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  .: 2016 Season Results :.

Five New Winners at Rice Lake Speedway “Firecracker”

By Ed Reichert

Rice Lake WI, July 2 – To have first time winners at the halfway point of the racing season is somewhat rare but to have five first time winners on the same night at this late juncture of the season is almost unheard of. However, such was the case Saturday night at the Rice Lake Speedway for the Firecracker special.

In front of a large festive crowd on hand to watch dirt track racing and the time honored fireworks display that the track is famous for, Dave Baxter, Eric Olson, Gunnar Watkins, Jimmy Randall and Dustin Doughty all won their first feature races of the 2016 season at the speedway. All five of the feature races were won in different manners also with some leading most of the way in their events, some driving from far back in the pack and some making late race passes that secured their wins.

Scott Miller and Bryan Hessler took turns leading the opening laps of the Modified main event before Steve Hallquist moved up from the second row and took over the lead. Hallquist was running a higher line on the track and making it work as he stretched his lead until Baxter worked loose from traffic and started to close in. Baxter gradually gained on the leader and before too long they were running side by side for the top spot. They stayed wheel to wheel for two laps until Baxter was finally able to edge past and take over the top spot.

Baxter then began to pull away as Kevin Adams, who started eighth, began to work into contention. He got past Zack Drews and Kerry Halopka and then closed on Hallquist. They had a good tussle for second before Adams was able to sneak by on the inside. The race was then for the lead but Baxter had a good handle on things as he continued to turn solid laps and despite Adams' best efforts, he wasn't able to cut into Baxter's lead to the point of mounting a solid challenge. Hallquist ran a solid third while Drews and Halopka followed. Baxter became the sixth different winner in the Modifieds so far in 2016.

Olson's win was a much harder one as he took the lead from Simon Wahlstrom with just over two laps to go to claim the Super Stock win. Luke Schultz and John Erickson battled back and forth for the lead in the early going of the event before Wahlstrom found and opening on the low side of the track and shot into the lead. There was considerable jockeying of position in the first few laps and yellow flags galore as the caution waved five times in the first four laps for a series of spins that set some of the drivers on edge.

Finally, things settled down and the last eleven laps ran off nonstop. Wahlstrom continued to lead and while his lead was starting to shrink, he was still able to maintain the top spot as Olson got past Aaron Wilson to take over second. Olson then began to close at a quicker rate and with just a few laps left, Olson was on the bumper of Wahlstrom. Olson dived to the low side of turn one and there was plenty of contact between the two leaders as they banged doors all the way around the corner before Olson was able to shoulder his way into the top spot. Wahlstrom was not able to mount a rally and he settled for second as for the longest time it looked like the Super Stock rookie was going to take his first win in the division.

Instead, it was the veteran Olson that knocked down his first Rice Lake win of 2016. Wilson had a strong run to finish third and Erickson recorded his best finish yet in the Supers as he took fourth while Bart Steffen came from fourteenth on the grid to round out the top five.

Watkins was a surprise winner in the Midwest Modifieds in a race that featured more antics than even the Super Stock main did. It also featured more yellow flags as the yellow bunting waved six times for a variety of spins and minor collisions.
Josh Wahlstrom took the early lead from Cy Hoaglan and then immediately had to deal with a strong challenge from Travis Anderson. Anderson was working the cushion awhile Wahlstrom hung low on the track and they raced side by side as they battled for the lead.

They were not alone in the top rung challenge though, as Austin Ellis, Ryan Viltz, Shane Halopka, Kyle Johnson and Watkins were all running in a tight pack.

Anderson continued to challenge on the top side of the track and several times he would get beside Wahlstrom, only to see the yellow fly four another spin or encounter. Anderson then didn't get as good a restart and suddenly it was Ellis who was putting heavy pressure on the leader with Watkins moving up along with Halopka. Ellis dove low and nearly got past Wahlstrom as they continued to battle hard for the lead.

Ellis made another low side move coming out of turn four as he tried to force the issue. The two lead cars tangled and both spun into the infield, triggering yellow number six. Ellis was charged with the caution and sent to the rear of the field while the luckless Wahlstrom had a flat tire and was out of the contest, as he was hoping for his first win ever in the division.
With the top two drivers out, Watkins inherited the lead and despite this being his first race of the year at Rice Lake, he ran a solid last couple of laps to keep Halopka and Anderson behind him for the win. Kent Baxter came from midpack to finish fourth and Johnson's first run of the year here also resulted in a top five finish.

Watkins became the sixth different winner in the Midwest Mods so far this year and for Watkins, it was his first win at Rice Lake since the 2011 racing season when he was driving Pure Stocks. Watkins is a rookie in the Midwest Modifieds and the win here was his first ever in the class.

The yellow flag knew no bounds Saturday, as the normally smooth Street Stocks saw their main event papered in yellow also with four slowdowns in the first half of the race. Things got off to a slow start when Kori Richter and Hunter VanGilder hooked bumpers on the first lap and then on the restart, pole sitter Cooper Berlin had his engine lose power and he was turned around by the field.
Finally, some racing broke out and Kolby Kiehl, looking for his first win ever here, took the early lead. He opened up some distance on the field but then Jimmy Randall picked up the pace and caught the leader. With a dandy move down the back chute, Randall managed to get under Kiehl and take over the top spot.

VanGilder and Jay Kesan got together at mid race, causing another slowdown and after they got back up to speed, Randall started to pull away. The last five laps he ran unchecked as he raced home for thie win while Kiehl remained solid and finished in the runner up slot. Cody Kummer was all over him but had to settle for third with VanGilder next in line. Kesan made a charge from the back of the pack to complete the top five. The Street Stocks have now seen six different winners also.

The Pure Stocks were one of only two divisions to complete their main event without a single yellow flag. Dustin Doughty started on the pole and led all the way for his first win at the speedway since 2013. He pulled away from Mike Pratt and then withstood an early challenge from rookie Cole Varsho. Doughty then began to put distance on the field while the only feature winners in the class here this season, George Richards and Jason Havel, tried to work their way through heavy traffic from the fourth and fifth rows respectively.

Doughty continued to motor on and set a hot pace but Richards was threading his way to the front and when he finally passed Varsho with a few laps left, he set his sights on tracking down Doughty. Doughty had a comfortable lead though, and while Richards did cut into his margin at the end, Doughty maintained his edge to break the stranglehold of Richards and Havel as he took the win.

Richards settled for second with Varsho making his first run ever here a memorable one with a podium finish as he led Havel and Joel Hinrichs to the finish line.

Next Saturday night, July 9th, the rescheduled Kid's Night at the track will be held. Before the races, the race cars will be lined up on the front chute and the kids can meet the drivers and look over the cars. During the course of the evening, there will be numerous bikes to be given away to the kids also and at last count, the number of bikes to be given away had reached sixty seven!

As always, the action begins with warm ups at 6:30 pm with racing to follow in all five classes. The next special event to appear at the speedway is on July 30th when the Late Models will be on hand as a part of the One Main Financial WISSOTA Challenge Series, the only appearance of the Late Models at the track this season.


Rice Lake Speedway
Rice Lake WI
July 2, 2016

WISSOTA Modifieds

20 lap Feature – Dave Baxter(Eau Claire), Kevin Adams(Cameron), Steve Hallquist(Eau Claire), Zack Drews(Duluth MN), Kerry Halopka(Wheeler), Scott Miller(Rice Lake), Bryan Hessler(Chetek), Buddy Mayala(Barron), Mark Hessler(Menomonie), Wayne Poteet(Spooner)

8 lap Heat 1 – Adams, Drews, Halopka, B. Hessler, Mayala, Pat Hoffman

Heat 2 – M. Hessler, Hallquist, Baxter, Miller, Poteet

WISSOTA Super Stocks

15 lap Feature – Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Simon Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), Aaron Wilson(Eau Claire), John Erickson(Rice Lake), Bart Steffen(Eau Claire), Luke Schultz(Cameron), Nick Traynor(Barron), Kyle Helling(Rice Lake), Steve Davidson(Richland Center), Aaron Mashlan(Ashland), Eric Zitelman, Adam Soltis, Ralph Stark, Curt Myers

8 lap Heat 1 – Olson, Wilson, Erickson, Wahlstrom, Stark(Withee), Davidson, Mashlan, Steffen

Heat 2 – Myers, Soltis(Ladysmith), Traynor, Schultz, Helling, Zitelman

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds

12 lap Feature – Gunnar Watkins(Elk Mound), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Kent Baxter(Colfax), Kyle Johnson(Hixton), Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Ross Fuhrman(Ashland), Bryce Johnson(Barron), Kyle Runkle(Chetek), Tim Ekdahl(Cameron), Austin Ellis, Austin Zdroik, Dan Roatch, Brandon Distel, Denny Cutsforth, Josh Wahlstrom, Justin Claussen, Cy Hoaglan, Derek Haas, James Kannegiesser, Fran Hanson

8 lap Heat 1 – Ellis(Rice Lake), Viltz, Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), B. Johnson, Runkle, Haas, Hanson

Heat 2 – Watkins, Anderson, Hoaglan(Ashland), Kannegiesser(Hayward), Cutsforth(Rice Lake), Claussen, Roatch

Heat 3 – Halopka, K. Johnson, Baxter, Ekdahl, Fuhrman, Zdroik, Distel

WISSOTA Street Stocks

11 lap Feature – Jimmy Randall(Rice Lake), Kolby Kiehl(Barron), Cody Kummer(Medford), Hunter VanGilder(Rice Lake), Jay Kesan(Weyerhaeuser), Kevin Bogdanovic(Wausau), Kyle Genett(Auburndale), Ashley Wahlstrom(Rice Lake), Kori Richter(Rice Lake), Karl Genett(Auburndale), Shawn Amundson, Andy Cimfl, Kyle Howland, Sam Fankhauser, Cooper Berlin

8 lap Heat 1 – Kiehl, Kummer, Kesan, Berlin(Rice Lake), VanGilder, Cimfl, Bogdanovic, Amundson

Heat 2 – Karl Genett, Randall, Richter, Fankhauser(Rice Lake), Howland(Zimmerman MN), Kyle Genett, Wahlstrom

Pure Stocks

12 lap Feature – Dustin Doughty(Oakdale MN), George Richards(Mondovi), Cole Varsho(Stratford), Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Joel Hinrichs(Chetek), Austin Workman(Barron), Mike Grover(Chetek), James Clausen(Rice Lake), Jimmy Holden(Rice Lake), Jay Barnier Jr(Chippewa Falls), Wayne Braun Sr, Bob Thompson, Rob Grabon, Randy Graham, Hunter West, Mike Pratt, Dusten Holub, Rob Holmstrom Jr, Kiel Gowin, Jack Bowers

8 lap Heat 1 – Doughty, Varsho, Pratt(Bloomer), Grover, Holden, Clausen, Thompson

Heat 2 – Richards, Havel, Workman, Graham(Trego), Barnier Jr, Gowin

Heat 3 – Hinrichs, Braun Sr(Haugen), Grabon(Bruce), Holub(Cameron), Bowers(Ridgeland), Holmstrom Jr