Muscle cars finish strong during series finale

Bill Krech’s road to the Winner’s Circle at Brainerd International Raceway hasn’t been an easy one. It took three years and nine races, but last Sunday he earned the chance to hoist the first-place trophy in Pro Outlaw at the conclusion of the 27th Annual GSTA Muscle Car Shootout.

In weather conditions that were anything but ideal for drag racing, Krech’s 1969 Camaro ran as consistently as it ever has, Krech said, allowing him to rip off runs as quick as 6.621 seconds, which made him the No. 1 qualifier going into Sunday’s elimination rounds.

Bill Krech, Pro Outlaw
Bill Krech, Pro Outlaw
Jake Delmonico, Outlaw
Jake Delmonico, Outlaw

But Krech was quick to admit that he benefited from the misfortunes of many of other racers as well. Cars were breaking all around him, including Pro Outlaw defending champion Rick Schmidt’s 2011 Mustang, which ran the weekend’s top speed of 209.79 mph  and proved to be the car to beat all season. His car broke in the second round. Craig Braun’s 1955 Chevy also broke, but not until he had lined up against Krech in the finals, handing Krech the win.

“A little luck always helps in these situations,” Krech said. “Luck was on our side this weekend.”

In the Outlaw Class, Jake Delmonico was completing a very frustrating season. He won five of the six races in 2013 and 2014, repeating as the class champion in the process. This year was a different story, though.

“We struggled all year, and then we struggled all day Friday and Saturday,” he said, referring to the first three qualifying sessions last weekend where he couldn’t get his 1968 Camaro to perform. He replaced a variety of parts before trying a new ignition box before the final qualifying session Saturday. That was the ticket.

Mike Sterling, King Street
Mike Sterling, King Street
Jesse Nelson, Real Street Unlimited
Jesse Nelson, Real Street Unlimited

With his car dialed in, Delmonico was ready to take on the field, which included No. 1 qualifier Peter Campbell, whose Camaro was running 6.9 seconds, about a half second faster than Delmonico. But like the Pro Outlaw Class, Outlaw drivers like Campbell had trouble keeping their cars from breaking.

Delmonico found himself in the finals against Warren Peterson, who beat him in the finals of the Street Car Showdown earlier this year and then knocked him out of eliminations in the second round of the PleasureLand RV Show & Go. Peterson made it easy for Delmonico, though, by fouling at the starting line.

Last year’s King Street Class champion, Mike Sterling, took on the 20-car field and finished with a finals win over Steve Carson with a run of 8.233 seconds and 165.94 mph. Carson ran 8.805 seconds and 154.17 mph.

It was Sterling’s first trip to the finals this year. He had his work cut out in the semifinals, where he was paired up with Brian Mahnke, the No. 1 qualifier who had the quickest time (7.886 seconds) and top speed (177.51 mph). But Mahnke’s ’72 Camaro broke on that run, giving Sterling the win.

Robert Wilczek, Real Street Natural
Robert Wilczek, Real Street Natural
Jason Bergeson, True Street
Jason Bergeson, True Street

In Real Street Unlimited, Jesse Nelson raced in the elimination rounds for the first time this season and made the most of it. He was the No. 1 qualifier, had the quickest time (8.174 seconds) and top speed (171.62 mph), and then backed it all up by winning his way to the finals with his 1970 Chevelle. He lined up against Dave Hodgman, who won the class during the PleasureLand RV Show & Go. Hodgman blew him off the starting line but couldn’t put him away. Nelson ran him down and the finish line for the win, with a time of 8.301 seconds and 169.34 mph. Hodgman finished with 9.123 seconds and 148.61 mph.

Like Nelson, Robert Wilczek entered the elimination rounds as the No. 1 qualifier and then outlasted the field for the win. Driving a 1969 Mustang, Wilczek faced off against Bill Meyer in the finals, but Meyer fouled at the starting line, giving Wilczek a free pass to the Winner’s Circle.

Jason Bergeson was a model of consistency and power in the True Street Class, resulting in a No. 1 qualifying position with the quickest time (8.641 seconds) and top speed (157.08 mph). Throughout the elimination rounds, he maintained 8.6-second times, which earned him a trip to the finals against Dan Gefre. Bergeson’s ’84 Monte Carlo had too much power for Gefre, who lost with a time of 8.835 seconds and 155.29 mph. Bergeson’s winning run was at 8.605 seconds and 157.08 mph.

The Muscle Car Shootout is the grand finale of the three-race Muscle Car Series. The winners of each class will be announced soon.

Below are the results from the final round in each class:

Pro Outlaw
Finals: Bill Krech of Inver Grove Heights def. Craig Braun of Hampton

Finals: Jake Delmonico of St. Paul Park def. Warren Peterson of Duluth

King Street
Finals: Mike Sterling of Oak Grove def. Steve Carson of New Ulm

Real Street Unlimited
Finals: Jesse Nelson of Mountain Iron def. Dave Hodgman of Ramsey

Real Street Natural
Finals: Robert Wilczek of Little Falls def. Bill Meyer of Andover

True Street
Finals: Jason Bergeson of Cottage Grove def. Dan Gefre of Coon Rapids

660 Outlaw Street
Finals: Dave Senderhauf of Zimmerman def. Paul Hennum of Blaine

Strip Eliminator 1
Finals: Logan Loesch of Hastings def. Dave Vasseur of Rogers

Strip Eliminator 2
Finals: Gary Olson of Sartell def. Colleen Dircks of Carver

Strip Eliminator 3
Finals: Jessica Purdham of Albertville def. Gordy Hanson of Iron

Truck Eliminator
Finals: Lane Zuidema of Woodbury def. Bob Peterson of Roseville

Manual Transmission
Finals: Kelly Tutz of Randall def. Jared Lane of Brainerd

Index Class Champion
Finals: Zach Stengel of Blaine (11.50 Index) def. Kevin Hemenway of Park Rapids (12.50 Index)

9.50 Index
Finals: Josh Danielson of Carlson def. Patrick Huebner of Bloomington

10.00 Index
Finals: Ryan Merritt of Duluth def. Eric Baker of Browerville

10.50 Index
Finals: Brian Sloan of Monticello def. Mike Rocum of Perham

11.00 Index
Finals: Logan Loesch of Hastings def. Tim Davey of Gilbert

11.50 Index
Finals: Zach Stengel of Blaine def. Dan Boge of Minnetonka

12.00 Index
Finals: Robb Johnson of New Prague def. Gary Olson of Sartell

12.50 Index
Finals: Kevin Hemenway of Park Rapids def. Justin Iverson of Saginaw

13.00 Index
Finals: Charles Siegel of Carver def. Bryan Brager of Pillager

13.50 Index
Finals: Joe Yechout of Plymouth def. Paul Zoak of Beach, N.D.

14.00 Index
Finals: David Hyttsten of Monticello def. Mike Simons of Pine City