Rice Lake WI – Danny Richards made the winning pass on Eric Olson with nine laps to go and then held on through two tense late race yellow flag restarts to win the twenty fourth annual Street Stock “Little Dream” race Tuesday night at the Rice Lake Speedway. Richards, who last won a feature race at Rice Lake in 2008, earned an event record $16,088 for his thirty five lap triumph as fans and local businesses once again came through to support the event and contribute to the purse, making it a record breaking event.
Sixty drivers from five states and Canada signed in to try and qualify for the Street Stock feature and after two sets of heat races, Olson started on the pole, having earned the highest number of passing points. However, it was rookie driver Dustin Doughty who got a good jump at the start and led the opening lap for the twenty six drivers that took the green. Olson then pulled up beside Doughty and they raced side by side before Olson claimed the top spot. Ryan Satter was on the move as he pulled in to challenge the leaders while Richards, who started sixth on the grid, was also moving up.
The first yellow waved with seven laps complete for a spinning Cody Kummer and after racing resumed, Olson continued to show the way with Satter working his way into second past Doughty and then going after leader Olson.
However, the next eighteen laps of the race ran under the green and Olson was able to extend his lead to nearly a full straightaway over Satter while Richards moved into second with Jimmy Randall also advancing up to fourth after starting ninth of the field.
At the half way point of the race, Olson continued to maintain a comfortable lead over Satter, Richards, Randall and Doughty. Randall and Satter made contact while battling for the third spot and while they both were able to keep running, Satter slipped high and lost several positions.
They continued to run in that order until a spinning Mike Knudtson triggered the yellow flag once again and set up a ten lap sprint to the checkered. However, at this point the whole complexion of the race changed as on the green, Olson pushed up the track and lost just enough momentum that Richards was able to drive around him and take over the top spot, thus forcing Olson to chase rather than controlling the lead that he had held for a number of laps.
The intensity level picked up as the laps ran down with two late yellow with three and two laps to go respectively, slowing and bunching the field. One of the yellows was for debris on the track and one for a spinning Tim Johnson as the former “Little Dream” winner would not repeat.
On the green following each of the last two yellows, Richards rode the high side into turn one and both times Olson passed him for the lead, only to see the yellow wave twice and save him from losing the top spot.
Finally, the field was able to complete the last two laps and on the final restart, this time Richards drove the low line through turn one and held off the charging Olson. Randall was also pushing hard and he was able to edge past Olson to take over the second spot. The final tour saw Richards able to maintain his lead with a smooth final lap and while Randall gave it a shot, he came up a car length short as Richards drove on to the record breaking win. Olson finished a close third and reported that a tight race car was his downfall at the end of the race with Sam Fankhauser, up from fifteenth to fourth and Doughty rounding out the top five.
The second five consisted of Jason Havel, Satter, Jeff Crouse, who earned the Hard Charger award after starting twenty second, Hunter VanGilder and Brett Miller as nineteen drivers completed the distance, all on the lead lap.
Olson turned the fastest lap of the race with a time of 18,171 seconds while heat race wins went to Doughty, Kummer, Kyle Dykhoff, Randall, Jay Kesan, Kolby Kiehl, Kark Genett, VanGilder, Keith Tourville and Knudtson while Olson was the only double heat race winner. Brian Johanson won the “Long Haul” award after towing from Edmore North Dakota for the race.
Current national point leader in the WISSOTA Street Stocks, Justin Vogel, won the Non Qualifiers Feature and opted to pass on the money and instead, start at the back of the main event. He was scored twentieth in the final running order after spinning on the last lap of the feature race.
The Midwest Modifieds were also on the card and Kevin Adams led all twenty laps of that race to earn his fourth feature win of the year at the track. He started on the pole, got the early jump on Alex Williamson and then pulled away from the field. Williamson ran a strong second for much of the first half of the race before being overtaken by Joe Chaplin Jr for the spot.
The Midwest Modifieds were flying around the track as they used at least three grooves and there was much passing and repassing going on in the pack. Two yellows slowed the first half of the field with Scott Bintz riding over a tire on another car and breaking his steering and then a tougher crash when current track point leader Austin Ellis spun in heavy traffic and got drilled by Aric Lindberg and Gunner Peterson with all three cars retired for the event.
The last thirteen laps of the race ran off nonstop and Adams was cruising on the high side as he pulled away from the pack. The most impressive drive of the late going saw Calvin Iverson move up from his third row starting spot as he got his car to work right on the low side of the track and he was able to drive past Williamson, defending national champion Sketter Estey and on the final couple of laps, Chaplin Jr to take over second and record an impressive finish for last year’s national rookie of the year.
On a beautiful night for racing in northern Wisconsin, a spectacular crowd was on hand that helped build the purse into a record breaking one once again.
The speedway will now take this Saturday night, August 4th off so that fans and track officials can rest up for the frantic final few weeks of the regular season. Racing will resume on Saturday night, August 11th with Hall of Fame night that will see Tom Nesbitt, Todd Madsen, Rod Hensel and Dave Greschner inducted into the Rice Lake Speedway Hall of Fame. It will also be the Race of Champions qualifiers for the ROC race to be held during the WISSOTA 100 at the I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls Minnesota. This race was rained out on June 16th with the feature winners guaranteed starting spots in the ROC race during the “100.” The draw/redraw qualifying format will be in effect and all five classes that race at the speedway on a weekly basis will be in attendance. Warmups begin at 6:30 pm with racing to follow.
Check the speedway website at www.ricelakespeedway.net or the face book page of the track for more details.