Author’s Note: The Best of 2019 series is based upon a few things for each category, but ultimately boils down to my opinion from the events I attended at each track. If you have a moment that you remember fondly from this summer, feel free to leave a comment! There are numerous other categories I could have gone with as well, so if you have something that doesn't fit in these, feel free to comment as well!
Norway Speedway's 2019 season can be summarized with one word, crazy. The racing action was entertaining and brought forth many incredible and unforgettable moments. Below are our picks for some of the things that made the 2019 season at Norway Speedway one to remember.
Best Event: Auto Value Round 1
The first round of Auto Value sponsored racing brought about controversy in the two headlining divisions at the Norway Speedway.
The first part of the big money double header belonged to the Auto Value Super Stocks, where drivers fought for a 750 dollar purse. When the white flag flew the top three drivers, consisting of Andy Gerwig, Ryan Wender, and Brett Bray, were tightly packed together as they prepared for the final circuit around the 1/3 mile oval.
When the trio entered turn three, Gerwig made contact with leader Wender’s rear bumper, sending him spinning. Gerwig would cross the line first, followed by Bray. Track officials then disqualified Gerwig for the final lap incident, moving Bray into the winner’s circle. The controversy doesn’t end there, either.
Later in the night, Ryan Wender would emerge from the pits to pull into the frontstretch victory lane, seemingly protesting the results of the Super Stock race. In the days following the race, Wender would be awarded the victory.
The contact wasn’t the first or last time Gerwig and Wender would butt heads on track in 2019, let alone that night. In the Super Stock Fast Dash, the two made contact on the opening lap entering turn one. Regardless of the intensity of the rivalry between the drivers, their battles on track provided several nights of entertainment for fans.
Following the Super Stock battle, things were about to go real haywire as the Bink’s Coca-Cola Late Model feature. The 50 lap race saw drivers fighting for the 1,000 dollar winning prize, and from the on track action, the increase in purse was evident.
A late race caution bunched the field together with Scott Stanchina leading the field back to green. Behind him in second was Dillon Kralovetz and brother Brian Stanchina in third. When the race resumed, Brian was able to work up to second, then move to the inside of Scott at the exit of turn two. Midway down the backstretch, the brothers made contact, sending the Stanchina’s spinning and out of contention.
The field would be stopped on the backstretch while clean up took place. Suddenly, Brian Stanchina was running toward his brother’s stationary car. Track crews were able to quickly intervene before any major altercation between the two brothers.
The Stanchina brother’s crash moved Robby Iverson to the top spot. Iverson had been quick time qualifier and had quietly worked his way through the field to be in the perfect place at the perfect time. The green flag would fly again and Iverson would be pressured by Mark Schroeder for the win. In the end it, Iverson held Schroeder off in a hard fought battle between the two drivers.
While controversy was abundant that June night, the atmosphere was unlike any other I’ve experienced at a racetrack. For weeks after, fans were buzzing about the incidents at tracks all around. Maybe it wasn’t the smoothest night of operation at Norway Speedway, but it sure was the most exciting.
Best Race: Werner Electric Night - Bink’s Coca-Cola Late Model 50 Lap Feature
It would be another Bink’s Coca-Cola 50 Lap Feature to take our Best Race of 2019 Category. With Werner Electric on board for sponsorship for the night, the feature race would be another 1,000 to win race for the Late Models. As was the case with the other big money nights, the racing was exciting start to finish.
The caution flag would fly a couple of times through the 50 laps, including a spin by Auto Value Round One winner, Robby Iverson. Iverosn, who was battling in the lead pack, spun after making contact with Jason Wells while battling to Wells’ inside. Iverson would take the blame for the incident a voluntarily fall to the tail to the field.
The leader for most of the race was Dean Varda, who was searching for his second feature win of 2019, and his career. In the closing laps, Varda was on the defensive, trying his best to hold of Dan Lindsley in second. His blocking could only go without incident for so long, though, as Varda would spin off the front of Lindsley. Vard wold be sent to the back for his defensive blocking. When you’re in position to get a win, sometimes the risk is worth the reward.
As the finish drew near, the driver on the charge was Dillon Kralovetz. While Lindsley led, Kralovetz had made his way to second and appeared to have the faster car. Despite that, Lindsley was able to hold off the hard charging Kralovetz to grab the win.
Wildest Moment: Kaitlyn Schettler Flips Across the Line in First Career Win
Not only is Kaitlyn Schettler’s flip and win the wildest moment of 2019, it’s the wildest moment from any track this year.
On the final lap of the 141 Auto Sales Stock Cars Ed Hedlund Memorial Race, Kaitlyn led the inside line while father Jeff led the outside line. Exiting turn four, Jeff slid high, opening the door for Gary Thom to make it three wide. Just as quickly as the door opened for Thom, however, it would close as Jeff tried to get back in line. Contact was made, sending Jeff sideways down the track into his daughter’s right rear. That hit would send Kaitlyn sideways and over on to her roof, where she would slide across the line first and all the way into turn one. Most importantly, though, Kaitlyn and everyone else involved were uninjured.
Upset of the Year: It’s Varda Time (June 28)
Heading into the June 28 night of racing, Dean Varda had a goose egg in the win column. Despite racing at Norway Speedway for a number of years, the Vulcan driver was never able to quite seal the deal. By night’s end on the June evening, Varda would change that zero to one.
After jumping into the lead early, Varda would slice his way through lapped traffic and withstand late race restarts to take the win. Behind him in second and third both fighting tooth and nail to get around Varda were Robby Iverson and Dillon Kralovetz. Neither driver, though, would be able to get around Varda to take the top spot.
When the checkered flag flew, the Norway Speedway fans were on their feet, roaring for Varda who finally was able to pull into victory lane. It was finally and truly, “Varda Time.”
Heartbreak of the Year: Bruce White Loses Lead Just Before Lightning Ends Feature (July 19)
The toughest loss to watch this year at Norway Speedway came during Round Two of Auto Value sponsored racing action. White had taken a commanding lead early in the race, a lead that was soon to be erased with several yellow flags.
Throughout the whole feature, storms loomed on the horizon as lightning flashed in the far distance as raindrops sprinkled the racetrack with no effect. Following a restart, White lost his lead and fell through the field. Only a lap or so later and the storms would arrive, ending the race a few minutes too late for Bruce White. The race win would go to Dan Lindsley.
Best Behaved Division (Tie): MC Signs and Graphics Four Bangers &
Ken’s Sports Wisconsin Sport Trucks
After writing this, I noticed the exclusion of these two divisions. I want to take a quick moment to acknowledge the drivers of these two divisions for a great 2019. Both divisions saw exciting action, but more importantly respectful racing between competitors. Sure, rivalries and controversy are exciting and get people talking, but close and fair racing between competitors is what this sport is all about. To the drivers of the Ken’s Sports Wisconsin Sport Trucks and MC Signs and Graphics Four Bangers, thank you for a clean and entertaining summer of racing.
It is hard to pick the best of anything at any track. There are so many events, races, and moments that could easily have taken any of these spots. As always, if you have a moment you remember fondly from Norway Speedway’s 2019 season, feel free to mention it in the comments!
Other Best of 2019 Articles:
By Todd Rose