Mother Nature brought the heat and humidity back to St. Croix Valley Raceway for Thunder in the Valley #5, and the heat was also turned up in the Pure Stock Division. After a $100 bounty was placed on the dominating Jason Havel a week ago, five new drivers attended on Friday to take a run at the extra cash. In the headlining UMSS sprints, Scotty Thiel capped the night with his second career UMSS sprint car victory, and first of the season, in the final appearance for the winged cars at The Valley in 2012.
After some quickly run heat races and a short autograph session hosted by Thiel and fellow UMSS pilot Anna Kouba, the Pure Stocks started off the feature contests with their 20-lap finale. The bounty excitement was doubled from last week, courtesy of GRP Motorsports doubling of the Havel bounty from $100 to an eye-popping $200. Havel once again elected to start at the tail, making him eligible for the bounty, while Jon Wigchers and Clay Potaczek paced the field to green. Wigchers led early before yielding to the fifth starting George Richards, with Krysta Swearingen close behind. Havel, meanwhile, was charging his way through the field along with the Ford of Brandon Davis. Just prior to halfway, Havel was up to third and working over Swearingen for second. A mid-race caution featured a Richards led restart with the Swearingen/Havel tandem jostling for runner-up in front of Davis, Wigchers and Potaczek. After just two green flag laps, Havel saw his opening and pounced on the opportunity. Once passed, Richards was unable to seriously re-challenge for the lead and motored the rest of the way in second place. For the mind-boggling eleventh week in a row, Havel celebrated his victory by passing out treats, and his winning trophy, to his adoring young fan base while pocketing the extra bounty cash. Richards was the best of the rest ahead of Swearingen, Potaczek and Wigchers.
The UMSS Micro sprints were uncharacteristically choppy at their start. A pair of cautions before the first lap could be completed set the theme for a race that barely half the field finished. The first two cautions were courtesy of Greg Gunderson’s cantankerous transmission, and Gunderson was unable to complete a lap. With Allison Berger unable to make the call, the six car field was shrunken to five and the youngsters Ty Sampair and Tony Duran quickly emerged from Sandy Traaseth, Bryan Patrick and Steve Traaseth. Sampair led early but by lap four, Duran took over the top spot. Duran, already with a pair of wins this season, stretched his lead over the rest of the distance in collecting his third sticker of the summer in front of Sampair, Sandy Traaseth, and Steve Traaseth.
The North Branch Bullseye Shooting Range Future Fours tackled the quarter mile next, paced by Chris Rick and Hope Tucker. At the drop of Shaun Cimfl’s green flag, Team Rollover, Damon and Dylan Roberts quickly overtook Tucker and began their pursuit of Rick. Despite the team’s combined five feature wins, Rick proved unbeatable on this
night as he maintained a solid lead the entire distance to pick up his first ever SCVR win in front of Damon Roberts, Dylan Roberts, Oliver Swanson and Nicki DuBois.
The championship points battle is really heating up in the Sterling Bank UMSS Traditional sprints. Johnny Parsons III, Kevin Bradwell and Rob Caho Jr. have figured in most of the wins this season, and all three were a factor again Friday. Caho started outside of Lucas Milz and immediately settled into his favorite groove, high off the cushion, foot on the floor, and in the lead. Milz held the second spot for the first lap before Jeff Pellersels took over runner-up honors on lap two. At halfway, it was the three points leaders up front, Caho, Bradwell and Parsons. It remained that way until an unlucky lap thirteen incident. As the leaders were lapping Tom Porter, Porters back end broke loose and he slid up near the turn four wall. Suddenly his tires found traction and he shot down across the track through the middle of the lead pack just behind Caho. Porter barely tapped Parsons, but chopped hard across Bradwell’s front, ending “The Rocketman’s” night with non-functioning steering. The contact with Porter was enough to cause a flat for Parsons, but rather than give up track position, Parsons elected to go the rest of the way on three shoes and a flat left front. On the restart, the extra drag on Parsons’ ride was enough to allow Pellersels and Denny Stordahl to slip by while Caho continued to lead. Parsons would eventually muscle back around Stordahl but could not reel in Pellersels. At the double checkers, Caho posed with the red-and-white SCVR checkers for the fourth time this summer, ahead of Pellersels, Parsons, Stordahl and Milz.
Twenty-three WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds thundered to green in the evening’s penultimate race, with Ryan Olson and Justin Oestreich showing the way. In a field over-flowing with fast and talented drivers, Olson led for the first six laps, holding off the likes of Oestreich, Ryan Viltz, Mitch Weiss, Nick Koehler, Corey Fogelson and Vince Corbin. Just prior to the midpoint, Viltz set his #3 Shaw at the head of the class began pulling away. Meanwhile, Olson and Oestreich continued to battle while Mike Mueller charged from deep in the field to join the top five. A late race caution set up a green-white-checkered finish, but it didn’t faze Viltz who went on to pick up his second win in the space of three weeks in front of Oestreich, Olson, Koehler and Mueller.
Making the long tow over from Sheboygan, Wisconsin once again paid off for Scotty Thiel in Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) racing action. Thiel drove to an impressive second career UMSS victory at the St. Croix Valley Raceway on Friday August 24. Chris Graf of Glencoe, Minnesota, had led from the onset of the race, but on lap 15 of the 20 lap event, Thiel ducked under Graf exiting turn two for the top spot. Just as it appeared the race would go green the entire distance, Tony Kaus scraped the wall and stopped in turn three. This put seven-time 2012 UMSS winner Brooke Tatnell right behind Thiel for the quick two lap dash to checkers. Thiel knew where he needed to be on the restart and held off Tatnell for the win.
On a warm, humid evening with a heavy track, the cushion grew tall in the corners and both the winged and non-winged sprint cars would use that ledge to lock in their right rear tires and power around the turns. For Thiel, he was able to not only find traction on the cushion but also near the bottom of the track as well. Commenting after the race,
Thiel stated "My car was working very well on both the top and the bottom tonight. This is a fun track to drive. I enjoy making a few trips west each year to run with the UMSS. It's a competitive group with some really good drivers. I'm looking forward to tomorrow night at Rice Lake." Thiel will attempt to make it a weekend sweep but Tatnell, Graf, Richert and company will have other thoughts.
Following the usual double-round of qualifying races, high point driver Brooke Tatnell redrew the #4 pill for the feature race invert. This put current UMSS point leader and defending champion Jerry Richert, Jr. on the pole with Chris Graf to his outside. Thiel and Tatnell comprised row two. Graf immediately grabbed the lead, as he blasted around the 1/4 mile bullring on the berm up top. Richert held second briefly until Thiel got by and then Richert's brother-in-law Tatnell. The laps clicked off at a quick pace with Graf in control, but Thiel began reeling him in using both the top and the bottom at various times. Soon Graf knew that a competitor was on his heels, and it turned out to be Thiel instead of Tatnell. Once Thiel made his winning pass, he had to survive the final two lap green-white-checker dash to the cash following the only caution of the race. Tatnell had moved into second on lap 16, so it would be no easy task keeping the talented Aussie behind him. The Sheboygan hot-shoe was up to the challenge and went on to record the victory. The win paid the Thiel Motorsports team $1,000 thanks to some sponsorship from GRP Motorsports. GRP also helps the team with some tow money each time they head west to compete with the UMSS.
Graf finished third behind Thiel and Tatnell with Richert in fourth and 2009 UMSS Champion Leigh Thomas in fifth from his ninth starting spot. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Sye Anderson, Jason Tostenson, Andy Jones in a brand new car, Rick Kobs making his winged sprint car debut in the Ron Olson sprinter, and 2011 Co-Rookie of the Year Anna Kouba. Ultimate sprint heat race wins went to Richert and Tatnell while Graf and Tatnell topped the two challenge races.
The St. Croix Valley Raceway regular season wraps up next Friday, August 31, with another special event. The Bullring Blast! will bring the WISSOTA Late Models to the raceway for the first time since the track converted to its current quarter-mile configuration in the early 1990’s. Open Modifieds, WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, UMSS Traditional Sprints and Pure Stocks are also on the card. One post-season event, the two-day Badger State Championship will conclude the racing schedule at The Valley on September 21 and 22 with two complete shows in all five of the track’s regular divisions. 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: Ryan Viltz, Justin Oestreich, Ryan Olson, Nick Koehler, Mike Mueller, Corey Fogelson, Josh Bazey, Tony Schill, Vince Corbin, Ryan Johnson, John Remington, Kyle Steffen, Jacob Toepper, Ross Fuhrman, Elizabeth Toepper, Jason Bonngaard, Mitch Weiss, Jason Schill, Greg Arnt, Eric Gadach, Jake Stai, Frank Fabio, Kevin Marlett, Mike Halvorsen (DNS).
UMSS Traditional Sprints – feature: Rob Caho Jr., Jeff Pellersels, Johnny Parsons III, Denny Stordahl, Lucas Milz, Jack Clark, Mike Huesmann, Kevin Bradwell, Katrina Sautbine, Tom Porter, Brad Nelson, Ryan Olson (DNS).
UMSS Micro Sprints – feature: Tony Duran, Ty Sampair, Sandy Traaseth, Steve Traaseth, Bryan Patrick, Greg Gunderson, Allison Berger (DNS).
Pure Stocks – feature: Jason Havel, George Richards, Krysta Swearingen, Clay Potaczek, Jon Wigchers, Dustin Sheuer, Justin Rick, Tony DuBois, Bryan Ciolkosz, Kyle Hallin, Mason McEvers, Brandon Davis, Dennis Stordahl, Dale Spychalla, Todd Roscell.
Future Fours – feature: Chris Rick, Damon Roberts, Dylan Roberts, Oliver Swanson, Nicki DuBois, Bob Carver Jr., Hope Tucker.
UMSS Race Results - St. Croix Valley Raceway August 24, 2012 (Race #13)
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (6 laps): Jerry Richert, Jr. 63, Tony Kaus 3TK, Chris Graf 20G, Rick Kobs 34, Leigh Thomas 29, Andy Jones 73.
Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (6 laps): Brooke Tatnell 86AU, Scotty Thiel 64, Sye Anderson 37, Anna Kouba 5, Jason Tostenson 36 DNF.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #1 (8 laps): Graf, Thiel, Richert, Thomas, Tostenson, Kouba.
Driverwebsites.com Challenge Race #2 (8 laps): Tatnell, Jones, Anderson, Kaus, Kobs.
GRP Motorsports A Main (20 laps): Thiel, Tatnell, Graf, Richert, Thomas, Anderson, Tostenson, Jones, Kobs, Kouba, Kaus.
Lap Leaders: Graf 1-14, Thiel 15-20.