By Greg Parent, UMSS Media Director,Track Rat Photos
Brooke Tatnell became the fourth driver to earn two axes during the ten year history of the Mighty Axe Nationals at North Central Speedway when he passed his brother-in-law on the restart following a caution on lap 18 of the 20 lap feature to complete a weekend sweep of Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) racing action. Tatnell was fresh off a Kouba Memorial win the night before during the Mighty Axe holiday weekend at Brainerd, and his late-race victory on Sunday allowed him to join Loren Langerud, Chuck Swenson and Sye Anderson as sprint car drivers who have swept both nights and have two axe trophies to their credit. When asked after the race when he was planning on making his bid for the lead, Tatnell replied, “It was going to happen on that lap anyway. I had been following Jerry for most of the race waiting for the opportunity. That caution helped, but I had made up my mind that I was going for the lead on the next lap around. The caution just gave me a chance to think things over before the green flag flew again. It’s a lot of fun to race against family. I now have an axe trophy for each of my kids. Although it was a long two days, we had a real good weekend racing with the UMSS in Brainerd.”
Tatnell was the high point driver following the normal double round of qualifying races used by the UMSS, and he promptly redrew the #4 pill for the invert in the feature race. This put current UMSS point leader Jerry Richert, Jr. and Brad Barickman on the front row for the 20 lap Mighty Axe main event. Richert blasted into the early lead on the cushion, as the track was fast up top. It only took Tatnell less than a lap to get to second. He slowly reeled in the leader and settled into the runner-up spot for the time being, as the laps clicked off under green flag racing. Richert encountered lapped traffic just prior to halfway, but he was able to keep Tatnell behind him.
Just as it appeared the race might go green all the way, Chris Graf lost his brakes entering turn one and contacted Sye Anderson. Both cars stopped on the back stretch and were out of the race with just three laps left. Tatnell dove low into turn one on the restart and easily cleared Richert for the lead. A quick couple of laps to the checkers saw Tatnell complete the sweep with another UMSS victory for his second axe trophy. Richert settled for second. Barickman and Lee Grosz ran the entire 20 lap distance in third and fourth. 2010 Mighty Axe champion Cody Hahn rounded out the top five. Completing the ten ten finishers were 17th starter Jared Goerges, Andy Jones, Tony Norem, Scott Broty and Joseph Kouba.
A couple of drivers were upside down early in the evening, as Jared Goerges rolled his sprinter in hot laps and 2010 Mighty Axe champion Chris Graf flipped over in his heat race. Both drivers made repairs and were able to start their challenge races and the feature event. Goerges advanced 11 positions in the feature. Ultimate heat race wins for the 20 cars on hand went to Barickman, Jones and Tim Johnson. The Challenge races were won by Richert and Tatnell. Two drivers saw their chances go up in smoke during the qualifying races, as Leigh Thomas and Tim Johnson were unable to continue due to blown engines.
In the three race series held at North Central Speedway for the UMSS this season, Jerry Richert, Jr. bested Cody Hahn and Andy Jones for the top prize of $750 provided by Jim Goerges and Precision Tool Technologies. Hahn earned $500 and Jones $250 for their performances at the June 11 and Mighty Axe weekend races. Hahn also earned another $100 GRP Past Champion Bonus. The battle for the GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Year now has the three contenders with the twelve race minimum. Anna Kouba currently leads Chad Patterson and Kevin Bradwell for top honors. The GRP High Five Championship Chase is also starting to take shape with Richert sitting atop the standings followed by Jones, Hahn, Broty and Barickman.
Tatnell, Richert and their families will now get ready for the 11th Annual Richert Memorial at the Cedar Lake Speedway on Saturday September 10. It’s an open wheel fan’s dream night, as the UMSS winged sprints will be running on the same program as the IRA versus Knoxville challenge for 410 winged sprints. The upstart nonwinged TSCS sprint cars will also be on hand along with the NVRA vintage cars. Sprint car fans will want to be sure and make it out to the Cedar Lake Speedway for this annual gathering and traditionally great night of sprint car racing action on the high-banked 3/8 mile dirt oval. Check out the UMSS website at www.umsprints.com or the UMSS Facebook page for further news, information and point standings.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway September 4, 2011 (Race #15) Mighty Axe Nationals:
Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (7 laps): Brad Barickman, Brooke Tatnell, Lee Grosz, Cody Hahn, Joseph Kouba, Kevin Bradwell, Chris Graf DNF.
Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (6 laps): Andy Jones, Jerry Richert Jr, Chad Patterson, Mike Luks, Dominic Novak, Leigh Thomas DNF, Jared Goerges DNS.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Heat #3 (6 laps): Tim Johnson, Scott Broty, Sye Anderson, Tony Norem, David Craft, Johnny Parsons III.
GRP Motorsports Challenge Race #1 (10 laps): Richert, Grosz, Craft, Broty, Goerges, Patterson, Novak, Luks DNF, Parsons DNF, Johnson DNF.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (9 laps): Tatnell, Barickman, Jones, Hahn, Graf, Anderson, Kouba, Bradwell, Norem DNF, Thomas DNS.
Precision Tool A Main (20 laps): Tatnell, Richert, Barickman, Grosz, Hahn, Goerges, Jones, Norem, Broty, Kouba, Patterson, Bradwell, Craft DNF, Anderson DNF, Graf DNF, Parsons DNF, Novak DNF, Luks DNF, Johnson DNS, Thomas DNS.
Lap Leaders: Richert 1-17, Tatnell 18-20