Rice Lake, WI–Scotty Thiel capped off a successful weekend racing with the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series when he drove to his second straight UMSS victory at the Rice Lake Speedway on Saturday August 25. Thiel started off his western Wisconsin weekend by winning on Friday night at the St. Croix Valley Raceway and continued on with his third career UMSS win at Rice Lake in his first-ever appearance at the track. Once again, Thiel had to withstand a challenge by Brooke Tatnell following a restart in order to secure the triumph and the $1,000 payday thanks to some bonus money by GRP Motorsports.
With light rain staying to the south of Rice Lake, the UMSS was able to complete their 14th program of the season on an overcast and somewhat muggy evening. The track was fast for the heats and challenge races. There was a bit of cushion up top for the feature, as the rest of the track slicked off a bit. This made for some good racing action on the 1/3 mile dirt oval. It was the fourth time the UMSS sprints have raced at Rice Lake Speedway since their first show in 2010.
With high-point driver Jason Tostenson pulling the #8 pill for the feature race invert following the typical double-round of qualifying races for the UMSS sprints, the two UMSS Co-Rookie of the Year drivers from last year found themselves on the front row for the 20 lap main event. Chad Patterson and Anna Kouba brought the field to the green with Patterson glued to the bottom and bolting into the early lead. Patterson led the first three laps until the first of two cautions slowed the pace when Anna Kouba’s car lost power and came to a stop in turn two. Earlier in the evening, Anna had raced to her very first sprint car win when she topped a talented field in the second challenge race to grab a popular victory. Unfortunately, Anna’s night was over just three laps into the feature.
On the restart, Patterson was under serious attack with current UMSS point leader and defending champion Jerry Richert, Jr. racing by the sophomore sprint car driver for the lead on lap four. Patterson suddenly slowed on the next lap and pulled into the infield, ending what had been an impressive run up front in the early going. Richert’s lead lasted just two laps, as sixth starter and Friday night winner Scotty Thiel was on a mission. Thiel grabbed the top spot on lap six while Tatnell moved to second three laps later. The final caution blinked on when Tony Kaus stalled exiting turn two and need to be pushed to the infield. This set the stage for what would be an exciting couple of laps when the race returned to green flag action at the halfway point.
On the restart, Tatnell set up Thiel for a banzai dive in turn three and slid up in front of him. Thiel, anticipating the move, turned down and drove under Tatnell to regain the lead exiting turn four. This time while entering turn one and turn three on the next lap, Thiel took away Tatnell’s low line and built up his momentum. Thiel had thwarted Tatnell’s attempt for the top spot and would race to another impressive UMSS win. Tatnell finished second ahead of Jason Tostenson, Chris Graf and Richert. Rounding out the top ten was Sye Anderson, Leigh Thomas, Jennifer Eriksen, 2011 Traditional sprint champion Kevin Bradwell and Kaus. Ultimate Sprint Heat wins went to Thiel and Tatnell. Tostenson and Kouba topped the challenge races.
The standings in the GRP Motorsports High Five Championship Chase saw some positions change hands behind current leader Jerry Richert, Jr. With Scott Broty not in attendance, Sye Anderson moved into second followed by Tatnell, Graf and then Broty. The UMSS returns to the North Central Speedway in Brainerd next weekend for two complete shows at the Mighty Axe Nationals on September 1 and 2. You can keep track of the championship battle on the UMSS website at www.umsprints.com or become a friend of the UMSS on their Facebook page. There are six races remaining on the schedule over the course of the next six weeks.