Blackhurst/Balog Victorious on Northern Swing


As the Bumper to Bumper Interstate Racing Association season nears its conclusion, the series headed north for a pair of races. On Friday night 20 teams entered the Gondik Law Speedway in Superior, Wisconsin for the Northern Nationals.
Preliminary action saw former Knoxville Raceway track champion Austin McCarl set quick time. Heat races were won by Brooke Tatnell, Jake Blackhurst and Scotty Neitzel.
As the A main went green, the Australian, Brooke Tatnell jumped out front. Tatnell wouldn’t hold the lead long though as Scotty Thiel was quickly all over the Vermeer 55 for the lead. Thiel would work past Tatnell and take over the point just a few laps in. Thiel established himself as the car to beat, as he controlled the race around the fast oval in northern Wisconsin.
With just 5 laps to go though, Thiel would lose that lead. Jake Blackhurst, once again behind the wheel of the Oz Motorsports 73 had finally muscled around Tatnell and was on Thiel's back door. Blackhurst would work past Thiel and lead the remaining 5 laps in route to his first victory behind the wheel of the 73, and Oz Motorsports second victory of the year. Scotty Thiel brought his Professional Plating 64 home in second followed by multi-time World Series Sprintcar Champion Brooke Tatnell. Bill Balog aboard the Rhine Auto
17b crossed the line in fourth followed by Steve Meyer.
After a long night in Superior, teams traveled to New Richmond, Wisconsin for the Jerry Richert Memorial at the Cedar Lake Speedway. With 24 teams signed in, one of the most prestigious races on the IRA calendar was set to thrill fans once again. In preliminary action Scotty Thiel set quick time while Bill Balog, Chad Boespflug, and Jeremy Schultz all picked up heat race wins.
Justin Henderson took the early lead in the feature event, but Jake Blackhurst would not let the former World of Outlaws regular get away. Blackhurst stalked the 7 of Henderson through lapped traffic looking for an opportunity to pounce. Blackhurst also faced a challenge of his own, longtime friend and IRA series rival Scotty Thiel was in third and challenging the 2018 series champion. On lap 13 however Thiel would throw his car under the Oz Motorsports 73 of Blackhurst, but spin out in his attempt to pass. On the restart Bill Balog and Austin McCarl were now also in the hunt for the win.
The top four battled, none seeming to have a distinct advantage and therefore not being able to emerge on top. With just a handful of laps remaining, Blackhurst and McCarl would see an opportunity to pass Henderson, Blackhurst went high while McCarl went low, both men looked to get around the white 7, but contact would send Henderson around and leave McCarl with a flat tire. Now with just three laps remaining, Jake Blackhurst had inherited the lead. On the restart Balog was able to sneak past Blackhurst and control the race. Bill Balog led the final three laps to claim victory in the Jerry Richert Memorial. Jake Blackhurst finished in second and Jeremy Schultz Rounded out the top three. In 18 runnings of the Jerry Richert Memorial, this was the first ever podium comprised of all IRA series regulars. Mark Dobmeier and Terry McCarl finished fourth and fifth respectively.

Article Credit: Gared Tennyson

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