Balog Rolls to Fair Night Glory
Hartford’s Bill Balog put the bookend on his second regular season Wilmot Raceway 410 Championship by scoring a thrilling victory in the Roger Iles Tribute for the Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association(IRA) 30-lap feature at the Kenosha County Fair on Saturday, August 19, 2023. Balog’s last Wilmot title came in 2020.
Balog, known as the North Pole Nightmare as he is originally from Anchorage, AK, took the lead on a slide move to overtake Joel Myers Jr. of Santa Rosa, CA. on a restart going into turn three with 11 laps to go following the race’s only caution. Balog, who won the first 410 sprint car feature at Wilmot in May, scored the win which clinched the season series championship.
Myers held on to second. Howard Grove’s Mike Reinke was third. Brenham Crouch of Lubbock, TX was fourth. Beaver Dam’s Scott Neitzel was fifth.
“It was a great race, and I was able to move up as the laps wound down,” said Balog, whose IRA win in victory was his 23rd career race win at Wilmot in the final appearance for the IRA 410 Winged Warriors at their original home track. “I have to thank my crew, sponsors, and these great fans. It’s fun to win here at Wilmot, and the Iles race is special as is fair night.”
The Bill Grogan Tribute for the CK Contractors/AutoMeter powered by Gandrud Performance Products Wisconsin Wingless Sprints 20-lap Feature was won by Genesee’s Eric Wilke in a wild green-white-checkered finish.
Wilke stuck to the inside groove with the first caution closing the field four laps from the finish. On the restart, Oconomowoc’s Ryan Zielski shot to the high side outside cushion rim ridding into the lead on the restart. Two laps later a final yellow set up a reload for the top spot. Wilke shot to the low side which Zielski hooking the outside berm in turn two on the final restart. Wilke went on to his first wingless Wilmot win, and second of his career having won at Angel Park a couple weeks earlier. Clayton Rossmann of Wadsworth, IL took second by less than a car length over Zielski who finished third. Tim Cox of Park City, IL was fourth. Kansasville’s Ryan Marshall fifth.
“I stuck to the bottom, and decided from the start that was what I was going to do,” said Wilke, whose family is celebrating its 50th Anniversary Season for Wilke’s Auto Service for the many different types of racing they have been involved in. “I saw Zielski found something high, so I took a peak up there during the caution but decided I wasn’t going to give that a shot. I got my shot when he hooked it on the restart. Getting a win here at Wilmot, where we’ve been struggling a lot this year, is great. Thanks to the Grogan family for what they do for this race, too.”
John Kirk of Johnsburg, IL scored a spin to win for his first Pfeifer Trailer Sales IRA Lightning Sprints 15-lap feature at Wilmot this season. Kirk took the initial lead. Five laps into the main Kirk got sideways in turn two, nearly spinning in front of the field. Briane Strane Jr. of Paris shot low and briefly into the lead.
Kirk recovered with the race staying green. Four laps later, on lap 9 to match his car number, Kirk retook the point. A final caution with three laps to go set a dash for the finish. Kirk was up to the challenge and the victory. Union Grove’s Andrew Kiedrowski had a late charge to take second. Strane was third. Waukesha’s Mark Heinert fourth. Nick Petska of Spring Grove, IL fifth.
“I went in a little too hard and all of a sudden the car started coming around on me,” Kirk said, noting it was his second Lightning Sprint win of the season, having won at Sycamore earlier, but it has been two years since he won at Wilmot. “This win is for Larry Neau who had some health issues earlier this week and does a lot for this division. It’s also for my dad who is battling cancer. This means a lot to win for them and on fair night.”
Next up for Wilmot Raceway is an Open Wheel Special on Saturday, August 26 featuring the Badger Midgets and Midwest Sprint Association 360 Sprints, plus Modifieds and Bandit 4-Cylinder Stock Cars. Grandstands open at 5 p.m. On track activity at 5:30, racing scheduled for 6:45 p.m. Grandstand admission is $20.00 for everyone ages 12 & Over, with children ages 11 & under admitted free. Pits open at 3 p.m. For further information phone trackside raceline 262-862-2090, check official Raceway website wilmotraceway.com or official track Facebook page.
Article Credit: Mike Babicz
Submitted By: Dakoda Tennyson