By Greg Parent, Stan Meissner photo
Picking up where he left off the previous Saturday, Richfield’s Brad Barickman continued his Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) winning streak when he raced to victory in the prestigious 18th Annual Earl & Ethel Kouba Memorial at North Central Speedway on Saturday night July 24. The event began back on June 5, but it was interrupted by rain following the Ultimate Sprint Heats. The race continued with the Challenge races and the 20 lap Kouba Memorial feature on July 24. Barickman drove around early race leader Mark Toews on lap four and never looked back to earn his third straight UMSS feature win.
Commenting in victory lane following his victory, Barickman expressed his appreciation and what it meant to add his name to an already impressive previous champions list. “This is a very special race honoring a special family in this sport. This win means a lot to me. I’m honored to be able to add my name along side some outstanding drivers who are previous champions.” Barickman then talked about his current winning streak. “It’s great to win three straight against some very strong competitors. I’ll try for four in a row a bit later on this evening.”
On behalf of the Kouba family, Joe Kouba then thanked Cliff Sasker and North Central Speedway for hosting the event for the sixth time and their generous contribution to the purse. “This race has grown to not only honor my parents but to also celebrate a great night of sprint car racing. Thanks to all of the sponsors, drivers and race fans for making this night so special each year,” stated Kouba. 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, Ronnie Wuiff and Rik Sandberg all added money to the purse to make a great payout for the 18th running of this annual event. The feature race alone had an $8,500 payout, and when adding in the challenge races, heat races and other awards, the total Kouba Memorial purse was $9,550.
With 19 of the original 23 cars on hand plus two new cars, a full field of 21 UMSS sprint cars lined up to do battle for 20 racing laps around the North Central Speedway. Rookie Andy Jones was on the pole flanked by veteran sprint car driver Mark Toews from Spirit Lake, IA. Toews grabbed the early lead with third starter Brad Barickman quickly moving to second on the cushion. On lap four, Barickman blasted around Toews for the top spot. Fourth starter and defending Kouba Memorial champion Jerry Richert Jr. raced past Toews for second on lap six. The first of three cautions waved with six laps in the books when rookie Mark Yetter stopped in turn three. Yetter refired and tagged the tail.
Barickman opened up a lead on the restart over Richert. Two laps after the green replaced the yellow, 2009 UMSS Rookie of the Year Cody Hahn got under Toews for third. While running seventh with eleven laps down, rookie Andy Jones may have seen his season go up in smoke when he grenaded his engine on the front stretch to bring out the second caution. Barickman led Richert and Hahn to the green while Toews, Tim Johnson and Jimmy Kouba battled for the fourth spot. The final caution flew after sixteen laps when Mark Yetter looped his sprinter in turn four. Barickman continued to show his strength up front during the final four laps enroute to his third UMSS win of the season. Richert and Hahn completed the top three. North Central Speedway street stock and super stock competitor Tim Johnson ran a solid race in the TW Motorports entry to finish fourth ahead of two-time Kouba Memorial champion Jimmy Kouba. A strong run forward by 15th starting rookie Jared Goerges produced a sixth place finish. The $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Charger Award was won however by 19th starter Scotty Thiel. Thiel made the nearly eight hour tow from Sheboygan, WI, to tag the back of a challenge race, and then start 19th in the feature. Thiel raced his way forward to a fine seventh place finish. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Toews, Joseph Kouba and Sye Anderson. Only three cars failed to finish the race.
Currently sitting in second place in the UMSS point standings, Brandon Allen saw his season take a turn for the worse when he blew his motor early in the race. Allen received the $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Luck Award for his misfortune. The Ethel Kouba Challenge Races sponsored by Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing saw Jerry Richert Jr. top Tim Johnson and Brad Barickman in the first challenge while 2009 UMSS Champion Leigh Thomas raced ahead of Mark Toews and Troy Manteufel in the second challenge. Ultimate Sprint Heat winners from June 5 included Chris Graf, Kevin Nickel and Jimmy Kouba. Unfortunately Graf was not able to be on hand due to motor issues at Elko the previous weekend. Receiving $25 gas cards from JKD Communications were Tim Johnson, Scotty Thiel, Ronnie Erickson, Mark Toews, Leigh Thomas, Mark Yetter, Brandon Allen and Joseph Kouba.
Following the conclusion of the Kouba Memorial, the UMSS sprint cars geared up for another full program of racing action. A complete race report on that event is separate from this one. During the evening, the UMSS sprinters ran nine different races with many drivers able to be on the track in five events including two features, two challenge races and a heat race. Indeed it was a very special and very busy evening at the North Central Speedway on Saturday July 24.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway July 24, 2010 (Race #9) Kouba Memorial:
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (8 laps): Chris Graf, Jack Zweber, Cody Hahn, Sye Anderson, Tim Johnson, Leigh Thomas, Shannon Eriksen, Ronnie Erickson.
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (8 laps): Kevin Nickel, Brad Barickman, Mark Toews, Jerry Richert Jr, Troy Manteufel, Jennifer Eriksen, Dave Becker, Anna Kouba.
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #3 (7 laps): Jimmy Kouba, Joseph Kouba, Brandon Allen, Andy Jones, Brett Allen, Johnny Parsons III, Jared Goerges.
Note: The Ultimate Sprint Heats were run on June 5. Chris Graf, Dave Becker, Brett Allen and Johnny Parsons were unable to return on July 24.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #1 (11 laps): Richert, Johnson, Barickman, Hahn, J. Eriksen, Jimmy Kouba, S. Eriksen, Goerges, Mark Yetter, Anna Kouba DNF, Brandon Allen DNF.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #2 (10 laps): Thomas, Toews, Manteufel, Jones, Anderson, Joseph Kouba, Scotty Thiel, Erickson, Nickel, Zweber DNS.
Note: Mark Yetter and Scotty Thiel were added to the back of each challenge race, as they were newcomers on July 24. Jack Zweber arrived at the track late and did not run a challenge race.
Kouba Memorial A Main (20 laps): Barickman, Richert, Hahn, Johnson, Jimmy Kouba, Goerges, Thiel, Toews, Joseph Kouba, Anderson, S. Eriksen, Thomas, Zweber, J. Eriksen, Manteufel, Erickson, Nickel, Anna Kouba, Yetter DNF, Jones DNF, Brandon Allen DNF.
Lap Leaders: Toews 1-3, Barickman 4-20.
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Race: Jared Goerges
Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Charger Award Sponsored by Rik & Sandy Sandberg: Scotty Thiel (19th to 7th)
Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Luck Award Sponsored by Ronnie & Cindy Wuiff: Brandon Allen (blown engine)