Finally, on Friday night, July 27, Mother Nature relented with both the heat and humidity and presented an ideal night for racing as the St. Croix Valley Raceway welcomed the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint series for the first time ever. Bill Balog scored the historic first win, while Rob Caho Jr., Josh Bazey and Jesse Tripp nabbed wins in the regular weekly classes.
After the driver autograph session at intermission, the North Branch Bullseye Shooting Range Future Fours got the feature action started Damon Roberts and Kris Kaphing pacing the eleven car field. At the drop of Shaun Cimfl’s green flag, the Future Fours immediately fanned out three and four wide. Up front, Roberts led the way, pursued by Kaphing, Jesse Tripp, Oliver Swanson and Dylan Roberts giving chase. By the fifth lap, Tripp took over the lead when Roberts began to fade. Approaching half-way, Kaphing snared the lead for a lap before Tripp grabbed it back one lap later. After dropping out of his heat race and starting last, the big mover was Kyle Dahlheimer. Starting eleventh, Dahlheimer was involved in battles for spots as high as second and third during the race. For the last half of the race, Tripp ran smooth and clean to pick up his second win of the season in front of Kaphing, Dylan Roberts, Dahlheimer and Nicki DuBois.
Greg Arnt and Tyler English brought the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds to the start of their twenty lap finale, with English showing the way on laps one and two. On lap three, Vince Corbin slipped by Josh Bazey did the same one lap later. As Bazey pursued Corbin, English, Kevin Marlett, and Tony Schill were locked in a battle for third. Corbin looked as if he may pick up his second win of the season but he slid over the cushion on lap ten, slowing just enough for Bazey to sneak by. Once out front, Bazey cruised to his fifth win of the summer at The Valley in front of Corbin, English, Schill and Marlett.
Before the big IRA show, the UMSS Traditional Sprint cars set a new car count record. Less than two years after their introduction, the new class of cars numbered thirteen strong, a new high water mark for the series. Mora Minnesota’s Adam Taubert and Johnny Parsons started on the front row of their twenty lap feature and with one lap in the books, it was third starting Rob Caho as the leader. By lap two, Parsons and fourth starting Mark Chevalier slid past Caho and by the fourth circuit, Chevalier held the top spot. Current points leader Kevin Bradwell, Parsons, Caho, Denny Stordahl all vied for position behind Chevalier with no driver consistently hold the runner-up spot. At the final double checkers, Chevalier was first to cross the line with Caho, Stordahl, Bradwell Jack Clark and Parsons in the next five spots. The Chevalier celebration was short-lived, however, as his #17 mount was disqualified after technical inspection due to an illegal carburetor spacer – which meant the win would be awarded to Caho, his third of the season.
Bill Balog the evening’s fastest qualifier would place his name in the record books in two locations. First in qualifying he established a new all-time track record of 11.930 seconds, just edging out Mike Reinke’s 11.951 second effort for the honor. Balog then etched his name in the tracks record book as the first A-main winner scoring his 10th feature win of the season. Twenty drivers would accept the green flag for the 30 lap A-main contest.
Polesitter Scott Neitzel fresh off a strong performance last Friday evening at the Dodge County Fairgrounds would blast off his pole position, outrunning fellow front row starter Phillip Mock. Balog who had started in the third position was quick to join the chase as Neitzel soared around the track.
The first caution of the contest appeared for a spin by top rookie driver Robbie Pribnow on lap eight. Under caution Mock would head to the work area to fix a cut tire leaving Balog to challenge Neitzel for the lead position.
Neitzel would again show the way until he jumped the cushion on lap 11 allowing Balog the opportunity to slip past taking the top spot. Moments later the caution appeared for a second time as visiting driver Jared Goerges looped his ride and the machines of Bill Wirth, Dave Uttech and Pribnow became involved. All were able to continue with the exception of Uttech who suffered suspension damage.
Underway again Balog would set the pace with Neitzel now seeking a way back to the lead.
On lap 16, Mike Kertscher would loop his ride resulting is the event’s third caution. Kertscher would spend the rest of the contest charging from the tail of the field thrilling the crowd with his run up to the seventh spot by the checkered flag.
Four more laps went in the books with Balog fending off the challenges of Neitzel for the top spot when the race was stopped for the lone flip of the evening.
Bill Warren suffered mechanical problems and would flip down the front stretch on lap 20. Warren would emerge from his battered machine unhurt but he was done for the evening.
The race resumed with Balog again having to defend his lead from Neitzel’s passing attempts. Balog would build a small cushion prior to the events final caution on lap 28 when the machines of Geroges and Andy Hunt tangled.
The showdown between Balog and Neitzel was now set up with a green, white, checkered finish. As the green flag flew Neitzel gave one last shot at taking the lead from Balog, but again, Balog was able to withstand the challenges of Neitzel to take the win. Neitzel would settle for second.
Russel Borland who has turned in several strong performances of late would drive from his eleventh place starting spot and used a combination of skill and speed to reach third place by the checkered flag giving the young charger his first career podium finish in the Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Series.
This Friday night, August 3, The Valley is back in action with another Kids’ Night celebration. Kids can ride around the track in the cars of their favorite driver. Race car rides will begin prior to the regular race program, at 6:30 p.m. and the first green flag flying at 7:05 p.m. The Vintage cars will also be in action. The coming weeks at SCVR will include two more visits by the winged sprint cars, August 10 and 24, the back-to-school “crash-tastic smash-o-rama” and trailer races on August 17, and the first ever appearance of Late Models on Fan Appreciation night, August 31. Additional details for these or any other future events at St. Croix Valley Raceway can be found on the track’s website, www.scvraceway.com.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds – feature: Josh Bazey, Vince Corbin, Tyler English, Tony Schill, Kevin Marlett, Corey Fogleson, Greg Arnt, Ryan Johnson, Mike Halvorsen, Miranda Carlson.
UMSS Traditional Sprints – feature: Rob Caho Jr., Denny Stordahl, Kevin Bradwell, Jack Clark, Johnny Parsons, Katrina Sautbine, Adam Taubert, Mike Huesman, Tom Porter, Brad Nelson, Jeff Pellersels, Jimmy Kouba, Mark Chevalier (DQ).
Future Fours – feature: Jesse Tripp, Kris Kaphing, Dylan Robers, Kyle Dahlheimer, Nicki DuBois, Chris Rick, Damon Roberts, Katie Lebeis, Derek Reding, Hope Tucker, Oliver Swanson.
IRA Feature Summary (30 laps): Billy Balog, Scotty Neitzel, Russell Borland, Darrell Dodd, Wayne Modjeski, Kris Spitz, Mike Kertscher, Phillip Mock, Bill Wirth, Mike Decker, Dennis Spitz, Chad Tessman, Andy Hunt, Jared Goerges, Mike Reinke, Bill Warren, Robbie Pribnow, Dave Uttech, John Sernett, Brandon Thone