McMullen bags first MSA Harry Neitzel Tribute triumph
Three-time Midwest Sprint Car Association champion Brandon McMullen Oshkosh added one of the MSA’s crown jewels to his trophy case by claiming the fourth annual Harry Neitzel Tribute Race Friday, Sept. 4, at the Dodge County Fairgrounds in Beaver Dam, Wis.
The prestigious 14th MSA event of the 2020 season, which was run in honor of the late Beaver Dam resident, who was one of the most beloved figures in the MSA and the entire Southeastern Wisconsin racing community, drew a field of 23 competitors to the “horsepower half mile.”
After an aborted start for a four-car incident in turn two involving Nick Daywalt of Hubertus, Justin Miller of Plymouth, Chris Clayton and Waldo and Plymouth’s Justin Erickson, outside front row starter Tony Wondra of Campbellsport outpowered polesitter Tim Haddy of Waupun to take the lead on the opening circuit of the 20-lap MSA main event.
On lap 2, Brandon McMullen, who started fourth, worked his way past Haddy into second and quickly set his sights on the leader. By lap 5, McMullen had reeled in Wondra and attempted to dive low in turn three to take over the spot.
However, Wondra battled back along the outside groove to maintain the top spot in turn four. On lap 7, the leaders began to encounter lapped traffic, which allowed McMullen to again move within striking distance of Wondra.
On lap 11, Wondra drifted high over the cushion in turn four, which allowed McMulllen to seize the top spot along the low groove. Once ahead, McMullen opened up a solid lead, while fifth starter Travis Arenz of Sheboygan, who entered the race with a five-point lead over McMullen in the MSA point standings, charged in to work around Wondra into second on lap 23.
McMullen cruised over the final two laps to post his 28th career MSA A-main victory, fifth MSA main event victory of the 2020 season and first Harry Neitzel Tribute Race trophy.
Arenz finished second, Wondra ended up third, 2005 MSA champion Lance Fassbender moved up from the 13th starting spot to place fourth and ninth starter Jack Vanderboom of Dousman rounded out the top five.
After the race, McMullen ranked the victory at the top of his 28 career MSA wins.
“This race really means a lot to me,” McMullen said. “Harry was a really good to us when we first came into the 360s and he was friends with everyone. Pretty much everyone in this pit area tonight knows who Harry was and what he meant to racing in this area. This wins means a ton. I’d say it is the biggest win of my career so far.”
Arenz was satisfied with his second-place run on the high-speed half mile.
“I can’t complain too much about second place,” Arenz said. “It was a good run and I’m happy with it.”
Wondra gave McMullen all he could handle through the first half of the race before ending up with a spot on the podium.
“We were really strong in the beginning,” Wondra said. “This race would have been sweet to win. We just didn’t have anything for those guys at the end tonight.”
Heat race victories went to Travis Arenz, Brandon McMullen and Tony Wondra.
The next two events on the MSA schedule will be at The Plymouth Dirt Track at the Sheboygan County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Sept. 5 and Saturday, Sept. 12 with grandstand gates opening at 4:30 p.m. with hot laps at 5:30 p.m. and racing to follow.
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Midwest Sprint Car Association
Dodge County Fairgrounds
Beaver Dam, Wis.
September 4, 2020
1, Travis Arenz 2, Tyler Davis 3, Chris Clayton 4, Tim Haddy 5, Chris Larson 6, Will Gerrits 7, Bill Taylor 8, Blake Wondra.
1, Brandon McMullen 2, Paul Pokorski 3, Jack Vanderboom 4, Justin Erickson 5, Justin Miller 6, Lance Fassbender 7, Scotty Neitzel 8, Tyler Brabant.
1, Tony Wondra 2, Kurt Davis 3, Nick Daywalt 4, Adam Miller 5, Tyler Tischendorf 6, Scott Conger 7, Preston Ruh.
1, Brandon McMullen 2, Travis Arenz, 3, Tony Wondra 4, Lance Fassbender 5, Jack Vanderboom 6, Tim Haddy 7, Scotty Neitzel 8, Paul Pokorski 9, Scott Conger 10, Will Gerrits 11, Adam Miller 12, Tyler Davis 13, Chris Larson 14, Tyler Brabant 15, Tyler Tischendorf 16, Bill Taylor 17, Preston Ruh 18, Blake Wondra 19, Kurt Davis 20, Chris Clayton 21, Nick Daywalt 22, Justin Miller 23, Justin Erickson.
Photos by Leader Photography