New Format For Kouba Memorial, But Familiar Face In Princeton Victory Lane

By Greg Parent
Princeton, MN

The 21st Annual Kouba Memorial donned a new format this year with the event being run on two nights.  The opening night was held at the Princeton Speedway on Friday August 16.  A great field of 27 winged  Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) cars were on hand on a perfect summer evening for racing in front of a large crowd.  Although the race format was new, when the final checkers flew at the end of the night in the 25 lap Ethel Kouba Memorial feature, a familiar face sat in Victory Lane.  Winning his second straight UMSS feature, his second of the season at Princeton, and his 22nd career UMSS triumph, Brooke Tatnell continued his torrid pace during the three race UMSS swing.  Tatnell won the previous night at KRA Speedway, and he will go for the clean sweep on Saturday at the St. Croix Valley Raceway.
Following Ultimate Sprint Heat wins by two-time UMSS Champion Jerry Richert Jr, Tony Norem and Lee Grosz, the Challenge Races went to 2010 UMSS Champion Cody Hahn and Tatnell.  Tatnell was the high point driver after the typical double-round of UMSS qualifiers, and he drew the #8 pill for the feature race invert.  This put Brookings, South Dakota driver Donovan Peterson and Hahn on the front row.
Hahn wasted little in blasting to the early lead.  With just one lap in the books, Grosz and current UMSS point leader Chris Graf tangled in turn one to bring out the first of four cautions.  Both cars restarted at the tail.  Hahn once again held the top spot when the race went green, as Tatnell was working his way forward.  When Troy Manteufel slipped over the turn four berm to bring out the second caution with sixteen laps scored, Tatnell was now up to second.  Hahn held off Tatnell in turn one on the restart to maintain his lead, but one lap later the yellow light blinked on when Tony Kaus drove off the back stretch.  On the restart, Tatnell dove low in turn one and slid up in front of Hahn for the lead.
Once in the lead, Tatnell pulled away but soon found himself in heavy lapped traffic.  Tony Norem had also worked his way past Hahn and was closing in on Tatnell.  As the leaders took the white flag, a group of three lapped cars was impeding Tatnell’s progress with Norem now right behind him.  The fourth and final caution negated what was shaping up to be an exciting finish, as Dave Becker slipped off the back stretch and tagged the retaining fence wall setting up a two lap dash to the checkers just as Tatnell and Norem were racing out of turn two.  Tatnell held off Norem in the two lap dash to the checkers with Hahn, Richert and Graf all the way from the back rounding out the top five.  Completing the top ten finishers were Peterson, Davey Heskin, 2009 UMSS Champion Leigh Thomas, Grosz and Sye Anderson.  Only one car failed to finish, as 21 sprints were still running at the end on the little quarter mile bullring.
The UMSS sprints then headed over to the St. Croix Valley Raceway for the final night of the 21st Annual Kouba Memorial to see if Tatnell could complete the sweep or it somebody else could put a stop to the streak.  As an added incentive on the opening night of the Kouba Memorial, the feature winner (Tatnell) and the high point driver for the night (Norem) earned automatic starting spots in the Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Dash on Saturday night at SCVR.  Those two drivers would not have to race a heat or challenge race, as they would be in the random draw along with four other cars for the dash on Saturday.
UMSS Race Results – Princeton Speedway August 16, 2013 (Race #9)
21st Annual Kouba Memorial Night #1:

Alpha Apparel & Promotions Ultimate Sprint Race #1 (9 laps): 63 Jerry Richert Jr, 25 Brooke Tatnell, 20G Chris Graf, 55 Joseph Kouba, 23 Cody Hahn, 91A Reed Allex, 14K Tori Knutson DNF, 10X Jennifer Eriksen DNF, 36 Jason Tostenson DNS.

Meeks Video Ultimate Sprint Race #2 (9 laps): B1st Tony Norem, 91 Davey Heskin, 7 Dave Becker, 5W Ryan Wilson, 37 Sye Anderson, 48 Neal Matuska, 34TW Gunner Cummings, 20 Jordan Wilmes, 7M Bob McVitty. Ultimate Sprint Race #3 (9 laps): 4J Lee Grosz, 11XS Donovan Peterson, 29 Leigh Thomas, 5M Troy Manteufel, 34 Rick Kobs, 3TK Tony Kaus, 5 Joe Kouba, 31 James Broty DNF, 9 Jared Goerges DNF.
JDK Communications Challenge Race #1 (12 laps): Hahn, Grosz, Graf, Heskin, Kobs, Richert, Thomas, Matuska, Wilmes, Knutson, Wilson, Allex, McVitty.
Rice Creek Builders Challenge Race #2 (12 laps): Tatnell, Anderson, Norem, Joseph Kouba, Peterson, Manteufel, Cummings, Eriksen, Broty, Backer, Kaus, Goerges DNF, Joe Kouba DNS, Jason Tostenson DNS.
Ethel Kouba Memorial Feature (25 laps): Tatnell, Norem, Hahn, Richert, Graf, Peterson, Heskin, Thomas, Grosz, Anderson, Kobs, Joseph Kouba, Wilson, Eriksen, Cummings, Broty, Kaus, Manteufel, Wilmes, Matuska, Knutson, Allex, Becker DNF.

Lap Leaders: Hahn 1-17, Tatnell 18-25.
Cautions: (4)