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American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Johnny Senerchia


Keith Vercauteren
Mid American Stock Car Series
September 24, 2006

(Loves Park, IL) September 24, 2006

Johnny Senerchia, of New Lenox, IL, recovered from a flat tire early in the race and charged back through the field to win the 75-lap Mid American Stock Car Series feature during the running of the 41st Annual National Short Track Championships at the Rockford Speedway Sunday afternoon. Senerchia won the same event in 2005, making him a back-to-back winner in the traditional fall visit to the famed quarter-mile oval.

When the green flag dropped, Jake Finney of Sycamore, IL jumped from the outside front row starting spot to lead the first lap with Josh Nelms of Bartlett, IL following through into second. The action was slowed on lap 2, when Greg Beebe of Waukesha, WI spun on the front stretch to bring out the yellow flag.

Finney continued to set the pace on the restart, but only two more laps were completed before another caution. Tony Habeck of Black Creek, WI slowed coming out of turn four with a left front tire going down and, as his car veered towards the inside of the track, collected Andrew Kulka of Deerfield, WI. Kulka’s car flew into the air as the cars made contact on the front straight and both cars were soon hauled off the track on wreckers.

On the restart, Finney and Nelms quickly gained a six-car length lead on the rest of the pack, while Senerchia and Bobby Gutknecht of Oak Creek, WI began an intense battle for the fourth position. The battle continued until lap 15 when Senerchia’s right rear tire went flat in turn two, causing him to brush the wall and bring out the yellow flag. Senerchia headed quickly to the pit area and returned to the race in time for the restart.

Only one more lap was completed before the caution flag flew again, as Kenny Joosten of Wonder Lake spun on the front stretch while battling with Lyle Nowak of Wausau, WI and hit the inside retaining wall. Finney was still out front on the restart, while Nelms suddenly fell back a few positions with Gutknecht, Nowak and series point leader James Swan of Lake Geneva, WI moving past.

Gutknecht and Nowak began to fight for second on lap 20, with Nowak dipping underneath and taking the position on lap 22 as they hit the front stretch. Nowak, the winner of the series opener at the track back in April, then set his sights on Finney. Again taking to the inside line, Nowak made his move on lap 30 and secured the position on the following lap.

Nowak built a strong lead, but saw it erased on lap 43 when George Schultz of Bristol, WI looped his mount in turn 1. The carnage continued a lap after the restart, when Mike Skaja of New Prague, MN, Swan and Senerchia all collided between turns 3 and 4. Senerchia escaped relatively unscathed, but the cars of Swan and Skaja suffered heavy body damage. Both headed to the pits for repairs and were able to rejoin the field without losing a lap.

With Senerchia quickly marching through the pack, Nowak continued to show the way, with Nelms moving back into second. Senerchia was up to third on lap 47 and began to battle with Nelms on lap 55. Debris on the track brought out another caution flag on lap 57, bunching up the field. Senerchia quickly disposed of Nelms on the restart and went hunting for Nowak.

On lap 60, Senerchia slipped inside of Nowak going into the third turn to take the top spot, with Nelms coming with into second. On lap 67, Swan and Bill Neering of Cedar Lake, IN crashed hard into the first turn wall to bring out the final caution of the race. Both drivers were done for the day.

Senerchia went unchallenged for the remaining laps to take the win over Nelms, Bill Prietzel of Richfield, WI, Nowak and Gutknecht.

“After the flat, I was on a mission,” Senerchia said of his hard-fought win. “We did really good coming from the back and everybody raced me clean.”

Swan was the fastest qualifier with a time of 14.241 seconds.

The next event for the Mid-American Stock Car Series will be the last ever visit to the soon-to-be-closed Lake Geneva Raceway for the Fall Classic on September 30th and October 1st. For more information visit the series website at www.midamericanracing.com.

75-lap feature: 1. Johnny Senerchia, New Lenox, IL 2. Josh Nelms, Bartlett, IL 3. Bill Preitzel, Richfield, WI 4. Lyle Nowak, Wausau, WI 5. Bobby Gutknecht, Oak Creek, WI 6. Jeff Tisler, Reedsville, WI 7. Dale Weyer, Richfield, WI 8. Jim Thorson, Sugar Grove, IL 9. Mike Skaja, New Prague, MN 10. Jake Finney, Sycamore, IL 11. Kyle Shear, Roscoe, IL 12. George Schultz, Bristol, WI 13. James Swan, Lake Geneva, WI 14. Bill Neering, Cedar Lake, IN 15. Greg Beebe, Waukesha, WI 16. Hank Tews, Batavia, IL 17. Kenny Joosten, Wonder Lake, IL 18. Doug Bennett, Brodhead, WI 19. Scott Null, Lake Mills, WI 20. Jeremy Spoonmore, Somonauk, IL
21. Andrew Kulka, Deerfield, WI 22. Tony Habeck, Black Creek, WI
23. Tim Schmitt, Muskego, WI

Fast time: Swan (14.241 seconds)

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