FREMONT, Ohio – There’s no place like home. For Fremont native Chad Kemenah it was “home cooking” as he held off seven time World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series champion Donny Schatz to claim the Kistler Engines Smack Down at Fremont Speedway Friday, June 3.
The win was Kemenah’s sixth career World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series victory and the 12th win of his career at “The Track That Action Built,” on Ohio Logistics/Kistler Engines Night.
Kemenah would take the lead from Watertown , Connecticut ’s David Gravel on the 23rd lap of the 40-lap feature and then held off Schatz who closed in last few laps.
“I just can’t thank my whole team enough…they work their tails off. I have great car owners, Rob and Rita Hunter. Unfortunately Rob wasn’t here to watch this…he’s never won a World of Outlaws show before. I have to thank everybody…Stewart Williams for building me a hell of a wing. We put this thing on a couple of months ago and seems like there is nothing wrong with it. I want to thank Maxim Chassis, Seneca Energy, JRC Transport, Bonnell’s Rod Shop, Brilex LLC,” Kemenah said.
“We’ve been pretty good…last week we had a driver who didn’t feel like qualifying very good so that turned into a terrible weekend. Dave (Gravel) and Donny (Schatz) race you like true professionals because they are the best in the business. My wife and kids are here to watch it so this is pretty cool,” Kemenah added.
Schatz would close on Kemenah late, but had to settle for a runner-up finish in his Tony Stewart/Curb/Agajanian Racing machine.
“ Chad did a good job. I just had to search around on the race track. I could never get stuck like we wanted. It is a work in progress. Every day is a different day and we’ll keep working on it. Tony Stewart has the best guys in the business to do that. We’ll keep plugging away. We did our best and had a pretty solid night. Obviously we wanted to win but we got beat. So we’ll lick our wounds and learn from it. I honestly don’t care about points…I’m about winning races. That’s how I’ve won what I’ve won and I’m going to keep doing that. We need to get back to winning races. We’ll go back and figure out what we could do better,” said Schatz of his Bad Boy Buggies/Chevrolet Performance/J&J Auto Racing backed #15.
Gravel, who led laps 1-22, would settle for third in his CJB Motorsports backed #5.
“ Chad and Brian (Kemenah, crew chief) did a great job. They have been really strong this year. We had the best car the first half of the race but it faded late. I got the wing back all the way and that’s all I had,” said Gravel of his Big Game Tree Stands/JRC Transportation/Nyce Crete & Landis/Bairs Tree Service/Ecynbro Trucking/Kistler Engines backed machine.
“We’ll settle for third…you never want to back up in the feature but people like Donny Schatz and Chad Kemenah beat you on a very slick track…they are some of the best on that type of race track. We have a little bit of work to do but we’ve been trying stuff so we’re getting better at it every week. The wins will come. I have to thank my guys Darren, Barry, Austin, Jared came with us because Barry stayed home…he became a grandpa this week so that’s pretty cool,” Gravel added.
The Fremont Federal Credit Union 305 Sprints were split into two fields – odds and evens and points – with everyone competing in an A-main feature only. In the first feature Bradner , Ohio ’s Nate Dussel would grab the lead from John Ivy on a restart with seven laps to go and pulled away for his second win of the year and 19th of his career at Fremont .
“There was no way in hell I could run the top around him (Ivy). There’s a lot of fans here that want to see a show so I decided to stick on the curb and see what happens. It’s hard to start in the back consistently and consistently make it up front. Some times you just miss the set-up or the driver’s not going to be very good. It helps to start in the first two rows,” said Dussel beside his Al Davis Carpet/Berrier Fabrication, Foster Fabrication, Real Geese Decoys, Gressman Powersports, Industrial Machinery Movers, Kistler Racing Products backed #1.
“I have to thank my mom and dad, Al Davis, Bill Berrier, and my brothers, Bobby, Adam, Scotty and all those guys that help out,” Dussel added.
In the second 305 feature, Elmore , Ohio ’s Alvin Roepke took the lead from Dustin Stroup on lap two and survived several restarts to score his sixth career win at Fremont .
“You could say it was an old man’s track…around the tires. Had to really, really be patient getting in and patient getting off. My car was pretty good….my brother Danny had it dialed in,” said Roepke beside his Joe and Fran Darmofal, Village of Elmore, Crown Battery, Woodville Mutual backed #99.
The McCullough Industries 602 Late Models also ran a feature only and John Brooks took the lead from Dustin Keegan on lap six and drove to his second win of the season and the fourth of his career at Fremont Speedway.
“We haven’t been that good lately so we changes some stuff on the car and it worked,” said Brooks beside his Snack Time Vending/Foster Auto Repair/Schlenk Race Cars backed machine.
Gravel and Kemenah would bring the field to green for the 40-lap World of Outlaws feature, but Brad Sweet and Sheldon Haudenschild would tangle. On the second attempt at a green, Shane Stewart and Danny Holtgraver got together with Kerry Madsen also getting damage. On the third attempt Gravel would grave the lead over Kemenah, Joey Saldana, Schatz and Greg Wilson.
Daryn Pittman would spin after a lap was completed. When the green flew Gravel led Kemenah, Schatz, Saldana, Wilson, Rob Chaney, Dean Jacobs, Dale Blaney and Paul McMahan. Sweet would spin again on lap four, wiping out Gravel’s advantage. On the restart Gravel would pull away slightly from Kemenah as Schatz challenged for second with Saldana and Wilson in tow.
Chris Andrews would stop on lap nine for another caution which kept Gravel out of lapped traffic. The car on the move to this point was Jason Sides who worked his way from 19th starting position to seventh.
The race would then start to gain some momentum when the green flew. Gravel led Kemenah with Wilson and Schatz battling hard for third followed by Saldana and Jason Johnson up from 15th starting position. Just as Gravel prepared to enter into heavy lapped traffic at the half-way point Rob Chaney would stop.
When the race resumed Gravel now had his hands full with Kemenah and Schatz with Wilson, Saldana, Johnson, Jacobs, Byron Reed and Sides giving chase. Kemenah would make his move around Gravel in turns one in two on lap 23 to take the lead.
Kemenah would begin pulling away slightly as Gravel fell back to the clutches of Schatz with Wilson, Johnson, Saldana and Jacobs in tow. Kemenah built a 1.7 second lead by lap 29 as he raced into lapped traffic. Schatz would use the lapped cars to close on Kemenah and with five laps remaining could see the leader’s rear bumper.
Kemenah made a fantastic move in traffic with two laps to go to seal the win. Schatz, Gravel, Wilson , Johnson, Saldana, Reed, Jacobs, Brent Marks (from 20th) and Sides rounding out the top 10.
In the first 305 feature John Ivy would grab the early lead over Dussel, Bobby Clark, Jamie Miller and Dustin Dinan. Clark would move into second on lap two with Dussel battling with Miller for third. The caution flew on lap five for Clark who had something go wrong on the front of his mount. On the restart Matt Foos would stop after a chuck of clay knocked the wind out of him.
When the green flew Ivy had has hands full with Dussel with Miller, Dinan, Kyle Capodice and Dustin Rall in tow. Ivy raced into lapped traffic by the 13th circuit with Dussel, Dinan, Capodice, Rall, Miller and Luke Griffith giving chase.
Cody Bova would spin on lap 16 and on the restart Dinan and Capodice would get together battling for third. On the restart Dussel would drive to Ivy’s outside and would take the lead with Griffith moving from his12th starting spot to third.
Dussel would begin to pull away as Ivy now had to deal with Griffith who would take second on lap 21. A caution for debris with three laps to go gave the field one last shot at Dussel. But, he was just too strong and drove to the win. Griffith would hold off Ivy for second with Rall scoring his best career finish in fourth and Capodice rounding out the top five.
In the second 305 feature, Dustin Stroup would grab the early lead but Roepke, using his familiar bottom groove, would take the top spot on lap two. Paul Weaver, who won back to back features last weekend at Fremont , would drive into second by the third lap.
Jerry Dahms would spin on lap seven and on the restart Weaver searched around the track for a chance to get by Roepke who did not budge from the bottom. Roepke would start to pull away from Weaver with Dan McCarron on the move, taking third followed by Stroup, Brandon Moore and Steve Rando.
Following a caution on lap 12, Weaver would once again challenge Roepke for the lead. But once Roepke got rolling he would pull away. Disaster struck for Weaver on lap 20 when his rear axle broke, sending him into a hard flip. He would walk away uninjured.
Roepke would pull away the last five laps for the win with McCarron winning the spirited battle with Stroup for second. Rando would come home fourth with Moore rounding out the top five.
Following a couple of mishaps at the start of the late model feature, Dustin Keegan would take the lead over Brooks, Brandon Perkins, Ky Harper and Steve Sabo. Brooks would power under Keegan for the lead on lap six and never looked back for the win.
Keegan would record his season-best finish in second followed by Perkins, Sabo and Matt Shipley.
Fremont Speedway will be back in action Saturday, June 11 on Vision Quest Night. The Fremont Speedway Hall of Fame induction ceremonies will take place at 2:30 p.m. with racing underway at 7 p.m. It is a Kistler Racing Products FAST Championship Series presented by KS Sales and Service Point night for the 410 sprints. It is also the Race of Legends pitting former drivers who have retired against one another in 305 sprints. The late models and dirt trucks will also be in action.
For more information go to www.fremontohspeedway.com