|Thompson’s Long Wait at the Rice Lake Speedway Ends
By Ed Reichert
RICE LAKE, WI (August 4) Bob Thompson figures he’s been racing for about thirty years now. He has raced Mini Stocks, Bombers and even Trucks, all classes that the speedway doesn’t even run any more. But in all that time, no feature wins. Saturday night at the Rice Lake Speedway that all changed when he fought off a fierce challenge from Jason Havel to record the Pure Stock feature win and a long overdue first ever trip to victory lane. Other winners Saturday as the speedway moves into the final month of their regular racing season were Cody Kummer, Ryan Viltz, Wayne Harris Jr and Kevin Adams.
Talon Laabs led the opening lap of the Pure Stock feature as the rookie driver is quickly picking up the pace as he fought off early challenges from Dustin LaBlonde. Thompson started third and he found an opening on the low side of the track as he drove under LaBlonde and then edged past Laabs to take over the lead. Two laps later Laabs got sideways in turn four, Jay Folz rolled to a halt and the yellow flag waved.
Thompson continued to lead on the restart but LaBlonde was having a great run as he continued to hold second over a charging John Erickson, Kolby Kiehl, Darwin Brown and Havel. Havel continued to move up and before too long he was challenging LaBlonde for second.
After making that pass he quickly closed on Thompson and the battle was on. Several times Havel tried to nose under Thompson but Bob fought him off. Finally, after intense battling in turn four, contact was made between the lead cars and Thompson went for a wild spin down the front chute, with fortunately no contact with other cars resulting. Thompson was restored to the lead for a four lap sprint to the finish.
Thompson moved away from the pack on the green with LaBlonde involved in a heavy battle for second with Erickson and Brown. Thompson continued to stay in the groove and maintain his lead and the happy Cameron driver drove home for the historic win. In celebration he made a polish victory lap after the win. Amazingly, Thompson’s win came only two weeks after he went for a wild barrel roll down the back chute that was initially thought to have destroyed his car. Using a hood and fenders that don’t quite match the rest of the car, it’s performance seems to have not been altered. Thompson also became the tenth different Pure Stock winner of the season at the track.
LaBlonde had a great run of his own, as the seldom racing driver held off Brown and Erickson to take a career best ever second place with Kiehl completing the top five.
Kummer has been going through a tough time of late with lots of mechanical issues as the current national point leader struggles to finish races. Saturday he used a good starting position and wily racing skills to hold off Jay Kesan and take his fourth Rice Lake win of the year.
Kummer came off the outside pole and jumped into the lead immediately with Kesan quickly taking second and the stalk began as Kesan shadowed every move made by Kummer for fifteen laps. Jay was all over the leader for the entire distance, trying both high and low to get by Kummer for the lead. Several times he got up beside Cody, but each time he just couldn’t quite complete the pass for the lead and rather than rough up the leader, Kesan instead raced him clean.
One last attempt in the closing laps came up short and Kummer raced home the winner by a car length. Adam Soltis was closing on the leaders at the end but ran out of time and settled for third ahead of Josh Amans and Ashley Husby who both recorded their best finishes of the year.
Doug Toepper took the early lead over Terry Sirek in a fast paced Midwest Modified main event stopped only once by a yellow flag. However Toepper held the lead only briefly as Kerry Halopka found an opening on the low side of the track and blasted past Toepper to take over the top spot. Viltz also found day light quickly as he raced up from the third row to challenge Halopka.
Viltz’s car was working great and he went to the second lane and drove right around Halopka to take over the top spot. With no yellow flags to impede him, Viltz pulled away from the field and opened up nearly a straightway advantage on the field. Jake Stai and Tito Viltz also worked their way up as they sought to challenge for second.
Tito and Stai battled hard with Tito eventually gaining the third spot, after which he set off after Halopka. Ryan Viltz was alone up front as he raced home for his fifth win of the year at Rice Lake. Kerry Halopka completed a strong run in second as he held off the charging Tito Viltz with Stai and Travis Anderson completing the top five.
Harris Jr. put in a strong performance to hold off a stout field of Super Stocks and record his second win of the year at Rice Lake. He did start on the pole but he and Jason Forehand quickly got down to brass tacks as they battled for the lead. Forehand briefly showed his nose as the leader but then Harris Jr. fought back. He slid up in front of Forehand as they exited turn four, and contact between the two sent Harris Jr off on a wild slide through the rain soaked infield, sending up a roster tail spray of water and mud.
Harris Jr. was restored to the front for the restart, and the last eighteen laps of the Super Stock main ran nonstop. Harris Jr. next received a challenge from Cory Davis who was running close behind him. Ben Hillman was also on the move to pull in and challenge Davis for second while Shane Kisling and Aaron Wilson were also racing side by side.
The top five started to tighten up with Davis and Hillman close to the leader. However, Harris Jr. continued to run a strong line and he repelled all the challenges the pack could provide to him.
Davis gathered his run for one last challenge on the final lap and he was able to slide to Harris Jr.’s rear bumper, but Wayne held his groove and raced home the winner by a car length. Hillman settled for third ahead of a fast closing Wilson and Kisling.
Adams put on a dominating performance as he came from the fourth row to win a track high sixth feature win of the year. Aric Lindberg got the jump from the outside pole and was the early leader of the event. He was running strong and continued to hold the lead as Jerry Weigel moved in to second and tried to close on him. Meanwhile, Adams was rushing forward from back in the pack as he maneuvered between cars and moved into the third place. He caught Weigel off turn two and blasted past him down the back chute. Then, after catching Lindberg, he flew past him and into the lead which he quickly expanded on.
As Adams moved away from the pack, Mike Anderson picked up the pace on the bottom side of the track. He drove past Weigel and then, after a brief battle, Lindberg for second. However, by this time he was a straightaway behind the leader and Adams drove home for an easy win. Lindberg completed a solid run in third with Weigel and Tim McMann completing the top five.
Big races highlight the racing schedule in the coming weeks to the track. Next Saturday, August 11th, is the 60th anniversary race for the speedway and along with that, the second class of inductees to the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame will be presented. Set to be inducted are: Dave Palmquist, Dave Adams, Ben Ryba, Jack Shimon, Don Drew and Louie Foss.
On Thursday, August 16th, the United States Modified Touring Series will make their second appearance of the year at the track. This race, part of “The Hunt for the USMTS Casey’s Cup”, will pay $3,000 to the winner of the Modified main. National driving stars in the Modified class will take on the best of the regional and local drivers. Adams-Hansen Inc. is bringing in NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace for this show. Wallace, with extensive experience in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series as well as being a well known television commentator for NASCAR events, will be racing his own dirt Modified on that night. He will be also driving the speedway two seat Modified and three rides with Wallace will be raffled off to the public.
20 lap Feature Kevin Adams(Cameron), Mike Anderson(Colfax), Aric Lindberg(Dallas), Jerry Weigel(Jim Falls), Tim McMann(Duluth MN), Matt Leer(Bruce), Dave Mayala(Barron), Pat Hoffman(Rice Lake), Wayne Poteet(Spooner)
10 lap Heat 1 Adams, Hoffman, Anderson, Lindberg, Poteet
Heat 2 Weigel, McMann, Leer, Mayala
WISSOTA Super Stocks
20 lap Feature Wayne Harris Jr(Bloomer), Cory Davis(Turtle Lake), Ben Hillman(Menomonie), Aaron Wilson(Eau Claire), Shane Kisling(Sarona), Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Jason Schill(Centuria), Kirk Bogdanovic(Phillips), Jeff Heintz(Turtle Lake), David Pospyhalla, Tim Borgeson, Pat Jungerberg
10 lap Heat 1 Kisling, Hillman, Forehand, Harris Jr, Heintz, Bogdanovic, Jungerberg
Heat 2 Olson, Davis, Borgeson(New Richmond), Wilson, Pospyhalla(Stratford)
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
15 lap Feature Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Kerry Halopka(Wheeler), Tito Viltz(Rice Lake), Jake Stai(New Auburn), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Joe Chaplin Jr(Cameron), Terry Sirek(Rice Lake), Elizabeth Toepper(Lino Lakes MN), Doug Toepper(Forest Lake MN), Scott Meeds, Miranda Carlson, Jason Schill
10 lap Heat 1 Anderson, R. Viltz, S. Halopka, K. Halopka, Schill(Centuria), Chaplin Jr, Meeds
Heat 2 T. Viltz, Stai, Sirek, D. Toepper, E. Toepper, Jacob Toepper, Carlson
WISSOTA Street Stocks
15 lap Feature Cody Kummer(Medford), Jay Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Adam Soltis(Ladysmith), Josh Amans(Rice Lake), Ashley Husby(Menomonie), Heidi Karshbaum(Chetek), Bob Wahlstrom(Chetek), Eric Olson(Ladysmith)
10 lap Heat Olson, Kesan, Kummer, Soltis, Amans, Husby, Wahlstrom, Karshbaum
12 lap Feature Bob Thompson(Cameron), Dustin LaBlonde(Bruce), Darwin Brown(Cumberland), John Erickson(Cameron), Kolby Kiehl(Cameron), Jay Folz(Rice Lake), Chad Eastman(Rice Lake), Randy Graham(Trego), Jimmy Holden(Rice Lake), Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Mike Chaplin, Mike Schnider, Talon Laabs, Brian Erickson, Joel Hinrichs, Brent Miller
8 lap Heat 1 Brown, Kiehl, Hinrichs(Chetek), Schnider(Rice Lake), Havel, Eastman, Folz, Chaplin, Miller
Heat 2 J. Erickson, Laabs(Stetsonville), Thompson, LaBlonde, Holden, Graham, B.Erickson, Andrew Conklin
August 4 Photos By Doug Zimmer: