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Neisius Takes Care of Business by Winning ‘Fest, Championship

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Paul Neisius

Neisius Takes Care of Business by Winning ‘Fest, Championship

Matt Panure
Mid American Stock Car Series
October 11, 2009

WEST SALEM, Wis. (October 11, 2009) – What a difference one week can make. Last Sunday afternoon, a dejected Paul Neisius and his team towed their badly damaged car from Rockford Speedway home to Hastings, Minn., with a 21-point margin in series standings. This week, they are Mid-American Stock Car Series champions.

Neisius methodically worked his way through the field, charged past Bobby Gutknecht on lap 28 and secured his first ever MASCS championship by winning the Oktoberfest 40 at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Bill Prietzel finished 13th, falling short of a fourth title by 20 markers.

“I would rather win the race than win the championship, truthfully. Tonight it’s both,” Neisius said while accepting the final accolades of the 17th MASCS season.

On the trip home from Rockford, Neisius said he and his team came to the decision that they would roll up their sleeves and prepare for one final chance at the title. “If we were going to come here and win this championship [we decided] that we were going to have to do what we have been doing all year and bring our ‘A’ game.” After several sleepless nights replacing the entire front end of his Chevy Monte Carlo, Neisius was prepared to make his run through the field, trailing Prietzel by 24 points after Prietzel had set fast time.

The 40-lap event could have belonged to another Neisius, Paul’s cousin Justin, as he took strong command from the drop of the green flag. Thirteen laps into the feature, however, Justin Neisius suffered a flat tire and made an exit. Even though he was the second to drop from the field, Justin Neisius was named MASCS rookie of the year. He had a strong advantage over the remaining rookie contenders and needed only to appear at Oktoberfest to take the honors.

Justin Neisius’ misfortune ironically turned the lead over to Bobby Gutknecht, who earlier in the afternoon accepted the Neisius’ back-up engine and replaced his own after losing oil pressure in practice. Gutknecht paced a frantic field of side-by-side racing for the next 9 laps, until Kevin Lutz spun in turns three and four while racing for second spot with Tom McClintock and a hard-charging James Swan.

The action picked up immediately after the drop of the green flag on the lap-24 restart as McClintock, Gutknecht and Swan went three-wide into turns one and two. The bottleneck quickly affected the rest of the field as cars began to scramble through the turns. With machines dashing to the left and right, Prietzel was sent spinning to the infield.

At the time, Paul Neisius was running fifth and Prietzel needed only to work his way back to 13th to regain the point lead. On the restart, however, Neisius quickly worked his way into third as Prietzel took on the daunting task of trying to work through traffic.

Only two laps later, Prietzel spun for the second time after he made contact with Kevin Lutz. Prietzel suffered damage and a flat left rear tire. He was unable to return to the track on the lead lap, but came out in hopes to pick up more positions in the final eleven laps.

It was on the lap-27 restart that Neisius was able to pull even with Gutknecht, utilizing the outside line for the restart. Neisius patiently worked his way through the field and said he was ready for his opportunity when it came. “Once it was time to make my move, I made it.”

Just after Neisius took the lead, an eight-car melee brought out the final caution of the evening. Adam Degenhardt was forced to check up as Prietzel was attempting to get up to speed in turn two after rejoining the field. With tight quarters and plenty of side-by-side racing, Degenhardt, who was running in the top five, spun. The incident ended the night for Degenhardt, Troy Shear Jr., Lutz, and Swan. Shear was the only driver who required a hook and was given the Wehrs Machine Hard Luck Award.

Neisius led the field to the green with 15-year-old Nick Barstad hot in pursuit. The upstart Barstad’s day came to an unfortunate end, however, as he experienced mechanical problems with only five laps remaining.

With Barstad’s early exit, Neisius was able to cruise to a comfortable victory. Mike Lichtfeld made several passes on the outside line in the last nine laps to secure second, Gutknecht held on to third, Jake Finney took fourth and, after a flat tire early and involvement in the lap-29 incident, Jeremy Spoonmore secured his sixth straight top-five finish.

After accepting the win Neisius was able to reflect upon the season that was. He said it was helpful that his cousin Justin was along for the ride, as well. “I think the biggest thing is that we have similar cars and similar setups, and that just made it a lot of fun.”

As far as being the 2009 MASCS champion, and the first from the state of Minnesota? “I don’t think it’s quite sunk in yet,” Neisius said. “Come ask me in a couple hours.”

The Mid-American Stock Car Series 2009 season Awards Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, January 16, 2010 at the Wintergreen Resort and Conference Center in Wisconsin Dells, Wis. More information will be available through the MASCS Web site in the coming weeks.

For more information about the Mid-American Stock Car Series, including results, the final 2009 standings, and driver information please visit www.midamericanracing.com

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