|Leer Tops Rice Lake Speedway Modifieds for First Time Ever
By Ed Reichert
RICE LAKE, WI (July 14) - Sharing the card Saturday night at the Rice Lake Speedway with the IRA Sprint Cars, some very dramatic racing action took place. When the evening’s action was completed, among the highlights was one driver getting his first win in a new division of racing, one driver who won his first ever feature race and another driver who won his first feature of the season at Rice Lake. Along with this were two photo finishes for wins and another last lap pass that determined a winner. In the companion Sprint Car main event, local favorite Billy Balog made a lap twenty one pass for the lead after starting tenth on the grid and went on to win the nonstop thirty lap main event for the Sprint Cars.
Matt Leer moved up to the Modified class this year and is currently the highest rated rookie in all of WISSOTA, but until Saturday he had not won a feature race at his home track. That all changed when he made a last lap pass on Mark Hessler to claim the main event in the Modifieds. Steve Hallquist and Buddy Mayala started on the front row of the Modified main event but before a lap could be completed, Hessler charged up from the second row, split the front row cars and took the lead. Leer quickly charged up to second as the yellow flashed for Mayala, who had slowed in turn four.
On the green, Hessler would again take the lead as he ran the cushion and pulled away from the pack with Leer trying to stay with him. Scott Miller moved into the third spot and was then challenged by Paul Brust and Kevin Adams. Hessler continued to hold the lead, building up a comfortable advantage as Leer tried working the bottom line. As the laps started to tick off, Leer very gradually closed in on the leader as Adams was finally able to pass Brust and take over the third spot. Leer closed on Hessler with about five laps to go and looked to the inside in turn one, but Mark fought him off and opened up a little distance. Leer continued to challenge and he closed in again for one last push. As they took the white flag, Leer got inside Hessler as they raced into turn one. Leer edged into the lead down the back chute and stretched it even further as he got a great run off turn four and beat Hessler, who had led the entire way until the end, by about a car length for the win. Adams finished a distant third with Brust and Miller close behind.
Second year driver Chad Eastman celebrated his first ever feature win after he took the nonstop Pure Stock main event. Jay Folz and Kolby Kiehl battled in the early going with Folz securing the top spot. Eastman moved up from the second row using the outside and he was able to avoid some of the wild dicing for position that took place all around him. He continued his surge as he raced past Folz to take over the lead. As Eastman continued to hold a slight lead over Folz, C.J. Wagner, Bob Thompson, Joel Hinrichs and Mike Schnider were involved in a wild scramble for position. Schnider was finally able to take the third spot and he set off after the leaders. However, Eastman was running a strong line, and he never wavered as Folz pressured him for the top spot. With the race staying under the green, Eastman maintained his pace and beat Folz across the line by two car lengths for his first ever feature win as he became the eighth different Pure Stock winner so far this racing season. Folz finished a solid second and was pursued by Schnider, Kiehl and Wagner.
The first photo finish was in the Street Stock feature, where three cars crossed the line with less than a car length separating all three. Adam Soltis took the early lead from Jamey Fisher but he was soon challenged by Eric Olson for the top spot. Olson was also receiving pressure from Jay Kesan, Jimmy Randall, Sam Fankhauser and Cody Kummer. Randall was especially quick as he moved forward to engage in a hard fought battle with Kesan and Olson and then Kummer joined the group. Lap after lap they raced in a tight pack, swapping positions and racing inches apart, often in three wide formation.
Soltis continued to lead but Olson was sneaking a nose under him in each corner, looking for an opening. Just as the field took the white flag, Randall dumped all his water in turn one and Fankhauser spun, triggering a yellow and a two lap sprint to the finish.
On the green, Soltis continued to lead but Kummer got a great restart and motored past both Kesan and Olson and closed on Soltis for the lead. Olson rallied and closed back up. They raced three wide, side by side down the back chute on the final lap and continued in the same formation off the last corner. As they raced to the line, Soltis was able to get the best run in the middle of the track and he flashed across the line a bumper’s length ahead of Kummer, who himself edged out Olson by inches for second. Rounding out the top five were Chanda Fjorden-Nord and Kesan. It was Soltis’ first win at Rice Lake this year and he becomes the seventh different Street Stock factor so far.
The other photo finish was in the Super Stocks where Shane Kisling edged out Jason Forehand in a classic two car battle that saw the lead exchanged three times in the last eight laps. The early leader was Kirk Bogdanovic who fought off challenges from Jim Harris to take the early lead. Bogdanovic led the first four laps as he was then challenged by Eric Olson and Forehand. Following a lap five yellow for a spin, Forehand got up on the outside and drove past Bogdanovic to take over the lead.
Meanwhile, Kisling, who started eighth on the grid, was making his way forward after he also finally settled on the high side. He got past Aaron Wilson and then closed on Olson, who had moved into the second spot. The yellow flew again with twelve laps completed for another spin.
On the green, Forehand again took off with the lead while Kisling used the high side to drive past Olson and move into second. Continuing to work the cushion, he charged forward and drove past Forehand to take over the lead. Kisling maintained the lead for a couple of laps, but then Forehand charged back into contention as Kisling seemed to slow a little on the high side.
With just a couple of laps left, Forehand drove back under Kisling to take over the lead, but it was a tenuous one. Kisling fought back and as they took the white flag, Forehand’s lead was less than a car length. Forehand bobbled slightly in turn two, and Kisling was able to pull up beside him as they raced off the final corner. The top side continued to be Kisling’s friend as he got a good run off the cushion and edged ahead of Forehand by about a hood length, recording his third Rice Lake win of the year. Olson hung on for a solid third with Wilson and Bogdanovic trailing.
The Midwest Modified feature got off to a bad start when contender Shane Halopka spun on the first lap and had to go tail back. Joe Chaplin Jr. then took the lead but briefly as Tito Viltz powered past him to take the top spot. Travis Anderson and Paul Harelstad battled for second but both were soon overtaken by Ryan Viltz who was flying to the front. Ryan closed up on his brother and the battle was on. Tito continued to lead but Ryan was challenging his every move.
On lap eight, Kerry Halopka got tangled up and ended up spinning, triggering the third and final yellow of the event. Under the yellow, Ryan Viltz suddenly slowed and headed for the pits. This gave Harelstad the second spot and he tried his best to flag down Tito Viltz once the green came out, but Tito was in cruise control as he maintained his groove and opened up some distance on the field at the end. Winning his second feature of the season at Rice Lake, it was his first victory since opening night. Harelstad continued to edge closer in his pursuit of a feature win for owner Jake Stai, with Shane Halopka going to the top side and racing past Anderson at the end for third with Bryce Johnson completing the top five.
Racing action continues next Saturday night with all five classes in action once again with the first green flag slated to wave at 6:30 p.m.
20 lap Feature Matt Leer(Bruce), Mark Hessler(Menomonie), Kevin Adams(Cameron), Paul Brust(Rice Lake), Scott Miller(Rice Lake), Tim McMann(Duluth MN), Mark Hanson(Chippewa Falls), Steve Hallquist(Eau Claire), Pat Hoffman(Rice Lake), Buddy Mayala(Barron)
10 lap Heat 1 Hoffman, Hessler, Miller, Hallquist, Brust, Hanson
Heat 2 Leer, Adams, McMann, Mayala, Aric Lindberg
WISSOTA Super Stocks
20 lap Feature Shane Kisling(Sarona), Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Aaron Wilson(Eau Claire), Kirk Bogdanovic(Phillips), Wayne Harris Jr(Bloomer), Dan Bork(Mondovi), Marcus Simonson(Milltown), Roy Pumala(Mason), Steve Tesch(Prentice), Pat Jungerberg, Cory Karshbaum, Russ Chester, Jim Harris, Ryan Olson
10 lap Heat 1 Harris Jr, E. Olson, Kisling, Forehand, Simonson, R. Olson, Tesch, Jungerberg
Heat 2 Wilson, Bork, Bogdanovic, J. Harris(Menomonie), Karshbaum(Chetek), Pumala, Chester
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
15 lap Feature Tito Viltz(Rice Lake), Paul Harelstad(Bloomer), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Bryce Johnson(Barron), Joe Chaplin Jr(Cameron), Cody Cimfl(Mikana), Greg Arnt(North Branch MN), Terry Sirek(Rice Lake), Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Kerry Halopka
10 lap Heat 1 S. Halopka, Harelstad, Anderson, R. Viltz, K. Halopka(Wheeler), Arnt
Heat 2 T. Viltz, Chaplin Jr, Cimfl, Johnson, Sirek
WISSOTA Street Stocks
15 lap Feature Adam Soltis(Ladysmith), Cody Kummer(Medford), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Chanda Fjorden-Nord(Luck), Jay Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Jamey Fisher(Rice Lake), Marcus Simonson(Milltown), Sam Fankhauser(Chetek), Jimmy Randall(Rice Lake), Andy Cimfl(Clayton), Ralph Stark
10 lap Heat 1 Soltis, Fjorden-Nord, Kesan, Fisher, Simonson
Heat 2 Randall, Kummer, Olson, Fankhauser, Cimfl
12 lap Feature Chad Eastman(Rice Lake), Jay Folz(Rice Lake), Mike Schnider(Rice Lake), Kolby Kiehl(Cameron), C.J. Wagner(Hayward), Joel Hinrichs(Chetek), Bob Thompson(Cameron), Randy Graham(Trego), Jon Wigchers(Rice Lake), John Erickson(Cameron), Talon Laabs, Brent Miller, Kendall Grover, Dustin Doughty
8 lap Heat 1 Folz, Wagner, Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Hinrichs, Doughty(Ladysmith), Laabs, Brian Erickson, J. Erickson
Heat 2 Schnider, Eastman, Thompson, Kiehl, Graham, Wigchers, Miller, Grover
July 14 Photos By Doug Zimmer: