Wise wins Firemans Nationals

Ralph Wilke and Josh WiseBy Bryan GapinskiSun Prairie, Wis., Sept. 5, 2009---Josh Wise scored an exciting victory leading the final two laps to win the 28th annual Firemans Nationals presented by Pepsi, Saturday Night at Angell Park Speedway.The event was co-sanctioned by the USAC Mopar National and Badger Midget Series. Scott Hatton and car owner Huston Solution clinched their fourth career Badger Midget Driver and Car Owner Championships, despite finishing in 16th position.
Darren Hagen paced the opening lap, before Bryan Clauson took the lead.One lap later fast qualifier Brad Sweet moved into third place. Clauson and Coons pulled away from the field, with Coons taking the top position on lap 9. Coons increased his advantage over Clauson and began lapping slower cars, four laps later. Coons' two second lead was erased with a caution on lap 20, for a stalled car. Clauson lost two positions on the next lap and the race was stopped on lap 22 when Henry Clarke flipped, escaping injury. Jake Slotten flipped tow laps later and retired from the event. Clauson retired from the race on lap 25 with mechanical problems.
Coons, Sweet, and Hagen pulled away from the field, while running only a few car lengths apart from the midway point to lap 40. Coons held a two car length lead, when he drove over the cushion, give the lead to Sweet on lap 43, causing a caution flag. On the restart Hatton and Matt Smith tangled, sending both cars flipping. Both drivers returned to the event on the restart.
Sweet led Brad Kuhn, Hagen and Wise on the restart. Sweet's engine began to misfire, but still maintained his advantage. A stalled car on lap 46 set up a 4-lap dash for the $10,000 first place payoff. On the restart Wise moved from fourth to second in the first-half lap, and closed on Sweet. With Sweet's pace slowing, Wise made the winning pass on the backstretch on lap 48. Wise driving the Ralph Wilke owned Spike/Toyota No. 5 finished five car lengths ahead of Sweet, Hagen, Kuhn and Cole Whitt.
Wise becomes the seventh different driver to win the event for Wilke team, which now has ten victories in the event. Hatton will finish off his Badger Championship season at Charter Raceway Park (Beaver Dam, Wis.) on Sept.20. Kuhn holds a 36 point lead over both Sweet and Hagen heading into the next USAC event Sept.19 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.

QUAL       HT 1   B-FEAT   A FEAT  
1 49 SWEET 14.71 1 WHITT 1 HATTON 1 WISE
2 17B KUHN 14.805 2 CLAUSON 2 EAST 2 SWEET
3 11 COONS 14.901 3 SWEET 3 BOAT 3 HAGEN
4 7A D.ARMSTRONG 14.984 4 SMITH 4 CLARKE 4 KUHN
5 39 CLAUSON 15.007 5 BOAT 5 D.ARMSTRONG 5 WHITT
6 3 HAGEN 15.059 HT 2   6 C.ARMSTRONG 6 EAST
7 5 WISE 16.163 1 KUHN 7 OLSON 7 LOTET
8 57 ALTIG 15.184 2 HAGEN 8 BERRYHILL 8 WAELTI
9 21K MAYHEW 15.216 3 FELKER 9 NOBLE 9 DARLAND
10 1X HESS 15.22 4 HESS 10 CONOVER 10 COONS
11 O5 LOYET 15.23 5 HINES 11 DULL 11 SMITH
12 3D DARLAND 15.236 HT 3 12 ERFURTH 12 RAY
13 30 BOAT 15.243 1 COONS 13 BUDRESS 13 OLSON
14 4 EAST 15.282 2 LOYET 14 FISCUS 14 D.ARMSTRONG
15 15 HATTON 15.284 3 WAELTI 15 MAYHEW 15 FISCUS
16 33 RAY 15.286 4 WISE 16 HINES 16 HATTON
17 1 WHITT 15.287 5 FISCUS 17 MALONE 17 HESS
18 11A FELKER 15.298 HT 4 18 BERRYHILL
19 7C C.ARMSTRONG 15.314 1 DARLAND 19 FELKER
20 5D DAUM 15.349 2 SLOTTEN 20 CLAUSEN
21 67 CLARKE 15.368 3 RAY 21 SLOTTEN
22 24 HINES 15.405 4 DAUM 22 BOAT
23 3W WAELTI 15.407 5 D.ARMSTRONG 23 DAUM
24 87 SLOTTEN 15.502 24 CLARKE
25 13 SMITH 15.522   25 C.ARMSTONG
26 56 DULL 15.56  
27 1K OLSON 15.633  
28 19 BERRYHILL 15.639    
29 21S MALONE 15.653    
30 7X NOBLE 15.639    
31 7 FISCUS 15.749      
32 31 BUDRES 15.935    
33 76 CONOVER 16.048    
34 25 ERFURTH 16.082