Travis Sauter Survives Caution Filled Race to Win 36th Annual Stateline Challenge
Last year, Johnny Sauter took the win in the Stateline Challenge at Norway Speedway. This year a Sauter would win again, but it would be Travis Sauter, Johnny’s nephew, going home with the victory. From the conclusion of qualifying, it was clear that Sauter would be tough to beat as he set the night’s quick time at 14.414 seconds.
With the amount of Late Models that showed up for the 36th Annual Stateline Challenge, a 20 lap B Main was added to the night’s card of racing. The top three finishers in that race, Neal Sannes, Dean Varda, and Bruce White would all transfer into the 75-lap main event later in the night.
When the green flag flew for the Stateline Challenge 75-lap feature race, it was Jason Wells taking the early lead from Scott Stanchina on the eight lap. He went on to lead the better part of the races first half.
While Wells had control of things up front, behind him Travis Sauter was making his way through the field from the 12th starting position. Sauter eventually took the lead from Wells just past the race’s halfway mark, where he stayed until the checkered flag dropped. The race, however, by no means ran smoothly.
The caution flag would fly no less than 12 times in the 75-lap race, which also saw several red flag periods. With high temperatures and high humidity, every slowing and stopping of the cars meant near torture for the drivers inside their machines. At speed, the constant air flow helps keep the drivers cool. But when the air flow stops, the cockpit essentially becomes an oven on wheels.
Despite the arduous conditions, Travis Sauter was able to capture the victory in the 36th Annual Stateline Challenge. Jason Wells held on to the second place while Dillon Kralovetz recovered from an early race trip to the turn one sand to finish in third.
In victory lane, a red faced and sweaty Travis Sauter emerged from his car to celebrate his win. In an interview with track announcer Joe Verdegan, Sauter said how tough of a race it was with all of the caution flags. He also dedicated the win to Gene Coleman, a car owner who gave Sauter the chance to drive his car when he was just 19.
In addition to the 1,700 dollar purse, many local businesses, race teams, and racing fans alike pitched in for lap leader bonuses, adding an extra incentive to lead laps in the race.
Auto Value Super Stocks
Prior to the running of the Stateline Challenge, the Auto Value Super Stocks took to the Norway Speedway for a 30-lap feature race.
Andy Gerwig leapt into the race lead right off the bat while the rest of the field battled behind him. Several cautions flew over the course of the 30-lap feature, including one at the halfway point that saw Tim Schultz Jr. spin off the front bumper of Ryan Wender. Wender was sent to the back of the field as a result of the incident while Schultz was allowed to keep his position.
A late race yellow for last week’s winner Brett Bray set up a 7 lap dash to the finish. Though Tim Schultz Jr. put up a battle, Andy Gerwig was able to hold on to the lead and win the feature. Schultz followed in second while Anthony Shiefelbein was third.
While the leaders were crossing the finish line, a two car crash occurred in turn two collecting Parker Cain and Adam Faull. Both drivers were ok following the incident.
Wisconsin Sport Trucks
Following the conclusion of the Stateline Challenge, the Wisconsin Sport Trucks had their feature race.
Despite two cautions in the first five laps, the Wisconsin Sport Truck feature would run clean for most of its 20 laps. JJ Vanderloop would control much of the racing from the top spot. Just when victory looked like a lock for Vanderloop he had contact with a lapped car which sent him spinning and flipping onto his side.
On the subsequent restart, Brent Barglind assumed the lead. Just before the caution for Vanderloop, Barglind had moved his way around his brother Brad Barglind and Drew Habeck for second. Vanderloop was going to get his spot back but because he went to the pits prior to the restart, he was sent to the back, thus handing the lead to Brent Barglind.
On the race’s last lap, Destiny Bullard went into turn one and went speeding into the rough sand that lines the outer edge of the speedway. Although she climbed from the vehicle under her own power, the ambulance soon came out and the EMTs attended to her. Bullard was then transported to a local hospital.
The top three finishers were Brent Barglind, Brad Barglind, and Drew Habeck in that order.
Due to the program running late, the rest of the night’s events were canceled. Norway Speedway returns to action next Friday with racing at 7 p.m CST.
By Todd Rose