Gross Breaks Through at Rice Lake Speedway

By Ed Reichert

RICE LAKE, WI (August 20) – Jason Gross, an infrequent competitor at Rice Lake Speedway over the years as his schedule has allowed, put everything together Saturday night in winning the Modified main event. Gross, the only new winner on the last night that track points could be accumulated, won his first feature race at Rice Lake since the 1994 season when he won a Mini Stock feature. Other winners Saturday as the speedway beat an incoming thunderstorm complex by mere minutes were Jason Forehand, Ryan Viltz, Simon Wahlstrom and Jason Havel.

Steve Hallquist edged ahead of Dave Baxter to take the early lead in the Modified main event which was stopped before a lap could be completed when Doug Gustafson had something break on his car and he went head on into the third turn wall. Gross started in the second row and quickly moved forward as another quick yellow for a spin once again bunched the field. Gross moved in on Hallquist and was able to get under him and took over the lead. Mike Anderson and Jason Miller were also moving up, and they drove into the second and third spots respectively.

The last 12 laps of the race went nonstop, and Gross was able to extend his advantage the whole time as he car was working great right in the middle of the black slick track. Anderson tried his hardest but he wasn’t able to stay with the flying Gross, and had to settle for second. Miller, again driving Jeremy Gross’s car, took the third spot ahead of Hallquist and Tim McMann.

Forehand made a great move on the opening lap of what turned out to be a nonstop Super Stock main event to take the early lead and run away from the pack. Forehand started on the outside of row two but going into the first turn boldly drove to the outside of Josh Rodewald to make it three wide with race leader Pat Jungerberg. Forehand was able to drive past the double wide lead pack into the top spot, and once in front was able to pull away.

There was some mad scrambling at midpack, as there was a large number of cars battling for the same territory, with racers swapping lanes and positions on the track frequently. Eric Olson was digging on the low side of the track, and he was able to worm his way into second, after starting in the fourth row. Shane Kisling also made a determined advance, finally moving to the high side of the track as he drove his way up from the fifth row.

Up front, Forehand had checked out on the field and was nearly a straightaway ahead of the field. Kisling continued his charge and was able to drive past Olson in the late going for second, but Forehand was comfortably out front as he recorded his second win of the year at Rice Lake. Andy Grymala had a solid run for fourth and Rodewald had his best finish as he completed the top five.

The Street Stock field was thin Saturday, but they still put on a great four car battle for the lead throughout the race, which also went nonstop. Wahlstrom started on the pole but Adam Soltis was right beside him and remained so for nearly fifteen laps. Right behind them, Nick Wojcik and Cody Kummer also raced side by side and they continued that battle for most of the race. Wahlstrom continued to lead lap after laps, with Soltis on his outside and about a half car length behind, and continually working to try and make the pass for the lead. Kummer and Wojcik would take turns edged past each other for third as the top four ran in a tight, two by two formation from start to finish. As the white flag waved, Soltis made an extra hard run into turn one and seemed to have some momentum to make a pass when suddenly he slowed, the victim of mechanical problems. That took the pressure off Wahlstrom, who made a solid last lap and earned his third feature win of the year at Rice Lake. Wojcik edged out Kummer for second with Jay Kesan coming from the tail for fourth followed by Sam Fankhauser.

Ryan Viltz was another driver that made an early race dynamic move that paved the way to victory as he topped the Midwest Modified main event. Dusty Brown and Kerry Halopka shared the front row but Viltz was able to find an opening on the low side and shot into the lead quickly, while the rest of the pack battled side by side. Viltz moved away from the field as Kerry Halopka settled into second. Josh Smith, Zach Manley, Matt Leer along with Cory Crapser and Shane Halopka were all battling for position while Viltz extended his lead. Leer moved to the high side of the track and was able to finally start moving, as he gradually worked past the tightly packed field and drive into third.

Viltz was strong up front, and with this race also going green to checkered, he maintained his lead and took his third feature win of the year at Rice Lake. Kerry Halopka had his finest run yet, as the rookie driver maintained a strong pace and took a solid second place finish, running ahead of Leer, brother Shane and Crapser.

A late race scramble after a yellow flag saw the running order of the Pure Stock feature dramatically changed and a surprise winner emerge. Brandon Davis held the pole for the main but it was Bob Thompson from the outside that took the early lead. Thompson was running strong and he built up a small lead as Rick Traynor moved into second with John Erickson, Mike Schnider, Jay Folz and Bob Wahlstrom battling behind him. Also on the move was Jason Havel who started in the fourth row and was gradually advancing toward the front.

“Biker” Bob continued to hold the lead with Traynor pressuring lap after lap. Finally, Bob broke traction in turn four and Traynor was able to get under him for the lead. Nick was then able to gain a couple of car lengths on the field.

However, the yellow flew with ten laps complete for a spin and on the green, Thompson made a great move on the high side to drive ahead of Traynor, only to see the yellow fly when Erickson took a wild spin down the front chute and the pass was negated. Another attempt was made to complete the last two laps and when the green flew, Thompson moved to the high side again. However, an opening on the low side gave Havel the chance to stick his car there, and the leaders came three wide to the white flag. Havel had a great run on the low side, and on the last lap he powered past the two other contenders to take an exciting and surprising victory, his fourth of the year at Rice Lake. Thompson beat Traynor for the second spot with Wahlstrom and Jay Folz rounding out the top five.

Point champions were decided Saturday and in the two really close races, Traynor edged out Folz for the Pure Stock title and Leer did the same to Crapser in the Midwest Modifieds. Other point champions were Eric Olson in the Super Stocks, Kevin Adams in the Modifieds and Doug Wojcik in the Street Stocks.

Next Saturday, August 27, will be a big night at the track. The 2011 season championship races will be held with the drivers lined up by their point standings for the heat races, and will qualify for the championship features based on their heat race finishes. Also on the card will be a full program of the UMSS (Upper Midwest Sprint Series) Sprint cars. The winged sprints will be making their second appearance of the year at Rice Lake with Glencoe, Minnesota’s Chris Graf having won the previous event on May 28. Tim’s Automotive Machine in Bloomer will be the presenting sponsor for that event.

The season will conclude with a spectacular tripleheader, the first in track history on September 2, 3 and 4. There will be a full show of racing each night in all five classes with music, entertainment and a corn feel all a part of the weekend. Extra money is on the line for the drivers and a large field of cars is expected to spend the weekend at the Rice Lake Speedway. Race time is 6 p.m. on Friday and 4 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.

SUMMARY

WISSOTA Modifieds
20 lap Feature – Jason Gross(Cushing), Mike Anderson(Colfax), Jason Miller(Osceola), Steve Hallquist(Eau Claire), Tim McMann(Duluth MN), Kevin Adams(Cameron), Jared Loos(Loyal), Buddy Mayala(Barron), Mike Gibson(Star Prairie), Scott Miller(Rice Lake), Pat Hoffman, Dave Baxter, Aric Lindberg, Bryan Hessler, Mark Hanson, Mark Hessler, Shaun Kreyer, Doug Gustafson
10 lap Heat 1 – Baxter(Eau Claire), Hoffman(Rice Lake), Hallquist, Mayala, B. Hessler(Chetek), Lindberg
Heat 2 – McMann, J. Miller, S. Miller, Gustafson(Frederic), Gibson, Hanson
Heat 3 – Adams, Gross, Anderson, Loos, M. Hessler(Menomonie), Kreyer

WISSOTA Super Stocks
20 lap Feature – Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Shane Kisling(Sarona), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Andy Grymala(Superior), Josh Rodewald(Lake City MN), Ben Hillman(Menomonie), Jim Harris(Menomonie), Tad Schoonover(Eagle River), Cory Karshbaum(Chetek), Bart Steffen(Eau Claire), Kirk Bogdanovic, Roy Pumala, Tim Shackleton, Pat Jungerberg, Donnie Talmage, C.J. Polacek, Russ Chester, Eric Davis
10 lap Heat 1 – Olson, Grymala, Hillman, Harris, Chester(Chetek), Polacek
Heat 2 – Kisling, Forehand, Talmage(Amery), Schoonover, Shackleton(Barron), Pumala
Heat 3 – Steffen, Rodewald, Jungerberg(Barron), Bogdanovic(Phillips), Davis(Fall Creek), Karshbaum

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
15 lap Feature – Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Kerry Halopka(Wheeler), Matt Leer(Bruce), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Cory Crapser(Chippewa Falls), Josh Smith(Rice Lake), Zach Manley(Cameron), Dusty Brown(Rice Lake), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Terry Sirek(Rice Lake), Joe Chaplin Jr, Darren LaBlonde, Mark Turner
10 lap Heat 1 – Viltz, S. Halopka, Manley, K. Halopka, Anderson, Turner, LaBlonde
Heat 2 – Leer, Crapser, Smith, Brown, Sirek, Chaplin Jr

WISSOTA Street Stocks
15 lap Feature – Simon Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), Nick Wojcik(Ladysmith), Cody Kummer(Medford), Jay Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Sam Fankhauser(Cameron), Doug Wojcik(Ladysmith), Joel Hinrichs(Chetek), Adam Soltis(Ladysmith)
10 lap Heat – Soltis, Wahlstrom, Fankhauser, Kummer, N. Wojcik, Hinrichs, James Vought, D. Wojcik, Kesan

Pure Stocks
12 lap Feature – Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Bob Thompson(Cameron), Nick Traynor(Barron), Bob Wahlstrom(Chetek), Jay Folz(Rice Lake), Cooper Berlin(Rice Lake), Mike Schnider(Rice Lake), Chad Eastman(Rice Lake), Kolby Kiehl(Cameron), Josh Bach(Rice Lake), Jon Wigchers, Dustin Doughty, Rob Lowe, Mike Grover, John Erickson, Brandon Davis, Ron Hoffman
8 lap Heat 1 – Havel, Thompson, Wahlstrom, Traynor, Eastman, Berlin, Wigchers, Hoffman, Grover
Heat 2 – Folz, Schnider, Davis(Chetek), Erickson(Cameron), Kiehl, Bach, Lowe, Doughty

August 20 Photos By Doug Zimmer & Chris Burback: