Graf Tops Barickman in Great Battle At Rice Lake Speedway

By Greg Parent
UMSS Media Director

RICE LAKE, WI (May 28) - Although a brief rain shower about an hour before the scheduled start of the May 28 race program at the Rice Lake Speedway caused only a minor delay, the heavy weather stayed south of the track and the fans were rewarded with an outstanding battle for the lead in the 20 lap Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) feature event.  Swapping the lead back and forth a couple of times, Chris Graf and Brad Barickman thrilled the crowd with an entertaining tussle for the top spot.  At the checkers, Graf had raced from his sixth starting spot to earn his first UMSS feature win of the season and fifth over all.  Stated an elated Graf, "I think that late race caution may have helped us, but it was great to race with Brad for the lead and end up getting my first win of the season."  Runner-up Barickman summed it up, "That was a fun race with Chris.  I was concerned he might get by me in the end after that caution.  We had raced close for several laps."

Following the double round of qualifying races utilized by the UMSS, Brad Barickman started the feature race on the outside of the front row after high point driver Chris Graf drew a six for the invert.  Barickman wasted little time in blasting away to an early lead.  Graf quickly advanced to third on the opening lap and moved by Joseph Kouba for second on lap four.  Graf closed in on Barickman over the next few laps and the battle for the top spot was on.

At the halfway mark, Barickman held a narrow lead over Graf with the lapped car of Kevin Bradwell looming in front of the lead duo.  Graf edged past Barickman exiting turn four on lap 11 for the lead, but Barickman raced back to the front when the leaders split Bradwell coming off turn two on lap 12.  Barickman and Graf continued to race hard and clean for the lead, as the laps clicked off under green on the well-prepared 1/3 mile oval.

With Barickman's lead ranging from a few car lengths to a few feet at times, the leaders raced side by side to begin lap 18.  Rookie Anna Kouba looped her car entering turn one right in front of the leaders, but both Barickman and Graf were able to slip by without contact.  This brought the race under what would be its only yellow flag.  Scoring reverted back to the last fully completed lap, so it would be a three lap shootout to the finish with Barickman, Graf, Jerry Richert Jr, Joseph Kouba, and 2010 UMSS Champion Cody Hahn in the top five positions.

On the restart, Graf moved to the outside of Barickman entering turn one, pulled alongside, and was able to race to the lead down the backstretch.  Barickman kept the pressure on Graf for the remainder of the race, but Graf was able to hold him off for his first victory of the season and a clean sweep for the evening.  Barickman finished second with Richert in third.  Cody Hahn advanced to fourth at the checkers while Andy Jones passed a couple of cars in the final sprint to the finish to round out the top five.  Completing the top ten finishers were Joseph Kouba, Jared Goerges, Scott Broty, Sye Anderson and last year's Rice Lake winner Brandon Allen.

In Ultimate Sprint Race action, Graf topped Richert in the Alpha & Apparel Promotions first heat while Hahn raced ahead of the field in the Meeks Video Productions second heat.  Challenge race victories were earned by Graf in the Driverwebsites.com race with Barickman besting the Mastell Brothers Trailer Service second challenge race.  It appeared as though Johnny Parsons III was on his way to victory in the first challenge race when, on the final lap, JPIII caught the turn three wall, rode up into the catch fencing, and flipped.  Johnny was okay, but his heavily damaged sprinter was done for the night.

Chris Graf took home a decent payday, as he earned the GRP feature winner bonus, the GRP Hard Charger Award, and a special bonus in effect for GRP Motorsports sponsored cars.  By virtue of winning the feature, Graf also earned a Hoosier Racing Tire certificate for a rear tire.  All told, the Glencoe, MN hotshoe earned about $1,400 for his win.  With her 11th place finish, young Anna Kouba took over the top spot in the GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year standings three races into the season.

The UMSS will attempt a double-header with the 10th Annual Billy Anderson Memorial at the Princeton Speedway on Friday night June 3 followed by the second appearance of the season at the Ogilvie Raceway on Saturday June 4.  The Billy Anderson Memorial will pay $1,010 to win while the Ogilvie show will pay $1,000 to win thanks to some additional bonus money from GRP Motorsports.  The Princeton show will also have some extra money in the second and third spots plus a GRP Hard Charger Award and the Past Champions Bonus in effect.

Fans can stay up-to-date on all of the UMSS racing action by checking out our website at www.umsprints.com or be sure and "like us" on the UMSS Facebook page.  The UMSS Race Report is also distributed free at all UMSS events.  Catch the excitement of winged sprint car racing at Princeton and Ogilvie on June 3 & 4.  The non-winged UMSS Traditional Sprint Car Series will also be in action at the Ogilvie Raceway for their second exhibition event of the young season.  Come on out and enjoy back-to-back UMSS sprint car racing programs next weekend!

UMSS Race Results - Rice Lake Speedway May 28, 2011 (Race #3):

Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (7 laps): Chris Graf, Jerry Richert Jr, Joseph Kouba, Andy Jones, Scott Broty, Anna Kouba, Kevin Bradwell.

Meeks Video Productions Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (6 laps): Cody Hahn, Jared Goerges, Brad Barickman, Johnny Parsons III, Brandon Allen, Sye Anderson.

Driverwebsites.com Challenge Race #1 (8 laps): Graf, Goerges, Broty, J Kouba, Bradwell, Parsons DNF, Allen DNF.

Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (8 laps): Barickman, Richert, Hahn, Jones, Anderson, A Kouba.

GRP Motorsports A Main (20 laps): Graf, Barickman, Richert, Hahn, Jones, J Kouba, Goerges, Broty, Anderson, Allen, A Kouba, Bradwell, Parsons DNS.

Lap Leaders: Barickman 1-10, Graf 11, Barickman, 12-17, Graf 18-20
Cautions: (1) yellow

May 28 Photos by Doug Zimmer: