Cedar Rapids, Iowa (July 6, 1996) - If the All-Iowa Fair Board ever decides to relinquish control of Hawkeye Downs Speedway, it may want to entertain any offers it gets from Bob Senneker and Steve Holzhausen. The two stock car drivers practically own the track already.
Senneker, a 24-year veteran of the American Speed Association from Dorr, Mich., stayed out on lap 200 while the drivers in front of him went to the pits, and guided his Ford Thunderbird to victory Saturday at the ASA AC Delco Challenge Series 3rd Annual Hawkeye Downs 300.
Holzhausen, the 1992 ASA Rookie of the Year from Bangor, Wis., who also drives a Thunderbird, overcame a mid-race mishap to finish an impressive second.
The outcome gave Fords a one-two finish at the race for the third straight year, because the same two drivers have finished first and second all three years. Holzhausen won in 1994, with Senneker second. Senneker won the last two years, with Holzhausen as runner-up.
Scott Hansen, the pole-sitter, drove his Chevrolet Monte Carlo to a strong third-place finish and veteran Mike Miller of Marietta, Ga., piloted his Pontiac Grand Prix to fourth.
But the day belonged to Senneker, who won for an ASA-record 81st time, and for the second time this year.
“We’ve had some real good luck here,” he said. “The car didn't feel that good to start with, but (the crew) kept telling me were running as fast as anyone out there. I was content to just run on the bottom.”
This was the seventh race of the season for the AC-Delco Challenge Series, but it was Holzhausen’s first. He's been content to run weekly shows at La Crosse (Wis.) Speedway until he can round up adequate sponsorship money.
“This is one of the tracks that we pick,” Holzhausen said. “We do run well here, there’s no doubt about it. We have a good set-up for here, and it just flat works.”
A near-capacity crowd of more than 7,000 fans in the grandstand and hundreds of thousands more watching on cable television station The Nashville Network saw a clean race that featured nine lead changes among seven drivers and only seven cautions for 41 laps.
Cedar Rapids driver Johnny Spaw, making his first ASA start of the year, enjoyed some time at the front of the field, leading from lap 164 until he went in for rear tires on his Pontiac Grand Prix on lap 200. It wasn’t the smoothest pit stop, and he came out pretty far back. But he rallied over the final 100 laps to finish a very respectable eighth.
Brad Loney, an ASA regular from Cedar Rapids, had the throttle linkage break on his Grand Prix on lap 96 and didn’t get back out on the track until lap 160. He finished 32nd but finished the race for an ASA-best 32nd time.
Senneker, who started fifth and earned $16,230 for his day's work, won his 81st ASA race since 1973. He stayed to the inside most of the time, while others tried their luck high.
“The car was excellent,’ he said. “It never changed. It was kind of pushy, but it never got any worse. I had to change my groove to figure out where to run, but I ran it on the bottom, and that’s where it wanted to be.”
Holzhausen had a little tougher time. He started eighth, ran in the top-10 for the first half of the race, and took the lead from Dave Senisba on lap 160. His stay in front was short, however, as he and Kevin Cywinski touched coming out of turn four on lap 163, and left the track.
It was a long climb back for Holzhausen, but he ducked underneath Hansen and into second place with just 13 laps to go. By then, Senneker was well in command, and Holzhausen had run out of laps.
“They were reading off lap times to me (during the race), and when I got up to third and then up to second, (Senneker) was running probably as fast as I was,” Holzhausen said. “I don’t think I could have got him, but you never know.”
Mike Eddy of Midland, Mich., a seven-time ASA national champion, looked to have the car to beat early in the race. He led from laps 52 through 98 and again from 106 through 113, and was running second when the leaders went in for left-side tires and fuel on lap 126.
Then disaster struck…
As Eddy was exiting the pits, Joe Nott pulled out in front of him, and the two collided. Eddy's Pontiac suffered suspension damage, and the veteran was saddled with his third “Did Not Finish” in his last four starts.
For his part, Spaw enjoyed his 300-lap ride, especially his time up front.
“It felt good,” he said. “I was just taking it easy. The slower I went, the faster I went, if you know what I mean. When I was trying too hard, (the other drivers) would catch me. When I’d stop paying attention to where they were at, I'd start pulling away.”
1. Bob Senneker, Dorr, Mich.
2. Steve Holzhausen, Bangor, Wis.
3. Scott Hansen, Milwaukee, Wis.
4. Mike Miller, Marietta, Ga.
5. Dave Sensiba, Middleville, Mich.
6. Tony Raines, Milwaukee, Wis.
7. Gary St. Amant, Columbus, Ohio
8. Johnny Spaw, Cedar Rapids
9. Kevin Cywinski, Menominee, Mich.
10. Ted Smokstad, Bloomington, Minn.
11. Tony Roper, St. Louis, Mo.
12. Rick Miller, Dunbar, Pa.
13. Joe Nott, Grand Haven, Mich.
14. Mike Garvey, Sewanee, Ga.
15. Tim Sauter, Necedah, Wis.
16. Carl Miskolten, Fort Wayne, Ind.
17. Harold Fair, Detroit, Mich.
16. Dennis Lampman, Oak Creek, Wis.
19. Eddie Sharp, Concord, N.C.
20. Dennis Berry, Franklin, Wis.
21. Tom Jones, Gurnee, Ill.
22. Cale Conley, Vienna, W.V.
23. Bob Dorstewitz, Waterville, Mich.
24. Doug Mayr, Franklin, Wis.
25. Jack Landis, Edgerton, Ohio
26. Mike Cofer, Brownsburg, Ind.
27. Bill Baird, Sturgis, Ky.
28. Bo Lemler, Bonita, Calif.
29. Samuel Gottwald, Willmar, Minn.
30. Brett Bell, Pittsboro, Ind.
31. Brandon Sperling, Rockford, Mich.
32. Brad Loney, Cedar Rapids
33. Mike Eddy, Midland, Mich.
34. Aaron Hough, New Palestine, Ind.
35. Billy Turner, El Reno, Okla.
36. Carroll Adamy, Bellwood, Neb.