By Greg Parent UMSS Media Director
St. Croix Falls, WI
On a warm summer evening, the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) along with several weekly racing divisions and a strong turnout of fans helped welcome the rebirth of a dirt track back amongst the living. In just a short ten day period since the sale of the former Kopellah Speedway, a host of volunteers and the new ownership team accomplished a tremendous amount of work to reopen the 1/4 mile dirt oval under its new name, St. Croix Valley Raceway, on Friday night July 29. Racing for car owner Rick Mastell, one of the new owners of the western Wisconsin facility, Andy Jones put his name in the record books as the first UMSS feature winner. For Jones, it was his third UMSS victory of the season and fourth over all in his brief sprint car racing career.
Jones started on the pole and led the entire distance, but the race got very interesting when the lone caution waved with fourteen laps in the books. Veteran racer Brooke Tatnell had worked his way forward from his sixth starting position and suddenly found himself right behind Jones on the restart. Commenting after the race, Jones stated, “I knew Tatnell was behind me on that caution. I just needed to keep running a smooth consistent line and not overdrive the car. My crew gave me a strong car for the feature, and I’m really happy to win this first race at St. Croix Valley for them and my car owner to help reopen the track.” Not bad for a modified driver turned sprint car racer, as Jones narrowed the points lead on Jerry Richert, Jr. who finished fourth. Coming into the weekend, Chris Graf had held the top spot in the point standings. Graf, who was unable to race this weekend due to being in a family wedding, slipped to fifth behind Scott Broty and Cody Hahn.
With the traditional double round of qualifying races back in use, high point driver Brooke Tatnell pulled the six pill for the feature race invert. Earlier in the night Tatnell had captured victories in the Meeks Video second Ultimate Sprint Race and the Mastell Brothers Trailer Service second Challenge Race. Defending UMSS Champion Cody Hahn won the Alpha Apparel & Promotions first Ultimate Sprint Race while Scott Broty defeated Hahn in the Driverwebsites first Challenge Race. The invert for the feature put Andy Jones and Brad Barickman on the front row.
Jones immediately jumped into the lead at the drop of the green with Barickman a solid second. It only took the “Awesome Aussie” Tatnell two laps to move up to third and five more laps to get by Barickman for second. The leaders encountered lapped traffic at this point and Tatnell began closing the margin lap by lap. When rookie racer Anna Kouba looped her car in turn two fourteen laps into the race, the margin shrank down to nothing. Many fans wondered if Jones would be able to hold off Tatnell, and a quick six lap dash to the checkers answered that question with Jones picking up the $1,000 top prize and trophy. Finishing behind Jones and Tatnell in the top five was Barickman, Richert and Hahn. Completing the top ten finishers were Broty, Mike Luks in his second night out, Joseph Kouba, Ronnie Erickson and Anna Kouba.
Anna Kouba maintained her lead in the GRP Motorsport/BP Trading Company rookie standings with her top ten finish. Cody Hahn earned a $100 GRP Past Champion bonus for his fifth place finish. Jones’ first place pay was boosted $200 by GRP Motorsports. Jones also raced to a third place finish in the Pro Mod feature following his sprint car victory. Once again, the very popular driver autograph session was held during intermission, several kids bikes were given away, and some free t-shirts and caps were given out by Alpha Apparel. All in all, it was a very successful opening night for a track that had been dormant all season up until just ten days prior to hosting their first event of 2011. The future looks bright for the St. Croix Valley Raceway. The UMSS winged sprints will return for a second appearance on Friday August 26 to kick off another doubleheader weekend this time with the Rice Lake Speedway on Saturday night August 27.
The UMSS will make their first appearance of the season at the legendary Cedar Lake Speedway on Saturday night July 30. The first scheduled show at CLS back in April fell victim to the weather. Be sure and check out the UMSS website at www.umsprints.com for all the latest news or visit the UMSS Facebook page and become a friend. The UMSS continues to entertain fans with open wheel sprint car racing action throughout the season. The UMSS is around the halfway mark of their season, so there are still plenty of great races left on the schedule over the course of the next 2-3 months.
UMSS Race Results – St. Croix Valley Raceway July 29, 2011 (Race #9):
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (7 laps): Cody Hahn, Jerry Richert Jr, Scott Broty, Andy Jones, Mike Luks, Kevin Bradwell DNF, Jared Goerges DNS.
Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (6 laps): Brooke Tatnell, Brad Barickman, Joseph Kouba, Anna Kouba, Greg Gunderson DNF, Ronnie Erickson DNS.
Driverwebsites.com Challenge Race #1 (9 laps): Broty, Hahn, Barickman, Luks, A Kouba, Erickson, Goerges DNS.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (9 laps): Tatnell, Jones, Richert, J Kouba, Gunderson, Bradwell DNF.
GRP Motorsports A Main (20 laps): Jones, Tatnell, Barickman, Richert, Hahn, Broty, Luks, J Kouba, Erickson, A Kouba, Gunderson DNS, Bradwell DNS, Goerges DNS.
Lap Leader: Jones 1-20.