The race at Golden Sands Speedway came down to the line between Eric Breitenfeldt (background) and Garret Strachota (foreground). The nose of Breitenfeldt’s car may have crossed the finish line first, but its transponder did not. Instead, the scoring loop first picked up Garret Strachota’s ride. So, who won at the Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin, track?
The Battle to the Checkers
Both drivers hail from Wausau, Wisconsin, and are good friends. Strachota served as Breitenfeldt’s best man at his wedding. They even work on each other’s cars.
“We were coming down the backstretch, and Eric blocked me hard,” Strachota said. “I took it as the all clear to move him out of the way. I pushed him up the hill in three and four and he pinched me down coming to the finish line.”
Their cars then made contact. Strachota’s bounced off the track, but his transponder crossed the line before Breitenfeldt’s.
“We just touched, and I went for a ride at the finish line,” said Strachota. “My car hit the infield, the grass was wet, and I went sliding into the light pole.”
The transponders determine the finish, according to Golden Sands Speedway official, Cody Smiley.
“All transponders are mounted equally on every car,” Smiley said. “The measurement from the nose of the car to the transponder is checked by two tech officials. In this case, the transponders in both cars were checked by officials and it was determined that they were in correct position.”
Eric Breitenfeldt & Garret Strachota: No Strangers to Close Finishes
The night before, at State Park Speedway in Wausau, Wisconsin, the championship battle between Eric Breitenfeldt and Garret Strachota came down to the wire.
They tied for points.
Officials then went to the number of features won by each driver to break the tie.
Both had four.
To break the tie, the officials went to wins.
Both had four.
The track then went to “natural” wins.
Breitenfeldt technically won one of those four features after the racer who crossed the line was disqualified.
So, the track awarded Strachota the 2022 mini stock championship.
“Four natural wins beats three natural wins and a technical win,” Smiley, who also owns State Park Speedway, said.
Breitenfeldt initially felt that was unfair, but he then thought it through.
“If my technical win counted, the officials would have used fastest times,” Breitenfeldt said. “Garret has me beaten there.”
It’s Not Over with Yet
At Golden Sands Speedway, Strachota sits 16 points ahead of Breitenfeldt. The track’s points season concludes on September 9.
“I was 11 points behind Garret and tied him at State Park Speedway,” said Breitenfeldt. “I have to beat him in qualifying and in a heat race. Then, there would have to be three cars between us, if I won. There is one point per position in qualifying and heat races, and there are five points per position in the feature.”
This year marks the Outside Groove Director of Photography’s 51st year of covering auto racing. Adaskaveg got his start working for track photographer Lloyd Burnham at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway in 1970. Since then, he’s been a columnist, writer, and photographer, in racing and in mainstream media, for several outlets, including the Journal Inquirer, Boston Herald, Stock Car Racing, and Speedway Illustrated. Among Adaskaveg’s many awards are the 1992 Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) Ace Lane Photographer of the Year and the 2019 National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) George Cunningham Writer of the Year.