Greg Parent UMSS Media Director
If race fans could write a script, the most thrilling and dramatic lap of the feature likely would be the final one. Such was the case on Saturday night June 11 at the North Central Speedway for the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) sixth event of the season. Talented sprint car racers Chris Graf of Glencoe and veteran driver Jerry Richert, Jr. of Forest Lake brought the crowd to their feet with an exciting last lap battle for the win in a race that ran nonstop to the checkers. With Richert closing quickly on the leader, JR poked his nose under Graf exiting turn two on the final lap and the pair raced side by side down the back stretch. In a tight battle entering turn three, neither driver gave an inch. Contact resulted and the lead duo slid up the track in turn four, as the two cars rubbed just a bit. The sprint to checkers saw Graf earn his second UMSS feature victory of the season by defeating Richert by less than a car length at the line.
Commenting after the dramatic final lap, a smiling Chris Graf stated, “I saw Jerry underneath me in turn two, and I told myself I cannot lose this race on the last lap. We raced tight in turn three and four, had a little contact, and I was barely able to get to the finish line first. We certainly put on a show for the fans in that one.” Also coming off turn four on the final lap, the third place position changed hands with Scott Broty slipping past Cody Hahn to add some additional excitement to an already thrilling last lap.
For the second race in a row, the high point driver drew the zero pill after the usual double round of qualifying races used by the UMSS to determine the feature lineup. This put 2010 UMSS Champion and Mighty Axe winner Cody Hahn on the pole with Scott Broty outside for the Precision Tool 20 lap main event. Broty raced to a slim lead on the opening lap ahead of Hahn. Hahn hurried by Broty on lap two for the lead, and fourth starter Chris Graf gained second a lap later. Graf tracked down Hahn during the next few laps and the race for first was on. Meanwhile, Richert moved by Broty for third on lap five.
As the leaders approached lapped traffic, Graf grabbed the lead from Hahn right at the halfway mark. On lap fourteen, Richert raced under Hahn for second and began to chip away at Graf’s lead. During this time, Jared Goerges, Scotty Thiel and Andy Jones were having a good battle for the fifth spot. As the laps rolled by quickly under green on the 1/3 mile oval, Richert kept closing on Graf. With two to go, Richert had erased the margin. The white flag waved and the leaders entered turn one with Richert on the bottom and Graf to his outside. Richert briefly nosed ahead of Graf exiting turn two, as the leaders shot down the back stretch side by side. With both drivers giving it all they had, Richert and Graf raced very close together with the result being some contact in turn three. Both cars drifted up the track, separated in turn four, and each driver made a frantic dash to the finish line. Graf edged out Richert by less than a car length for the win. Broty got Hahn for third coming off the final corner on the last lap. Scotty Thiel topped the race for fifth.
Rounding out the top ten finishers were Andy Jones, Jared Goerges, Ronnie Erickson, rookie Anna Kouba, and Joseph Kouba. Goerges did a complete 360 spin on lap 19 but kept going, dropping a couple spots in the process. Erickson was making his first race of the season and ran well. Anna Kouba passed her brother Joseph with two to go to earn family bragging rights for the night. Anna Kouba continues to lead the GRP Motorsport/BP Trading Company rookie standings. Jerry Richert, Jr. earned the GRP Hard Charger Award, coming from sixth to second. By virtue of a top five finish, Cody Hahn raced to another GRP Past Champions Bonus. Chris Graf earned $1,000 for his win plus a Hoosier Racing Tire certificate making it about a $1,200 victory.
Cody Hahn raced ahead of Jerry Richert, Jr. to win the Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1. Scott Broty came from third to first on the opening lap and took the top spot in the Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Race #2. Cody Hahn got by early leader Scotty Thiel and went on to win the Driverwebsites.com first Challenge Race. Chris Graf led all the way in the Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 for the win. The UMSS drivers also took part in the popular Kids Night autograph session on the track during intermission where North Central Speedway and many drivers gave away a total of 60 bikes to the kids. Throughout the entire sprint car racing program, including the TSCS nonwinged cars, their were no cautions as all races ran green to checkers.
After taking a weekend off, the UMSS returns to action on Saturday night June 25 for their second appearance of the season at the Princeton Speedway. The UMSS will be running as the companion division with the popular World of Outlaws sprint car series at Princeton. This will be a big night for the UMSS, and their feature race will pay $1,000 to win thanks to some bonus money from GRP Motorsports. A good field of UMSS sprint cars are expected to be on hand at Princeton along with all of the travelling WoO stars. 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 has been presenting fans with some very entertaining feature races during the 2011 season, so come on out and join us at the 1/4 mile bullring known as the Princeton Speedway on June 25 for our seventh event of the season.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway June 11, 2011 (Race #6):
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (6 laps): Cody Hahn, Jerry Richert Jr, Scotty Thiel, Chris Graf, Jared Goerges, Anna Kouba, Tommy Kamrath DNS.
Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (6 laps): Scott Broty, Andy Jones, Ronnie Erickson, Joseph Kouba, Kevin Bradwell, Johnny Parsons III DNS.
Driverwebsites.com Challenge Race #1 (8 laps): Hahn, Thiel, Jones, Goerges, J Kouba, Kamrath DNS.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (8 laps): Graf, Broty, Richert, Erickson, A Kouba, Bradwell, Parsons DNS.
Precision Tool & GRP Motorsports A Main (20 laps): Graf, Richert, Broty, Hahn, Thiel, Jones, Goerges, Erickson, A Kouba, J Kouba, Parsons, Bradwell, Kamrath DNS.
Lap Leaders: Broty 1, Hahn 2-9, Graf 10-20.