Monday May 26 Columbus 151 Speedway Hometrack May 30-June 1 Friday June 27 Madison Int. Speedway Hometrack July 4-6 Wednesday July 16 Rockford Speedway Hometrack July 18-20 Saturday Sep 27 Rockford Speedway Friday Oct 3 LaCrosse Speedway
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2014 Season Review
By: Eric Huenefeld
After surprising many observers with his win during the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) finale at Oktoberfest Racing Weekend in 2013, young Devin Schmidt went from upstart to contender in a matter of months.
The Belle Plaine Minnesota racer was the most consistent driver of them all during the 2014 GNSS season and was rewarded with the second ever Great Northern Sportsman Series championship. Schmidt had to hold off Farmington Minnesota’s Dusty Mann for the title, which was his first in full-bodied stock cars.
Schmidt began the 2014 season much like he ended 2013, with a win at the tight quarter mile Columbus 151 Speedway in south central Wisconsin. Schmidt was one of the few racers to stay out of trouble on opening day, keeping Sparta Wisconsin’s Chris Weber at bay in the final laps of the 40 lap event. Mann opened the eyes of many at Columbus with a hard-charging effort and third place finish.
When the GNSS next took the track, a field of 25 cars from four states converged on ‘Wisconsin’s Fastest Half Mile,’ Madison International Speedway. The race featured a multitude of yellow flags and a first time GNSS winner, as Taylor Wisconsin’s Jake Arneson outlasted the field to collect the win while Schmidt and Mann, both racing for the first time on the high-banked track, finished second and third respectively.
For the second consecutive year, the GNSS was featured as part of a mid-week, mid-summer shootout at Rockford Speedway. Despite just ten cars making the trip to Rockford, the racing was action packed from start to finish. 2013 GNSS Champion Jason Thoma set fast time and won the 40 lap feature race, coming from dead last to win the main event and claiming the lead after a furious, ten-lap, side-by-side battle with Mann for the top spot. Mann cemented himself as a championship contender at Rockford, while Schmidt finished fifth while struggling to adjust to Rockford’s tricky curves and corners in his first ever visit to the facility.
As the calendar turned to September, GNSS teams and drivers returned to Rockford as part of the 49th National Short Track Championships and ‘Short Track Saturday Night.’ The 50 lapper at Rockford included the most dominant performance of the 2014 GNSS season, with Jason Thoma commanding the twenty-one car field. Thoma, who also won Friday night’s 40 lap Sportsman feature at Rockford, took the checkered flag with nearly half a lap between him and his nearest competition. Mann followed up his Summer runner-up with a fourth place in the Fall, while Schmidt settled for eighth, setting up a championship showdown between Schmidt, Mann and Thoma at Oktoberfest in LaCrosse.
The championship race in October at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway never really developed. Schmidt turned in another solid effort on the sweeping half-mile with a fourth place effort. Mann fought to a twelfth place finish while Thoma was involved in a multi-car wreck early in the race. Mauston’s Dave Trute picked up his first ever GNSS feature on this night and also set fast time among the field of 46 Sportsman, the largest gathering of cars in the brief two-year history of the GNSS.
By the numbers, Schmidt and Mann mirrored each other in 2014. Schmidt’s average finish was fourth place while Mann’s average finish was 4.8. Thoma was the only driver to win multiple features (2) and set multiple fast times (2) during the 2014 season, but bad luck at Columbus and LaCrosse ruined any chance for the Jefferson Wisconsin resident to repeat as GNSS champion.
Thoma rolls to Great Northern Sportsman NSTC crown
By: Eric Huenefeld
Jefferson Wisconsin's Jason Thoma capped off an unforgettable weekend at Rockford Speedway, winning the Great Northern Sportsman Series 50 lap feature race. Thoma, who one night earlier was the winner of the 40 lap Sportsman feature, was dominant in Saturday night's 50 lapper, storming past three-time Rockford Speedway champion Doug Bennett for the lead early. Thoma was never seriously challenged again, leading by as much as half a lap late in the race. Rockford's Matt Lundberg, a former NSTC winner himself, finished the race in second. Minnesota's Jeremy Wolff, making his first trip to Rockford in over eight years, ran the extreme high line on his way to a third place finish.
Dusty Mann, who came into the evening second in the Great Northern Sportsman Series points, finished the race in fourth position. The fourth place finish for Mann is his second top five finish at Rockford this year, following a second place in July to Thoma during the GNSS's first stop at the high banked quarter mile in July. Daryl Gerke, last years winner of the 50 lap race, came home in fifth, one night after finishing third.
GREAT NORTHERN SPORTSMAN SERIES BEGINS CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE AT NSTC!
By: Eric Huenefeld
Five drivers from three states are separated by just 46 points in the chase for the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) championship. The second year series begins its stretch run Saturday September 27 at Rockford (IL) Speedway as part of the 49th National Short Track Championships then crowns its champion Friday October 3 as part of the Oktoberfest Racing Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway in West Salem Wisconsin.
Heading into the final two races of the 2014 season, Minnesota youngster Devin Schmidt leads the charge, holding a scant three point advantage over second place Dusty Mann. Schmidt started the season with a win at Columbus 151 Speedway back in May, while Mann has been consistent at each series stop, nearly picking up his first GNSS win back in July at Rockford, only to finish second to Jason Thoma.
Speaking of Thoma, the 2013 GNSS champion is still in the hunt for another crown as he currently lies third in the overall standings, just sixteen points off the lead. Thoma’s journey along the GNSS trail in 2014 has seen its ups and downs, with his third place point standing largely a testament to his relentlessness early in the season following some rough luck.
Sparta Wisconsin’s Chris Weber goes into the final two GNSS events fourth in the point standings, just seventeen points back of Schmidt, while Machesney Park Illinois racer Chad Smith rounds out the top five, forty-six points behind.
For second consecutive July, the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) brought some of the best Sportsman racers in the Midwest to Rockford Speedway. And for the second consecutive July, Jason Thoma was the man to beat.
The Jefferson Wisconsin native raced from his tenth starting position to the front of the field, outrunning Minnesota racer Dusty Mann for the win in the 40 lap GNSS event which was part of a busy Airgas 'Wild Wednesday' at the legendary quarter mile.
Thoma's road to the front was filled with traffic, as the 2013 GNSS Champion started the race at the back of the ten car starting field. Young Minnesotan Devin Schmidt and Machesney Park resident Brian Meyer led the field to the green flag and as the pack made its way to the second turn, disaster nearly struck. Schmidt and Meyer came together off of the second corner, creating a bottleneck that created a moving hazard for all parties. Ninth place starter Michael Gilomen received the worst of the incident, acquiring front end damage which compromised his radiator, forcing the Nerstrand Minnesota native to the sidelines.
When the race restarted, Meyer slid around Schmidt to inherit the early lead with Mann, who started the race in fourth, closely following behind. In a matter of four laps, Mann was able to wrestle the top spot away from Meyer. As the field battled on, it created a small amount of breathing room for Mann. Soon, Sparta Wisconsin's Chris Weber made the move to second place, thus beginning his challenge for the lead.
Meanwhile, by lap ten, Thoma was inside the top five. By halfway, Thoma had slipped ahead of Weber for the runner up spot, quickly closing to the back of race leader Mann. Over the next ten laps, Thoma and Mann took part in a close-quarters free-for-all for the top spot. Mann maintained his lead by running the top side of the track, with Thoma challenging from the bottom of the speedway. With ten laps remaining, Thoma was able nudge ahead of Mann for the lead. By lap 33, the advantage between first and second extended to a couple car lengths. Thoma stampeded to the finish line first, collecting his second career GNSS win and first of 2014. Mann turned in another solid run with his second place effort. The runner up for Mann was good enough to propel the hard charging Minnesota racer to the GNSS points lead.
Local favorites Chad Smith and Johnny Robinson II also thrilled fans with their late race battle for third. When the checkered flag waved, Smith was able to finish ahead of Robinson, collecting third spot after starting the race in eighth. Robinson was credited with fourth, while pole sitter Devin Schmidt bounced back from a slow start with a fifth place finish.
Arneson tops Great Northern Sportsman MIS Field
From MIS race reports
Twenty-four Great Northern Sportsman Series cars came to the green flag paced by Chris Weber and Matt Lundberg. The caution flag came out on lap 2 when the car of Jason Dunn spun in turn two. Weber maintained his lead after the restart with Lundberg in pursuit. Working his way up through the field was Bill Prietzel who moved into third on lap 5 and was up to challenge Lundberg before the caution flag waved when Tim Coley’s car slowed with a flat tire.
Weber was able to lead for another lap before being overtaken by Prietzel on lap 7 before Michael Gilomen brought out the caution on the backstretch. Prietzel increased his lead on the restart with Weber in second followed by Ryan Goldade, Jake Arneson, and Don Wickstrum. On lap 10 the caution flag came out for an incident on the backstretch that ended Kody Hubred’s night.
Prietzel was off the pace on the restart allowing both Weber and Arneson to take the top two spots. Goldade moved into second on lap 13 and worked his way to the outside of Weber as the two traded paint going down the front stretch as they battled for the lead.
Everything broke loose on lap 15 when Weber and Goldade made contact in turn four sending Goldade spinning and bringing out the caution flag. As a result Weber was sent to the back giving the lead to Arneson followed by Devin Schmidt, Dusty Mann, Mike Taylor, and Chad Smith.
Arneson continued to lead after the restart as the top five remained the same. Despite another caution flag for a spin, Arneson was able to maintain his advantage and make his first-ever visit to MIS a good one as he picked up the win. Schmidt finished second followed by Mann, Taylor and Jason Thoma.
Chris Weber and Don Wickstrum won the six lap dash races. Michael Gilomen and Rick Johnson won the eight lap qualifying heats.
SCHMIDT PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF, WINS GNSS OPENER
The Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) presented by Dean’s Sattelite opened their second season on Memorial Day at Columbus 151 Speedway and in many ways, the new season started the same the old season ended.
A constant threat of rain hung over race day in Columbus on Monday, eerily similar to the threat of rain that hampered the series’ final race of 2013 at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. And much like last year’s final race at LaCrosse, Devin Schmidt was the driver to beat in the 40 lap feature event.
When the checkered flag flew Monday afternoon, the young driver from Belle Plaine Minnesota was tops among the 15 racers from three states, pocketing his second straight GNSS win.
Another Minnesota racer, Michael Gilomen, lead the field to green and took the initial lead. Schmidt, along with Johnny Robinson II, trailed Gilomen in the races early paces. The first caution flag of the day was displayed on lap eight, bringing the field together. On the restart, Schmidt worked inside of Robinson for the second position, setting his sights on the race lead.
The second caution was displayed on lap 13 and on the following restart, Gilomen was challenged by Schmidt for the lead. Along with Gilomen and Schmidt, fast qualifier Steven Sauer also challenged for the top spot after taking the high side on a ‘cone restart.’ Schmidt’s challenge eventually earned him the lead on lap 15, while Sauer’s high side gamble came up snake eyes.
Soon after Gilomen fell back to second, Sparta Wisconsin racer Chris Weber challenged for the runner up position. Weber inherited second and kicked Gilomen back to third. The final caution came on lap 27, giving the field one last chance at advancement. Schmidt and Weber broke away, battling for the lead while was Gilomen now occupied with Dusty Mann. Mann blasted past Gilomen late, taking yet another spot away from the pole sitter.
Schmidt guided the field after that final yellow, racing to the checkers ahead of Weber. The win was Schmidt’s second GNSS win, while the runner up was Weber’s best career GNSS finish. Mann ended the race in third, with Gilomen fourth. Steven Sauer ended a roller coaster day in fifth position.
(Thanks to Charlie Spry for his help and contributions to this report)
GREAT NORTHERN SPORTSMAN SERIES OPENS NEW SEASON AT A NEW VENUE!
By: Eric Huenefeld
As the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) presented by Dean’s Satellite opens its second season, it will do so on a track it has never before competed on.
This Monday afternoon May 26, the region’s top Sportsman racers will converge on Columbus 151 Speedway, the tight quarter mile located northeast of Madison Wisconsin, to begin a new season of action and competition.
Last year, Jason Thoma was christened the first ever GNSS champion. Thoma, the Jefferson Wisconsin native, collected three Quick Qualifier Awards and one race win on his way to the inaugural GNSS crown. Thoma’s stellar 2013 also featured a runner up points finish at his home track, Jefferson (WI) Speedway. So far in 2014, Thoma leads the Sportsman standings at Jefferson and plans to be at Columbus on Memorial Day, defending his GNSS championship.
As far as Columbus experience goes, Steven Sauer will be a driver to watch Monday. The Waterloo Wisconsin resident has been a regular contender in the Street Stock division at Columbus 151 over the last several seasons. In 2013, Sauer collected more Fast Times than any other Street Stock racer at Columbus and finished second in final point standings. On a track where experience means everything, Sauer could be a serious contender.
Then there’s the ‘Minnesota Invasion,’ featuring a multitude of Minnesota racers who plan on contending for the 2014 GNSS Championship. Leading the way is Belle Plaine Minnesota’s Devin Schmidt, winner of the final GNSS race of 2013 during Oktoberfest Race Weekend at LaCrosse Fairgrounds Speedway. Following Schmidt to Columbus will be Michael Gilomen (Nerstrand Minnesota) and Dillon Sellner (Farmington Minnesota) All three racers are regulars in the always competitive Thunder Car class at Elko (MN) Speedway and will likely be in the mix at each GNSS event they enter.
These drivers and many more will be part of the show this Monday May 26 at Columbus 151 Speedway. The Great Northern Sportsman Series will run in support of the Big 8 Late Model Series presented by Gandrud Chevrolet Monday afternoon, completing their day with a 40 lap feature event. Also appearing on the busy holiday card will be the four-cylinder ‘Bandit Blast’ and the Back Up Cars, a Columbus 151 Speedway staple.
Spectator gates open Monday at Noon, with time trials set to begin at 12:30 PM. Racing begins at 2 PM, with a full slate of preliminaries and feature races for the Big 8 Late Models, GNSS and Bandits plus the ‘wild n crazy’ Back Up Race . Adult general admission tickets are $15, Children ages 6-10 are $5 with kids ages 5 and under admitted free.
Columbus 151 Speedway is located northeast of Madison on US 151 at Exit 111 between Columbus and Sun Prairie. For more information on Columbus 151 Speedway, please visit www.columbus151.com or call 920-623-4393.
WEHRS MACHINE & RACING PRODUCTS REWARDS GREAT NORTHERN SPORTSMAN SERIES FAST QUALIFIERS!
By: Eric Huenefeld
Beginning this season, the racers of the Great Northern Sportsman Series (GNSS) will have some added incentive to go faster.
When the GNSS takes to the track Memorial Day Monday May 26 at Columbus (WI) 151 Speedway, the first official event of the new season will be Time Trials, now supported by Wehrs Machine & Racing Products.
The Bangor Wisconsin based business will present ‘Wehrs Machine & Racing Products Time Trials’ at each Great Northern Sportsman Series event. The fastest qualifier at each GNSS race will receive a $50 Certificate courtesy of Wehrs Machine & Racing Products.
Wehrs Machine & Racing Products was founded in June of 1997 and has evolved into one of the premier racing products companies in the country, with over 40 unique Wehr’s ‘original design items’ available to dirt and asphalt racers.
For more information on Wehrs Machine and Racing Products, please visit their website www.wehrsmachine.com or call (877)460-7211.
DEAN’S SATELLITE TO BECOME PRESENTING SPONSOR OF THE GREAT NORTHERN SPORTSMAN SERIES!
By: Eric Huenefeld
Great Northern Sportsman Series Director Greg Oliver announced today that Dean’s Satellite of Sparta Wisconsin has signed on to become presenting sponsor of the second year racing series. Effective immediately, the series is now known as the ‘Great Northern Sportsman Series presented by Dean’s Satellite.’
Dean’s Satellite is a local DIRECTV, DISH and Exede Satellite Internet Retailer based out of Sparta, WI with a second location in La Crosse, WI. Dean’s Satellite was named the 2011 DIRECTV National Dealer of the Year, topping over 2500 stores nationwide to claim that honor.
“As we continue to expand our service area, partnering with Great Northern Sportsman Series just made sense for us to help get our name out, while also supporting a growing series,” stated Dean’s Satellite owner Dean Pennel. “We are excited to see all the fans, teams and competitors out at the track in 2014.”
Dean’s Satellite plans on having a presence at each Great Northern Sportsman Series event in 2014. Look for the Dean’s Satellite booth on the concourse at tracks along the Great Northern Sportsman Series trail. Representatives will be on site, ready to talk with race fans and potential customers while showing off the great programming provided by Dean’s Satellite.
For more information on Dean’s Satellite be sure to visit them online at www.deansdish.com and make sure to “Like” them on Facebook.
The Great Northern Sportsman Series presented by Dean’s Satellite kicks off its second season Monday afternoon May 26 at Columbus 151 Speedway northeast of Madison Wisconsin. The 2014 schedule features five races at four tracks while also including three weekends of “Home Track” points racing. For more information in the Great Northern Sportsman Series, please visit www.greatnorthernsportsman.com.
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