Speedway crowns 2017 track champions

Rain washes out Saturday races

Scott Owen, Leader Columnist

The 2017 Shawano Speedway race season ended just as it began — wet.

Mother Nature had the final decision in the points chases as she dropped nearly 2 inches of rain in Shawano on Saturday, causing the final point night to be canceled.

In the end, Late Models racer Ron Berna continued to make history. Already the leader in all-time titles at Shawano entering the year, Berna notched his eighth Late Models title and 11th overall title at Shawano this season. His eighth Late Models crown broke a tie with MJ McBride and Terry Anvelink for the most in the division.

Berna also led the division with four feature wins. Last year’s champion, Brett Swedberg, finished only two points out of the lead and scored three wins on the year. Four-time Late Models champion Troy Springborn finished third in the standings and posted one feature win.

Rookie Chris Engels finished his first season with a fourth-place finish. Nick Anvelink, 2012 Late Models track champion, scored three feature wins and took fifth in the standings. Josh Moesch and Justin Schmidt also scored feature wins.

In the IMCA Modifieds division, Jerry Wilinksi came from behind late in the season to take the point lead and secure his third track championship. Wilinski also won titles in 2010 and 2015. Wilinski went without winning a feature all season long. Mark Weisnicht finished three points out of the lead, while Tony Wedelstadt finished just five points back in third place.

Konnor Wilinski paced the division with four feature wins and took fourth in the standings. Four-time champion Eddie Muenster finished fifth in the standings. Matt Oreskovich and Marcus Yarie each had two feature wins. Additionally, Lance Arneson, Joey Taycher, JJ Anderson, Mike Mullen and Johnny Whitman had one win each.

The IMCA Stock Cars division concluded with Travis VanStraten winning his fourth straight title. Along the way, VanStraten also won nine feature races. Dan Michonski finished second in the standings for an unprecedented sixth time. Michonski had two feature wins. Trent Nolan, Mike Schmidt and Justin Jacobsen completed the top five in the standings. Asa Doxtator and Brad Rohloff each had one win.

Jordan Barkholtz successfully defended his IMCA Sport Mods crown from a season ago. Barkholtz scored five wins on the year. Jason Ebert finished second in the standings and added two feature wins. Jordan Bartz took third, Kyle Raddant was fourth with one feature win, and Brock Saunder took fifth in the standings. Former track champion Lucas Lamberies won two features. Kevin Bethke, Jayden Schmidt and Andy Kleczka each scored one feature win.

Calvin Stueck wrapped up the Mighty Fours title without winning a feature, but he always finished in the top 10 and was top five on all but one night. Mike Brehmer took second in the standings. Max Oreskovich finished third and led the class with four feature wins. Lucas Hacker finished fourth and won two features, while Brad Wedde came home fifth. Grant Kastning and Brian Johnson each won two features. Josh Slewinski, Dallas Kralovetz and Branden Goeser all had one win.

Blanke saves the best for last

The Mighty Fours division closed out their 2017 Shawano Speedway season with a Sunday afternoon tilt at the Shawano County Fair.

Thirty-four competitors signed in for the race that paid $500 to the feature winner. Tanner Westphal started outside row one of the feature and led the first 17 laps before drifting high in the fourth turn and allowing Scott Blanke to sneak underneath to take the lead on lap 18. Blanke led the rest of the way to score his first feature win of the season. Westphal finished second followed by Calvin Stueck, Max Oreskovich and Branden Goeser.

In other action at the track, Dave Stoffer and Stan Giese scored Spectator Eliminator wins in their respective divisions.

Austin Olson bested a field of 34 trailer race foes to win the feature race, in addition to best of show.