Race of Champions Qualifier Held at Rice Lake Speedway

By Ed Reichert

RICE LAKE, WI (June 23) – For once the rains avoided the Rice Lake Speedway on Saturday and racers were able to get a full program of racing action in. Despite threatening skies before the show along with a few sprinkles and lightning flashing in the northern sky later, the complete program was held on Kid’s Night at the track and four drivers qualified themselves for the AMSOIL Race of Champions event to be held during the WISSOTA 100 in Huron South Dakota in September.

Punching their ticket to South Dakota this Fall were Jimmy Randall, Ryan Viltz, Shane Kisling and Kevin Adams who won feature races Saturday along with Pure Stock winner Joel Hinrichs. For Randall and Kisling, it was also their first feature wins at the track this season.

Randall’s win in the Street Stock feature provided a moment of controversy during the race as contact between Randall and race leader Eric Olson saw the only yellow flag of the race occur. Olson had come off the outside pole to pull away from Danny Richards and take the early lead. As Olson put distance on the field, Richards was locked in a big battle with Doug Wojcik and Sam Fankhauser for second with other runners also moving in to create a huge swarm battling for position. Randall moved up quickly after starting in the fourth row and using the high side of the track primarily, he quickly raced into contention. Finding an opening, he charged past Cody Kummer and then made short work of both Fankhauser and Wojcik and set out after Olson with about six laps left.

Olson seemed to have a comfortable lead, but Randall was flying and he reeled in the leader in only a couple laps and planted himself on Olson’s rear bumper. Coming off turn two, Randall had a big run and dived to the inside of Olson down the back chute. Randall’s bumper made contact with the back of Olson’s car, with Eric’s car then swerving sideways. As Randall shot past him, Olson then slowed down and pulled to the edge of the track, triggering the yellow. The official call was made that while there was contact, the contact didn’t cause Olson to stop and he was sent to the tail.

Opting instead to get ready for the Super Stock main, Olson then pulled off and Randall drove away from the pack in the three remaining laps to get the win. Fankhauser made a late charge to get past Wojcik for second at the finish with Kummer and Richards completing the top five.

Kisling’s path to victory was probably the easiest of the four qualifiers as he started on the outside pole and drove into the lead immediately. As he put distance on the field, Jim Harris was engaged in a big battle for second with Olson, Jason Forehand, Cory Karshbaurm and Aaron Wilson. Coming off turn four on lap five, Harris, as reported later as being caused by an accelerator hung wide open, slammed into the front stretch wall, rebounded off the wall into Wilson and then careened wildly down the front chute before spinning in turn two and collecting several more cars. Wilson, Willie Johnsen Jr and Harris were all eliminated with damage.

The last sixteen laps ran off nonstop and Kisling motored off unchallenged as he built up nearly a straightaway lead on the field. Olson held second for many laps until Forehand was able to get to the high side and past him and while Eric tried to return the favor, Forehand held on for second. Karshbaum and Nick Oreskovich completed the top five.

Viltz also led all the way and kept the competition behind him as he raced to his second Midwest Modified feature win of the year. Nick Koehler moved into the second spot and chased Viltz as two early yellows for spins slowed the field. Viltz continued to keep the field at bay, as Koehler was joined in the challenge for second by Tito Viltz and Grant Southworth. Southworth was on the move and he drove up to third and was challenging his Bloomer team mate for position.

Travis Nye was having a great run as he started twelfth on the grid and had raced up to fourth and was perhaps the fastest car on the track when he slowed on lap eight after the drive shaft came out of his car.

Back on green, Viltz once again pulled away while Koehler and Southworth banged together and Southworth lost a number of positions. Viltz continued to lead the rest of the way and never received any major challenges for the lead. Neil Balduc made a big challenge in the late going as he came from the fifth row to sneak past Tito Viltz for third at the line with Travis Anderson completing the top five.

Adams caught a major break in the Modified feature as the event was controlled by Matt Leer who looked like a sure winner until he suffered a flat tire with only four laps remaining in the event.

Tim McMann had taken the early lead in the race which was slowed by two cautions before a lap could be completed. First Aric Lindberg tagged the front stretch wall and then Curt Myers spun in turn two, triggering a multi car wreck that eliminatated Paul Brust and Jared Loos.

When racing finally continued, McMann’s lead was short lived as Leer came tearing up from the third row to take over the top spot. Pat Hoffman was having a great run as he challenged McMann for second while Adams was also gradually working his way toward the front after starting in row four. Leer continued to hold about half a straightaway on the field as Adams finally got past Hoffman and McMann to move into second and then tried to chase down Leer.

Back luck struck Myers, who after going to the tail of the field had worked his way back up through the field, only to lose a wheel and bring out another yellow. This allowed Adams to get right behind Leer and then, after fighting off McMann once again, he closed on the leader. However, Leer was flying and there appeared to be no way that Adams would make the pass, but luck went against Leer as with only four laps to go he put his car hard into turn four and the right front tire rolled off the rim and he stalled with a flat.

Adams pulled away from the pack the last four laps as he recorded with fourth win at the track so far this year, tops for any driver. McMann held on for second of a strong running Hoffman while Steve Stuart and Steve Lavasseur both lost good finishing positions in the last few laps, Stuart when he banged off the turn one wall and Lavasseur when he suffered major motor problems with only a couple laps left. Scott Miller and Paul Niznik came on to record top five finishes.

The Pure Stocks got off to a shaky start with four yellow flags in the first four laps, but then after that they settled down and ran off a flawless event. Kolby Kiehl fought off John Erickson in the early going for the lead and he led for a number of laps with Hinrichs and Mike Schnider battling him for the lead. Finally, Joel was able to get to the inside and take over the top spot. Kiehl didn’t give up easily and battled back to challenge. Schnider was also right in the hunt while Darwin Brown lost a good running spot when he suffered a flat tire. Hinrichs pulled away in the last few laps as he raced on for his third win of the year in the division. Kiehl finished a strong second ahead of Schnider. Bob Thompson came from the back of the pack to finish fourth ahead of Chad Eastman.

Upcoming on the race schedule at the Rice Lake Speedway is a regular, five class program of racing on Saturday, June 30 with racing beginning at 6:30 p.m. Then, on Tuesday, July 3, the annual Firecracker special will be held at the track. Along with racing in all five classes, one of the best fireworks displays in the area will be shot off, featuring both aerial and ground fireworks. Race time will again be at 6:30 p.m.

SUMMARY

WISSOTA Modifieds
20 lap Feature – Kevin Adams(Cameron), Tim McMann(Duluth MN), Pat Hoffman(Rice Lake), Scott Miller(Rice Lake), Paul Niznik(Medford), Zack Drews(Ringle), Shawn Kreyer(Hayward), Scott Heikkinen(Eveleth MN),Steve Lavasseur(River Falls), Matt Leer(Bruce), Steve Stuart, Dave Mayala, Curt Myers, Wayne Poteet, Steve Hallquist, Mike Anderson, Paul Brust, Jared Loos, Aric Lindberg
10 lap Heat 1 – Hoffman, Brust(Rice Lake), Anderson(Colfax), Niznik, Loos(Loyal), Lavasseur, Drews
Heat 2 – Adams, McMann, Hallquist(Eau Claire), Lindberg(Dallas), Heikkinen, Poteet
Heat 3 – Stuart(Ashland), Myers(Cameron), Leer, Miller, Kreyer, Mayala

WISSOTA Super Stocks
20 lap Feature – Shane Kisling(Sarona), Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Cory Karshbaum(Chetek), Nick Oreskovich(Mason), Patrick Heikkinen(Eveleth MN), Andy Grymala(Superior), Bart Steffen(Eau Claire), Kirk Bogdanovic(Phillips), Aaron Wilson(Menomonie), Willie Johnsen Jr, Jim Harris, Tommy Richards
10 lap Heat 1 – Harris(Menomonie), Richards(Mondovi), Karshbaum, Oreskovich, Grymala, Bogdanovic, Steffen
Heat 2 – Wilson, Forehand, Olson, Kisling, Johnsen Jr(Superior), Heikkinen

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
15 lap Feature – Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Nick Koehler(Bloomer), Neil Balduc(Bessemer MI), Tito Viltz(Rice Lake), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Grant Southworth(Bloomer), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), George Dalbeck(Ironwood MI), Paul Niznik(Medford), Cole Spacek(Phillips), Paul Suzik, Ross Fuhrman, Kerry Halopka, Brian Fuchs, Tyler Luger, Dusty Brown, Jake Stai, Travis Nye, Bryce Johnson
10 lap Heat 1 – Stai(New Auburn), T. Viltz, Koehler, Dalbeck, K. Halopka(Wheeler), Niznik, Suzik
Heat 2 – Southworth, S. Halopka, Balduc, Spacek, Fuchs(Medford), Johnson
Heat 3 – R. Viltz, Anderson, Brown(Rice Lake), Nye(Ashland), Luger(Iron River), Fuhrman

WISSOTA Street Stocks
15 lap Feature – Jimmy Randall(Rice Lake), Sam Fankhauser(Chetek), Doug Wojcik(Ladysmith), Cody Kummer(Medford), Danny Richards(Mondovi), Adam Soltis(Ladysmith), Jay Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Butch Madsen(Rice Lake), Simon Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), Ralph Stark(Withee), Jamey Fisher, Tyler Wahlstrom, Eric Olson, Heidi Karshbaum
10 lap Heat 1 – Fankhauser, Kummer, Richards, Wojcik, T. Wahlstrom(Mondovi), Fisher, Karshbaum
Heat 2 – Randall, Madsen, Kesan, Olson(Ladysmith), Soltis, S. Wahlstrom

Pure Stocks
12 lap Feature – Joel Hinrichs(Chetek), Kolby Kiehl(Cameron), Mike Schnider(Rice Lake), Bob Thompson(Cameron), Chad Eastman(Rice Lake), Brandon Davis(Chetek), Ken Tody Jr(Ashland), Randy Graham(Trego), Brian Erickson(Rice Lake), Andrew Conklin(Ladysmith), Brent Miller, Darwin Brown, John Erickson, Jay Folz, Talon Laabs
8 lap Heat 1 - Erickson(Cameron), Schnider, Hinrichs, Tody Jr, Folz(Rice Lake), Laabs, Graham, Miller
Heat 2 – Thompson, Brown(Cumberland), Eastman, Kiehl, Davis, Conklin, Erickson

June 23, 2012 Photos By Doug Zimmer: