Greg Parent, UMSS Media Director
Heavy rains on Friday forced the Summer Dirt Nationals to be reduced to a one day show, but even without a double-header the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) still drew a strong turnout of 22 cars on Saturday night July 16 at the Elko Speedway. Despite hot and humid weather, a large crowd was on hand to watch exciting UMSS sprint car racing action along with the IRA Outlaw Sprints and the nonwinged sprints. When the checkered flag flew in the UMSS feature event, fans were entertained with another good battle featuring a couple of the top drivers in the series. Chris Graf of Glencoe and Jerry Richert, Jr. of Forest Lake once again found themselves competing against each other for the victory late in the race. Graf had steadily advanced from his fifth starting spot and was able to overtake Richert for the top spot with a bold move in lapped traffic on lap 17 in turns 1 and 2. Graf went on to record his third UMSS win of the season and maintain his points lead over Richert.
When asked about his winning move following the feature, a grinning Graf reflected on another exciting race with veteran driver Richert. “I saw an opportunity to make a bid for the lead in lapped traffic, and I drove in hard on the bottom under Jerry with two lapped cars right in front of us. One of the lapped cars slowed up a bit more and that hurt Jerry I think. Everything worked out perfect for me, and I got the lead. It’s a blast racing against Jerry and many of the other cars in this series.” Richert stated afterwards, “Sometimes lapped traffic can help you and sometimes not. Tonight it worked well for Chris and not so good for me, but that’s racing. It’s still fun to be running up front and battling for the win.”
The usual double-round of qualifying was not in effect due to the format of the program, so the UMSS was given two heat races utilizing passing and finishing points to determine their starting lineup for the main event. Richert raced ahead of the field for all ten laps in the first Alpha Apparel and Promotions heat with Tony Norem second. The Meeks Video and Driver Websites second heat saw Scott Broty blast to an early lead over Jared Goerges enroute to victory. Broty ended up being the high point driver following the heats and redrew the #4 pill for the feature race inversion.
With the top four drivers in passing points inverted for the 20 lap Mastell Brothers Trailer Service and GRP Motorsports main event, this put Tony Norem and Jerry Richert, Jr. on the front row with Andy Jones and Scott Broty in row two. Cody Hahn was scheduled to start fifth, but his car was not able to stay in gear and ended up being parked in the infield when the green flag waved. Norem grabbed the early lead over Richert. Just as the leaders were coming up on lapped traffic, Justin Allen looped his car in turn two to bring out the first caution four laps into the race.
Three laps later, the race was under the red flag when Tony Kaus flipped his car exiting turn two. Kaus was okay, but his car was out of action. This was the second year in a row that Kaus had been upside down at Elko. When the green replaced the red, Norem continued to lead Richert while Graf had moved into third ahead of Jones. The final yellow flew at the midway point when Justin Giddings spun in turn four. It would then be ten straight green flag laps of racing to the checkers, and things would get very interesting up front.
On the restart, Richert was able to edge past Norem for the lead on lap 11 coming off turn four. One lap later, Graf got by Norem for second. Once again in lapped traffic on lap 15, Graf closed in on Richert. The winning pass came on lap 17, but Richert was able to stay close to the finish. Jones moved by Norem for third with two to go. Scott Broty rounded out the top five. Completing the top ten finishers were Greg Gunderson, Bill Johnson from 13th, Mike Luks in his first appearance of the season, 2010 UMSS Rookie of the Year Jared Goerges, and Brandon Allen. Ronnie Erickson was the final car on the lead lap in eleventh. Defending Summer Dirt Nationals champion Brad Barickman dropped out of the race late while running in fifth. Also racing with the UMSS for the very first time was Jimmy Parsons of Indianapolis, brother of Johnny Parsons III from the famous Indiana racing family.
Anna Kouba led the rookies in the race with her 12th place finish over Chad Patterson who finished 14th. Justin Allen and Kevin Bradwell did not finish. In the on-going battle for the 2011 GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year Award, Anna Kouba still maintains her lead over Patterson and Bradwell in the standings. In addition to Graf’s first place pay which netted him $1,000, Graf also found good fortune in the draw for a free Hoosier Racing Tire.
The largest purse of the 2011 UMSS season will be up for grabs next Saturday night July 23 at the North Central Speedway in Brainerd for the running of the prestigious Kouba Memorial. This will be the 19th annual edition for this race with the feature winner taking home $2,000 plus a Hoosier Racing Tire certificate. The feature race pays $300 to start. A strong field of cars is expected for the second of four appearances by the UMSS at the reconfigured Brainerd track. Sprint car fans are encouraged to come out in force and make this event a success just like our first appearance there back in June. You can follow the UMSS on their website at www.umsprints.com, become a friend of the UMSS on their Facebook page, pick up a copy of the free UMSS Report newsletter available at each event, or check out the UMSS on various other media outlets including race results and point standings on Speednet. The UMSS continues to put on a show for the fans each and every night with exciting winged sprint car racing action. Catch the wave and be a part of this growing series!
UMSS Race Results – Elko Speedway Summer Dirt Nationals July 16, 2011 (Race #8):
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (10 laps): Jerry Richert Jr, Tony Norem, Andy Jones, Ronnie Erickson, Brad Barickman, Justin Giddings, Mike Luks, Justin Allen, Jimmy Parsons, Chad Patterson, Kevin Bradwell DNF.
Meeks Video & Driver Websites Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (10 laps): Scott Broty, Jared Goerges, Cody Hahn, Greg Gunderson, Chris Graf, T. J. Luedtke, Brandon Allen, Bill Johnson, Tony Kaus, Richard Smith Jr, Anna Kouba.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service & GRP Motorsports A Main (20 laps): Graf, Richert, Jones, Norem, Broty, Gunderson, Johnson, Luks, Goerges, B Allen, Erickson, Kouba, Smith, Patterson, Parsons, Giddings, Barickman DNF, J Allen DNF, Kaus DNF, Luedtke DNF, Bradwell DNF, Hahn DNS.
Lap Leaders: Norem 1-10, Richert 11-16, Graf 17-20.