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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Ken Joosten


Gregg Paul
Mid American Stock Car Series
September 30, 2014

Kenny Joosten inherited the lead in the Mid-American Stock Car Series feature at Rockford Speedway when the leaders wrecked in front of him on lap five of the fifty lap race, while at the same time Jeff Holtz may have inherited the season championship. Joosten even survived a sputtering and backfiring car under that yellow and found a way to hold off a fast charging Scott Dunning to record his third victory in the Mid-Am portion of the National Short Track Championships.

“My guys put in a lot of time today,” said Joosten. “We were looking for a feeling when we got here, and the car wasn’t very good the first practice. The second practice we managed to be one of the fastest. Also the third and fourth practice, but in qualifying I just screwed up. I want that bullet so bad I can taste it. I’ve been so close, but I kind of screwed up there a little bit.”

The bullet that Joosten covets is the trophy that is given to the fastest qualifier in each division at the NSTC. Nason’s Landscaping provides a large artillery bullet shaped trophy to each of the fast qualifiers at Rockford Speedway. Tom Knippenberg secured that trophy when he set fast time in qualifying, while Joosten had to settle for the seventh fastest time.

Chris Storey and Rick Tackman led the field of twenty two cars to the green with Tackman grabbing the early lead. The outside lane is the preferred groove at Rockford and that lane definitely took off with the drop of the green flag.

Ryan Gutknecht followed Tackman into the second spot as the duo put a few car lengths between themselves and Joosten who had jumped into third. The battle for the lead began to heat up as Gutknecht in the inside lane began to pressure Tackman for the lead on lap 3.

Tackman was able to maintain the lead until they headed into turn one on lap 5. Gutknecht pulled alongside of Tackman heading into turn one when contact between the two caused both cars to hit the outside wall. As they both slid along the wall, the field bottled up behind them with cars scattering trying to avoid contact.

While the cars behind the leaders scrambled, the title picture took a dramatic turn when Lyle Nowak plowed into the car of Bill Prietzel in the middle of turn one. The damage was severe for both cars knocking them out of this race and perhaps knocking Nowak out of the race for the title.

The race was red flagged for the cleanup for a few minutes, but when the cars were refired to return to the yellow, Joosten’s car began to sputter and backfire. A blue flame could be clearly seen coming from beneath the car where the exhaust was located. However that quickly cleared up as the cars went back to green flag racing.

Joosten would get the jump when racing resumed with Jeff Holtz on his inside. Scott Dunning cleared past Holtz a lap later as Joosten opened up a couple of car lengths.

Joosten began to pull away from Dunning by a couple of more car lengths, while Holtz had his mirrors full of fast qualifier Tom Knippenberg.

Lap after lap Joosten would inch away only to see Dunning reel him back in. The pair would pull away from Holtz in third by six car lengths.

As the laps were winding down, Dunning closed in on Joosten’s bumper to put the pressure on. Holtz, who had his brake rotors glowing brightly, actually started to close in on Dunning bringing Knippenberg along to the front.

The top four were nose to tail with just twelve laps to go, but Joosten found a way to inch away by another few car lengths. Dunning would close back in with Holtz and Knippenberg in tow, but it would be Joosten getting to the checkers first, claiming his third victory in the NSTC race at Rockford.

Joosten’s only real worry all night was the backfire under the yellow, but he really wasn’t even concerned about that at all. “I knew I had a header leak,” said Joosten. “Those headers are ten years old. They’re due for new headers. I knew it had a little bit of a leak so I wasn’t too concerned about it. Although about three quarters of the way through the race my foot started getting hot from the exhaust so that kind of worried me a bit. We made it through it and everything is a kosher deal.”

Despite the problems, one would think that Joosten had to be concerned about Dunning making a run at him late in the race. “Just trying to save tires.” said Joosten. “I knew battling Dunning all season, I’m trying to stay in the top five for points, with a rough start to the beginning of the season, to stay in the top five would be great. I knew I had to save tires at the end because I knew Holtz would be coming and I knew Dunning was coming. I figured if I saved it I might have something for the end and it panned out.”

Scott Dunning is still looking for his first career Mid-Am win and for the second week in a row ended up a bridesmaid instead of the bride.

“I thought I had a good car there to beat Kenny,” said Dunning. “About lap 25 or so, but driver error I buzzed the right rear tires a couple of times in a row and when you do that with these cars you’re done for for a couple of laps until they cool down. With all that green flag run I just never got the car underneath me like I had earlier. It was a good car but second place again. I’ll take it and go home and go to LaCrosse.”

Dunning could close in on Joosten but Joosten was able to pull away each time. “It was kind of a little bit of a game there,” said Dunning. “When I saw I was catching him I’d give it a couple of laps and think I could catch him a little bit more. It was kind of a see-saw battle, which is fun. That’s why this track is so great because you can do that. I don’t have much experience here but I like racing here and when you’ve got a great car it makes it a lot easier.”

Jeff Holtz certainly has things going a lot easier after this race, despite the blister on his foot from the heat inside his race car. His brakes were glowing brighter than anyone’s and it took its toll. However, his third place finish coupled with Jeremy Spoonmore’s fifth place finish and Lyle Nowak’s twenty first place finish, Holtz is almost assured of becoming the 2014 champion.

Holtz was gaining on the leaders but his rotors wouldn’t allow him to battle for the win.

“We ran out of brakes too,” said Holtz. “I’m glad it’s over and everything is in one piece. Go to LaCrosse and have some fun hopefully.”

The fun should be a lot easier knowing he takes a seventy point lead over Spoonmore and ninety point lead over Nowak into the final race at Oktoberfest.

“I hated to see that wreck in the beginning,” said Holtz. “It sucks for anybody to wreck but I think they wrecked pretty bad though. It kind of sucks for them but I’m glad I got through there. There was a lot of luck on my side. God was on my side that’s for sure.”

Holtz seemed to struggle all day, but his car finally came around to his liking later in the race.

“It took a little bit just to I think for the tires to get heat in them and get the pressures going,” said Holtz. “It seemed like after 10-15 laps it started to come on and I could catch them guys but about halfway through I started losing brakes so that took the fun out of it. It’s definitely hard on brakes here but I didn’t have any brake blowers or ducts or anything going to them but I’m just glad where we finished and everything’s in one piece since the rest of the race went green and we got through that.”

Heading into the season finale at Oktoberfest, Jeff Holtz has all but clinched the 2014 championship. Jeremy Spoonmore is mathematically still alive provided Holtz scores no points in qualifying or the heat races and has a poor finish in the feature.

1. 47 Kenny Joosten - Wonder Lake, IL
2. 132 Scott Dunning - Bolingbrook, IL
3. 38 Jeff Holtz - Franksville, WI
4. 14 Tom Knippenberg - Channahon, IL
5. 95 Jeremy Spoonmore - Somanouk, IL
6. 66 Chris Storey - Burlington, WI
7. 8 Erik Pierce - Crystal Lake, IL
8. 23 Dan Gilster - West Salem, WI
9. 16 John Ventrello - Minooka, IL
10. 21 Tim Fulford - Solsbury, IN
11. 00 Mark Brooner - Tomah, WI
12. 23c Cody Clubb - Coal City, IL
13. 20 Billy Tuckwell - Spring Bay, IL
14. 98 Greg Beebe - Waukesha, WI
15. 4 Mike Yuris - Lockport, IL
16. 38h Brian Holtz - Muskego, WI
17. 74 Rick Tackman - Waukesha, WI
18. 01 Ryan Gutknecht - Oak Creek, WI
19. 54 Mark Pluer - Brookfield, WI
20. 5 Bill Prietzel - Richfield,WI
21. 32 Lyle Nowak - Wausau, WI
22. 30 David Slack - Engadine, MI

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