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Southworth and Soltis take long route to Red Cedar Speedway wins

MENOMONIE – After a month off due to rainouts and the July 4th holiday, the Red Cedar Speedway was back in action last Friday night. Apparently the track scriptwriters had been working overtime during the break as Grant Southworth and Adam Soltis won feature races in about the most unusual manner possible. For Southworth, he came from dead last in a sixteen car field to win the Midwest Modified feature while Soltis pitted midway through the Street Stock feature to replace a flat tire, returned to the track and from the back, still won the main event.

Other winners who found victory lane in a more conventional manner included John Kaanta, Mark Hessler, Ben Hillman, Jesse Bryan and Buddy Hanestad.

Southworth started sixteenth in the Midwest Modified feature after breaking a driveshaft while leading his heat race but with the help of Mike Anderson who loaned him a driveshaft, Southworth was ready to roll by feature race time. Second year driver Luke Shackleton took the early lead in the race with pressure from Nick Koehler and Jake Smeltzer. As Southworth blistered his way toward the front of the pack, Kerry Halopka was also making some strong moves from the third row as he moved to the high side of the track and raced his way up to second.

Shane Halopka and Travis Anderson were also making themselves part of the lead pack as Kerry Halopka continued his charge, taking over the lead when Shackleton slipped high.

The yellow flew for a spin with eight laps complete and by this time Southworth had cracked the top five. He continued his charge, moving past Koehler and Anderson into  third as the Halopka brothers battled for the lead before another yellow set up a three lap sprint to the finish. Southworth found himself on the high side in row two but on the green his car was working beautifully on the outside and he blew past both of the Halopkas to take over the lead. In the remaining laps he pulled away from the field as he left the rest of the field muttering to themselves over his dominating win, his first of the year at Red Cedar. The Halopka brothers continued on to finish behind Southworth with Koehler and Anderson completing the top five.

In the very next race, Soltis earned a track high third win of the year in the Street Stocks in a very unusual way also. The Street feature saw Ron Hanestad start on the front row and take the initial lead with Mike Knudtson and then Soltis challenging. Adam pulled up beside Hanestad on several occasions but couldn’t make the pass as Ron ran the high side. Sam Fankhauser picked up the pace and soon it was a three car battle for the lead. Coming off turn four, Soltis was on the low side, Hanestad up against the wall and Fankhauser tucked in between the two and they barreled three wide down the front chute. However, there was contact between the three and while they all continued on, both Fankhauser and Soltis suffered deflating tires that slowed their progress.

Shortly after this, the yellow flew as Andrea Keeney had an engine fire that saw her stop quickly on the track. Fankhauser pitted but chose to call it a night as he headed for his trailer. Soltis replaced a tire and returned to the track on the tail, even though there were only six cars running at this point.

Hanestad continued to lead on the restart while Soltis cut through the field like a hot knife through butter as he was soon back up to second. Charging low into the corners, he was able to pull past Hanestad who chose to stay on the top side. As Soltis pulled away, Hanestad dropped down the track but it was too late. Soltis continued on unchallenged the rest of the way for the win with Knudtson, Jake Hanson and Derek Borchardt next in line.

The late model feature got off to a wild start as pole sitter Jimmy Mars got turned around in corner one on the opening lap and Rick Hanestad crashed into him. Both cars were eliminated from the contest before a lap could be completed.

The restart found Mike Prochnow inheriting the pole and he took the early lead with Kaanta moving in to challenge him. The leaders were battling on the back chute when they came together and Kaanta had to hit the binders to avoid the wall. This seems to get Kaanta fired up as he came charging back with a vengeance and two laps later blew past Prochnow on the high side of the track to take over the lead.

Once in front, he started stretching his advantage as Brent Larson moved into second and tried to track down the leader. A.J. Diemel also passed Prochnow and set off after the top two. However, the rest of the race remained under the green and Kaanta was not to be challenged as he drove home for his first Red Cedar win of 2014. Larson and Diemel were next in line with Jake Redetzke and Prochnow filling out the top five.

Hessler continued his strong season to date with his first Red Cedar modified win of the year. Steve Hallquist took the early lead and held that position for several laps while Hessler moved to the low side of the track and started to close in. Continuing to use the bottom line, Mark was able to drive under Hallquist and take over the top spot. Ross Prochnow and Mike Anderson were both moving up as Anderson came from the fourth row and began to close on Prochnow as they raced for third.

Meanwhile, Hessler continued to smoothly roll on the low side and while Hallquist was able to narrow the lead slightly, he never became a serious challenger as Hessler drove home for the win. Hallquist did finish a strong second in front of Prochnow as Jake Hartung nipped Anderson on the last lap for fourth.

Hillman got to the front early and cruised to his second super stock win of 2014. Chad Johnson took the early lead but Hillman found an opening on the low side and shot past Johnson into the lead and he was not seen again by the rest of the field as he drove away from the pack. There was, however, a real battle for second as Johnson fought off challenges from Steve Thomas, Jason Forehand and Tom Karis. Mike Keller was able to find some openings and he made a solid charge from the fourth row, finally edging past Thomas into second and trying to cut into Hillman’s big lead.

However, Ben was too far out in front and drove home for the win with Keller settling for second. Thomas finished a solid third with Johnson getting his best finish of the year ahead of Forehand.

Krysta Swearingen took the early lead in the pure stock feature but Bryan found an opening on the low side of the track and shot into the lead. Once in front, he opened up a big lead as the battle for second was intense. Jeremy Dahl was able to work his way through traffic and finally get into second but by this time Bryan was long gone as he earned his third win of the year, matching Soltis, Travis Anderson and Buddy Hanestad as leaders for the year. Behind Dahl, Kent Harmon, Swearingen and Randy Burton filled out the top five.

Buddy Hanestad cruised to yet another hornet feature win as he started on the pole and drove away from the field, building as much as a straightaway lead on his way to an easy win. His only challenge was fighting his way through lapped traffic. Jeremy Johnson came from the fourth row to finish second in front of William Voeltz, Mark McQuiston and Dan Prissel.

Racing continues next Friday, July 18th on MDA Fill the Boot night sponsored by Value Implement. All classes will race and the first green flag flies at 7 p.m.