Mondeik’s commanding performance nets first Flip Merwin Memorial win
Schoone makes it three straight Flip Merwin Memorial wins
For the Wausau Times
WAUSAU – There was little that was going to get in the way of Justin Mondeik on June 18 at State Park Speedway.
A talented group of super late model drivers filled with track champions and previous Flip Merwin Memorial winners couldn’t prevent Mondeik from scoring one of the biggest wins of his racing career, as the Gleason native won the 100-lap feature in the 17th annual Merwin Memorial.
Mondeik had the field covered, leading 78 of 100 laps to win the Flip Merwin Memorial for the first time. He took the lead from Merrill’s Chris Weinkauf on lap 23 and never trailed again, leading the final 78 laps.
Mondeik held a comfortable lead for almost all of the final 65 laps and pulled away at the end to finish 10 car lengths ahead of Stratford native and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series regular Derek Kraus. Weinkauf finished third, with Brock Heinrich of Wausau and Plover’s Gabe Sommers rounding out the top five.
“Yeah, the thing was on rails right away from the beginning of the night,” said Mondeik. “Definitely very stoked to get this win…we’re glad to finally get this one done.”
Kraus came back to his home area from the NASCAR Truck Series, where he is currently 11th in the point standings. He would stay within striking distance of Mondeik for a good share of the race, but the 2016 Merwin winner could get no closer than second. Three-time Merwin winner Weinkauf had a strong run with a heat win and a third-place finish his first time out this season while driving the car Jay Van Der Geest piloted to a State Park Speedway track championship last year.
Ashley Schoone knew she had an opportunity to reach a milestone coming into the June 18 line up and the Gleason native delivered.
Schoone won the Rockstar Energy Drink Mini Stocks feature at the Flip Merwin Memorial for the third straight year, leading wire-to-wire to go back-to-back-to-back in the Merwin and also take her second feature this season.
Schoone started from the inside pole and took the lead on the first lap. She fended off Garret Strachota for most of the race and then held off a final run by fast timer Tyler Custer.
Strachota tracked behind the leader from the third lap onward but could never get around as Schoone navigated lapped traffic smoothly. Custer got by Strachota with four laps left and got as near as Schoone’s bumper as the cars took the white flag but no closer.
“Yeah I had a lot of pressure from my dad, he kept telling me I had to make it three in a row, three in a row,” said Schoone of the good-natured ribbing from her father Mark Schoone, who she also races against on the dirt at Tomahawk Speedway.
Schoone won her fifth race overall of the season at State Park, most of any driver at the track. She did it in a car that she said may not have been completed in normal circumstances but was worked on and completed during plenty of free time available at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Racing continues June 25 with the Dave Lashua Memorial, with the Central Wisconsin Racing Association Stars to Legends Tour late models making their second appearance at the track this season. Pure stocks, mini mods and mini stocks also will all be in action. Fred Mueller Qualifying will begin at 6 p.m. and racing will follow at 7 p.m.