Caho and Clark

By Terry Lehnertz, Joshua Lehnertz and Sarah Lehnertz
(St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, August 9, 2013)

Cloudy skies and moderate temperatures greeted fans and drivers to Friday night’s races at St. Croix Valley Raceway.  Close contests and tiny victory margins were the order of the evening from the first heat race through the night’s final feature, as several races weren’t decided until the very last possible moment.  Tim Baxter set the tone for the night, edging last week’s Pure Stock feature winner Jake Silbernagel in a virtual tie in the opening heat race of the Free Food encore event.

When the feature action began, Jake Silbernagel was looking to redeem his narrow heat race defeat from his front row starting spot outside of Rob Lowe.  Silbernagel grabbed the early lead and led for the first five laps before spinning on the back stretch, handing the lead over to Ben Kaphing.  After Kaphing got out front, he stayed there the rest of the way – picking up his first feature win of the summer in front of Krysta Swearingen, Tim Baxter, Jon Wigchers and Silbernagel.

Future Fours were up next, with “Team Rollover”, Damon and Dylan Roberts setting the pace.  At the drop of the green, it was Damon Roberts getting the jump from the pole to the lead over heat race winner Dylan, with Dan Rick and Nicki DuBois falling in behind.  While the top two remained the same, first DuBois and then Derek Reding worked by Rick, and then the DuBois/Reding battle was the one to watch for the rest of the race.  While Damon Roberts began pulling away out front, Reding hunted high and low, trying to power past DuBois – with DuBois running cool and smooth trying to hold her position.  When the double checkers waved, it was Damon Roberts picking up his fifth win of the summer over Dylan Roberts, DuBois, Reding and Rick.

The UMSS Micro sprints saw the first visit of the summer from an old friend as Greg Gunderson, who dominated the division at times last summer, made the six hour trek from South Dakota to The Valley on Friday.  After taking a nasty spill a week ago, Ty Sampair was looking for a triumphant clean-sweep come back from his pole starting position with Bryan Patrick starting on the outside.  Sampair looked strong from the start, snatching the early lead with Gunderson and Collin Olson in dogged pursuit.  It took just a lap and a half for “Silent Thunder” Gunderson to overtake Sampair as the new pacesetter.  Gunderson was his unflappable self once in the lead, while Olson powered by Sampair for second.  The top three running order was unchanged until a late spin by Olson put Sampair back up to the runner-up spot with just three laps remaining.  Back under green, Gunderson powered to an impressive win over Sampair, Patrick, Sandy Traaseth and Allison Berger.

The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds were their usual multi-grooved selves with speedy and talented drivers sprinkled deep through the line-up.  Local favorites Jason Schill and Josh Bazey paced the eighteen car field with Bazey jumping to the point early.  A restart after Schill was called for a jumped start saw the same result, Bazey showing the fast way.  With seven previous feature winners crammed into the first five rows, the Modifieds set out on their multi-threat hunt for the win in pursuit of Bazey.  Justin Oestreich sliced between Jason VandeKamp and Tony Schill to crack the top three on lap three, only to yield third back to VandeKamp a lap later.  While Jason Schill was sizing up Bazey for the lead, VandeKamp, Tony Schill, Oestreich, Ryan Olson, Mitch Weiss Joe Chaplin Jr. and John Remington all fanned out across the clay looking for speed and a path to the front.  With six laps in the books, VandeKamp took over runner-up honors from Schill, with Oestreich working back up to third by lap eight.  At the crossed flags marking the race’s midpoint, it was Bazey, VandeKamp, Oestreich, Jason Schill and Tony Schill running in the top five.  Coming in to complete lap fourteen, Bazey pushed the right rear of his #55 hot rod over the cushion, opening the door for VandeKamp to take over the point.  Three-eighths of a mile later, Oestreich slipped under Bazey for second and Olson finally cracked the top five getting around Jason Schill.  Things were somewhat settled down for just the last three laps as VandeKamp began to pull away for his fourth win of the season over Oestreich, Bazey Tony Schill and Olson.

In UMSS Traditional Sprint competition, Rob Caho Jr. has earned a reputation as a high-flying throttle stomper, frequently using the cushion to power his sprinter to wins.  Johnny Parsons III, on the other hand, usually can be found running smooth and steady in the low groove.  That duo has used contrasting styles to become the co-leaders in career TSCS wins.  The roles were reversed Friday, with Caho running the bottom and Parsons in a group of drivers using the cushion and the throttle in search of checkers.  To start things off, third heat race winner Mike Mueller and first heat race winner Parsons brought the seventeen sprinters to green with Mueller holding the point early point over Parsons.  Fourth starting Kevin Bradwell held down the third spot, chased by reigning Open Wheel Nationals champion Cam Shafer.  It wasn’t until one looked back to the sixth position of Caho that a driver dared move off the cushion and utilize the lower groove.  By lap five, Caho had powered under Shafer, and then Bradwell.  With Caho up to third, Shafer followed the points leader to the bottom and high-low battle was on.  Still working low on lap six, Caho made the paradoxical low-side pass of Parsons into second place and kept powering forward in pursuit of Mueller.  As the lead duo passed the start-finish line completing lap seven, Caho was ahead by a whisker.  After Caho edged out front, things were far from settled as Mueller was successfully keeping pace up high, with Bradwell chasing him – while Shafer was dogging Caho in the low groove.  Things got still more interesting by the race’s midpoint, as sixteenth starting Brian “The Dragon” VanMeveren had ventured both high and low to crack the top five.  Caho’s lead would yo-yo between a few car lengths and a few inches as he and Mueller continued their high-low battle for the win and the rest of the field battled in those same grooves behind them.  It was a saw-blade, low-high finish with Caho becoming the all-time series win leader over Mueller, Shafer, VanMeveren and Bradwell.  After the race, several fans stayed as the Traditional drivers gave an on-track tribute to UMSS Traditional Sprint Car Series racer Jack Clark.  Clark has been a stalwart competitor in the wingless series since its inception and the veteran racer has been instrumental in growing the series by providing untold hours of assistance and a wealth of advisement and mentoring to the series’ drivers.  Clark raced to an eighth place finish in his final TSCS race prior to moving back to northern California later this month.  Clark marked his last moments at the track with a victory lap, flying SCVR’s unique red-and-white checkered flag.

Only a handful of events remain on The Valley’s schedule for 2013, starting with this Saturday’s Kouba Memorial.  The 21st annual event will be a two night affair, co-hosted by Princeton Speedway in Princeton, Minnesota.  The UMSS Winged Sprints will be in Princeton on Friday, August 16, for the Kouba opener, and then the sprinters head across the St. Croix River to join SCVR’s regular classes the following night, Saturday August 17, for the Kouba finale at The Valley.  The following week, the WISSOTA Street Stocks have been added to Fan Appreciation Night, Friday August 23, and late models invade when WISSOTA Late Models and open Modifieds come to the quarter-mile for Bullring Blast #2 on August 30.  Details for these events and other happenings at the track can be found at the track’s website,

Race summary (unofficial)
Pure Stocks: Heat – Tim Baxter, Jake Silbernagel, Krysta Swearingen, Ben Kaphing, Rob Lowe, Jon Wigchers, Casey Ogilvie, Mason McEvers, Kaylee Remington
Feature – Ben Kaphing, Krysta Swearingen, Tim Baxter, Jon Wigchers, Jake Silbernagel, Mason McEvers, Rob Lowe, Casey Ogilvie, Kaylee Remington

Future Fours: Heat – Dylan Roberts, Damon Roberts, Nicki DuBois, Dan Rick, Derek Reding, Brock Anderson, Alex Hallin
Feature – Damon Roberts, Dylan Roberts, Nicki DuBois, Derek Reding, Dan Rick, Brock Anderson, Alex Hallin

UMSS Micro Sprints: Heat –Ty Sampair, Bryan Patrick, Greg Gunderson, Allison Berger, Sandy Traaseth, Collin Olson
Feature – Greg Gunderson, Ty Sampair, Bryan Patrick, Sandy Traaseth, Allison Berger, Colin Olson

WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds: Heat 1 – Jason VandeKamp, Josh Bazey, John Remington, Joe Chaplin Jr., Tony DuBois, Elizabeth Toepper   Heat 2 – Tony Schill, Jason Schill, Eric Gadach, Tyler English, Craig Elliot, Kyle Hallin   Heat 3 – Ryan Olson, Justin Oestreich, Mitch Weiss, Kevin Marlett, David Mastell, Jacob Toepper
Feature – Jason Vendekamp, Justin Oestreich, Josh Bazey, Tony Schill, Ryan Olson, Jason Schill, Mitch Weiss, Joe Chaplin Jr., Kevin Marlett, John Remington, David Mastell, Tyler English, Kyle Hallin, Elizabeth Toepper, Jacob Toepper, Tony DuBois, Eric Gadach, Craig Elliot

UMSS Traditional Sprints: Heat 1 – Johnny Parsons, Cam Shafer, Katrina Sautbine, Tom Porter, Joe Jesmore, D Taubert Heat 2 – Kevin Bradwell, Jake Kouba, Rob Caho Jr., Denny Stordahl, Jake Hendrickson Heat 3 – Mike Mueller, Jack Clark, Jeff Pellersels, Jesse Tripp, Brian VanMeveren
Feature – Rob Caho Jr., Mike Mueller, Cam Shafer, Brian VanMeveren, Kevin Bradwell, Johnny Parsons, Denny Stordahl, Jack Clark, Jake Kouba, Katrina Sautbine, Jessie Tripp, D Taubert, Tom Porter, Jeff Pellersels, Jake Hendrickson, Joe Jesmore