Is luck needed to win a championship?
There is a saying you may have heard, “It’s better to be lucky than good.” I’m not sure of the origin of the saying, but after last week’s racing action at Shawano Speedway, that saying came to mind for me. There were a couple of instances where luck, or bad luck, depending which driver you were, had an impact on the point battles for the track championship in two divisions.
Before I get too involved in explaining the two situations I need to make the point that for a driver to win a track championship at any track, the driver has to be a good driver. There is no denying that point. But having luck on your side doesn’t hurt. Case in point what took place in the IMCA Modified and IMCA Stock Car features last week at Shawano Speedway.
Entering last week’s racing action Green Bay’s Eddie Muenster held a three point lead over Seymour’s Jerry Wilinski in the IMCA Modified point standings. Early in the IMCA Modified feature last week, Wilinski and Muenster were running close to each other in the running order, with Wilinski a couple of spots ahead Muenster. The way the points work, there is only a one point difference between each finishing position for the feature.
On lap five, Muenster made contact with another car coming out of turn two. He was able to keep going initially, but luckily for him the caution flag flew because of the stalled car of Antigo’s Scott Williams. This was a lucky break for Muenster because his car sustained a flat right rear tire and he headed to pit lane to have the tire changed. Without the caution, Muenster would have gone laps down and probably would have finished around 15th place.
With Muenster remaining on the lead lap, he was able to work his way back up to eighth place in the final finishing order. Wilinski finished third and now holds a two point lead over Muenster. So, Muenster was unlucky to get the flat tire, but lucky the caution came out the same time he got the flat tire. Wilinski was lucky because Muenster got the flat tire in the first place.
In the IMCA Stock Car division, Seymour’s Shawn Wagner entered last week’s night of racing with a 16 point lead over Pulaski’s Rod Snellenberger. The first part of the race was plagued with cautions, but Wagner made it into the top five on the second lap, while Snellenberger was still fighting through traffic mid-pack. On lap five, Wagner’s car got completely sideway on its own in turn four and it appeared the car would spin completely around. Instead, Wagner’s car was then hit by Green Bay’s John Heinz. This straightened Wagner’s car out while Heinz and another car spun out bringing out the caution.
The way I described the incident is how I saw it from my point of view. To me, since Wagner was the driver who ultimately caused Heinz to spin out, Wagner should have been deemed the cause of the caution and sent to the back on the restart. But that’s not the way track officials saw it, and Wagner was given his third place spot back on the restart.
Wagner and Snellenberger did put on a great battle at the end of the race, with Snellenberger winning the feature by inches over Wagner. Snellenberger was able to gain only one point in the standings and not trails Wagner by 15 points.
There is no way of knowing where the IMCA Stock Car point standings would be if Wagner had been sent to the back instead of him getting spot back. Luckily for Wagner he doesn’t have to worry about that.
Ron Berna and Clint Forstner each have a 25 point advantage in the standings in the WISSOTA Late Model and IMCA Northern SportMod divisions, respectively. Dave Fieber holds a commanding 37 point lead in the FASTRAK Late Model division.
It should be an interesting two weeks of racing.
See you at the track.