By Ed Reichert
RICE LAKE– Rookie Street Stock driver Andrew Hanson edged past Jason Havel on the final lap Saturday night to earn his first-ever Street Stock win at the Rice Lake Speedway and highlight an efficient night of racing to start out the month of June.
Another first-time winner for 2019 was George Richards, while the drivers that have dominated their divisions in recent weeks at the track, Curt Myers in the Super Stocks and Kevin Adams in the Midwest Modifieds, continued their trend with three feature wins again Saturday between the two of them.
A full field of Street Stock took starter Troy Holder’s green flag to start their main event with Havel jumping into the early lead over Travis Loew. Hanson and Parker Anderson, a couple of young chargers, battled for the third spot as they diced back and forth on the track for that position. The lone yellow of the race occurred with four laps complete when Jay Kesan slipped around in turn one.
With the return to green flag conditions, Havel again sprinted away from the field as he looked for his first win of the year. Meanwhile, the battle for third continued before Hanson was finally able to get past Anderson and take the spot. Andrew then saw after Travis Loew who was having his finest run of the year to date also.
Hanson had 11 laps to get the job done and it took him every second of that time. First he caught Loew for second and with an inside move slipped past him into second with only Havel yet to catch. However, Havel had built up a good-sized lead which Hanson had to close. However, as Hanson picked up the pace it appeared that Havel started to get a little loose in the corners and his lap speeds started to get just a bit slower.
Hanson was able to close at a dramatic pace as the race drew close to its finish and with two laps to go, Hanson was on the rear bumper of the leader and looking for a way by. He made an attempt coming off turn four but Havel shut the door on him. On the next lap, as the leaders were ready to see the white flag, Hanson again looked low and was able to squeeze inside of Havel as they raced down the front stretch with both cars jockeying for position and just a bit of contact thrown in too.
Coming out of turn two, Hanson was able to edge ahead and pulled a car-length on Havel. Havel had one last chance, and he tried to cut under Hanson as they left the final turn but Hanson had enough speed to hold off Havel by a car-length at the line in a very exciting Street Stock finish. Loew had his second top five finish of the season with a strong third-place finish and Hunter VanGilder raced home to fourth ahead of Anderson.
For Hanson, it was the first Street Stock feature win ever for the rookie driver from Iron River after having earned a single win in the last two years each while running a Pure Stock at Rice Lake on a limited basis.
The Pure Stock feature proved to be the only main event that had its share of issues Saturday, as spins by a variety of drivers saw the yellow wave on seven occasions before the time limit was exceeded when Allen Metz slammed the home stretch wall and lost a wheel. Richards was in the lead at that point as the race was concluded three laps short of a full run.
The first lap saw the track just a little bit wet for the green, and front row starters Ken Oftedahl and Devin Fries both slipped up the track and Josh Amans found an open lane and drove into the early lead. Amans continued to lead as the first few laps did go by unchecked with Richards gradually working his way up after starting in the fourth row. He made passes on Aaron Bernick, Jay Folz, and Mike Huebner Sr. to move into second and then tried to chase down the leader.
With five laps complete, the cycle of one lap and a spin commenced but on one of the restarts, Richards powered to the high side of Amans and took over the lead. After that, he set the pace through several more spins that slowed the action once again. Finally, with the Metz crash and the time limit exceeded, the checkered flag was waved over the field and Richards celebrated his first win at the track this year.
Amans finished a solid second and was trailed by Bernick, Folz, and Cody Cimfl.
Myers earned his third Super Stock feature win in four tries as he came from the third row to pass Willie Johnsen Jr. and then drive away from the field in the last half of the race.
Johnsen Jr. was the early leader with Myers navigating his way up to second and then putting the heat on Johnsen Jr. for the top spot.
Following a lap four spin that bunched the pack, Myers made a bold move in turn one and slid up the track, making some contact but edging past Johnsen Jr. to take over the lead. One more lap was completed before another spin slowed the action but when Johnsen’s bold move to retake the lead didn’t work, Myers was then in front for the duration and with the last 15 laps going by without slowdown, Myers pulled away from the field unchallenged.
The battle for second, however, was a good one with Johnsen Jr. getting too high and Simon Wahlstrom driving past him to take over second. Johnsen Jr. pulled back in to challenge him for the spot, however, and they raced hard for that position.
They got tangled in turn one when Wahlstrom momentarily lost control and Aaron Wilson took advantage of the situation to pass them both and take over second. They finished out that way with Wilson having a fine run in his first outing of the year. Eric Olson completed the top five.
It was another busy night for Adams who was a double winner for the second straight week. In the Midwest Modified feature he started in the third row and had to fight his way past both Austin Ellis and Travis Anderson to take over the lead. He and Ellis had a good battle for second before Adams was able to edge ahead and when Anderson slipped a bit high, Adams took over the lead and then drove away from the field the last half of the race.
Ellis and Shane Halopka also got past Anderson as they raced hard to try and catch back up to Adams but the Cameron racer had the field covered as he drove home to yet another feature win. On the last corner Anderson again got too high in turn three and both Jamie Bisonette and Jimmy Latvala slipped past him to round out the top five in a race stopped only once by the yellow.
In the Modified feature, Adams started on the outside pole and led all twenty laps to record a relatively easy win in that class. Steve Hallquist drove a strong race, running second from start to finish and hanging with Adams the first half of the contest before Adams was finally able to pull away.
A late spin with only two laps to go, the only slowdown in the contest, set up a tougher than planned final laps for the leader, but Adams once again pulled away from the field for the win. After having a DNF the first two weeks of the season, Adams has now strung together two straight victories in the Modified class.
Hallquist had by far his best run of the season for second and Mike Anderson passed the most cars as he patiently worked his way up to the front but couldn’t quite get past Hallquist for second. Pistol Pat Hoffman had a solid run in fourth and youngster Cole Varsho completed the top five.
Next Saturday night, June 8, the Rice Lake Speedway will be off as race fans will be enjoying the Rice Lake Aquafest celebration. However, following that break, the speedway comes back with straight Saturday nights of special entertainment. June 15 is the annual Kid’s Night and bike giveaway night at the track and one of the nights most enjoyed by race fans both young and old. Those fans wishing to donate a bike are reminded to contact either Megan Adams or Crystal Fankhauser to make arrangements with all the information on the speedway website.
The Best Appearing Car voting, delayed by weather issues, was announced on Saturday night and named were Cody Cimfl-Pure Stocks, C.J. Wagner-Street Stock, Tony Bahr-Midwest Modified, Josh Bach-Super Stock, and Justin Oestreich-Modified.
On June 22, the Modifieds take center stage as Ruben Myers’ Advantage RV Modified series, based out of Watertown South Dakota, will be on hand at the Rice Lake Speedway.
The only traveling series within WISSOTA, the RV series goes to a series of track throughout Wisconsin, Minnesota, and South Dakota with a group of racers that follow the tour that are among the best in WISSOTA. Last year, Dan Ebert of South Shore Minnesota, won the Rice Lake event and went on to win the series point title and he has already been a feature winner on the tour this year along with Shane Sabraski from Rice, Minnesota.
Thirty or more of the Modifieds are expected to be on hand with the top local and regional drivers set to take on the travelers. See the speedway Facebook page for more information on that program and to see just which local classes will be racing that night. All race programs begin with warm-ups at 6:30 p.m. and racing to follow.
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