WEST SALEM — Devin “Turbo” Schmidt picked up his second career NASCAR Late Model feature win Saturday night at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway on Fan Photo night.
Schmidt’s win comes after a four weeks away from the track following a crash on May 14 that severely damaged his No. 20 car. After working hard to find a setup that worked, the Belle Plaine driver took the lead on Lap 7 from Jerimy Wagner and never gave it up.
“It’s long overdue,” Schmidt said. “We were struggling trying to get the car to where we wanted it to be. We wrecked a couple of weeks ago, so for it to be the first time back out after a wreck and getting a win is pretty awesome.”
Schmidt had a scare after a red flag came out on lap nine following Jackson Lewis’ car dropping fluid all the way around the circuit. After a lengthy delay, Schmidt was initially unable to fire until he got a boost from an emergency vehicle. Schmidt was given his lead position back before the restart.
“It was a mixture of getting hot sitting there for so long and an electrical issue,” Schmidt said. “I was worried it wasn’t even going to start when a starter truck got to me. Thankfully it came back right away.”
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When the race got back underway, Mike Carlson proved to be the biggest threat to the Schmidt. Carlson took second from Wagner with nine laps to go and was able to run down but never pass Schmidt.
“(Mike Carlson) was coming,” Schmidt said. “He had a strong car at the end and I was fading a little bit. I just had to drive it as smooth and good as I could to get my lines right.”
Carlson’s runner-up finish capped his best run since winning the season opener, but he said he believes the red flag may have dampened his chances of winning.
“We had that caution for a little bit of gear lube or something on the track,” Carlson said. “I really think we didn’t need that. I would have had a better car come the end of the race. We’ll keep focusing forward, keep making changes on the car and keep hoping for no rain and no wrecks.”
Steve Bachman, who won the 6 for 6 Dash earlier in the evening, finished third. Late Model points leader Brent Kirchner finished sixth.
CHAOTIC UNDERCARD: The Sportsmen division had an eventful day before even getting to the 20-lap feature. The top two in the series’ point standings — Bob Forte and Sam Niles — were involved in not one, but two incidents during a six-lap dash event.
Niles got the worst of both incidents, first being spun in turn three to bring out one caution before damaging his front bumper when the two locked onto each other after the restart.
Justin Berg won the Dash race but spun out on lap one of 15 in the feature event. Dan Osthoff and John Grosskopf battled for the lead after the restart, but Bill Schott tracked the pair down in his No. 21S car and took the lead on Lap 7. Forte cut into Schott’s lead until a mistake coming to the white flag secured Schott the win.
Forte finished second. Grosskopf came across the line third but was later disqualified, moving Berg up to third after his spin. Niles was able to fix his car well enough to finish fifth.
Chaos was a plenty in the 15-lap Hornets feature. On an early restart, the second-place John Clauson crashed into the wall on the quarter-mile backstretch, and the wreck ultimately collecting Ben Thurk.
Rob Schleifer had the lead with three laps to go when calamity ensured. After spins collected multiple cars at each end of the race track without a caution, Schleifer spun on the front stretch following contact with the lapped car of Nic Haddler.
Carter Horstman inherited the lead and held off the field on a restart with three to go for his first win in the series despite his rear bumper dragging behind him. Mark Bornets finished second and Kristopher Berg third.
After an early caution, Mike Kreger Jr won a 15-lap Hobby Stock feature. Kreger got the better end of a late race challenge by Charles Vian Jr, who finished second.
Despite the chaos in other races, the 15-lap Six Shooter feature went caution-free and was won by Jake Schomers.
The NASCAR Late Models will be off next week, but in their place are several Monster Trucks at La Crosse Fairgrounds Speedway’s annual Smash-O-Rama event on June 25. Along with some destructive demonstrations and the annual Shipwreck Boat Race, the Street Stocks and High School Racing Association will take to the quarter-mile track. Gates open at 5:30 p.m.
James Krause can be reached by email at James.KrauseJr@lee.net or on Twitter @jkrausepro.