By Greg Parent, image courtesy of Stan Meissner
What a difference one year makes! Last year when the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) kicked off their inaugural season, Dave Becker suffered some serious misfortune with a hard crash. As the UMSS opened their second season on Friday night April 23 at the Kopellah Speedway, Becker’s 2010 season got off to a great start with his first UMSS feature win. Becker had to hold off Jerry Richert, Jr over the course of the final 18 green flag laps of the 20 lap feature event to earn the $1,000 top prize. Stated a very happy Becker, “I saw Jerry underneath me early in the race, and I knew I had to get up on the wheel and be near-perfect every lap if I wanted to finish in front of him.” The Belle Plain, MN driver went on to say, “I did not get to race very many times last year, so I was hoping for a good consistent run in the feature race tonight.” That certainly was the case, as Becker put together 20 solid and consistent laps to earn his first-career UMSS victory. The series was able to get the opening night completed just a short time before the predicted rainfall arrived.
With 2009 UMSS Rookie of the Year, Cody Hahn, and Dave Becker pacing the thirteen car starting grid, the first attempt to go green ended with the first caution when Brad Barickman drifted high in turn two, rode the wall, and then stopped at the exit of the turn. Barickman was pushed to the work area, but the Ron Olson-owned car sustained enough damage that it could not continue. On the second attempt to start the race, Johnny Parsons III spun in turn three and collected 2010 rookie candidate Ronnie Erickson. Parsons was able to restart, but Erickson’s car was towed to the pits for the second time during the evening. Earlier in the night, Erickson’s driveline let go as he was lining up for his heat race.
The third time was the charm, as the feature race got underway with Becker blasting to the early lead. Richert got by Hahn with Sye Anderson and Brandon Allen close behind. The third and final caution blinked on for a Kevin Nickel spin in turn two with two laps completed. With a double-file restart behind Becker, Richert was quickly challenging him for the lead. The race would run non-stop to the finish with Becker, Richert and Hahn pulling away from the rest of the field a bit. As Richert looked to dive underneath Becker on a couple of occasions, Becker was able to hold him off.
As the laps clicked off quickly, Anderson, inaugural 2009 UMSS Champion Leigh Thomas, Joseph Kouba, and 2010 rookie Andy Jones kept close together in the battle for the fifth through eighth positions. With Becker continuing to keep Richert, a six-time UMSS feature winner in 2009, at bay, Cody Hahn closed in on the lead duo. Just past the half-way mark, the top three cars had put some distance on fourth place Brandon Allen. As Becker put Kevin Nickel a lap down, Richert once again drew close in the closing laps. Dave Becker was able to hold off Jerry Richert Jr to open the 2010 UMSS season with a victory. Cody Hahn finished third with Brandon Allen in fourth. The entertaining battle for fifth went to Sye Anderson followed by Leigh Thomas, Andy Jones, Joseph Kouba, Johnny Parsons III and Jesse Smith to round out the top ten finishers.
Earlier in the evening, the SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Race (heat #1) win went to Cody Hahn. The Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Race (heat #2) saw Brad Barickman the victor. During the second heat, something broke on Scotty Thiel’s sprinter in turn three, sending the southern Wisconsin MSA driver hard into the concrete wall. Thiel’s sprinter flipped once, coming to rest right-side up with a stuck throttle. Thiel was able to get the car shut off, but a small fire needed to be extinguished. Under the red, Leigh Thomas’ car developed a fuel leak and caught on fire. Both cars were out of the race with Thiel’s badly damaged sprinter done for the evening. Thomas would return to run and finish two more races.
In the first Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge race, Jerry Richert, Jr showed the field the quick way around the 1/4 mile oval. The second Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems Challenge race saw Brad Barickman race to his second win of the night after following Dave Becker for five laps. Barickman would redraw the #4 pill to determine the invert for the feature race.
With the first of 24 scheduled races in the books, several drivers who were not on hand for opening night are preparing to make their 2010 UMSS season debut in the upcoming weeks. Rookie driver Andy Jones got off to a good start in pursuit of the GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company UMSS rookie bonus award. A further press release will be out soon detailing the increased rookie of the year bonus thanks to bptradingcompany.net in conjunction with GRP Motorsports. Racing action continues with the 9th Annual Billy Anderson Memorial scheduled to be run on Saturday April 24 at the Cedar Lake Speedway. For further information, please visit the series website at www.umsprints.com to check results, standings, upcoming races and much more.
UMSS Race Results – Kopellah Speedway April 23, 2010 (Race #1):
SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (7 laps): Cody Hahn, Jerry Richert Jr, Jesse Smith, Brandon Allen, Joseph Kouba, Andy Jones, Kevin Nickel.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (7 laps): Brad Barickman, Sye Anderson, Dave Becker, Leigh Thomas, Scotty Thiel, Johnny Parsons III, Ronnie Erickson.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #1 (7 laps): Richert, Allen, Kouba, Hahn, Nickel, Smith, Erickson DNS.
Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems Challenge Race #2 (7 laps): Barickman, Becker, Anderson, Thomas, Jones, Parsons, Thiel DNS.
GRP Motorsports UMSS A Main (20 laps): Becker, Richert, Hahn, Allen, Anderson, Thomas, Jones, Kouba, Parsons, Smith, Nickel, Erickson DNF, Barickman DNF, Thiel DNS.
Lap Leader: Becker 1-20
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Race: Andy Jones