Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Stars Emerge In ASA Midwest Tour's first half

Dean & Jason Talkin Racin

By Dean Reller

Unlike other touring series, where the circuit comes to town and local race fans watch many unfamiliar names stage a race on the track they are familiar with, but the drivers aren’t so familiar was the norm, until along came the ASA Midwest Tour. Tim Olson and Steve Einhaus revived the idea of bringing a field of Touring Stars to a local race track to compete against the local stars that race fans are used to seeing running at the front every week. This concept was highly successful in the former ARTGO series, but got lost along the way as NASCAR took over the series and made several changes, which resulted in a touring series that visited local tracks with little chance to see local drivers compete in front of their hometown fans.

In the first few years of the ASA Midwest Tour, the local drivers gave a good effort, but frequently lost the race to the touring drivers. This year has definitely not fit into that mold. In the first seven races, there have been five different drivers taking the checkered flag. Ross Kenseth, after a strong season last year, leads in the win column with three victories. Touring Star Tim Schendel has one win and Rookie Sklyer Holzhausen (photo below) has one win.
However, the real eye openers have been Jason Weinkauf and Mark Mackesy. They do not compete against many of these drivers on a regular basis, but they had the advantage over the touring series drivers as they used their expertise on their own turf and showed that the local driver can win against the visitors. I may add that these visitors include many track championships and touring series championships throughout the Midwest making them very strong competition and virtually all of them have a chance to win at every race. This fact is backed up by a very unique, but overlooked statistic that at most races the entire field qualifies within .5 seconds from top to bottom. Yes, that’s one-half of a second from the fastest to the slowest. This goes to show that the local drivers experience on the familiar track allows them to mix it up with the touring drivers who have to quickly adapt to a new track.

Ross Kenseth (photo above) has the obvious blood lines of a racer, being the son of NASCAR star Matt Kenseth, but the young driver has been proving that he’s the real deal as his three wins having him leading in the win column, but not in the point standings as Andrew Morrissey, another of the young guns of the ASA Midwest Tour, leads in the points with several runner-up finishes and is set to win in any of the final few races of the year. Jacob Goede has recorded a couple of ASA Midwest Tour wins in the last few years, but he too has been snake bit in the hunt to the checkered flag, but sits inside the top five in the standings. Veteran driver Tim Schendel has one win and tons of experience, but sits fourth in points and needs to click off a couple a wins to give him a chance at the Championship. Young gun Nick Murgic rounds out the top five in points and would not surprise anyone if he won at least one of the remaining races. Former Champions Nathan Haseleu and Steve Carlson along with frontrunners Chris Wimmer and Jonathan Eilen are also surprisingly lacking Victory Lane appearances this year and sit surprising lower than expected in the point standings.

Jason Weinkauf and Mark Mackesy may have surprised the Touring drivers, but the chance for the local driver to win over the wealth of talent and experience has made something that race fans can get behind. Prior to the start of the season, officials from the ASA Midwest Tour billed 2011 as “The Best Season Yet”. At first I chalked that up to promotional hype, but the stark reality is that so far the 2011 season is living up to its billing and with a handful of key races remaining, the race to the Championship should be just as exciting.

The ASA Midwest tour travels to Iowa Speedway in Newton IA on Friday Aug 5th racing on the same weekend as the NASCAR Nationwide series.  Jason and Dean will have full coverage LIVE from Iowa Speedway with interviews of the top finishers of the ASA Midwest tour race on "Speedtalk on 1360," Saturday morning 10-11am on

Dean Reller and Jason Searcy have over 40 years combined experienced in motorsports. They host the weekly program Speed Talk on 1360 every Saturday morning from 10-11 AM on KRWC AM 1360. The program covers NASCAR and devotes a good portion to local and regional racing as well.

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