Rice Lake WI, – One of the stated items on George Dalbeck’s “bucket list” was to win a feature race at the Rice Lake Speedway. George, who lives up in Wakefield Michigan, is not a regular competitor at the track but always stops in a few times every year to race and this year is supplying a car for Kevin Adams to race weekly in the Midwest Modified class.
Saturday night at the Rice Lake Speedway George was able to check one item off that “bucket list” when he out fought Mark Thomas and then held off a late charge by Austin Ellis to win the Midwest Modified main event and his first win ever at the track.
It was a night for seasoned veterans as all five winners of the main events on Saturday have all been around the track for many years. Also adding feature wins to their ledgers were Jason Havel, Ron Hanestad, Curt Myers and Jason Gross.
Thomas sat on the pole for the Midwest Modified main event and he led the opening lap with Dalbeck quickly moving into second. The only bad wreck of the entire night occurred on lap two of the race when Cody Borgeson, who started in row of the main, got turned in heavy traffic in turn one. With no where to go, car after car piled into him and the accumulating wreck until the track was nearly blocked. The damage was severe to several of the cars with Shane Halopka, Travis Anderson, J.D. Ford and Joe Chaplin Jr all eliminated with considerable damage to each. Borgeson would attempt to restart the race but would later drop out with mechanical problems.
When racing resumed, Thomas would still be the leader with Dalbeck and Ellis next in line. Thomas would be quick in his second outing of the year here and he would hold the top spot for several laps. Dalbeck would make his move, edging up the track into the second lane and attempting a tricky outside pass on the slick race track.
Lap after lap, Dalbeck would drive his car harder into the corners and edge just a little bit closer to Thomas. Finally, he would get up beside the leader and with another drive deep into turn four, he would move past Thomas and be scored the leader with five laps to go.
Ellis was waiting for an opening and as soon as Dalbeck cleared Thomas, Ellis was right there to pressure Thomas for second. Using the same move as Dalbeck, Ellis would drive around on the high side to take over second and then attempt to flag down the leader.
However, Dalbeck had a good line around the track and the middle lane suited him nicely as he kept turning in solid laps and Ellis was unable to close in on him as the Michigan driver rode home to his first win and much congratulations from the other competitors. Behind Ellis, Calvin Iverson and Kevin Adams completed the top five.
Hanestad started on the pole and led from green to checkered to earn the feature win in the Street Stocks Saturday. Seldom does one driver lead all the way in this class but Hanestad really had his car running well and not only did he lead all the way, he was able to maintain a solid advantage the entire time. He led Ashley Wahlstrom in the early going with Kirk Bogdanovic and Kolby Kiehl next in line.
On the move were Parker Anderson, Hunter VanGilder and Dustin Doughty.
As Hanestad maintained his lead, Anderson was picking off driver after driver and with one more move, was able to pull into the second spot. With the race staying under the green, he tried to cut into Hanestad’s lead but Ron was tough on this night and Anderson wasn’t able to cut into his margin.
The race went green to checkered with no yellow flags and Hanestad maintained his lead all the way to take the impressive win. Anderson finished a strong second with VanGilder moving past Kiehl to take third while Doughty rounded out the top five.
For Hanestad it was his eighth career win at Rice Lake but first since the 2014 racing season for the veteran driver out of Glenwood City. He was also the sixth different winner in the class already this season.
Another nonstop main event was the Super Stock feature that went twenty laps without the yellow flag waving. Rich Bishop was the early leader in this race as he fought to hold off Cory Davis and Adam Soltis in the initial stages of the race. The field was four wide going into turn four on the opening lap as Myers was on the move early and from his third row starting spot he quickly moved in to challenge the leaders.
With a breathtaking move off turn two he was able to find an opening and drive between Soltis and Bishop and down the back chute he drove into the lead. Once in front, he quickly put distance on the field as he was clearly the class of the competition on this night.
With the battle for the lead decided, the focus turned to the second place war and it turned into one of the best races of the season as Bishop and Soltis battled back and forth all the way to the checkered. Bishop was down low and Soltis raced higher up the track and on nearly every lap, they would swap who was in front. First Bishop would make a surge and then Soltis would fight back as they continued to race side by side.
Eric Olson then moved in to challenge both of them and they took turns battling for the position as the three former or present residents of Ladysmith dueled for the runner up slot. With Myers well out in front and just cruising, it was left for the second place battle to decide things. On the last lap Soltis got a good run through turn two and edged out into second on the outside and he was able to maintain that small margin to take a season best second place finish. Bishop and Olson finished right behind him while Bart Steffen made a large charge to complete the top five.
For Myers, it was his second win of the year at Rice Lake and the first for him since he has taken over the #41 ride.
Another dominating performance was put on in the Modified feature where Jason Gross took his first win of the year. He started on the pole and battled early with Mark Hanson for the lead. Hanson seemed to have a challenge for Gross in the early going as he slipped to the inside of Gross and nearly edged past him.
The lone yellow waved with six laps complete when Sam Fankhauser slid into the wall in turn three. He was able to return to the contest. On the green, Gross took off and running the high side of the track, he was able to start pulling away from Hanson. Meanwhile, a great race for third saw Mark Hessler and Kevin Adams battling for position before Adams was able to slide under Hessler and take the spot.
The top three runners were evenly spaced out on the track and Adams raced to catch Hanson while Mark was trying to reel in leader Gross.
However, the three found themselves to be evenly matched and with none either able to go any faster and none making a mistake, they continued to stay evenly spaced. Gross rode the high side successfully and with no challenges, he drove home for the win with Hanson and Adams next in line. A late race pass saw Mike Anderson take fourth in front of Hessler.
Gross became the sixth different winner in the Modified division so far this year and he won his first Rice Lake feature win since the 2012 racing season.
After early spins by Mike Grover and C.J. Wagner, the Pure Stock feature also was a smooth and clean event. Will Fisher took the early lead and the Shell Lake driver, gunning for his first ever win at Rice Lake, led the first half of the race. Eventually, Jason Havel moved up from the fourth row to provide a serious challenge.
Havel was able to work to the inside of Fisher and he took over the lead and then started to pull away. Zach Beaulieu was also on the move and he took the high side to pass Fisher for second. Havel had a substantial lead and Beaulieu was not able to cut into that margin and Havel drove home for the win.
After eight different winners in the first eight feature races of the year, Havel became the first repeat winner of the 2018 racing season. Behind Beaulieu, Fisher finished a strong third and led Tyler Wahlstrom home. Bob Thompson came from the back of the pack after having a flat tire in his heat to round out the top five.
Next Saturday night, July 14th, another five division program will be held at the speedway with warm ups slated for 6:30 pm. Kid’s Club activities for next Saturday include Root Beer Floats at 5 pm. The speedway will then take July 21st off for the Barron County Fair. Big events are slated for the end of the month with the Wollak Construction WISSOTA Challenge Series for Late Models scheduled for July 28th and the twenty fourth annual Street Stock “Little Dream” race slated for Tuesday night, July 31sst with August 1st as the rain date. See the speedway website or face book page for updates .