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USRA Modified Series @ THR 4/15/06

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USRA Modified Series @ Thunder Hill Raceway 4/15/06

By J M Hallas


Engelhardt Edges out Defending Champion for USRA Modified Win


In what would be a surprise to some, youngster Ryan Engelhardt set the quick time for USRA Modified Series. Despite being a rookie in the USRA Modifieds, Engelhardt has plenty of experience on the track in other cars.

“I’ve got a good crew, and crew chief,” stated Engelhardt. “We’ve just been learning as we go. We came up with something that seems to be working and set fast lap. Any time you can run laps and get seat time(here), it’s a plus. Every time you come to a track you have to learn. If you’re not learning, you’re not getting any further. Of course you have to have a little luck, too. We just put it all together”


Fast qualifier Ryan Engelhardt picked a duece for the invert putting himself outside Bob Slezinsky at the start of the 50 lap USRA Modified feature. Going into turn 1, Chris Swenson looked to make it three wide for the lead. Coming to complete lap 1 Engelhardt and Swenson were still wheel to wheel, with Engelhardt crossing the line by a bumper. Engelhardt secured the top spot on lap 2 as Billy Becka moved in the pressure Swenson for second.


That fight came to head on lap 4 when the two made contact, sending Becka spinning and Swenson softly into the wall. John Witzsche had nowhere to go and tagged Swenson ending his night early. Swenson lost a lap(or two) while being unable to get restarted. On the restart, Engelhardt lined up with defending champion, Bruce Beddoe hot on his heels. As the field went into turn 3 it stacked up causing a freeway style chain reaction, putting H.E. Naumann out with damage.


Once finally back to green, Engelhardt got several car lengths on Beddoe who had a gap back to Slezinsky and Mark Chrudimsky. John Schultz had trouble and laid down a trail of fluid sending him sliding into the grass followed by Clare Randell. On the restart, Beddoe took a look inside Engelhardt as the field was shown the crossed flags with Slezinsky, Chrudimsky and Becka working his way back into the top five.


Engelhardt would pull ahead slightly, but Beddoe would close back in as Becka got around Chrudimsky for fourth. Despite being a lap down Swenson was still strong as he battled among the top five. Lap 30 saw Swenson and Becka both get past Slezinsky, with Becka picking up third. Beddoe was again knocking on the bumper of Engelhardt, while Slezinsky, Chrudimsky and Trey Mitchell battled for fourth.


Chrudimsky did a bump and run on Slezinsky to grab fourth on lap 35. Mitchell tried to follow through as Slezinsky closed the door causing contact between the two. Both were able get righted and continue. Beddoe was still trying to rattle the young Engelhardt as Swenson and Becka caught the lead pair. Chrudimsky tried to get under Becka for third on lap 40 with the top four now nose to tail and Swenson in the middle.


Swenson finally pulled up and got out the way leaving the fast four to battle it out for the win. The veteran, Beddoe was still trying to pull tricks out of his bag to get the rookie Engelhardt out of shape. As the white flew, Beddoe was now not only trying to find the lead, but having to hold off Becka and Chrudimsky trying the high side. At the checkers it was Engelhardt snagging his first ever USRA Modified Series win in the West Beach Marina, Shoreline Services, Third Coast Motorsports, KAM Race Engines, FRE Chassis.

“This car has just been awesome right from the shop,” said Engelhardt. “Nothings impossible, especially in a racecar. You’re out there to race and you just have to go, go, go. Hopefully you can get out front and fortunately everyone raced us clean. I know Bruce(Beddoe) is a real good driver, drives clean and competitive. I wasn’t worried about him. We were a little tight in turns 3-4 and getting beat bad there, but we were able to hold him off.”


USRA Modified Series Results

1. 53 Ryan Engelhardt

2. 18 Bruce Beddoe

3 29 Billy Becka

4. 39 Mark Chrudimsky

5. 47 Trey Mitchell

6. 26 Bob Slezinsky

7. 45 Clare Randell

8. 55 Chris Swenson

9. 44 John Schultz

10. 40 H.E. Naumann

11. 97 John Witzsche

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A bit more information added to the results:


USRA Modified Series Results at Thunder Hill Raceway, 4/15/06


Finishing Position, Car Number, Hometown, Fastest Race Lap, Laps Completed


1. 53 Ryan Engelhardt, Lake Travis, TX, 15.314, 50 Laps

2. 18 Bruce Beddoe, Robstown, TX, 15.349, 50

3 29 Billy Becka, La Vernia, TX, 15.468, 50

4. 39 Mark Chrudimsky, Hutto, TX, 15.439, 50

5. 47 Trey Mitchell, Wimberley, TX, 15.385, 50

6. 26 Bob Slezinsky, Beeville, TX, 15.474, 50

7. 45 Clare Randell, Portland, TX, 16.357, 48

8. 55 Chris Swenson, Comfort, TX, 15.521, 43

9. 44 John Schultz, Round Rock, TX, 15.662, 18

10. 40 H.E. Naumann, Del Valle, TX, 16.014, 10

11. 97 John Witzsche, Corpus Christi, TX, 15.934, 4

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