Summer arrived in full force on Friday to St. Croix Valley Raceway, and the hot weather brought hot racing action as well. Brandon Jensen turned in a dominating performance in the WISSOTA Modified division while Jason VandeKamp collected his second SCVR win of the summer in the WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds. Other victories on the night went to Val Urman, Nick Axelsen, Ben Kaphing and Rob Caho Jr.
It’s been years since the WISSOTA Modifieds were a weekly presence at The Valley, and while only six of the big modifieds were on hand for the opener, a much more respectable twelve cars took the green flag for the evening’s final race behind the front row of Adam Ayotte and opening night feature winner Keith Tourville. Within the first lap, Brandon Jensen launched his #21B mount from third to first and never looked back. Once out front, it didn’t take long for Jensen to pull away, leaving a gaggle of cars to jockey for position behind him. Tourville, Ayotte, Scott Splittstoesser, Jake Miller and Steve Lavasseur all ran myriad lines in a cluster of activity vying for second place. Tourville eventually gained the upper hand and began to pull away from the group in the waning laps, but not nearly as much as the race leader. By race’s end, Jensen was almost three-fourths of a lap in front of Tourville, cruising to the clean-sweep win. Behind Tourville, Splittstoesser, Lavasseur and Miller completed the top five.
In WISSOTA Midwest Modified action, Cory Bruggeman and Elizabeth Toepper thundered the fifteen car field to Shaun Cimfl’s green flag and the pack immediately fanned out into three-wide formation. Fourth row starters Mitch Weiss and Jason VandeKamp got right to work, slicing through the lead pack that included Joe Chaplin Jr., Shane Howell, Joe Prusak, John Remington and Bruggeman. A few laps in, a dandy four-car battle for the lead was raging between Bruggeman, Chaplin, Weiss and VandeKamp, with Bruggeman out front. By lap six, Chaplin worked under Bruggeman to take over the top spot. Unfortunately for Chaplin, his #5 car broke loose in turn four, bringing out the caution. VandeKamp assumed front-runner honors on the restart after the Chaplin spin. Back under green, VandeKamp took charge and started to pull away from Bruggeman, Remington and Jacob Toepper. A late final caution resulted in few changes in the running order with VandeKamp claiming his second trophy of the summer over Remington, Doug Toepper, Jacob Toepper and Bruggeman.
The excitement continues for the UMSS Traditional Sprint cars with yet another high-low speed display from the furious fat-tired machines. “The New Richmond Nightmare”, Chase Viebrock, fresh off another heat race win and fellow heat race winner Rob Caho Jr. paced the sprinters to green with the front row racers trading the top spot for the first few circuits. By lap three, Caho settled in to his comfort zone, pushing off the cushion at full throttle, and began stretching his lead. Series veteran Johnny Parsons, current series points leader Cam Shafer and last Saturday’s winner Joseph Kouba were also racing in the front group in multiple grooves on the bullring. A handful of laps in, with Caho still running high, Parsons’ low groove was gaining momentum and he began closing in on Caho. By lap eleven, Parsons nosed a bumper out front to claim the point. The lead tandem doggedly stuck to their respective lines to the very end while Viebrock, Kouba and Shafer waged an entertaining slice-and-dice fest for third. At the final checkers, Parsons’ low groove provided a multiple car length win over Caho, Shafer, Viebrock and Kouba. Unfortunately, post-race technical inspection revealed that Parsons’ carburetor had a booster height which exceeded the maximum allowable specification, drawing a disqualification. The technical assessment resulted in Caho reluctantly accepting the win and moving Mike Mueller into the top five finishing order.
The Future Four division, while still awaiting its first minivan entry, ballooned to a healthy twelve cars on Friday. First heat race winner Steven Johnson grabbed the lead early from his pole starting position with second heat race winner Nick Axelsen charging up from the third row to second place on lap one. Axelsen pursued Johnson most of the race, but it didn’t take long for “Team Rollover”, Duane and Damon Roberts, to charge up from row four and join the fray. With just a half-mile remaining, Axelsen powered to the low side of Johnson coming out of turn four to stake his claim to the top spot, and both Roberts’ racers followed suit on the next lap, setting up a tense finish. Cool and collected, Axelsen smoothed his way across the stripe first, fending off a hard-charging Duane Roberts at the checkers. Damon Roberts finished in third, ahead of Johnson and Kayla Lallier.
Val Urman managed a feat not witnessed at The Valley since…well no one is quite sure. Greg “Silent Thunder” Gunderson is a semi-regular competitor in the UMSS Micro Sprint division at SCVR, and the seasoned veteran has enjoyed a remarkable streak, winning every race he’s entered, save for those he was unable to finish due to mechanical failure. At the start of the feature, the talented rookie Jack Berger and fellow front row starter Ty Sampair immediately jostled with third-starting Urman for the lead, with Berger nabbing the point early. Exiting the second turn on lap three, Urman dove under Berger to take over the lead. Gunderson, meanwhile, made his presence felt in the top group and by lap four had taken over the runner-up spot. As the laps clicked off, Urman’s #46&2 sprinter and Gunderson’s #78 mount began to pull away from Berger and the rest of the field. Urman ran near perfect the last ten laps to best Gunderson, marking the first time in a long time that the South Dakotan finished in second place. Gunderson’s teammate Bryan Patrick finished third in front of Sampair with first-time micro pilot and longtime graphic artist Kurt Gaber completing the top five.
The Pure Stocks, like the Traditional sprints, saw the race winner disqualified in post-race technical inspection. Tim Baxter and Ben Kaphing waged a race-long duel with Kaphing applying steady pressure to Baxter. Baxter finally gave himself a little breathing room late in the race, winning by about five car lengths over Kaping, who was over a straightaway in front of the third through fifth place finishers, Jay Folz, Darren Kohler and Jack Barta. Baxter, unfortunately, failed post-race technical inspection and the win was awarded to Kaphing.
On tap for this Friday, June 6, at St. Croix Valley Raceway is ‘Meet Your Hero Night’, an on-track driver autograph and photo opportunity session for the fans. The regular classes of WISSOTA Modifieds and Midwest Modifieds, UMSS Micro and Traditional Sprints, and SCVR Pure Stocks and Future Fours/Minivans will be joined by the Northern Vintage Stockcar Racers. More information on this and other races can be found on the track’s website, www.scvraceway.com or on their Facebook page.
Heat 1 – Jason Gross, Adam Ayotte, Jake Miller, Jason Haugerud, Kyle Steffen, Chet Atkinson
Heat 2 – Brandon Jensen, Scott Splittstoesser, Steve Lavasseur, Keith Tourville, Rick Kobs Justin Oestreich
Feature – Brandon Jensen, Keith Tourville, Scott Splittstoesser, Steve Lavasseur, Jake Miller, Jason Gross, Justin Oestreich, Adam Ayotte, Chet Atkinson, Jason Haugerud, Kyle Steffen, Rick Kobs
Heat 1 – Steven Johnson, Bob Carver Jr., Nicki DuBois, Karl Anderson, Adam Nelson, James Nelson
Heat 2 – Nick Axelsen, Duane Roberts, Damon Roberts, Derek Reding, Kayla Lallier, Natalie Rogers
Feature – Nick Axelsen, Duane Roberts, Damon Roberts, Steven Johnson, Kayla Lallier, Bob Carver Jr., Nicki DuBois, Karl Anderson, Derek Reding, Natalie Rogers, James Nelson, Adam Nelson
WISSOTA Midwest Modified
Heat 1 – Jason VandeKamp, Cory Bruggeman, Elizabeth Toepper, Joe Prusak, Jared Gorka, Joe Lallier, Tony DuBois, Tim Baxter
Heat 2 – Joe Chaplin Jr., Mitch Weiss, Doug Toepper, Shane Howell, John Remington, Jacob Toepper, Kyle Hallin
Feature – Jason VandeKamp, John Remington, Doug Toepper, Jacob Toepper, Cory Bruggeman, Kyle Hallin, Tim Baxter, Elizabeth Toepper, Tony DuBois, Jared Gorka, Shane Howell, Joe Prusak, Mitch Weiss, Joe Chaplin Jr., Joe Lallier
UMSS Traditional Sprints
Heat 1 – Chase Viebrock, Jon Lewerer, Mike Mueller, Jimmy Kouba, D Taubert, Tom Porter, Alex Peper
Heat 2 – Rob Caho Jr., Joseph Kouba, Cam Schafer, Johnny Parsons III, Mike Haseltine, Tommy Kamrath, Scott Brandt
Feature – Caho, Schafer, Viebrock, Joseph Kouba, Mueller, Kamrath, Lewerer, Haseltine, Taubert, Porter DNF, Peper DNF, Jimmy Kouba DNF, Brandt DNF, Parsons DQ
Heat – Ben Kaphing, Tim Baxter, Jay Folz, Darren Kohler, Jack Barta
Feature – Ben Kaphing, Jay Folz, Darren Kohler, Jack Barta, Tim Baxter
UMSS Micro sprints
Heat – Greg Gunderson, Val Urman, Bryan Patrick, Ty Sampair, Jack Berger, Kurt Gaber, Al Sachs
Feature – Urman, Gunderson, Patrick, Sampair, Gaber, Berger, Sachs (DNS)