Race of Champions winners determined at Red Cedar Speedway
MENOMONIE – As the season winds to a close at the Red Cedar Speedway, much was on the line for the racers Friday. In the WISSOTA sanctioned classes, the feature winners would receive automatic invitations to the AMSOIL Race of Champions event to be held during the WISSOTA 100 at the Dakota State Fair Speedway in Huron, South Dakota in September. Also, since it was the last night for track points, seven point champions would also be determined at the conclusion of the racing program.
Winning feature races Friday and locking in spots at the Race of Champions were Mike Prochnow in the late models, Jake Hartung in the modifieds, Shane Halopka in the Midwest modifieds, Ben Hillman in the super stocks and Mike Knudtson in the street stocks. Other feature winners Friday were Buddy Hanestad and Jesse Bryan.
Determined to be point champions for the speedway were Mike Prochnow, Jake Hartung, Mike Keller, Shane Halopka, Sam Fankhauser, Jeremy Dahl and Buddy Hanestad.
Prochnow and Rick Hanestad went into the feature race in a flat out tie for the point lead in the late model division. However, Prochnow wasted little time settling the issue as he started on the pole and drove away from the field for an easy win, his second of the year at Red Cedar and the only late model driver to win more than one main event during the season. Hanestad started outside of Prochnow and tried his best to stay with him, but Prochnow pulled away as the race progressed, with only one minor spin to slow the action.
At the finish, Prochnow had a considerable lead over Hanestad, Scott Gilberts, Brent Larson and Greg Nippoldt who trailed the winner.
Things were much more dramatic in the modified main where a mechanical issue with only two laps left changed the course of both the feature event and the season point championship. Mike Anderson led by five points going into the main event and after redrawing the pole, jumped into the early lead. Anderson was pressured hard by both Ashley Anderson and Hartung as he rode the cushion with Ashley trying to drive under him on the low side and Hartung trying to split the other two front runners. Frequent caution flags slowed the action and a couple of the contenders either spun themselves out of the action or were involved in other people’s messes as the field was substantially reduced.
A yellow with two laps left set the stage for a shootout with Mike Anderson having Hartung and Ashley Anderson on his tail. As they took off on the green, Mike Anderson’s engine began to sputter and a cloud of smoke came out of it as engine failure shut the leader down and with that, his chances of becoming the point champion.
Hartung restarted on the pole with only two laps to go and the point title just needing him to complete the race, but he made it exciting when on the final lap, he jumped the cushion and plowed into the turn one wall. However, he kept his foot on the gas and bumped his way through the corner, repeatedly rapping the wall until he finally could disengage from the concrete. Ashley Anderson closed on the disabled car of Hartung, but Jake limped across the line with a car length advantage to take both the win and the point title. Ross Prochnow recovered from an early wreck to finish third ahead of Steve Hallquist and Brent Prochnow as only a handful of cars finished the event. It was Hartung’s second feature win of the year at Red Cedar.
Keller needed to only start the Super Stock feature to take the title and while he did that, there was quite a battle for the feature win. Luke Plank took the early lead and got a nice sized lead as Jason Forehand took the second spot after a good battle with Eric Olson. However, Hillman was riding the substantial cushion which he likes and he quickly swept into the second spot and closed on Plank. Continuing his strong run, he blew past the leader and opened up a big lead as the race continued under the green.
Hillman never let up and he built a big lead as he drove under the checkered for his third win of the year at Red Cedar. Forehand continued his strong runs of late as he secured the second spot but couldn’t catch Hillman. The rest of the top five saw Olson take third ahead of point champion Keller and Plank.
Halopka needed to just take the green to win the Midwest modified point title and he did that along with fighting off Michael Truscott to win his third feature race of the year. The Midwest Mod feature had more than its share of issues too, with five yellow flags to slow the action and a couple of grinding wrecks too.
Pole sitter Grant Southworth jumped the cushion on the opening corner and then got turned in turn three and he went headlong into the concrete wall, ending his night early. Meanwhile, Shane Halopka had jumped to the cushion too, but it worked for him as he came from the eighth starting position to drive by the pack and by the time the second yellow waved on lap three, he had grabbed the lead.
After that, the race turned into a two car shootout as Michael Truscott did everything he could to get past Halopka but was never able to complete the pass. The frequent yellows have him several chances and he was able to nose his car under Halopka’s several times, but Shane remained strong on the cushion and would beat him out of the corners. One last show on the final corner came up empty and Halopka drove home for the win, his third at Red Cedar.
Behind Truscott at the finish were Kerry Halopka, who secured the runner up position in the point standings, Jake Smeltzer and Nick Koehler.
Fankhauser had a six point lead over Adam Soltis as the Street Stocks rolled out for their last track point run of the year. Mike Knudtson, driving his back up car, took the early lead by fighting off Soltis in the early going. Fankhauser went to the cushion and really picked up the pace and he was able to drive past Knudtson and take over the lead after a long and tough battle. However, Knudtson would not go away and stayed within a couple car lengths of the leader.
After fading back slightly, Knudtson seemed to adjust his line in the corners and he really started to pick up the pace. He quickly reeled in the leader as the race reached its conclusion and as they took the white flag, they were side by side. Still locked together down the back chute, they both dove into turn three and when they came out the other side, Knudtson had a better run off the corner and he edged out Fankhauser by a car length for his second win of the year. Fankhauser settled for second and the point title with Chris Peterson, Soltis and Cody Kummer next in line.
Jeremy Dahl needed to only start the feature to secure the pure stock point title and while he did so, he still wasn’t able to garner his first feature win of the year as Bryan won his fifth main of the year after a good, three car battle. Kent Harmon took the early lead but Dahl moved in to challenge him for the lead. Bryan also came flying to the front and the leaders went three wide, with Bryan taking over the top spot as Harmon spun, triggering a yellow flag.
Bryan continued to lead over Dahl while Harmon raced back up to the third spot, only to lose a muffler on the track which caused both a yellow and his dismissal from the race. The last four laps saw Dahl continue to pressureBryan but Jesse continued to show the way as he drove on for the win. Hunter Van Gilder made a late charge to get third with Brett Myers and Randy Burton trailing.
Buddy Hanestad entered the feature race with a four point lead over Jeremy Johnson and by keeping Johnson behind him the entire race, Hanestad secured the point title.
As far as the main event itself, it proved to be a tough contest between Hanestad and William Voeltz. Voeltz moved up from the second row to grab the lead and he led much of the event with Hanestad driving up beside him on several occasions.
Near the end of the race, the battle heated up with the top two running side by side. Coming for the white flag, Voeltz bobbled and Hanestad shot past him to take over the lead. That car length that Buddy gained could not be won back on the final tour of the track and Hanestad drove home for his fifth Red Cedar win of the year over Voeltz, Johnson, Leslie Jackson and Dan Prissel.
Next weekend will feature a big doubleheader of racing at the Red Cedar Speedway. On Thursday, August 14th, the cars and stars of the United States Modified Touring Series(USMTS) will make their first ever appearance at the Red Cedar Speedway featuring the high powered open wheel cars and driving stars from across the country taking on the best of the local and regional drivers. Such national names as Rodney Sanders from Texas and the Scott brothers from New Mexico will lead the charge against well known area drivers like Craig Thatcher and Joey Jensen. WISSOTA sanctioned super stocks and Midwest modifieds will also race and thanks to generous contributions from Miller Lite and Southworth Chevrolet, the supers will be racing for a thousand dollars to win and the Midwest modifieds $600.
Then on the following night, Friday, August 15th, season championships will be settled in all seven classes that normally race at the Red Cedar Speedway. Heat races will be lined up by points accumulated during the season long racing and the feature races will be lined up by the heat race finishes with seven champions crowned during the course of the evening. Both events take the green flag at 7 p.m. Check at www.redcedarspeedway.com or the track face book page for more information.