Weekly Notebook presented by JRi Shocks
Notes: Another Kosiski tackles Late Models
A third-generation Dirt Late Model driver is challenging himself with an ambitious NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule.
Dirt Late Model rookie Brian Kosiski, 19, of Papillion, Neb., is on a quest to get his first feature victory in a division once dominated by his dad Steve and grandfather Bob.
Kosiski competes in two different types of cars at two different tracks. He competes in the open-motor Super Late Model division at I-80 Speedway, a 4/10-mile oval in Greenwood, Neb., on Fridays and in a Crate Late Model at Junction Motor Speedway, a 3/8-mile oval in McCool Junction, Neb., on Saturdays. Depending on the builders and track rules in the region, the difference between the two engines can average between 200-300 horsepower.
“This is my first time in a Late Model and I’m still getting comfortable in it. We’ll get there,” Kosiski said after less than 10 starts. “The biggest thing is getting more experience with the power of the open motor car. I’m racing against some guys who have been doing this for 25 years. I’m improving.”
Through mid-June, Kosiski’s record in nine starts is four top-fives and five top-10s. His best finish was second twice at Junction. He’s ninth I-80 points, third in Junction points, and third in NASCAR state points.
Racing is in the blood of the Kosiskis, Nebraska’s most famous dirt racing family.
Retired driver Steve Kosiski was a seven-time champion of NASCAR’s former Busch All-Star Series for Dirt Late Models. He won a series-leading 51 races between 1985 and 2001. Bob Kosiski raced from 1950 through 1978 and won 16 track championships in coupes and then Late Models.
Eleven of the senior Kosiski’s championships came at the former Sunset Speedway in Omaha, where he and his sons won a total of 25 Late Model championships before the track closed. Bob’s father Joe began the family’s participation in dirt track racing as a car owner, originally fielding modified coupes.
Brian Kosiski’s performance in 2012 was his statement of readiness to move up to Late Models. A fourth-year B-modified driver at I-80 and Junction, he posted five wins, 17 top-fives and 22 top-10s in 27 starts. He finished third in NASCAR Finalist Division IV dirt track standings. He placed fourth in I-80 points and second at Junction.
Car owner Steve Wright offered what might be considered a “luxury” ride to Kosiski at Junction this year.
“I just show up and race it,” Kosiski said. “I’ve never done that before. It’s fun to work with new people.”
Wright’s crew includes Ron Fegter, George Medbery and Mark Fegter. Sponsors include Osceola Implement, MaKen Irrigation and the local NAPA Auto Parts store. The team is using a Lazer Chassis after their primary MasterSbilt Race Car was wrecked in the early season.
At I-80, Brian Kosiski drives and maintains a Super Late Model owned by Jay and Marilyn Burdic, for whom his dad drove. Crew members include Jerry Wancewicz and Harley Moen. The MasterSbilt Race Car is sponsored by Malvern Bank, Al Belt Custom Homes and Imperial Tile.
Just like his dad, both cars are bright yellow and carry a red No. 52.
Kosiski can tap the experience of his dad as well as cousin Andrew, a nine-year veteran of Dirt Late Model racing. Other third-generation family members who have spent time behind the wheel include brother Rob and cousins Kortney, Michaela and Tia.
Kosiski is thankful to begin his Dirt Late Model career, but said he and his cousins didn’t feel any pressure to drive race cars.
“We race because we want to race,” Kosiski said. “We don’t have to live up to our family’s success in racing, but we want to. I’d like to start winning like dad did. That’s the dream.”
The Kosiski family has multiple business interests including I-80 Speedway and Kosiski Auto Parts in Omaha. A lot of family members work there, including Brian and Andrew. Brian is in his second year of business administration studies at the University of Nebraska-Omaha. — Paul Schaefer, NASCAR
• At Quincy (Ill.) Raceway on June 30, Mark Burgtorf on a back-and-forth duel with fellow hometown driver Rickey Frankel, regaining the lead exiting turn four on the last lap.
• Two drivers swapped positions in June 28-29 action at Monett (Mo.) Speedway and Caney Valley Speedway in Caney, Kan. Justin Wells of Aurora, Mo., topped Jacob Magee of Caney at Monett, then Magee topped Wells the next night at Caney Valley.
• At Crystal (Mich.) Motor Speedway on June 29, Ryan VanderVeen of Six Lakes, Mich., raced to his second straight victory.
• Joey Leavell of Waynesboro, Va., scored a June 28-29 sweep at his hometown Eastside Speedway and Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway. He pocketed $1,500 for winning Eastside’s Kyle Southern Memorial.
• In a Limited Late Model special at Corinth (Miss.) Speedway, hometown driver Danny Christian earned $1,800 for a victory.
• Making his first start of the season, Klint Byars of Calhoun City, Miss., grabbed a Super Late Model victory June 29 at Magnolia Motor Speedway in Columbus, Miss.
• Ricky Elliott of Seaford, Del., won the first of Twin 20s on June 29 at Delaware International Speedway, but Donald Lingo Jr. of Millsboro, Del., beat the eight-time winner in the nightcap to collect a $700 bounty.
• At Grandview (Pa.) Speedway on June 29, Sean Merkel of Gilbertsville, Pa., notched his first Late Model victory at the track since 2007.
Weekly points chases
UMP DIRTcar (Super Late Models): Current Summernationals points leader Brandon Sheppard of New Berlin, Ill., has taken over the lead in UMP’s national points chase with 1,639 points through June 23 events. He leads Rusty Schlenk (1,498) of Weston, Ohio, and Brandon Thirlby (1,291) of Traverse City, Mich.
UMP DIRTcar (Crate Late Models): Aaron Heck of Mount Vernon, Ill., continues to lead the way with 1,275 points, followed by Nick Lyons (1,240) of Centralia, Ill., and Jeff Walston (1,122) of Paducah, Ky.
IMCA: Through June 23 events, Nick Marolf of Moscow, Iowa, has a five-point advantage over Tyler Bruening of Decorah, Iowa. Darrel DeFrance of Des Marshalltown, Iowa, is two points back of Bruening in third.
WISSOTA: Mike Balcaen of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has taken over the points lead, with a two-point edge over Dustin Strand of Grand Forks, N.D. Chad Becker of Aberdeen, S.D., is third, five points out of the lead.
WDLMA: Justin Hirt of Tigerton, Wis., leads reigning champion Russ Scheffler of Waukesha, Wis., by 32 points as of June 30, with Tim Buhler of Glenbuelah, Wis., two points behind Scheffler in third.
AMRA: Andy Bond of Coolville, Ohio, has reclaimed the top spot from reigning champ Chris Garnes of Evans, W.Va., with 878 points to Garnes’ 862. Ronnie Mayle of Chesterhill, Ohio, is third with 850 points.
ULMA: Reigning champ Jason Russell of Henley, Mo., leads by 93 points, while Chris Cox has jumped Justin Russell for second.
NeSmith Chevrolet Series: One week after breaking a tie with Derrick Mackmer, Sid Scarbrough of Florence, Miss., finds himself in another tie atop the Crate Late Model sanctioning body’s weekly standings, this time with Noah Daspit of Kiln, Miss. Mackmer of Purvis, Miss., is third, eight points behind the two leaders.
RUSH: John Over (1,540) of Uniontown, Pa., leads fellow Uniontown driver Michael Lake (1,457) and Garrett Mott (1,387) of Smethport, Pa., at the top of standings on the first-year Crate Late Model series.
SECA: Trent Ivey of Union, S.C., has leads with 372 points. He’s trailed by Mac Owens (306) of Woodruff, S.C., and Michael Brown (303) of Pageland, S.C.
Upcoming weekly specials
Among non-touring and independent special events at dirt tracks around the country for the upcoming weekend (and beyond):
Tri-County Racetrack, Brasstown, N.C. (July 5): The Independence Day Championship pays $1,500-to-win for Limited Late Models.
Clary’s Speedway, Brinkleyville, N.C. (July 5): The Monk Clary Memorial features a $5,000-to-win 60-lap feature for Limited Late Models.
Southern Ohio Speedway, Wheelersburg, Ohio (July 5): Super Late Models bttle for a $6,000-to-win purse in the Southern 50.
201 Speedway, Sitka, Ky. (July 6): The Hatfield-McCoy Feud pays $5,000-to-win for Super Late Models from an $18,000 purse. Every starter receives at least $500 (Limited Late Models aren’t in action).
Winchester (Va.) Speedway (July 6): Champion Auto Sales night includes a $2,000-to-win Super Late Model feature and Winchester-Potomac Limited Late Model Challenge.
Natural Bridge (Va.) Speedway (July 6): The Levi Dudley Memorial pays $1,500-to-win for the track’s Late Model division.
South Buxton Raceway, Merlin, Ontario (July 6): The Gord DeWael Memorial pays $1,000-to-win if at least 15 cars enter. The race honors the three-time track champion who died in January at age 62.
Moulton (Ala.) Speedway (July 6): The All-American 30 pays $1,500-to win for Limited Late Models, and fans being a non-perishable food idea receive free admission. Super Late Models are also on the card.
Lafayette County Speedway, Darlington, Wis. (July 10): Hosting IMCA-type Late Models, the midweek special is paying $1,250-to-win.