Monday, July 8, 2024

1970 - Jusola Winner as Prusak Spins Out

The top three from the Late Model Invitational at Eau Claire Speedway were (from left to right), Bob Jusola (winner), Harold Mueller (runner-up), and Paul Fitzpatrick (third place).

Eau Claire, Wis. (July 8, 1970) – You might call Phil Prusak lucky – and then again, you may not.

The Eau Claire driver drew the pole position for Wednesday night’s Late Model Invitational feature event in a draw of 24 drivers.

Prusak, doing a crafty job of piloting, took advantage of the situation to streak out in the lead. For 30 laps, Prusak was out in front and seemingly widening the gap between his car and that of his pursuers.

That’s when bad luck started settling in…

On lap 30, Ray Henningsen of Virginia, Minn., and Cecil Henderson of Dakota, Minn., tangled, then stalled against the wall in front of the grandstand, halting the race under red flag conditions.

When the race resumed with 10 laps to go, the field was lined up single-file, closing what gap Prusak had built up.

But when the green flag waved, Prusak hung on – for five laps. Finally, under steady pressure from the hot breath of Bob Jusola of Mound, Minn., Prusak relinquished the lead on the 35th circuit.

Harold Mueller, after running fifth most of the race, also made his charge at the same time. Mueller, who started on the fourth row, took fourth on lap 32, streaking past the slipping Dick Briesemeister of Clear Lake, Wis., and then grabbed third place, powering by Paul Fitzpatrick of Rochester, Minn., on lap 38.

At that point, Prusak’s luck hit its climax. Sliding into the north turn on the final lap, he spun out, watching Mueller slip by him and leading the parade past the finish.

Prusak did not quit, however, backing out onto the track and staying in reverse, crossing the finish line backwards.

After a check of the cars by officials, Prusak was awarded with eighth place. The feature paid through the top 10 spots. Still, it was poor consolation for a driver who led 35 laps.

That gave Jusola – one of the leading drivers in the Twin Cities area – first-place money of $550 with Mueller cashing $400 for his runner-up finish.

Fitzpatrick finished third with Bob Percy fourth and Dave Noble of Blooming Prairie, Minn., rounding out the top-five.

It was later learned that Prusak’s problems late in thee race resulted in a blown tire. According to track reports, the tire started going on lap 34, forcing Prusak to go high in the turns. It finally blew on the fateful 39th circuit.

Jusola, in his 1967 Chevelle convertible, is a point leader on three different asphalt tracks in the Twin Cities. He made it to the front from the unlikely starting position of the outside of the fifth row.

A crowd of less than 2,000 watched the action ideal weather conditions.

Results –

Heat #1 – Mert Williams, Rochester, Minn.
Heat #2 – Bob Briesemeister, Clear Lake, Wis.
Heat #3 – Bob Saterdalen, Oronoco, Minn.
Consolation – Ron Goss, Eau Claire
Feature –
1. Bob Jusola, Mound, Minn.
2. Harold Mueller, Eau Claire
3. Paul Fitzpatrick, Rochester, Minn.
4. Bob Percy
5. Dave Noble, Blooming Prairie, Minn.
6. Dick Briesemeister, Clear Lake, Wis.
7. Ray Henningsen, Virginia, Minn.
8. Phil Prusak, Eau Claire
9. Bob Briesemeister, Clear Lake, Wis.
10.Stan Anderson, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada

No comments:

Post a Comment