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Mike Provenzano uses dads bag of tricks in showdown; Balensiefen sweeps the Mods
By: Betty Glynn 

LA SALLE, IL (May 31) - Saturday night at La Salle Speedway it was a father and son duel. Veteran racer Lil’ John Provenzano has been a familiar sight on dirt tracks for forty years. His son on the other hand may not have raced as many years but he has been there watching his father since he was very little. Mike Provenzano has obviously been taking notes on his fathers driving style.  

Twenty-four UMP Late Models took their spots on the starting grid with Keith Piano and Lil’ John on the front row ahead of Rich Bell and Mike Provenzano. Scott Schmitt and John Piccatto were partners in the third row. 

Once the green flag dropped, Lil’ John fired up to the point but a caution for Nick Fratt slowed the pace. During the first lap, another yellow was thrown after Schmitt skimmed the infield tire of turn three sending his ride into the wrong direction. Lake Knutti had nowhere to go but slid slightly into him. 

Schmitt went to the tail of the pack but it wasn’t long before he was powering his way back into a top ten run. Due to several cautions in the rear of the field, the battle up front was not able to get rolling into the half way marker of the race when Mike Provenzano took the outside line of his dad putting the pressure on.  

They battled side by side until Mike stole the lead during the eleventh circuit. Piano and Bell were too far back to make a challenge. The Provenzano patriarch was not giving in so easily. He took his machine to the outside line but just didn’t have enough to make it around his son. 

A caution during Lap 14 brought the entire field back to a single file restart with Mike leading Lil’ John, Bell, Piano, Jimmy Partipilo, Schmitt and Piccatto. Once the flagman signaled green, it was the beginning of an exciting battle for the lead. For the next five laps, Lil’ John worked hard to bring his ride into a nose to nose battle taking back the point at the end of Lap 21.  

Lapped traffic was the biggest player when Lil’ John got caught up behind slower traffic and Mike knew just where to power into the lead. With two laps left the younger Provenzano grabbed the helm for the final time leaving his father as the runner up. 

“I know his (Lil’ John) tricks, Mike Provenzano admitted after the race. “I learned from the best.”  

Bell took home third place while a side by side battle of Piano and Schmitt was still going for the last lap all the way to the line. Piano placed fourth in front of Schmitt, Partipilo, Piccatto, Matt Ramer, Ed Williams Jr., Aaron Schmidt, Joe Fratt, Jon Small, Travis Mahoney, Don Knippenberg, and Eric Rebholz. 

Piano qualified the quickest lap with a time of 13.262. He also went on to win the fastest heat over Lil’ John, Bell and Mike Provenzano. Randy Manos won the second heat contest with Rebholz, Todd Alexander and Gary Hunt crossing the line after him. Schmidt took the third heat victory with Joe Fratt, Justin Rutledge and Lake Knutti in tow. 

Nathan Balensiefen was at the top of his game and swept the twenty two UMP Modifieds. First up he traveled the fastest lap with a time of 14.585 over Travis Kohler’s quickest time of 14.773. 

After passing Kohler during the fifth lap of the heat, Balensiefen powered away to the checkers. Vince Cooper stole second in the final lap ahead of Kohler and Dale Lueth. Phil Line flew solo to win the second preliminary race with Brad Stewart, Steven Brooks and Kevin Thompson behind him. Tom Knippenberg beat Tim Loomis, Mike Marden and Don Cole for the third and final heat. 

Before the first lap could be recorded, second place starter Vince Cooper was off the pace and left the field. A caution of two cars in the tail stuck together like glue kept the infield officials and tow truck workers busy trying to pry them apart. 

Once the action was well underway, it was Balensiefen pulling away from the pack leaving Lueth to fend off Stewart. During Lap 13, it was quite apparent that the fastest machine on the highbanks was driven by Balensiefen and he was unstoppable. 

Balensiefen led the twenty lap main event flag to flag to return to victory lane. Line took second ahead of Stewart, Brooks, Kohler, Lueth, Joe Adam, Knippenberg, Derrick Doerr, Justin McCoy and Thompson. 

A first lap caution in the UMP Street Stock feature event could have been made even worse after the field stayed heavy on the gas and racing long after the yellow light was illuminated for Justin Hamm. Hamm’s start didn’t go as planned when he found himself hanging upside down in his flipped over ride.  

Last weeks winner, Brandon Maciejewski, was leading the pack with Mike Hughes in a lower line when he went too high and tagged the outside retaining wall. His journey to the top of the track cost him four running positions. Hughes led for a couple of laps until Roger Rickels took command.  

Rickels won without a close competitor while Hughes had to fight for second against Maciejewski. Hughes managed to put his nose across the line second with Maciejewski third over Mike McKinney, Rick Koltveit, Nick Sell, Randy Lucas, and Kevin Snowberger. 

Snowberger won the first heat race over Kolveit, Steve Lewis, and Sell. Maciejewski beat Hughes, Rickels, and McKinney in the second heat. 

Allen Provenzano took the UMP Hornet division with a double play. He won both his heat and their main event. Starting on the pole of the feature he quickly moved into a strong lead with JR Brown trailing over Phil Burdette.  

By Lap 8, Brown was putting on the pressure as they rounded the turn three corner. Brown moved into the lead but not before there was contact between the leaders. Provenzano put on a slick move to steal back the lead. 

Brown finished second ahead of Burdette, Rick Zifko, Jerry Legner, John Provenzano, Freddy Thatcher, Shannon Mudro, Asa Robart and Andy Schwarko. 

Zifko won the second heat 

La Salle Speedway Scoreboard Results


UMP Late Models – 24 Cars

Qualifying: Keith Piano 13.262 Rich Bell 13.302

Heat #1: Keith Piano, Lil’ John Provenzano, Rich Bell, Mike Provenzano

Heat #2: Randy Manos, Eric Rebholz, Todd Alexander, Gary Hunt

Heat #3: Aaron Schmidt, Joe Fratt, Justin Rutledge, Lake Knutti

Feature: Mike Provenzano, Lil’ John Provenzano, Rich Bell, Keith Piano, Scott Schmitt, Jim Partipilo, John Piccatto, Matt Ramer, Ed Williams Jr., Aaron Schmidt, Joe Fratt, Jon Small, Travis Mahoney, Don Knippenberg, Eric Rebholz, Mike Locke, Lake Knutti, Jeff Small, Todd Alexander, Randy Manos, Gary Hunt, Nick Fratt, Mike Glynn, Scott Langer


UMP Modifieds – 22 Cars

Qualifying: Nathan Balensiefen 14.585, Travis Kohler 14.773

Heat #1: Nathan Balensiefen, Vince Cooper, Travis Kohler, Dale Lueth

Heat #2: Phil Line, Brad Stewart, Steven Brooks, Kevin Thompson

Heat #3: Tom Knippenberg, Tim Loomis, Mike Marden, Don Cole

Feature: Nathan Balensiefen, Phil Line, Brad Stewart, Steven Brooks, Travis Kohler, Dale Lueth, Joe Adam, Tom Knippenberg, Derrick Doerr, Justin McCoy, Kevin Thompson, Mike Marden, Tim Loomis, Jeramie Johnson, Don Cole, Allen Line, Wally Forsythe, Geno Hewitt, DJ Werkmeister, Vince Cooper, Paul Smith


UMP Street Stocks – 19 Cars

Heat #1: Kevin Snowberger, Rick Koltveit, Steve Lewis, Nick Sell

Heat #2: Brandon Maciejewski, Mike Hughes, Roger Rickels, Mike McKinney

Feature: Roger Rickels, Mike Hughes, Brandon Maciejewski, Mike McKinney, Rick Koltveit, Nick Sell, Randy Lucas, Kevin Snowberger, #02, Ande Bivens, Matt Ramer, John Hogue, Donny Allen, Jay Mesarchik, Danny Deutsch, Tim Provenzano, Steve Lewis, Jake Miller, Justin Hamm


UMP Hornets – 11 Cars

Heat #1: Allen Provenzano, JR Brown, Phil Burdette, Freddy Thatcher

Heat #2: Rick Zifko, Asa Robart, Jerry Legner, John Provenzano

Feature: Allen Provenzano, JR Brown, Phil Burdette, Rick Zifko, Jerry Legner, John Provenzano, Freddy Thatcher, Shannon Mudro, Asa Robart, Andy Schwarko