(PEDAL DOWN PROMOTIONS) May 1, 2021 – With unseasonably balmy temperatures greeting a strong contingent of racing-hungry fans and competitors, Plymouth Dirt Track Racing kicked off its 17th season of sanctioning weekly racing action at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis. on Saturday, May 1.
In A-main competition, 2011 PDTR 360 Sprint Car champion Ben Schmidt of Howards Grove held off the hard-charging duo of Travis Arenz of Sheboygan and two-time PDTR 360 Sprint Car champ Brandon McMullen of Oshkosh, while skillfully working through heavy lapped traffic in the closing laps to capture the 25-lap 360 Kristine Hartmann Pleasantview Realty Sprint Car headliner.
Justin Richie of New London led flag-to-flag en route to victory in the 25-lap Sheboygan’s Country B93.7 Late Model main event, while Donny Kulow of Elkhart Lake endured six caution flags to claim the A-main win the 25-lap Oostburg Automotive Grand National main event and Kyle Odekirk of Plymouth captured the caution-filled, time-shortened 17-lap PDTR Cellcom B Mod A main.
Ben Schmidt seized the lap on the drop of the green flag of the 25-lap 360 Sprint Car A main from the pole before 2018 PDTR 360 Sprint Car champ Justin Miller of Plymouth, who started second, used the high groove to power into the lead on lap 2.
Two laps later, Schmidt rebounded to regain the top spot with a nifty low move in turn two. On lap 6, Schmidt caught the back of the field and was poised to negotiate heavy lapped traffic when the lone caution flag of the race appeared on lap 8 after Blake Wondra of Fond du Lac spun in turn two.
On the restart, Schmidt powered away from Miller and eighth starter Travis Arenz, who had worked his way into third. On lap 10, Arenz pulled off a slide job on the dry slick track surface to secure the runner-up spot.
Three laps later, Schmidt hit slower traffic, which allowed Arenz and 10th starter Brandon McMullen, who had worked his way up to third, to close rapidly on the leader.
Dense lapped traffic proved to be challenging for the leaders over the second half of the race as Schmidt, Arenz and McMullen ran diced their way skillfully through the rear of the field in close quarters.
On lap 20, Arenz dove low in turn three to pull even with Schmidt for the top spot, however, the 21-year veteran refused to be denied as he fended off Arenz, while weaving his way through lapped cars over the final five laps en route to his 11th career PDTR 360 Sprint Car A main victory and 28th career Midwest Sprint Car Association main event triumph.
Arenz had to settle for second, McMullen finished a close third, Miller placed fourth and Waupun’s Will Gerrits, worked his way up from the 13th starting spot, to place fifth.
After a complete restart following a spin involving Turk Letizia of Milwaukee and Sawyer Specht of Sheboygan Falls on the initial start, Justin Ritchie led the 17-car Late Model A-main field to the green flag from the pole and quickly outpowered outside front row starter Dan Schlieper of Milwaukee, who was in the seat of the late Jim Letizia’s D7 car, to take the lead in turn one of the opening lap.
Ritchie wasted little time in building up a solid cushion over third starter Taylor Scheffler of Waukesha on lap 2. Two laps later, Charlie Schmidt of Cedar Grove, who started fifth, flexed his muscle by bolting past Scheffler to seize second in turn two.
On lap 5, the second and final caution flag appeared for Jacob Van Engen of Howards Grove, who spun in turn two. After the restart, Ritchie built up a big lead over Schmidt in the final 20 laps and never looked back en route to his third career PDTR Late Model A-main victory by a half-lap margin.
Schmidt finished a strong second, Scheffler placed third, four-time PDTR Late Model champion Brad Mueller of Random Lake finished fourth after starting eighth and three-time defending PDTR Late Model champion Justin Schmidt of Cleveland, who started sixth, rounded out the top five.
After a caution on the opening lap of the 25-lap Grand National A main for Dave Holm of Chilton and Jeff Muehlbauer of Elkhart Lake, Donny Kulow, who started on the pole and 82-year-old Dick Hed of Plymouth, who started second, dueled side by side over the first two laps before Kulow surged ahead along the low groove on lap 3.
On lap 5, fourth starter J.J. Pagel of Mount Calvary in the Bender Racing No. 89 entry worked past Hed to take second before the second caution flag appeared for a spin involving Maverick Ruh of Sheboygan Falls.
After another caution was displayed on lap 7 for a spin involving Derek Kaat of Plymouth, Pagel and Hed waged a heated battle for second before Pagel gained the spot and moved in two pressure Kulow for the lead on lap 10.
The fourth yellow came out on lap 13 when Derek Kaat spun along the frontstretch. When the race resume, Pagel and Hed continued their battle for second with Pagel again surging ahead on lap 17.
Three laps later, 2019 PDTR Grand National champion Tyler Kulow of Plymouth spun in turn four after contact with Hed, who was sent to the rear of field for the altercation.
Following the restart, seventh starter Luke Scholten of Oostburg charged in along the outside groove to pressure Pagel for second before the sixth and final caution was displayed on lap 23 when Jacob Muehlbauer of Elkhart Lake made contact with the frontstretch wall.
When the race resumed, Kulow maintained the top spot by holding firm to the low line on the way to his second career PDTR Grand National A-main victory.
Pagel finished second, Jeff Muehlbauer recovered from an opening lap spin to finish third, Scholten placed fourth and two-time PDTR Grand National champion Don Sorce Jr. of West Allis placed fifth after starting ninth.
After a five-car incident brought out the first of six caution flags on the opening lap, polesitter Kyle Odekirk raced into the lead on the drop of the green flag with second starter Shane Long of Sheboygan Falls and Jesse Cullen of Chilton, who started sixth, in tow.
The second yellow flag appeared on lap 3 when Patrick Hanson of Sheboygan Falls stalled near the turn three pit exit. On the restart, fifth starter Trevor Frank of Sheboygan began to make his presence felt as he slipped into third place. On lap 9, Cullen worked his way into second with a strong move along the cushion before back-to-back cautions for debris and a three-car incident in turn two on lap 11 slowed the pace again.
On the restart, Cullen and Frank waged an epic duel for second with Frank running low and Cullen sticking to the high line. The fifth caution appeared on lap 14 as the race neared the 25-minute time limit. On what proved to the final restart, Kulow again held is own by staying smooth down low, while Cullen fended off Frank for second before the race ended on lap 17 when the sixth yellow flag was displayed for a spin involving Rick Kretschmann of Sheboygan Falls in turn one.
Odekirk, who owns a pair of PDTR Late Model victories, earned his first career PDTR B Mod A-main win with Cullen placing second, Frank taking third, Shane Long finishing fourth and Spencer Long of Sheboygan Falls, who started 17th, placing fifth.
Brandon Berth of Cascade was victorious in the 15-lap 360 Sprint Car B Main and Spencer Long won the 12-lap B Mod B Main.
The season-opening PDTR racing program of the 2021 season, which was sponsored by Mayer Automotive, drew a total of 87 cars, including 31 360 Sprint Cars, 17 Late Models, 15 Grand Nationals and 24 B Mods.
PDTR action is scheduled to resume on Saturday, May 8 with action in the 360 Sprint Car, Late Model, Grand National and B Mod divisions
Grandstand gates open at 3:30 p.m. with hot laps at 4:30 p.m. racing at 5 p.m.
The new book “70 Years of Plymouth Dirt Track Racing” by Dennis Darovich of Sheboygan and George Baumann of Waupun, covering every season of racing at The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds in Plymouth, Wis. from 1950 to 2020 will be available for purchase at every race during the 2021 PDTR season, as well as at the Sheboygan County Fair office during regular business hours and online at www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com.
KRISTINE HARTMANN PLEASANTVIEW REALTY 360 SPRINT CARS
1, Kurt Davis 2, Bill Taylor 3, Justin Miller 4, Tyler Tischendorf 5, Matt Rechek 6, Tony Wondra 7, Preston Ruh 8, Scott Conger (DNS).
1, Kevin Karnitz 2, Ben Schmidt 3, Will Gerrits 4, Brandon McMullen 5, Cole Possi 6, Spyder Akright 7, Mike Yurmanovich 8, Chris Larson (DNS).
1, Travis Arenz 2, Paul Pokorski 3, Justin Erickson 4, Jack Vanderboom 5, Blake Wondra 6, Tyler Brabant 7, Josh Teunissen 8, Katelyn Krebsbach.
1, Tyler Davis 2, Tim Haddy 3, Austin Hartmann 4, Adam Miller 5, Lance Fassbender 6, Brandon Berth 7, Tommy Colburn (DNS).
1, Brandon Berth 2, Lance Fassbender 3, Tyler Brabant 4, Matt Recheck 5, Scott Conger 6, Blake Wondra 7, Spyder Akright 8, Cole Possi 9, Mike Yurmanovich 10, Tony Wondra 11, Josh Teunissen 12, Katelyn Krebsbach 13, Tommy Colburn 14, Preston Ruh 15, Chris Larson (DNS).
1, Ben Schmidt 2, Travis Arenz 3, Brandon McMullen 4, Justin Miller 5, Will Gerrits 6, Kevin Karnitz 7, Tim Haddy 8, Jack Vanderboom 9, Kurt Davis 10, Adam Miller 11, Justin Erickson 12, Lance Fassbender 13, Brandon Berth 14, Scott Conger 15, Austin Hartmann 16, Tyler Brabant 17, Matt Recheck 18, Bill Taylor 19, Tyler Davis 20, Blake Wondra 21, Tyler Tischendorf 22, Paul Pokorski.
SHEBOYGAN’S COUNTRY B93.7 LATE MODELS
1, Justin Schmidt 2, Charlie Schmidt 3, Dan Schlieper 4, Taylor Scheffler 5, Tim Buhler 6, Ron Stroika 7, Jon Bongiorno 8, Jim Schmidt 9, Chad Ludwigson.
1, Brad Mueller 2, Sawyer Specht 3, Turk Letizia 4, Justin Ritchie 5, Brian Konitzer 6, Dan White 7, Jacob Van Engen 8, Donny Singer.
1, Justin Ritchie 2, Charlie Schmidt 3, Taylor Scheffler 4, Brad Mueller 5, Justin Schmidt 6, Tim Buhler 7, Joe Bongiorno 8, Jim Schmidt 9, Turk Letizia 10, Dan Schlieper 11, Dan White 12, Jacob Van Engen 13, Ron Stroika 14, Chad Ludwigson 15, Donny Singer 16, Brian Konitzer 17, Sawyer Specht.
OOSTBURG AUTOMOTIVE GRAND NATIONAL
1, Tyler Kulow 2, Brad Weiss. 3, J.J. Pagel 4, Dylan Struve 5, Dick Hed 6, Jeff Muehlbauer 7, Maverick Ruh 8, Jacob Muehlbauer.