By Greg Parent
St. Croix Falls, WI
After suffering through a dismal month of June with all events falling victim to the weather, July started out under sunny skies for the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) fourth show of the season on Friday night July 2 at the Kopellah Speedway. In only his second full night of driving for Yetter Racing out of Chatfield, veteran sprint car racer Jimmy Kouba scored his first win of the 2010 season. Kouba led all 20 laps in a race only slowed once under caution. Kouba commented following his first career UMSS feature triumph, “It really helped to start up front tonight. The bottom was the place to be, and my crew got the car working well for the feature. It feels great to be back in victory lane again, especially with a new team like we have.”
A field of 15 UMSS 360 sprint cars signed into the pits on a very warm and windy evening. Following Ultimate Sprint Heat race wins by Jerry Richert Jr, Brad Barickman, and Dave Becker, one of the best-ever UMSS Challenge races saw Dave Becker and Cody Hahn swap the lead nine different times before Becker had to hold off a charging Jerry Richert Jr to claim the win in the Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems race. Brad Barickman topped the second Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge race while Sye Anderson and Leigh Thomas had a spirited battle for second. High point driver Dave Becker drew the four pill, inverting the top four cars in passing and finishing points from the heats and challenge races for the feature race.
With Sye Anderson scratching from his scheduled pole starting position in the 20 lap feature event due to a significant driveline failure immediately after the conclusion of the second Challenge race, this put Jimmy Kouba on the pole for the main event flanked by five time 2009 UMSS winner at Kopellah Jerry Richert Jr. The first attempt to get the race underway saw the only caution wave when fourth starter and opening night winner Dave Becker looped his sprinter in turn four on the opening lap. All cars were able to avoid Becker, so a complete restart would be in order with Becker tagging the tail. On the next attempt, Jimmy Kouba grabbed the early lead over third starter Brad Barickman while Richert dropped to fourth behind Leigh Thomas. Kouba encountered lapped traffic seven laps into the race while running consistently solid laps on the bottom of the 1/4 mile oval.
Near the midpoint of the race, Richert was able to move by Thomas for third. Kouba continued to set a strong pace up front while working lapped traffic. Rookie driver Andy Jones was on the move forward, as he moved from 12th to 7th by the conclusion of lap four. Just past the halfway mark, Johnny Parsons III got by 2009 UMSS Rookie of the Year Cody Hahn to crack the top five. As laps clicked off quickly under green, the top running positions did not change on the smooth but wind whipped track. Jimmy Kouba recorded his first win of the season with Brad Barickman running several car lengths behind in second. Jerry Richert Jr finished third followed by Leigh Thomas and Johnny Parsons. Completing the top ten finishers saw Cody Hahn take sixth followed by three rookie contenders including Andy Jones, Jared Goerges, and Ronnie Erickson. Brandon Allen rounded out the top ten.
Jimmy Kouba earned $1,000 for his win with sponsorship help from GRP Motorsports. Sye Anderson was awarded the $100 GRP Hard Luck award following his misfortune just after the second Challenge race had ended. Anderson loaded up and began the journey back to Brainerd early. Mark Yetter was also a scratch from the feature race due to a broken Jacobs Ladder in his Challenge race after contact with the concrete wall. Only one car failed to finish the 20 lap main event, as California non-wing transplant Jack Clark pulled to the infield on lap 13.
The next events on the UMSS 2010 schedule include two double-header weekends at the Elko Speedway for the Dirt Nationals on Friday and Saturday July 9-10 and July 16-17 in conjunction with the IMCA sprint cars. A strong field of 360 sprints are expected to be on hand at Elko. With his second place finish, Brad Barickman overtook Brandon Allen as the current point leader in the UMSS standings. Andy Jones continues to lead the GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year standings. Jones and Ronnie Erickson have now completed the three race rookie orientation, and they will no longer have to start in the back of their races. Jared Goerges and Mark Yetter have one more race remaining to complete the three race rookie orientation while the remaining rookies have two or more shows to go still.
UMSS Race Results – Kopellah Speedway July 2, 2010 (Race #4):
SprintSource.com Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (6 laps): Jerry Richert Jr, Sye Anderson, Brandon Allen, Andy Jones, Jimmy Kouba.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (6 laps): Brad Barickman, Cody Hahn, Jared Goerges, Kevin Nickel, Jack Clark.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Race #3 (6 laps): Dave Becker, Leigh Thomas, Ronnie Erickson, Mark Yetter, Johnny Parsons III.
Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems Challenge Race #1 (8 laps): Becker, Richert, Kouba, Jones, Allen, Hahn, Clark, Erickson.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (8 laps): Barickman, Anderson, Thomas, Goerges, Nickel, Yetter, Parsons DNS.
UMSS A Main (20 laps): Kouba, Barickman, Richert, Thomas, Parsons, Hahn, Jones, Goerges, Erickson, Allen, Becker, Nickel, Clark DNF, Anderson DNS, Yetter DNS.
Lap Leader: Kouba 1-20
Current UMSS Top Six Point Standings: Barickman 935, Allen 913, Parsons 906, Hahn 892, Becker 880, Thomas 880.
GRP Motorsports Hard Luck Award: Sye Anderson
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Race: Andy Jones 7th
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie Standings: Andy Jones 660, Ronnie Erickson 636, Jared Goerges 428, Mark Yetter 300, Anna Kouba 220, Blake Anderson 217, Jack Clark 205, Jordan Wilmes 187.