By Greg Parent, UMSS Media Director
Brooke Tatnell took full advantage of his front row starting position and took command of the Earl & Ethel Kouba Memorial on the opening lap enroute to victory in the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) event on Saturday September 3 at the North Central Speedway. Tatnell immediately got the advantage on pole sitter Lee Grosz in the first corner and twenty five laps later added his name to an already impressive winner’s list. Tatnell became the eighteenth different winner of this prestigious race during it’s nineteen year history. Tatnell thanked the Kouba family and all of the sponsors who added money to the purse, as the “Hot Rod Aussie” earned in excess of $2,000 for the win driving the Nelson Motorsports entry. The race had originally been scheduled for July but rain caused the event to be moved to the opening night of the Mighty Axe Nationals. Tatnell also received a gold axe for his win and will have his name engraved on the Kouba Memorial trophy on display in Knoxville, Iowa.
On behalf of the Kouba family, Joe Kouba thanked Cliff Sasker and North Central Speedway for hosting the event for the seventh time. In addition to North Central Speedway and the Kouba family, GRP Motorsports, Proto-Fab Engineering, Bev-Lor Utilities, Precision Tool Technologies, Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing, Mastell Brothers Trailer Service, D&D Motorsports, Ronnie Wuiff and Rik Sandberg all added money to the purse to make a great payout for the 19th running of this annual event. In all, the total purse exceeded $11,000.
Following the usual double round of qualifying races utilized by the UMSS, Lee Grosz found himself atop the standings. Grosz drew the zero pill, so the feature race would see a straight-up start based on the points earned during the heats and challenge races. Tony Norem, Andy Jones, and Lee Grosz won the Ultimate Sprint Heats. The two Ethel Kouba Memorial Challenge races sponsored by Gillund Enterprises and JB Distributing saw Chris Graf and Tatnell take home $100 for their wins. Each Challenge race paid the top four finishers some bonus money.
With 21 of the 22 cars on hand lined up for 25 laps of racing on the dry track, everyone knew the opening laps would be very important before the track took rubber. Tatnell wasted little time in edging past Grosz in the first turn to grab the lead. The race ran green the first twelve laps before Anna Kouba spun in turn four to bring out the first caution at the halfway mark. Tatnell and Grosz were in command up front, but the battle for third between Graf and 2010 Kouba Memorial Champion Brad Barickman remained close. Graf had taken third on lap two. Barickman retook the spot when the race restarted. Unfortunately for Barickman, he would be the second caution with sixteen laps in the books when he looped his sprinter in turn four. Barickman restarted at the tail and later dropped out of the race.
The feature race was under yellow for the third time with eighteen laps in when Sye Anderson came to a stop in the first turn up against the concrete wall. Tatnell and Grosz still held the top two spots, but 2010 UMSS Champion Cody Hahn and Andy Jones had moved forward while Graf was slipping backwards with an ill-handling car. One final caution for Anna Kouba set up a two lap dash to the checkers. Tatnell continued his dominance up front for the win. Lee Grosz ran a solid race the entire distance in second. Cody Hahn came from seventh to finish third with Andy Jones and eleventh starter Leigh Thomas rounding out the top five. The charge of the night came from current point leader Jerry Richert, Jr. who had broke a driveshaft after contact with the wall in his challenge race. Richert advanced an impressive twelve positions from his outside row nine starting spot to finish sixth and earned the $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Charger Award. Completing the top ten finishers were David Craft, Scott Broty, Chris Graf and Johnny Parsons III. Sixteen cars finished with thirteen of them on the lead lap.
The only driver, Tony Kaus, who was unable to start the feature due to a blown motor in his heat race received the $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Luck Award for his misfortune. Thanks to some borrowed parts from Tony Kaus, Mike Luks was able to start the feature after getting upside down in his challenge race. By virtue of their top five finishes, Cody Hahn and Leigh Thomas earned an extra $100 GRP Past Champion Bonus. Anna Kouba held her top spot in the current GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year standings.
Following the conclusion of the Kouba Memorial, the UMSS sprint cars geared up for another full program of racing action at North Central Speedway for the second night of the Mighty Axe Nationals.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway September 3, 2011 (Race #14) Kouba Memorial:
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (8 laps): Tony Norem, Brad Barickman, Jared Goerges, Johnny Parsons III, Mike Luks, Joseph Kouba, Anna Kouba, Tom Nicholl.
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (7 laps): Andy Jones, Sye Anderson, Cody Hahn, Jerry Richert Jr, Chad Patterson, Kevin Bradwell, Tim Johnson DNS.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Ultimate Sprint Heat #3 (7 laps): Lee Grosz, Brooke Tatnell, Chris Graf, David Craft, Scott Broty, Leigh Thomas, Tony Kaus DNF.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #1 (11 laps): Graf, Grosz, Jones, Barickman, J Kouba, Thomas, Parsons, A Kouba, Patterson, Richert DNF, Johnson DNF.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #2 (10 laps): Tatnell, Broty, Hahn, Goerges, Norem, Craft, Bradwell, Nicholl, Anderson DNF, Luks DNF, Kaus DNS.
Precision Tool Kouba Memorial A Main (25 laps): Tatnell, Grosz, Hahn, Jones, Thomas, Richert, Craft, Broty, Graf, Parsons, J Kouba, Goerges, Norem, Patterson, Nicholl, Johnson, Barickman DNF, A Kouba DNF, Anderson DNF, Bradwell DNF, Luks DNF, Kaus DNS.
Lap Leader: Tatnell 1-25