Jon Reynolds, Jr.’s 2018 trip to State Park Speedway was a lot like his 2014 visit to the track.
In both trips, the number 10 figured heavily into the equation, maybe all too appropriate for the Loves Park, Ill., racer known as Driver X. More importantly, the final results were a success both times for Reynolds, including Friday night when he won the 58-lap Big 8 Late Models feature, highlighting the first night of the 38th annual Larry Detjens Memorial at the track.
Reynolds came from starting 10th in the field, took the lead from Michael Ostdiek on lap 32 and pulled away to win by a full straightaway over Ostdiek and the field for his second Big 8 win in the series’ seven visits to State Park Speedway. It also was the 12th Big 8 feature win all-time for Reynolds, who is one victory behind leaders Michael Bilderback and Jeremy Miller for series honors.
“I don’t know if you believe in numbers or not,” said Reynolds to track announcer Curt Keene in victory lane after the race, “but in 2014 when we won here, we parked in pit stall number 10, we won the heat and we won the feature. Today we pitted in pit stall number 10, we won the heat and we won the feature.”
The pass that would decide the race’s eventual winner didn’t come easily for Reynolds. He got inside Ostdiek on the backstretch on the 32nd circuit and cleared him quickly as Ostdiek backed off in the corner in an attempt to cross over underneath Reynolds himself.
Reynolds was not fazed, but Ostdiek was not finished, either. The 2016 winner of the Big 8’s trip to the track got into the back of Reynolds two laps later in turns three and four, causing both cars to get loose. Reynolds saved his car from spinning, and Grant Brown briefly made his way all the way up to second, sneaking past Ostdiek.
Brown and Ostdiek would battle for second for the next 14 laps, including getting side-by-side on two different occasions. That was good news for Reynolds, who worked lapped traffic and drove away from the rest of the leaders to build a big lead he never relinquished.
The race’s opening stages were dominated by Nick Egan, who started on the pole and led the first 19 laps convincingly. Egan showed strength while pulling away after the first restart, but was never the same after the second restart. He drifted up the track on the second and was passed by Ostdiek on lap 20, and soon faded back to fifth before being involved in a tangle with Rayce Haase on lap 26 that sent both to the back.
Reynolds bided his time early but got some help when the race’s complexion changed dramatically on the 17th lap. Racing deep in the pack, Hunter Drefahl and Todd Handrick got together in turn one, with Handrick’s car coming to a stop in the middle of the track. The leaders came around and a number of them ran straight into trouble, with third-place Jacob Nottestad, points leader Miller and fast qualifier Brody Willett all suffering damage that took them out of the race.
There was more bad news for frontrunners a few laps later after the restart. A fierce battle for position on lap 18 resulted in the cars of Ostdiek, Jerry Mueller and Joe Neisius going three-wide into turn three.
All three cars came out without incident, but the same couldn’t be said when another three-wide run into the third turn resulted in contact between third-place Jerry Mueller and State Park Speedway regular Travis Volm, causing the latter to spin into the middle of the track between the third and fourth turns. Minnesota’s Jared Duda was unable to avoid him, causing heavy damage to the nose of Volm’s car.
Volm was able to return despite missing the front nose sheet metal on his car and briefly moved back up to fifth, but the rest of the race belonged to Reynolds.
Ostdiek finished second in his first start on the tour this year, while Neisius finished third. Brown finished fourth and Mueller came back to finish fifth.
“This is definitely a racy track, we just came up a little short,” said Ostdiek. “I think we were a second-place car, Reynolds he sure was quick…but all in all it was a good night for us.”
“It’s our first time here, it’s definitely got some quirks, it’s tricky to drive this place,” said Neisius. “I’ll take a third coming out here against these guys that have been here several times.”
Big 8 Late Models
Fast Qualifier: Brody Willett, Alburnett, Iowa, 14.451 sec.
First Heat: Michael Ostdiek, Lakeville, Minn.; Nick Egan, Slinger; Jacob Nottestad, Stoughton; Jared Duda, St. Michael, Minn.; Dave Cabelka, Wausau; Hunter Drefahl, Evansville
Second Heat: Jeremy Miller, Rockford, Ill.; Travis Volm, Mosinee; Jerry Mueller, Richfield; Todd Handrick, Wausau; Rayce Haase, Wausau; Mark Greb, Coralville, Iowa
Third Heat: Jon Reynolds, Jr., Loves Park, Ill.; Willett; Grant Brown, Prior Lake, Minn.; Joe Neisius, Rosemount, Minn.; Justin Woller, Kimberly; Chris Storey, Burlington
Feature: Reynolds; Ostdiek; Neisius; Brown; Mueller; Egan; Handrick; Haase; Cabelka; Volm; Duda; Greb; Storey; Nottestad; Miller; Willett; Drefahl; Woller
From the first night of the season, Mike Heidmann has led the way in the Snap-on Mini Mods point standings all summer at State Park Speedway.
Despite his consistency, the Edgar driver hadn’t won a feature since opening night back in May, but that changed as Heidmann won the 25-lap mini mods feature Friday night.
Heidmann used superior handling in the corners to take the top spot from Gary Garand on lap 9 and slowly pulling away from Garand, who was strong on the straightaways. Heidmann led the rest of the race, taking first by three car lengths over hard-charging Tim Hintz, who was making his first appearance at the track this season.
“I’ve got to hand it to those guys in the pits,” said Heidmann in Brickner Family Auto Group Victory Lane after the race. “We weren’t sure what to do with the setup but they called it and they won it for me tonight.”
Shawn Kemnetz’s decision to race at State Park Speedway for the Larry Detjens Memorial proved to be a fruitful one. The Hancock driver’s first trip to State Park this season was a success as he won the 25-lap Motors Service & Supply Mini Stocks main event.
Kemnetz started on the pole and led all 25 laps, besting a busy 18-car field in the feature, the division’s largest car count this season. He held the point throughout with heavy jockeying for position behind him and withstood stout challenges on the outside from Kyle Check on a pair of restarts, the second coming with just six laps left.
“It’s definitely good, it’s our first one of the year,” said Kemnetz. “We’ve only raced here I think four times, so this is definitely one for the books for sure.
“My dad said first thing is always protect the bottom here, if you get up top you might get freight-trained. So I was staying down low and it worked out well.”
Kemnetz scored his first-ever feature win at the track. Former division champion Jerry Brickner-who raced a super late model last year-made his season debut and appeared to finish third in the feature. The cars of Check broke the division’s breakout time, though, and finished at the end of the lead lap in 14th, with Kevin Tessmer moving up to second in the final tally, while Brickner ended up 15th.
Jevin Guralski also faced some stiff competition in the Mighty Bandoleros class but worked through traffic to win the feature again, his second in the division’s two trips to the track so far this season.
The 10-year old Guralski came from the back of the nine-car field and emerged from a bunched seven-car group that broke away and put on a show while trading positions. Guralski passed Robbie Rucks on the inside on lap 10 and drove away in the final laps, with Karter Stark taking second.
The Larry Detjens Memorial continues Saturday night with a full slate of racing action including six divisions of racing. The headline event is the Northcentral Technical College Truck Driving School 100 super late model feature, and also on hand will be the Budweiser Fabiano Brothers Limited Late Models, Advance Auto Parts Pure Stocks, mini mods, mini stocks and Bandoleros. Fred Mueller Qualifying begins at 5 p.m., with racing starting at 6:30 p.m.
Snap-on Mini Mods
Fast Qualifier: Dave Meyer, West Allis, 15.909 sec.
Heat: Tim Hintz, Nekoosa; Gary Garand, Weston; John Lietz, Mosinee; Greg Blount, Marathon; Mike Heidmann, Edgar
Feature: Heidmann; Hintz; Garand; Blount; Lietz; Meyer; Dale Louze, Mosinee; James Storey, Burlington
Motors Service & Supply Mini Stocks
Fast Qualifier: Nick Schmidt, Watertown, 16.801 sec.
First Heat: Karley Kemnetz, Hancock; Brian Duranceau, Tomahawk; Kendra Baumann, Wausau; Rick Duerr, Kellner; Jimmy B. Lee, Merrill; Evan Pingel, Ringle
Second Heat: Ashley Schoone, Tomahawk; Shawn Kemnetz, Hancock; Amanda Rowe, Mosinee; Tom Lecher, Wausau; Matt Gajewski, Wausau; Randy Zieglmeier, Wausau
Third Heat: Kyle Check, Shantytown; Schmidt; Kevin Tessmer, Wausau; Jerry Brickner, Wausau; Kole Ferge, Wausau; Brett Breitenfeldt, Wausau; Nathan Steif, Wausau
Feature: S. Kemnetz; Tessmer; Ferge; Breitenfeldt; Schmidt; Steif; Lecher; Zieglmeier; Gajewski; Duerr; K. Kemnetz; Duranceau; Baumann; Check; Brickner; Pingel; Rowe; Lee
Fast Qualifier: Jevin Guralski, Wausau, 16.261 sec.
First Heat: Robbie Rucks, Deerfield; Anna Malouf, Rhinelander; Emma Hunstiger, Jefferson; Keagen Benz, Wausau
Second Heat: Laney Osborne, Janesville; Guralski; Karter Stark, Marshall; Michael Guderski, Markesan; Alex Hartwig, Portage
Feature: Guralski; Stark; Hartwig; Rucks; Malouf; Guderski; Osborne; Benz; Hunstiger