LaCrosse, Snellenberger, Rass make history with Eric Van Iten Memorial wins

Benji LaCrosse measured his $7,000 IMCA Modified feature win at The ‘Burg Speedway by less than three hundredths of a second. (Photos by Dan Lewis Photography)

By Joe Orsini

LUXEMBURG, Wis. (July 18) – More than 200 cars from five states checked in to battle for a total combined purse that exceeded $63,000 by night’s end at the historic Eric Van Iten Memorial Race at The ‘Burg Speedway.

Benji LaCrosse entered the night looking for his third consecutive win at The ‘Burg in the IMCA Modified division but would face the stiffest competition of the year as 50 total cars signed to duke it out for the $7,000 top prize. 

Brandon Schmitt rolled out of the lineup chute on the pole and jumped to the lead. LaCrosse capitalized on an early restart to shoot into third behind Schmitt and Josh Long. By lap six, Shawn Kilgore worked into the fourth position and gave chase to the top three. 

LaCrosse worked the low side past Long on lap 18 and set his 54 machine to stalking Schmitt. By lap 21, Kilgore worked past Long. At the same time LaCrosse caught Schmitt and went to work trying to wrestle away the lead with two laps remaining. 

The pair battled door-to-door over the final circuits with LaCrosse finding the grip on the high side to gain enough momentum on the front stretch to pull off the last second pass and capture his third straight victory by .028 seconds. Kilgore locked up third with a strong run and Long hung on to finish fourth. 

A record 78 IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars rolled in the village looking to lay claim to their share of the $63,000 purse. Derek Moede rocketed into the lead on the opening lap. Devin Snellenberger, Mike Mashl and Shawn Havel immediately went into a three-wide brawl for the second place position.

Havel scraped through that scrum and put his 9K to the high side trying to work past Moede. By lap 11 Havel was able to complete the pass but Moede continued to dog the leader. Moede worked back to the top spot on lap 14 and looked to set sail from the rest of the pack.

Meanwhile Snellenberger was able to move by Havel into second and set his sights on the leader.  

Mike Mullen and Benji LaCrosse steadily worked through the field from their respective sixth and tenth starting spots. By the time Snellenberger took the lead on lap 18 that duo was looking to pounce and worked by Moede as well.

Mullen caught the back of the leader but not enough laps remained to fight for the lead as Snellenberger took home the top spot and $7,000.  Mullen settled for a hard fought second, LaCrosse third, and Havel regrouped to take home fourth.

The Karl Kustoms Northern SportMods saw 40 drivers sign in looking their shot at the record-setting total prize money. Travis Schmidt set up shop at the top of the field by leading the opening lap with Derek Fehling hot on his heels. 

Jake Carpenter, Cody Rass and Bernie Reinhardt staged a spirited three car battle for third behind the top two. Reinhardt faded from that trio as Carpenter and Rass quickly applied pressure to Fehling to wage a three-car war for second. 

By lap seven, Rass locked up second and set to tracking down Schmidt. He worked the high side, running down Schmidt in the top spot. By lap 13 Rass managed to fight past Schmidt and two laps later Carpenter followed suit into second. Rass held on over the final five circuits to pick up the $2,500 win, the biggest of his career. Carpenter secured the second spot and Schmidt held on to third.