Rice Lake WI – For a driver that didn’t know one year ago at this time whether he’s still be on this earth now, it would appear that Jason Havel is having himself a pretty great 2018.
While still battling cancer, not only did Havel become the first three time winner in the Pure Stock class at the Rice Lake Speedway, he also won his first ever Street Stock main event, and did so while in the Street Stock for only the fifth time ever.
Other winners on Saturday night included Austin Ellis, Cory Davis and Kevin Adams. The Wollak Construction Challenge Series for Late Models was also a part of Saturday night’s program and Jimmy Mars of Menomonie won that forty lap feature and the $2,000 top prize.
Havel missed the first four races of the 2018 racing season before he felt good enough to return to the track. Since then, he has won three of the five Pure Stock main events contested while adding a Street Stock entry, which he has long wanted to race, to his racing program. While he has always been a contender in the Pure Stock, he has taken his time getting up to speed in the Street Stock but Saturday night he was fast from start to finish in that car also.
Starting on the pole, he led from start to finish in the Street Stock to record his first ever win in that class as he pulled away in the nonstop main event. He took the early lead over Zach Manley before Kolby Kiehl moved into the second spot and tried to track him down.
Kiehl moved to within a couple car lengths of Havel early, but Jason continued to maintain the top spot. Behind them, a heavy battle saw Jay Kesan, Jimmy Randall, Eric Olson, Hunter VanGilder and Sam Fankhauser all battling hard for position.
Kiehl was able to stay with Havel for about the first half of the race but then Jason picked up the pace and with his car running beautifully on the lower groove of the track, he began to noticeably pull away from Kiehl. Olson was making some moves of his own in his debut outing of the Mark Ewert owned car as they prepare for Tuesday night’s “Little Dream” event.
But Havel was the story of this race as he continued to pull away and drove under the checkered flag with room to spare. Kiehl hung on for a solid second and Olson moved into third in the late going. Fankhauser made a nice charge on the outside in Don Cook’s car to cross the line next with Kesan rounding out the top five. Havel also became the eighth different driver to win a Street Stock feature already this year at the track.
Havel had to pass many more cars to get the win in the Pure Stock main as he started on the outside of row four. Cooper Berlin led the first lap of the main event before he was overtaken by C.J. Wagner who then led several laps. Moving up to apply pressure were Tyler Wahlstrom and Bob Thompson while Havel, George Richards and Hunter VanGilder, driving a Pure Stock for the first time this year, were all on their way to the front.
Two minor spins triggered back to back yellows just short of the halfway point, and this gave both Havel and Richards a chance to close up on the leaders. Havel worked the high side of the track and once racing resumed, he quickly challenged Wagner for the lead. Blasting by on the outside, Jason took over the top spot with Richards following suit.
It was a two car shootout for the win and Havel was able to maintain his three car length advantage and cross the line for his third win of the year in the Pure Stocks. VanGilder, driving the Holub #6H, made his first race in that car a good one as he finished a strong third ahead of Adam Pratt and Wahlstrom.
The Midwest Modified feature had a surprising conclusion as for one of the very few times in track history, the car that crossed the line first was not recorded as the winner. While Austin Ellis was awarded his second feature win of the year at the track in the Midwest Modified division, it was actually Shane Halopka that crossed the line first.
Dan Roatch was scored the leader of lap one of the main before Calvin Iverson drove past him on the outside to take over the lead. However, Iverson was soon challenged by Joe Chaplin Jr who was on the move along with Ellis, Halopka and Cody Borgeson. Chaplin Jr was flying on the low side of the track and he was able to drive past Iverson and take over the top spot with Halopka soon following him through into second.
Chaplin Jr continued to lead with Halopka and Ellis close behind when Kevin Adams stalled on the track with only four laps to go, setting up a sprint to the finish. On the single file restart, Halopka was ruled to have jumped the gun and as the green flew, Halopka had already passed Chaplin Jr for the lead. Track rules read that punishment for jumping the gun is either moving the offending driver back two spots at the next yellow, or if there are no yellows, following the checkered.
Unfortunately for Halopka, the last four laps of the race went nonstop and while he held a two car length advantage as he crossed the line, he was actually scored third after being moved back two spots in the official order. Other developments in the last four laps saw both Ellis and Iverson able to get past Chaplin Jr so after things were sorted out, the official finish saw Ellis, who crossed the line second, declared the winner with Iverson, Halopka, Chaplin Jr and Karl Kolek, making his first appearance of the year, rounding out the top five. Ellis’ win helped him pad his point lead over Adams, who was a non finisher.
The well balanced Super Stock division saw another first time winner as Cory Davis took home his first feature race of 2018. The race got off to a rocky start as a wild pile up on the back chute saw one car get sideways and in heavy traffic, drivers were going every which way, trying to avoid a collision. Unfortunately, Hunter VanGilder, Cody Kummer and Jason Quarders were three that didn’t avoid contact and all three were eliminated.
The restart saw Luke Schultz lead his first laps of the season until Davis moved in and drove under him to take over the lead. After the early trauma, the last nineteen laps of the main event went nonstop and while they battled for position behind him, Davis was able to pull out to a nice sized lead. Bart Steffen rode the high side into second and it appeared that he might be the one to track down Davis for the lead. Bart was able to close the margin slightly but then he was passed for second by Curt Myers, who had stormed up from the fifth row to drive into second.
The race then settled into a two car battle as Myers rode the cushion, trying to cut into Davis’ lead as Cory drove the low side of the track. As the laps rolled by, Myers was able to carve off a little of the lead, but was not able to make a serious dent into the margin that Davis held, and when Myers dropped to the low side of the track to protect second as Steffen closed back in, the contest was sealed.
Davis drove across the line with a comfortable margin over Myers and Steffen with Adam Soltis, in another good run, and Eric Olson completed the top five.
Davis becomes the tenth different winner in the Super Stock class at the track already this season and while it was Cory’s thirteen overall win at the track in the Super Stocks, it was his first visit to victory lane at Rice Lake since the 2011 racing season.
After a first lap spin by Mike Anderson because the track was not fully packed in, the Modifieds clicked off twenty nonstop laps and Kevin Adams became the first four time winner in the class this year.
“Pistol” Pat Hoffman was the early leader after battling with team mate Kyle Helling until Adams came up from the second row and took over the lead. Once in front, he opened up a considerable margin as he worked the high side of the track. Mark Hanson was on the move from the third row and he drove into second and set off after the leader. Also on the move was Darrell Nelson and Cory Mahder from their starting spots farther back in the field.
Adams continued to work the high side and while Hanson was able to cut slightly into the lead, when they worked into lapped traffic Mark lost some of the ground he had previously gained as Nelson moved into third and tried to catch both of them.
With no yellows to bunch the field, Adams continued to maintain his margin and he crossed the line with room to spare for the win. Hanson and a closing Nelson were next in line with Mahder and a charging Jason Gross, who started deep in the field, rounding out the top five.