Rice Lake WI, May 5 – After three failed attempts to get the racing season underway due to the finicky Spring weather this year, the sixty sixth opening night of the Rice Lake Speedway was finally held on Saturday night. Dodging sprinkles most of the evening, all racing action was completed and heading the list of feature winners was Michael Truscott, who won his first ever Modified feature event at the Rice Lake Speedway, holding off all efforts of two pretty tough customers in Dave Cain and Kevin Adams. Other winners on opening night included Nick Oreskovich, Adams, Kolby Kiehl and Andrew Hanson.
The Modified feature saw Truscott start on the pole and take the early lead over Ryan Viltz with Jamie Davis and Andy Davey close behind. It was Davey that made the moves early as he moved to the cushion and launched his way up to second. Continuing his charge, he blew past Truscott to take over the lead and immediately extended his advantage.
If the yellow flag wouldn’t have flown, it looked like Davey was going to be very tough to catch. Unfortunately for the Hibbing Minnesota native, the yellow flag did fly and he got a bad restart, dropping back several positions as Truscott jumped back into the lead.
Gradually working his way up after starting in the third row, Cain moved into the second spot and began to apply the pressure to Truscott. Several times Cain got a nose inside the Chippewa Falls driver but each time Truscott held his groove and didn’t give Cain an opening.
The race really bogged down at this point with the yellow waving seven times in the next six laps, primarily for one car spins. So the pressure continued to be applied to Truscott on each restart to not make a mistake. Eventually Adams worked his way up from the fourth row to take third and he made a few shots at Cain as well.
Finally, the last two laps were completed and Truscott continued to be solid in his line and gave the competition no holes and he drove home to the historic win. Truscott, a veteran Midwest Modified driver, just moved into the Modified class the end of last year and the transition has been a seamless one. Cain and Adams finished just behind Truscott with Davey holding on for fourth ahead of Kevin Eder.
Perhaps the best side by side racing for the win was conducted in the Super Stock main event with Oreskovich and Scott Lawrence going side by side for many laps with Oreskovich barely hanging on against the hard charging Lawrence. Terran Spacek and Bart Steffen battled early for the lead with Spacek pulling down the top spot and leading the first few laps. Oreskovich was on the move using the high side of the track, as he normally does, and he was able to drive past Spacek on the cushion and take over the lead. Meanwhile, Lawrence was coming on the low side and he moved in to make it a three car fight for the lead following a yellow flag.
Another yellow slowed the action once again and while Oreskovich continued to show the way, Lawrence was gradually starting to pull in on him while Curt Myers, who started in row four, became a factor also. With a long period of green flag racing, the top two drivers got side by side and it was a show as they raced around the track, side by side inches apart. Just as Lawrence edged ahead for the lead, the yellow waved with only four laps to go. Lawrence hadn’t been able to complete his pass for a full lap before the yellow waved, and since they were under five laps to go, the restart went single file with Oreskovich on top.
Nick dropped to the low side to protect his line and Lawrence was all over him, trying to get past. However, Nick never offered a big enough space to make a pass and as they sped across the line, Oreskovich held on by a car length for the win. Myers finished a close third and was trailed by Spacek and Dan Nissalke.
The Midwest Modifieds offered up the smoothest of the main events with only one yellow flag and two cars not completing the distance. Adams has been a surprise addition to this class this Spring, driving Michigan’s George Dalbeck’s car, and he made it a sweep on the weekend shows at area tracks, edging past Joe Chaplin Jr and then holding off Truscott, a two class driver also, for the win.
Early on, it was national Rookie of the Year in 2017 Calvin Iverson leading in the early going with Chaplin Jr and Austin Ellis pressuring. Chaplin Jr, who had a breakout year in 2017, looked to continue that pattern as he drove past Iverson to take over the top spot. Adams, meanwhile, had started in the third row and gradually worked his way into contention.
The only yellow flew with six laps complete as Fran Hanson and Terry Reilly got tangled together, with it taking several minutes and three wreckers to disengage the two cars.
Chaplin Jr continued to lead on the green but Adams was able to slip past Truscott for second and then he and Chaplin Jr engaged in a great battle for the lead, once that saw them even brush together momentarily. Adams dove deep into turn three and was able to edge past Chaplin Jr and take over the top spot and once in front he was able to put distance on the field.
However, the race behind him was a good one as bad luck struck Chaplin Jr on the final lap as he had a tire go flat and he failed to finish. Truscott settled for second to complete a fine night’s worth of racing and he finished ahead of Ellis, Travis Anderson and Paul Suzik, who raced up from the fifth row.
For Adams, who has not raced much in the Midwest Mods for years, it was his first Rice Lake win in the class since the 2006 racing season.
Kolby Kiehl continued the momentum that he started to build last year as he led from wire to wire to win the Street Stock feature race. Kiehl, who won his first ever feature race at Rice Lake last year, held off multiple challenges as he never once strayed out of his line on the track and showed consistency when many around him were going in all directions.
The Street Stocks had a rocky time getting started with three yellow before a lap could be completed as cars were twirling every which way. Finally, things settled down and the last ten laps of the main ran off nonstop. Kiehl led every lap but he was challenged by several different drivers including Mike Knudtson, Adam Soltis and Cody Kummer.
In fact, Knudtson lost second spot when his car started to emit steam and smoke on the final lap and he shut the machine down and failed to finish. For Kummer and Jay Kesan, they made great comebacks after their heat races were less than spectacular as as they came from the seventh and eighth rows respectively to take the runner up and third finishing positions. Soltis ran a consistent race to finish fourth and Kevin Bogdanovic went from the outside pole to the back before a lap was completed and then worked his way back up to a top five finish.
Andrew Hanson has now won two features in a row at the Rice Lake Speedway. The senior at Northwestern High School won the Labor Day Invitational Pure Stock feature last year for his first ever win at Rice Lake and backed it up with an opening night victory Saturday. He started on the pole and also held off several challenges to take the win. At the end, it was George Richards who made a big rush and nearly stole the win on the final few laps.
As Hanson led, several drivers pushed to challenge him including Bob Thompson and Tucker Quinn, who eventually settled into second and put the heat on Hanson. Meanwhile, Mike Blevins and Richards were marching to the front and picking off car after car.
Richards was making the high groove work and he took Blevins for a spot and then set off after the leader. A late spin set up a four lap dash to the finish and while Richards continued to work the top side and close on Hanson, Andrew maintained a smooth groove and he held on by a car length for the win. Quinn settled for third ahead of Blevins and Randy Graham.
A fine field of one hundred and eleven drivers signed in for opening night action representing four states and Canada.
Next Saturday night, May 12th, will be the big one that Late Model fans have been asking for. Late Models will make an early season appearance at the track for the first time ever, with a two thousand dollar to win, two hundred dollar to start forty lap main event, “The Trackside Collectibles 40.” A solid field of Late Models from the area and beyond is expected and they will race in addition to a full program in the five classes that normally run at the track. It is expected to be a night for the record books and fans will want to arrive early for this one. Watch the speedway face book page for more information on this race. Hot laps will begin at 6:30 pm.