By Greg Parent
Another warm, windy summer-like evening brought out a good group of race fans and sprint cars, as the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) invaded Arlington Raceway on Saturday night May 29 for the first IMCA-UMSS Challenge race of 2010. With the affiliation of the two groups this past winter, a series of challenge races were devised for this season to promote each group and provide fans and drivers with a chance to earn some bragging rights in the spirit of competition. On this night, the local Arlington IMCA sprint car drivers fared well on their home track, as Chris Graf overtook race leader Brad Barickman on lap 10 enroute to his fourth Arlington IMCA feature win of the season and first-ever UMSS triumph. Graf thanked his sponsors and fans during his Victory Lane celebration. A very happy Graf stated, “this was fun. It’s great to win at your home track against a strong field of cars.” For the third event of the season on the UMSS schedule, a solid field of 21 360 sprint cars signed into the pits.
On a track that was dry and a bit slick from bright sunny skies, higher than normal temperatures and windy conditions, Graf steadily progressed forward from his sixth starting position. Graf was up to third just three laps into the race, gained second on lap seven, and moved under leader Brad Barickman on the back stretch on lap ten on his way to victory. Barickman had an incredible opening lap, as he moved from fifth to first by the end of one circuit. Feature winner and Arlington IMCA driver Chris Graf along with runner-up and UMSS regular competitor Brad Barickman each earned an additional $200 bonus from GRP Motorsports for being the highest finisher respectively for each group.
Utilizing the regular UMSS race format, a total of three SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Heat Races were run along with two Challenge Races. Earning heat race wins were Dave Becker, Cody Hahn, and Chris Graf. During the third heat race, Richard Smith Jr broke entering turn three, causing his car to ram into the outside barrier. Smith’s car sustained heavy front-end damage and was done for the night. The first Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge race went to Graf from his seventh starting position. The second Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems Challenge race saw Brad Barickman race ahead of the field the entire distance for the win. As high-point driver following the double round of qualifying, Graf pulled the #6 pill inverting the top six drivers in qualifying points for the 20 lap feature race. This put young A. J. Stevens and Bill Johnson on the front row.
Arlington IMCA regular competitors occupied five of the first six starting positions for the U. S. Army feature race, but it was the lone UMSS driver Barickman in the top six grabbing the lead at the end of the first lap. The first of three cautions waved with one lap in the books when teenager Jordan Wilmes spun off the top of the track in turn three. When the green replaced the yellow, a long run of 14 straight green flag laps ensued. Graf was on the move forward during this stretch, passing Jennifer Eriksen, Troy Manteufel, Brandon Allen, A. J. Stevens, Bill Johnson, and finally Barickman at the half-way mark. A second yellow blinked on with 15 laps scored when Leigh Thomas lost a rear brake rotor after glowing red-hot for several laps.
With battles being contested behind Graf and Barickman, the third and final caution waved shortly after the leaders had taken the white flag for a turn three spin by Tony Kaus. This set the stage for a two lap green-white-checker dash to the finish. With a clean sweep for the evening, Chris Graf raced to the IMCA-UMSS Challenge Race victory much to the delight of the partisan Arlington crowd. Barickman was solid in second followed by three more Arlington regular IMCA drivers. Bill Johnson, Brandon Allen, and A. J. Stevens completed the top five. UMSS drivers were four strong in the next group of five, as Cody Hahn, Dave Becker, Johnny Parsons III, Joseph Kouba and Troy Manteufel rounded out the top ten finishers. Sixteen of the original twenty starters were still running at the conclusion of the race.
Three races into the 2010 UMSS season, Arlington IMCA driver Brandon Allen finds himself leading the point standings with solid runs in all three events producing one third and two fourth place finishes. The UMSS wishes to thank Bob Allen and the Arlington Raceway along with all of the IMCA and UMSS drivers who participated in the two events held on Memorial Day weekend. The UMSS comes right back with another big double-header weekend on Friday June 4 at the Kopellah Speedway and Saturday June 5 for the 18th Annual Kouba Memorial at the North Central Speedway near Brainerd. The Kopellah race will pay $1,000 to win thanks to some help from GRP Motorsports while the Kouba Memorial boasts a strong purse in excess of $8,000 with $1,500 going to the winner and $1,000 for second along with several bonuses. Another strong field of 360 sprint cars are expected to be on hand at each race to thrill and entertain race fans with some exciting winged sprint car racing action! For further information, please visit our website at www.umsprints.com. Race fans can also keep updated on recent action on the UMSS page on Facebook, by checking out the results on the Minnesota Dirt Track Racing message board at www.gotomn.com or by reading about recent events in The Midwest Racing Connection.
UMSS Race Results – Arlington Raceway May 29, 2010 (Race #3):
SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (7 laps): Dave Becker, Leigh Thomas, Jennifer Eriksen, Brandon Allen, Bruce Allen, Tony Kaus.
SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (7 laps): Cody Hahn, Shannon Eriksen, Troy Manteufel, Mike Stien, Dan Menk, Dwain Wilmes, Jordan Wilmes.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Race #3 (7 laps): Chris Graf, A. J. Stevens, Joseph Kouba, Brad Barickman, Johnny Parsons III, Bill Johnson, Richard Smith, Jr DNF.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #1 (11 laps): Graf, Parsons, Johnson, Stevens, Kouba, Shannon Eriksen, Stien, Dwain Wilmes, Nickel, Kaus DNF, Bruce Allen DNF.
Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems Challenge Race #2 (9 laps): Barickman, Brandon Allen, Manteufel, Jennifer Eriksen, Thomas, Hahn, Becker, Menk, Jordan Wilmes, Smith DNS.
U.S. Army IMCA-UMSS Challenge Race #1 A Main (20 laps): Graf, Barickman, Johnson, Brandon Allen, Stevens, Hahn, Becker, Parsons, Kouba, Manteufel, Shannon Eriksen, Jennifer Eriksen, Stien, Menk, Dwain Wilmes, Nickel, Kaus DNF, Thomas DNF, Jordan Wilmes DNF, Bruce Allen DNF.
Lap Leaders: Barickman 1-9, Graf 10-20.
Current UMSS Point Leader: Brandon Allen #77
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Current Leading Rookie: Andy Jones #73