Mintz Ends Fremont Drought
FREMONT, Ohio – Despite having several good runs at Fremont Speedway over past few years, Craig Mintz just couldn’t seem to find victory lane.
A three year drought ended Saturday on Baumann Auto Group Night as the two-time track champion took the lead at the half way point and cruised to his sixth career win. The 30-lap feature went caution free. The victory in the Fort Ball Pizza Palace 410 Sprints was emotional for Mintz on the eve of Mother’s Day as he lost his Mom last year.
“Tomorrow’s Mother’s Day so this one is for my Mom,” said Mintz, who swept the weekend after winning at Attica Raceway Park on Friday.
“This is the greatest weekend we’ve had in quite awhile. All these guys back here busted their butts. We tried something different this week. We put some good ProShocks on and Linder’s Speed Equipment put some different oil in them and tonight we were fast,” said Mintz.
The King of the Hill match races determined the starting line-up for the first four rows of the 30-lap 410 sprint feature. Brian Lay, by virtue of winning the King of the Hill, and Mintz comprised the front row. Lay would bolt into the lead with Mintz, Todd Heller, Broc Martin, Gary Taylor, D.J. Foos, Travis Philo and Byron Reed in tow.
Lay and Mintz would separate from the pack as Heller ran comfortably in third while Martin and Taylor battled for fourth. The leaders caught the back of the pack by lap nine and the lapped cars were racing side by side in front of them. Lay and Mintz continued to run nose to tail as they battled in lapped traffic with Heller, Martin, Taylor, Philo and Reed in tow.
At the halfway point, Mintz made his move, driving under Lay exiting turn two to take the lead. Mintz pulled away slightly as Lay, Heller, Martin and now Reed gave chase. With six laps to go in the non-stop feature Mintz encountered heavy lapped traffic again with five cars battling for position. However, the leader’s patience paid off as he was able to pick them off one at a time. Mintz would drive to the win over Lay, Heller, Reed and Martin.
Alvin Roepke is known as a bottom track racer. While everyone was racing on the bottom of the track Saturday Roepke decided to try the top and it worked as the Fremont Federal Credit Union 305 Sprint feature only had one caution. He took the lead from Jordan Ryan on the white flag and then used a lapped car as a pick on the final lap and drove to his fifth career Fremont win.
It ended a long drought at Fremont for Roepke as well as he said it’s been since 2003 since he got a victory at Fremont.
“You guys better write that on the calendar that I ran the top side. My brother (Danny) has been helping me on this. We did a couple things tonight and Les Mintz (Craig’s dad) helped us out a little bit and gave us a little trick advice. This is one of Craig Mintz’ old cars,” said Roepke. “Lapped traffic was in our favor because they were down on the bottom. I just tried to keep the car straight. I think it helped that Jordan (Ryan) and John (Ivy) were racing. They didn’t know I was coming, especially not Al Roepke on the high side.
“I want to thank all the people who have helped us out this year. Crown Battery. They’ve been a great supporter of racers and the race track. Joe and Fran Darmofal and Third World Space Cargo and American Race Cars and Bobby’s Truck and Bus Repair and of course my hometown, the Village of Elmore,” added Roepke.
Not to be outdone, Art Ball, who holds the all-time feature win lead at Fremont, finally put the early season gremlins behind him and drove to his 75th career victory at Fremont in the Dirt Truck feature. Coincidently, Ball’s win total matches his age and it was the 300th overall feature win for the Fremont Speedway Hall of Famer.
“We’ve had horrendous luck this season. But these guys didn’t give up and have worked so hard on this truck,” said Ball.
“You can’t say these guys haven’t been trying. Every week they’ve torn this truck apart and put it back together. Last week we found out it was a simple ignition switch causing all the problems,” added Ball. “I felt like I was doing something wrong until tonight.”
When asked if he had a couple more years of racing left in him to try and reach 100 victories at Fremont, Ball joked, “I’m not even sure if I can finish this year.”