MARSHFIELD, Wis. (June 9, 2018) – Colin Reffner may have been the happiest driver to see Marshfield Motor Speedway return to the schedule for the TUNDRA Super Late Model Series Powered by Wisconsin Potatoes. On Saturday he proved why.
Reffner set fast time and stormed through the field in the Bev Aschenbrenner Memorial Presented by River View Construction and A&A Lock Service to collect his first series win. To do it at the track where cut his teeth – and in honor of Bev Aschenbrenner – made the spoils of victory that much sweeter.
“This was long overdue. We’ve come up short so many times and had so many things happen. Today everything went right,” Reffner said. “I remember Bev coming down when I was 14 years old racing a Super Stock here. She came around with cookies, bars, and treats. The whole Aschenbrenner family are great people. To win a memorial for her…I’ll remember this one forever.”
Although it took some finessing by Reffner and his team throughout practice, they were on point from the drop of the green in qualifying. Reffner topped Carson Kvapil’s fast lap by .002 seconds on his first lap of time trials, then shattered his best by turning an 18.008 on his third lap of qualifying.
When it came to the feature, a few lucky breaks and some lane choices helped Reffner jump to the front from his 13th Place starting spot and secure the lead before the halfway point.
The field settled into place early behind polesitter Darek Gress and fellow front-row starter Mike Lichtfeld. In the first ten laps both Reffner and former TUNDRA Champion Casey Johnson were moving through the field. Johnson was to Fourth by lap 10 and Reffner was to Seventh.
After an incident between Jordan Thiel and John Beale that would see Thiel invoke the Gentleman’s Agreement, Lichtfeld had another chance to swipe the lead from Gress on a restart. Although Lichtfeld clipped Gress at the line on lap 15, Gress slid back to the top spot one lap later. His move to the lead allowed Johnson to move to Second, and on lap 17, Johnson grabbed the top spot. He then set his machine on cruise control.
While Johnson was setting the pace, Reffner was still grabbing spots. He moved from Fifth to Third in a matter of three laps, securing the position on lap 20.
The race saw a major change in complexion when Johnson lost power out of turn four coming to the line for lap 27. Johnson drew a yellow and went to the pit area in hopes of repair to his machine. Unfortunately for Johnson, the fuel pump failed, and he was forced to retire.
On the following restart Reffner joined Gress on the front row. He escaped on the top line to secure the lead. However, the race was far from over as several restarts awaited.
Perhaps the most spectacular incident involved Corey Jankowski. As several drivers battled for spots near the Top Ten, cars went into scramble mode on lap 34. Jankowki spun to the embankment outside the track and was momentarily airborne. Unfortunately, the incident ended his day as well as that of dash winner Jim Sauter Jr.
When the barrel was placed for the restart Reffner quickly slid in front of Gress to take the outside line. He would make the move on a later restart, as well.
“Knowing how this track gets late in the race and having a comfortable car was behind my decision,” Reffner said of his lane choice. “I picked it time and time again. I really had to work for this with the restarts.”
Despite having to outduel Beale on two occasions, Reffner was able to flex his muscle and jump away from the pack.
With Reffner out front, a trio of drivers began to find late-race surges. Perhaps the most impressive was that of Justin Mondeik. Mondeik spun coming to lap one and had to tag the tail of the field at the start. By lap 40 Mondeik had found his way back to Third. On lap 45 he swiped Second from Beale.
Making his TUNDRA debut, Carson Kvapil also found some late-race magic. Kvaipil was following Brent Strelka to the front of the field in the final 15 laps. Strelka got as high as Third and was preparing to challenge Mondeik until Kvapil prepared to make a move. Kvapil overtook Strelka on 54 then slipped past Mondeik on lap 59.
Kvapil would make a statement in his debut with the Second Place finish, Mondeik the same with a run from the back to Third, Beale slipped back to a Fourth Place finish, and Strelka recorded his best TUNDRA finish by rounding out the Top Five.
STARK SIZZLES IN SPORTSMAN
Much like Reffner, Jason Stark was the driver of the day in the TUNDRA Sportsman Tour. Stark set fast time, secured the lead by lap five, and cruised to his first ever TUNDRA Sportsman win in the 25-lap main event.
From his Sixth Place starting spot Stark caught an early break and stormed to Second by the time the field hit the stripe for lap one. Stark immediately pressured Travis Volm, who had snuck around Andy Casavant and Dylan Wenzel on the first circuit.
Stark wasted no opportunities as he found a line around Volm on lap five. He then left Volm to deal with heat-race winner and defending Sportsman Tour Champion Dave Trute.
While Stark broke away, Trute and Volm engaged in a spirited battle for Second. At the same time Wenzel and Phil Lehl continuously swapped the Fourth spot.
By lap 20 it appeared Trute had fled from Volm and was making up some ground on Stark. However, Volm closed back in on Trute and swiped Second with two laps remaining to claim the runner-up spot.
Trute was Third, and Wenzel outgunned Lehl for Fourth.
TUNDRA will break for the remainder of June and spring back into action at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wis. on Saturday, July 7. Round Three will feature the Super Late Models, Sportsman, the second leg of the Late Model Triple Crown, and fireworks display. More information will be available in the coming weeks through the TUNDRA web site.