Prochnow edges Thatcher in Rice Lake Speedway opener

By Ed Reichert

RICE LAKE, WI (May 1) – Under the ownership of Adams-Hansen, Inc., a new era of auto racing started Saturday night at Rice Lake Speedway, and despite blustery conditions with an occasional rain drop, a fine crowd and more than 100 race cars signed in for the opening night of action.

On the track, Modified veteran Brent Prochnow scored the opening night win; he held off persistent challenges from Craig Thatcher to take the win. Other first night victors included Scott Lawrence, Matt Leer, Sam Fankhauser and George Richards.

Twenty WISSOTA Modifieds took the green flag for their main event, which only had one yellow flag to slow the action; Prochnow raced off the front row and took the early lead from Mike Truscott. Thatcher and Al Uotinen battled behind Truscott before Thatcher began a charge that eventually propelled him to second. Meanwhile, Kevin Adams was also on the move after starting seventh on the grid. Je moved to the outside lane and began working his way to the front; he swept by Wayne Stricker, Mike Anderson and then Uotinen to take third.

Prochnow had built up a considerable early lead until Thatcher broke free. Thatcher closed on Prochnow and moved to the high side of Prochnow time after time, but Prochnow was strong off the corners and held him off. Adams was on the move and closed to within a few cars lengths of the front running duo when the yellow flew with 12 laps complete.

Thatcher selected the outside on the restart and sealed off Adams on the green and hold on to second while Adams slipped back after jumping the cushion. Thatcher continued to pressure Prochnow, but Prochnow refused to yield and he drove home the winner by two car lengths. Adams held on for third over Uotinen and the rookie Truscott.

Lawrence dominated the WISSOTA Super Stock division; he led all 20 laps for a relatively easy victory. Lawrence started on the outside of row one and put distance on the field early while Aaron Wilson settled into second with Wayne Harris, Jr. running third. Lawrence opened nearly a straightaway lead on the field and the race remained under green for virtually the entire distance. Jason Forehand and Shane Kisling were the two drivers to watch; both moved to the high groove and advanced toward the front of the pack.

Paul Erikson got turned around with 13 laps completed to trigger the lone yellow of the race. On the restart, Lawrence again jumped ahead of the field but Harris, Jr. used the outside to slip past Wilson for second. Kisling continued his charge by flying to the high side of the track. Lawrence continued to dominate and rode home for the win with Harris, Jr. in second. Wilson held off the charging Kisling and Forehand followed.

Leer led wire to wire in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds; he built a large lead early and held off a late charge by Ryan Viltz to secure the win. The Midwest Mods had a tough time keeping the race under green early with four yellows needed in the first four laps. The biggest incident was an early crash that eliminated Shane Halopka, Jason Zdroik, Clark Swartz and Rob Weber.

Leer maintained his lead during the yellow period, then pulled away after racing resumed. Viltz started in the third row and drove around Josh Smith and Grant Southworth to take second. He then closed in on Leer and gave him a severe challenge. Lap after lap Viltz closed to Leer’s rear bumper, but Leer had just enough momentum to prevent Viltz from completing the pass. As the laps ran down, Viltz continued to pressure, but Leer was simply in the groove and he held on by a car length for the win. Southworth finished off a strong effort with a third place finish over Brad Hudson and George Dalbeck.

The WISSOTA Street Stock feature was a close, three car battle to the wire; Fankhauser held off Jimmy Randall and Ron Hanestad for the win. Fankhauser took the early lead over Hanestad with Chanda Fjorden Nord on the move; she moved into second spot quickly and closed on the leader. As she attempted to make a pass down the front chute, the leaders got together and while the contact wasn’t heavy, it was at the wrong location and Fjorden Nord got a flat right front tire and pulled into the infield, done for the night.

Fankhauser then had Hanestad back on his tail, but the driver on the move was Randall, who charged up from the third row to put the pressure on. Randall had a long battle with Hanestad before he took second, then closed on Fankhauser. Several times Randall moved to the outside of Fankhauser, and with a couple of laps left got alongside of him and appeared poised to take over the lead. however, Fankhauser foght off Randall and held on by the barest of margins for the win. Hanestad was a very close third with Danny Richards and rookie Cody Kummer completing the top five.

George Richards won a scrambled up Pure Stock feature in which a couple of front runners were done in by bad racing luck.

Dusty Brown took the early lead and looked to be in good shape before he lost a wheel down the back chute on lap two. Bob Thompson launched into the air after he ran over the wheel and both drivers were eliminated from the contest.

Richards seized the opportunity and raced up from the third row to take over the lead. Nick Wojcik and Nick Traynor were locked in a hard-fought battle for second, but they got together and Wojcik ended up spinning while Traynor suffered a flat tire. That gave Jeremy Dahl the chance to move up and he drove into second, however, hard contact resulted in his car sustaining a flat tire on the last lap and he limped home. Richards managed to avoid the action behind him and drove home for an easy win. Rookie Gunnar Watkins was right in the middle of the action but kept going to finish second ahead of Wojcik, who came from the rear, John Erickson and Kyle Hunter.

Racing action will continue next Saturday night at 6:30 p.m. with all five classes in action again. The first special event at the speedway takes place on Saturday, May 22nd when the winged IRA Sprint Cars will be the featured attraction.

SUMMARY
WISSOTA Modifieds

Feature – Brent Prochnow, Craig Thatcher, Kevin Adams, Al Uotinen, Mike Truscott, Wayne Stricker, Robby Bunkelman, Mike Anderson, Pat Hoffman, Paul Knauf, Scott Duval, Scott Hudack, Bill Byholm, Rich Lofthus, Dave Mayala, Jerry Hartman, Scott Tofte, Jared Loos, Scott Miller, Steve Hallquist
B Feature – Loos, Tofte, Byholm, Hudack, Paul Niznik, Dave Baxter, Kent Baxter, Ross Lightner, Rick Rivord, Kenny Kinkaid, Mark Hanson
Heat 1 – Anderson, Uotinen, Duval, Hartman, Loos, Byholm, Kinkaid, Lightner
Heat 2 – Bunkelman, Thatcher, Hoffman, Knauf, Tofte, Hanson, Hudack
Heat 3 – Adams, Stricker, Hallquist, Mayala, Rivord ,Steve Lavasseur
Heat 4 – Prochnow, Truscott, Lofthus, Miller, Niznik, D. Baxter, K. Baxter

WISSOTA Super Stocks
Feature – Scott Lawrence, Wayne Harris, Jr., Aaron Wilson, Shane Kisling, Jason Forehand, Paul Erikson, Scott Zitelman, Jim Harris, Scott Clark, Eric Olson, Jeff Heintz, Andy Grymala, Roy Pumala, Chad Johnson, C.J. Polacek, Allan Amborn, Mike Siewert
Heat 1 – Erikson, Zitelman, Clark, Grymala, Pumala, Polacek
Heat 2 – Forehand, Kisling, Olson, J. Harris, C. Johnson, Willie Johnsen
Heat 3 - W. Harris, Jr., Wilson, Lawrence, Heintz, Amborn, Siewert

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature – Matt Leer, Ryan Viltz, Grant Southworth, Brad Hudson, George Dalbeck, Tito Viltz, Nick Koehler, Mark Gerth, Travis Anderson, Terry Sirek, Jason Swan, Brian Fuchs, Josh Smith, Alan Broker, Bryce Johnson, Jason Zdroik, Clark Swartz, Rob Weber, Shane Halopka, Mark Turner
B Feature – Zdroik, Swan, Johnson, Turner, Joe Olson, Mark Clements, Will Fisher, Neil Balduc, Fron Hanson, Shawn Rivord
Heat 1 – Southworth, Anderson, Sirek, Weber, Swan, Olson
Heat 2 – Halopka, Leer, Gerth, Swartz, Zdroik, Balduc, Marshall Tofte
Heat 3 – R. Viltz, Dalbeck, T. Viltz, Koehler, Turner, Rivord, Hanson
Heat 4 – Hudson, Smith, Fuchs, Broker, Fisher, Clement

WISSOTA Street Stocks
Feature – Sam Fankhauser, Jimmy Randall, Ron Hanestad, Danny Richards, Cody Kummer, Simon Wahlstrom, Cory Hanson, Jason Lang, Josh Amans, Joel Hinrichs, Butch Kummer, Marcus Simonson, Rick Weir, Doug Wojcik, Ashley Husby, Jeff Klopstein, Zach Manley, Chanda Fjorden Nord, Travis Hazelton
Heat 1 – Randall, Wojcik, Wahlstrom, Lang, Hanson, Simonson, Hinrichs
Heat 2 – Hanestad, Fankhauser, Amans, Klopstein, Husby, Weir
Heat 3 – Richards, Fjorden Nord, C. Kummer, Hazelton, Manley, B. Kummer

Pure Stocks
Feature – George Richards, Gunnar Watkins, Nick Wojcik, John Erickson, Kyle Hunter, Josh Buckridge, Jeremy Dahl, Bob Wahlstrom, Josh Traynor, Bob Thompson, Dusty Brown
Heat 1 – Wojcik, Brown, Dahl, Hunter, Erickson, Wahlstrom
Heat 2 – Richards, Watkins, Traynor, Thompson, Buckridge

May 1 Photos by Doug Zimmer: