Hillman First Repeat Winner at Rice Lake Speedway

By Ed Reichert

RICE LAKE, WI (April 28) – While virtually every other race track in the region canceled for one reason or another Saturday, Rice Lake Speedway hung tough and got in its second regular Saturday night of racing in the 2012 season. While a decent crowd of hardy fans on hand and a respectable number of racers in the pits, Ben Hillman continued to show that he will be a force to be reckoned with all season; he won his second straight Super Stock feature win at Rice Lake while also winning his second feature of the weekend including a Friday night win at Red Cedar.

The other four winners on Saturday were all first time visitors to victory lane and they included Mike Anderson, Sam Fankhauser, Shane Halopka and Jason Havel.

On a fast, multiple groove race track, Aaron Wilson jumped into the early lead and stretched it to several car lengths while a furious battle for second raged between Willie Johnsen Jr, Scott Lawrence, Andy Grymala and Randy Spacek. Lawrence and Johnsen ran a number of laps side-by-side with a group of about four other cars snapping at their heels.

Hillman started seventh on the grid, but wasted little time moving to the cushion and it was clear that he was going to be a factor. He caught the big pack racing for second, and with a bold move, edged past the group on the extreme high side down the back chute. Once in second he set off after Wilson while the battle behind him continued to rage.

Eric Olson and Andy Davey also caught the pack and the scramble continued while Hillman caught Wilson and motored by him on the outside to take over the lead.

Andy Grymala and Nick Oreskovich got together exiting turn four with only seven laps remaining, which bunched the field for a restart. Hillman again shot into the lead and opened up some distance while Olson suddenly became a factor; he nosed under Wilson and took second. The inside row got shuffled on the restart with Lawrence and Jason Forehand most hurt by that circumstance.

Hillman continued to lead the rest of the way for the win although Olson cut into the deficit significantly before the checkered flag waved. Wilson held on to third over a charging Spacek and Johnsen, who finished fifth.

Starting Anderson on the pole was like giving the fox the keys to the henhouse, and Mike took full advantage of the opportunity; he led all the way for the Modified win.

While Anderson was comfort up front most of the contest, there was a pleasing battle for second that raged throughout the event. Paul Brust moved into second quickly but he was then challenged by Tim McMann. Kevin Adams started seventh and he jumped to the high groove and caught McMann and a three car battle raged for the runner up slot. McMann pulled up beside Brust and they raced hard for second with Adams all over his father-in-law, looking for an opening. McMann finally cleared Brust for second and then Adams threw a slide job on McMann in turn one but the wily veteran waited for Adams to slide by, and then ducked back under him to retake second.

Brust refused to go away, however, and after a lap eight yellow, he started to make time on the low side, and while Adams challenged McMann, Brust pulled up beside both of them.

Anderson continued to motor on unabated for the win but in the final few laps Brust drove under both Adams and McMann to secure second while Curt Myers drove up from 10th to complete the top five.

Bad luck on opening night played into Shane Halopka’s favor Saturday; with the point average lineup, Halopka started on the pole for the Midwest Modified feature event. He took full advantage of the opportunity and led from green to checkered for first win of the year. Tyler Luger, Jake Stai and Travis Anderson battled for second for several laps before Anderson secured the position. Meanwhile, Tito Viltz was on a charge from the fourth row; he raced up to third, then got past Anderson for the runner up position.

A couple of yellow flags bunched the field, but there was no stopping Halopka; he reestablished superiority over the field and drove on to the win. Tito settled for second ahead of Anderson while Grant Southworth did a good job running the high side up from the fifth row to finish fourth. Ryan Viltz got the hard charger award; after heat race problems, he started 23rd on the grid and drove all the way up into the top five.

Sam Fankhauser started on the pole for what turned out to be a nonstop Street Stock main event and he fought off race-long challenges from Doug Wojcik to take his first win of the year. Early on, Fankhauser had to deal with Cody Kummer and once Kummer started to fade, Wojcik was right there to challenge for the lead. Jimmy Randall was also on the move and the top three ran in close formation. Lap after lap, Wojcik looked to the inside of Fankhauser, but Sammy had just enough speed down the chutes to fight off his challenges. Late in the race Randall moved to the high side and he closed on the top two, but ran out of time as the top three finishers flashed under the finish line nose to tail. Eric Olson picked up the pace in the late going and raced into fourth with Josh Amans completing the top five.

The Pure Stock feature started on an ominous note when rookie driver Trenten Holub piled head on into the first turn wall on the opening lap. Fortunately, he was uninjured and the race then ran nonstop to the checkered flag.

Mike Schnider and Jason Havel argued for the lead early before Havel edged into the top spot. Schnider was nailed to his rear bumper and Joel Hinrichs raced up from the fourth row to take third. The top three ran in close formation and Schnider looked under Havel every lap for an opening. However, Jason was not going to give away the lead and despite constant pressure; he never bobbled and drove on for the win. Chad Eastman came all the way up from the fifth row to secure fourth at the line ahead of Nick Traynor.

The Best Appearing Car in each division, as judged on opening night, were presented before the racing began. Named were Traynor in the Pure Stock, Josh Amans in the Street Stocks, Joe Chaplin in the Midwest Modifieds, Ben Hillman in the Super Stocks and Rich Lofthus in the Modifieds.

Racing action will continue next Saturday night with all five divisions again in action with the first green flag to fly at 6:30 p.m.

SUMMARY

WISSOTA Modifieds
20 lap Feature – Mike Anderson(Colfax), Paul Brust(Rice Lake), Tim McMann(Duluth MN), Kevin Adams(Cameron), Curt Myers(Cameron), Darrell Nelson(Hermantown MN), Rich Lofthus(Bloomer), Matt Leer(Bruce), Jerry Weigel(Jim Falls), Steve Stuart(Ashland), Kevin Eder, Keith Tourville, Scott Hudack, Jeff Tardy, Pat Hoffman, Robby Bunkelman, Buddy Mayala, Paul Wrazidlo, John Meeds, Chet Atkinson, Aric Lindberg, Steve Hallquist
10 lap Heat 1 – Anderson, Weigel, Adams, Myers, Stuart, Lindberg, Hallquist, Tardy
Heat 2 – Nelson, Lofthus, McMann, Eder(Ashland), Hoffman(Rice Lake), Mayala, Hudack
Heat 3 – Brust, Wrazidlo(Duluth MN), Bunkelman(Abbotsford), Leer, Tourville(Dairyland), Meeds, Atkinson

WISSOTA Super Stocks
20 lap Feature – Ben Hillman(Menomonie), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Aaron Wilson(Menomonie), Randy Spacek(Phillips), Willie Johnsen Jr(Superior), Scott Lawrence(Superior), Andy Davey(Hibbing MN), Shane Kisling(Sarona), Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Cory Casari(Montreal), Cory Karshbaum, Kirk Bogdanovic, Andy Grymala, Nick Oreskovich, Bart Steffen
10 lap Heat 1 – Hillman, Spacek, Johnsen Jr, Olson, Kisling, Davey, Steffen, Casari
Heat 2 – Grymala, Lawrence, Wilson, Karshbaum(Chetek), Forehand, Oreskovich, Bogdanovic

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
15 lap Feature – Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Tito Viltz(Rice Lake), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Grant Southworth(Bloomer), Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Nick Koehler(Bloomer), Kerry Halopka(Wheeler), Deven VanHouse(Silver Bay MN), George Dalbeck(Ironwood MI), Tony Schill(Lake Elmo MN), Dusty Brown, Terry Sirek, Gabe Kennedy, C.J. Hedges Jr, Jeffrey Lien, Paul Suzik, Kevin Marlett, Scott Meeds, Jake Stai, Tyler Luger, Cory Crapser, Chris Bretting, Joe Chaplin Jr, Joe Eckland, Darren LaBlonde
10 lap Heat 1 – T. Viltz, Anderson, S. Halopka, Bretting(Washburn), Schill, Lien, VanHouse, Hedges Jr, R. Viltz
Heat 2 – Stai(New Auburn), Koehler, Luger(Iron River), Dalbeck, K. Halopka, Brown, Eckland, Marlett
Heat 3 – Crapser(Chippewa Falls), Chaplin Jr(Cameron), Southworth, Kennedy(Chisago City MN), LaBlonde(Baldwin), Meeds, Suzik, Sirek

WISSOTA Street Stocks
15 lap Feature – Sam Fankhauser(Chetek), Doug Wojcik(Ladysmith), Jimmy Randall(Rice Lake), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Josh Amans(Rice Lake), Cody Kummer(Medford), Simon Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), Adam Soltis(Ladysmith), Mitch Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Danny Richards(Mondovi), Ralph Stark, Heidi Karshbaum, Keith Tourville, Jamey Fisher
10 lap Heat 1 – Amans, Olson, Wahlstrom, Randall, Kesan, Fisher, Karshbaum
Heat 2 – Tourville(Dairyland), Kummer, Fankhauser, Wojcik, Soltis, Stark, Richards

Pure Stocks
12 lap Feature – Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Mike Schnider(Rice Lake), Joel Hinrichs(Chetek), Chad Eastman(Rice Lake), Nick Traynor(Hillsdale),John Erickson(Cameron), Jay Folz(Rice Lake), Bob Thompson(Cameron), Jon Wigchers(Rice Lake), Josh Bach(Rice Lake), Talon Laabs, Randy Graham, Brandon Davis, Dustin LaBlonde, Trenten Holub
8 lap Heat 1 – Hinrichs, Schnider, Thompson, LaBlonde(Bruce), Davis(Chetek), Bach, Wigchers, Laabs
Heat 2 – Traynor, Erickson, Havel, Folz, Eastman, Graham


April 28, 2012 Photos By Doug Zimmer: