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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  National Short Track Championship, Ken Joosten


Matt Panure
Mid-American Stock Car Series
October 1, 2012

Mid-American Stock Car Series

LOVES PARK, Ill. (September 30, 2012) – Rockford Speedway is a track that can bite hard, providing a sturdy test for the Mid-American Stock Car Series racers before they head into the capstone event at Oktoberfest each season.

Sunday’s 20th rendition of National Short Track Championship action for the MASCS certainly did its part to thicken the plot for next week’s trip to La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway.

At the end of a caution-marred 75 laps that included three red flags, only two remained completely unscathed. One left with the trophy, the other with a heftier lead in the MASCS points battle.

Kenny Joosten claimed the lead 15 laps in when early-race leader Denny Norton Jr. was sent to the pits for leaking water. Joosten later broke away from Lyle Nowak, who held on to second and inched closer to his second title.

The win also gave Joosten his first possession of the Harold and Regina Vercauteren Memorial Traveling Trophy. Keith Vercauteren was on hand to award the prize with the race run in honor of the Vercauteren family and series founder Gary Vercauteren.

As he proved in his first NSTC win at Rockford in 2007, Kenny Joosten is a very gracious winner.

Donning the wreath for the second time, Joosten thanked his family, series and track promoters, the fans, former teammates and his engine builder. He more than likely had plenty of time to contemplate what to say in what was a very lengthy 75-lap main event Sunday afternoon.

“It is tough,” Joosten said of the extra time spent in the car due to the cautions and the red flags. “You never think about winning one of them, but two of them, is unbelievable.”

After having engine issues during practice at Jefferson two weeks ago, Joosten made his first official MASCS start since the 2010 NSTCs at Rockford. From the start of the feature, Joosten looked as though he hadn’t missed a beat.

From his inside-second-row starting spot, Joosten jumped into the preferred line by the time the field took lap one. He followed the tire track of outside-front-row starter Denny Norton Jr. and immediately slid to second.

The early race battles were cut short, however, as a melee halted the action when the field crossed the stripe for lap two. Chris Storey and Brad Keith made contact, which sent the remainder of the field scrambling. When the dust settled Kevin Gentile, Jake Finney and Travis Rodewald sat with heavily damaged machines on the front straight. As Rodewald attempted to drive to the pits his machine caught fire. He dipped to the infield to the attention of the safety crew and escaped unharmed.

Several contenders, including James Swan caught collateral damage in the wreck and were forced to the pit area. Swan returned a lap down, which he would later get back with a free pass under caution.

Once the field was set to restart, Jeremy Spoonmore, who earlier in the evening had cut Lyle Nowak’s point lead back to single digits, jumped to the inside of Norton, and dared to test the inside line for the restart. Norton pulled away at the drop of the green and towed Joosten back to second.

Joosten kept close tabs on Norton, giving several light taps to the leader’s back bumper in an attempt to shake him from his line. The battle ended in an anti-climatic manner, however, when the caution fell on lap 15.

As the field was ready to reset, Norton was stopped on the front straight where it was discovered that fluid was pouring from his machine. Norton was sent to the pits, and did not return.

With the cone placed again it was Nowak who braved the inside line and moved to Joosten’s inside from the fifth spot for the restart. Joosten powered away and began to stretch out his lead as spots in the top ten were swapped by the lap.

Just 14 laps after the previous yellow, another caution fell when Scott Null was turned exiting turn four. The ensuing restart brought one of the most unfortunate, breath-taking moments of the 2012 MASCS season. Jousting for position down the back chute, Rick Corso and Brian Holtz locked together and slammed into the pit entrance point. Corso came to complete stop while Holtz spun spectacularly in the air. Holtz landed on his tires while Corso had been wedged under the implement tire which protects the point. Thankfully, both drivers were able to walk away.

The single file restart saw Joosten followed by Nowak and Spoonmore with fast qualifier Ryan Farrell fourth and Keith in fifth. Joosten immediately jumped away and left Nowak to fend off those who were chasing him in the title hunt.

After another spin on lap 40, Joosten again jumped away form Nowak on a restart. Over the next 20 laps Nowak pulled close to Joosten, then faded back to be challenged by Spoonmore. After the field crossed for lap 62, Spoonmore strangely faded back from Nowak. Halfway down the straightaway Spoonmore’s engine let loose, spewing a trail of oil behind as his machine burst into flames. With no traction to control his machine and no time to react, Keith slid into Spoonmore’s disable machine as Bill Prietzel and Swan also spun behind the trail of flames.

Keith’s momentum pushed Spoonmore to the outside retaining wall for another collision. Once stopped, the flames extinguished themselves and Spoonmroe exited his racer unharmed. He later went on to race the 200-lap Super Late Model Race.

The lengthy cleanup and another caution when Farrell spun gave two more cracks at Joosten to Nowak. However, Joosten proved too strong in securing the victory. By finishing second Nowak stretched his lead to 45 points over Spoonmore. Prietzel was third, Ron Vandemeier survived for fourth and Rick Tackman was fifth.

With his competitors in his hindsight, and his closest challenger with a race car disabled for next Saturday’s Oktoberfest race, Nowak all but had the championship locked up. However, Nowak was one of the first over to Spoonmore’s racer after the checkered. With a spare motor in his trailer, Nowak offered the power plant to Spoonmore for next week’s race. Spoonmore accepted, and is seeking to finalize details for a chance to challenge Nowak for the title.

The Mid-American Stock Car Series wraps up its 20th season this Saturday, Oct. 6 as part of Oktoberfest Race Weekend at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Qualifying is at 12:30 p.m. and racing is slated to begin at 5 p.m. For more information visit www.oktoberfestraceweekend.com.

Mid-American will also compete in the Tim Schmitt Shootout. The former MASCS racer put up $1,000 in the winner-take-all event that will feature the fast qualifiers and feature winners from this season. The race is slated to take place as one of the final events of Saturday after the MASCS feature is completed.


Full Results: http://motorstats.com/series/98/results

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