the restart, McMullen, who started fourth, used the outside groove of the ultra-slick track surface to power around Miller into the lead entering turn three on lap 3. One lap later, the second caution flag was displayed when Sean Rayhall of Marietta, Ga. and Chris Clayton of Waldo made contact in turn one.

After restarting at the rear of the field, Clayton brought out the third caution flag on lap 6 when he stalled along the frontstretch. On the restart, McMullen bolted away from the field before fifth starter Bill Taylor of Boltonville dove low to challenge Miller for the runner-up spot on lap 7.

By lap 8, McMullen had already built up a full straightaway cushion over the field and he began to encounter lapped traffic beginning on lap 12 before the fourth caution came out when Tim Haddy of Waupun slowed in turn three.

Another caution followed one lap later when five-time MSA champion Kurt Davis of South Milwaukee spun into the infield off of turn two on lap 13. Following the restart, Taylor and Miller continued their torrid side-by-side duel for second as McMullen again pulled out to a solid lead and fast qualifier Travis Arenz, who had to qualify for the A main by winning the B main after mechanical problems in his heat race, worked his way into third after starting 17th.

The sixth and final caution flag flew on lap 18 when Miller stopped in turn four after making contact with an infield tire. Arenz slipped underneath Taylor to gain second on lap 19 and quickly began to reel in McMullen. As McMullen worked the outside groove of the rubber-down track, Arenz applied pressure along the preferred low line of the quarter-mile track.

On lap 26, McMullen bobbled entering turn three, which allowed Arenz to briefly pull even for the top spot. However, McMullen quickly recovered to maintain the lead, while wisely adjusting his line to run the bottom groove over the final four laps.

McMullen held on to record his second MSA victory of the 2020 season and the 25th MSA triumph of his career to move into a tie for third place on the series’ all-time A-main win list with former MSA champions Ben Schmidt and T.J. Luedke.

“That was the longest race of my life,” McMullen said. “I screwed up in turn three on one lap near the end and sure enough that’s when I saw Arenz right there. I thought I was good on the outside in turns one and two, but then I felt the rubber and got into it over the final few laps. After that, it was smooth sailing.”

Arenz, who topped the 33-car field in qualifying with a lap of 12.585 seconds, had to settle for second.

“I think we had too much gear in the car and roasted the tires near the end,” Arenz said. “I absolutely thought I had a chance at the win near the end, but I think I may have showed my nose a little too early. I’m tired after that one.”

Tyler Brabant recovered from his lap two incident and subsequent trip to the rear of the field on the ensuing restart to place a strong third.

“We had some trouble there at the start, but luckily we got it back together to put on a good race,” Brabant said. “The car was really hooked up. I could really run it anywhere.”

Taylor wound up fourth and 2005 MSA champ Lance Fassbender of Burnett charged from the 18th starting spot to place fifth.

Heat race victories went to Shane Wenninger of Kewaskum, Kurt Davis, Blake Wondra of Fond du Lac and Justin Erickson of Plymouth. Arenz won the B main.

Mike’s Lawn Care and Tree Service of Manitowoc contributed an extra $500 to the MSA pursue, including $50 to the fast qualifier and $450 to the A-main lap leaders.

The next MSA event is set to take place Thursday, July 10 at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, Wis. as part of the annual Harry Neitzel Memorial in conjunction with the Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association Sprint Car Series.

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Midwest Sprint Car Association

Gravity Park Speedway

Chilton, Wis

July 4, 2020

QUALIFYING

1, Travis Arenz 12.585 2, Tim Haddy 12.722 3, Justin Miller 12.764 4, Kevin Karnitz 13.089 5, Bill Taylor 13.139 6, Brandon McMullen 13.248 7, Preston Ruh 13.357 8, Anthony Knierim 13.423 9, Nich Melis 13.461 10, Adam Miller 13.509 11, Tony Wondra 13.552 12, Scott Conger 13.577 13, Tyler Tischendorf 13.704 14, Austin Hartmann 13.759 15, Chris Larson 13.777 16, Justin Erickson 13.797 17, Shane Wenninger 13.863 18, Kurt Davis 13.864 19, Blake Wondra 13.980 20, Lance Fassbender 14.022 21, Tyler Brabant 14.029 22, Jack Vanderboom 14.062 23, Tyler Davis 14.118 24, Sean Rayhall 14.148 25, Tom Kreutz 14.191 26, Will Gerrits 14.318 27, Alex Pokorski 14.347 28, Mike MacFarlane 14.398 29, Scott Armstrong 14.564 30, Kevin Seidler 14.571 31, Chris Clayton 14.631 32, Ken Schmick 14.756 33, Josh Teunissen 15.128.

HEAT 1

1, Shane Wenninger 2, Nich Melis 3, Tyler Brabant 4, Bill Taylor 5, Tyler Tischendorf 6, Josh Teunissen 7, Tom Kreutz 8, Travis Arenz 9, Scott Armstrong.

HEAT 2

1, Kurt Davis 2, Adam Miller 3, Brandon McMullen 4, Jack Vanderboom 5, Austin Hartmann 6, Will Gerrits 7, Kevin Seidler 8, Tim Haddy.

HEAT 3

1, Blake Wondra 2, Preston Ruh 3, Chris Clayton 4, Chris Larson 5, Tony Wondra 6, Tyler Davis 7, Justin Miller 8, Alex Pokorski.

HEAT 4

1, Justin Erickson 2, Scott Conger 3, Kevin Karnitz 4, Sean Rayhall 5, Anthony Knierim 6, Lance Fassbender 7, Ken Schmick 8, Mike MacFarlane.

B MAIN

1, Travis Arenz 2, Lance Fassbender 3, Tim Haddy 4, Will Gerrits 5, Tony Wondra 6, Justin Miller 7, Tyler Tischendorf 8, Tyler Davis 9, Alex Pokorski 10, Mike MacFarlane 11, Josh Teunissen, 12, Austin Hartmann 13, Tom Kreutz, 14, Ken Schmick 15, Anthony Knierim 16 Kevin Seidler 17, Scott Armstrong (DNS).

A MAIN

1, Brandon McMullen 2, Travis Arenz 3, Tyler Brabant 4, Bill Taylor 5, Lance Fassbender 6, Kevin Karnitz 7, Jack Vanderboom 8, Scott Conger 9, Justin Erickson 10, Will Gerrits 11, Shane Wenninger 12, Nich Melis 13, Adam Miller 14, Blake Wondra 15, Preston Ruh 16, Kurt Davis 17, Sean Rayhall 18, Tim Haddy 19, Chris Larson 20, Chris Clayton.

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