WAUSAU, Wis. (July 8, 2018) – There is a reason they call him the King of State Park Speedway. For the second time in the past three season Mark Mackesy reigned supreme against the invaders of the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes at SPS.
Mackesy surged past Jordan Thiel on a lap-32 restart and repelled the advances of Mike Lichtfeld to secure victory in the 75-lap feature Saturday night.
It was a calculated effort by the four-time State Park Speedway Champion who exercised patience early and chose the outside line for restarts to advance his position. Most drivers tried to play it safe by electing the inside. Mackesy felt as though the gamble was going to pay off. He was right.
“The outside was really good here tonight,” Mackesy said. “A lot of nights it’s not so good. The car rolled so good up on the top.”
It was the inside line that proved to be the best early. Thiel grabbed the lead from fellow front-row starter Gabe Sommers and began to stretch out his advantage while Sommers scrapped for Second with Mike Egan and Justin Mondeik. Drivers continued to test the waters until a caution fell when for an incident involving Steve Lichtfeld and Corey Jankowski.
On the restart Thiel again escaped Sommers by using the inside line. Egan and Mondeik held serve and tucked in line, but were soon joined by Mike Lichtfeld and Casey Johnson. Johnson looked the fastest of the bunch as he moved around Lichtfeld and swooped inside Mondeik. However, the two made contact sending Mondeik spinning. Both would have to restart at the tail of the field on lap 32.
The restart was short-lived as John Beale, Neil Knoblock and fast qualifier Colin Reffner tangled just across the start finish line. Knoblock got the worst of the incident, backing into a tire barrier at the entrance of turn one. Reffner also was forced to retire after sustaining heavy damage to his right front.
A second restart brought Mackesy to the forefront. After working his way toward the Top Five, Mackesy was presented the opportunity to take the outside of the front row. He did not hesitate. Mackesy then used his veteran prowess to escape Theil and swipe the lead.
A final caution came on lap 49 when Colin Slife and Wyatt Brooks got together on the backstretch. The ensuing restart saw one of the most breathtaking moments of the race.
As Mackesy and Thiel entered turn one, they bumped and Mackesy began to slide sideways. Mackesy skated through one and two on the edge of spinning out but was able to hold on and maintain the lead.
“I didn’t think I was going to save it when Thiel and I got together. We both made it,” Mackesy said. “I thought we were both going to spin. I don’t know how we held on to it, but we did.”
The near-calamity was avoided, but cost Thiel Second Place to Mike Lichtfeld. Lichtfeld started to pull the chain on Mackesy and came close to challenging him. But the challenges came up empty.
“For a little bit there I thought we might have had something for the leader, but it would have taken giving him the nose and Mark’s the last person I’d want to use the nose on,” Lichtfeld said. “But then after a couple laps he was driving away from us.”
Mackesy went on to claim his third career TUNDRA win by almost a second over Lichtfeld. Johnson charged furiously back through the field to finish Third. Thiel held on for Fourth and John Beale reemerged after the restart incident to round out the Top Five.
Proving to be a wild night in the standings, the top nine in TUNDRA Super Late Model points are separated by just 31 points at the halfway mark of the 2018 season. Despite the DNF, Reffner still holds a slim four-point advantage over Mondeik.
VOLM DELIVERS DOUBLE
Mark Mackesy wasn’t the only driver happy to defend his turf on Saturday night. Travis Volm won both the 30-lap TUNDRA Sportsman Tour feature and the 40-lap TUNDRA Late Model Triple Crown feature. Volm had only planned to run the Late Model, but decided to call in the Sportsman at around 3 p.m.
After setting fast time for both, Volm had to wait patiently for the right opportunities to open up. In the Sportsman race, Volm outwaited early-race leader Phil Lehl. Lehl maintained the inside line through the first half of the race with Volm putting pressure on him. Eventually Volm was able to slip to the bottom on lap 15. He nosed ahead on the front straight and secured the lead by the exit of turn two. Volm would go unchallenged from that point. Lehl finished Second and his teammate Andy Casavant was Third.
The story was much the same in the Late Model main. Volm picked his way to Second in quick order, but then stalled when trying to find a way around Bryan Monday. Making his first ever start at State Park, Monday – who had won his heat earlier – attempted to seal the inside line and hold Volm at bay. Much like the Sportsman race before, Volm waited for the right time to pounce and found it at the halfway point. He went on to cruise to victory with Monday holding Second. Mike Meyerhofer held off Jesse Bernhagen in the final laps to finish Third.
It’s a quick turnaround for the TUNDRA Super Late Models as the series rolls into Wisconsin’s Action Track Jefferson Speedway on Saturday, July 21. TUNDRA will be joined by Jefferson’s Hobby Stocks and Road Warriors.
Jefferson Speedway is located at W8135 US-18 just west of the city of Jefferson. For more information visit www.jeffersonspeedway.com
Pits Open: TBA
Qualifying: 5 p.m.