Parsons adds to his Blast! Trophy Collection

By Joshua Lehnertz
(St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, August 30, 2013)

The extended Labor Day weekend got off to a rousing start Friday night at St. Croix Valley Raceway when the Modifieds and WISSOTA Late Models headlined the second Bullring Blast event.  Joining the headliners were all of The Valley’s regular classes, with Kris Kaphing, Jason Havel, Bryan Patrick, Johnny Parsons, Tony Schill, Kevin Adams and Brent Larson all claiming victories.

The race that will have fans talking for a while was the UMSS Traditional Sprint feature, which seemingly saw a new leader with every lap.  While the series championship was wrapped up last week by Rob Caho Jr., things were far from settled in the battle for runner-up as Johnny Parsons, Cam Schafer and Rookie-of-the-Year Mike Mueller were separated by only a few dozen points going into the season’s final race.  Schafer had the benefit of starting on the pole and held the lead through the first half-dozen laps running a low line in front of Parsons and Mueller while Jake Kouba and Caho ran up against the cushion.  Kouba inched closer to the front on each circuit and finally edged out front on lap seven.  Kouba pushed his #2k sprinter over the cushion on lap twelve, allowing Schafer to re-stake his claim to the lead with Parsons and Caho immediately following in their customary low and high grooves.  Just two laps later, Parsons shot from third to first, only to have Schafer serve his third stint at the point on the very next lap.  With just two laps remaining, Parsons charged back to the point along with Caho running a middle groove and Schafer running up high in a three-wide frenzy.  For the final half mile Parsons and Caho left fans breathless while using up every inch of The Valley’s clay.  Charging out of the final turn the lead duo was even as they drag-raced to the double checkers and Parsons claimed his third series win of the summer by inches over Caho, Kouba and Schafer.  In his first experience in a sprint car, Jason Schill ran to an impressive fifth place finish.

In WISSOTA Midwest Modified competition, the final margin of victory was nearly as close.  David Mastell and Tony Schill led the fourteen car field to green with Schill grabbing the point early and Mastell in tow.  First heat race winner Jason VandeKamp held down the third position and second heat race winner Ryan Viltz charged from eighth to fourth on the opening lap.  On lap five VandeKamp worked under Mastell to take over second, but by then Schill had built up a sizable advantage.  Schill’s #8s got a little loose in turn two, allowing VandeKamp to close the gap and nearly overtake the leader.  While the rest of the field was running two and three grooves wide behind them, Schill and VandeKamp embarked on a battle of nerves for the win.  VandeKamp’s favored line was only slightly lower than Schill’s not allowing enough room for a clean pass.  The two raced the duration nearly side-by-side, Schill never more than a car length in front of VandeKamp.  And just like the race prior to it, the tandem battle went down to the wire with Schill claiming his first career victory at The Valley with VandeKamp’s bumper easily visible to his left.  Viltz crossed the stripe in third ahead of Mastell and Justin Oestreich.

Brent Larson won the Modified portion of the 2012 Bullring Blast, and the Lake Elmo, Minnesota hot shoe picked up a heat race win in the headlining WISSOTA Late Model division for this year’s event.  For the 2013 feature, Larson sat on the front row with fellow heat race winner Mike Nutzmann with Larson jumping to the point under green.  Also giving chase were Mike Bear, TJ Adams, Jeff Keeney, Mike Goodremote and Steve Laursen.  The running order was shuffled a bit after a caution for the stalled Robbie Cooper ride, with the biggest gain to Steve Laursen, who had cracked the top five by lap eight.  Out front, Nutzmann was still chasing after Brent Larson as Steve Laursen continued his charge, working up to third by lap nine.  The field spread out considerably as the final fifteen laps went caution free with Larson claiming the win over Nutzmann, Laursen, Goodremote and Bear.

In Modified competition, former track regulars Buzzy Adams and Scott Splittstoesser brought the field to green with Adams nabbing the top spot in front of Splittstoesser, Doug Gustafson, second heat race winner Scott Duval, Terry Hanson and first heat race winner Ashley Anderson.  With five laps in the books, Duval had worked around Gustafson into third and went right to work on Splittstoesser for second while Adams tried to stretch his lead.  Meanwhile, Anderson was flying in the high groove and had passed Gustafson and then Duval for third on lap nine.  With ten laps remaining, Splittstoesser suffered a flat right front tire and headed to the work area for a new shoe, rejoining the back of the field.  On the restart Duval got back by Anderson for second and the two engaged is a fierce battle after that.  Duval ran a middle-low line while Anderson was charging hard up high.  Anderson clawed back to runner-up coming out of turn four with just four laps to go.  No matter the runner-up, no one had the speed to match Adams’, who picked up his second consecutive win at The Valley, also claiming the Dawg Days Dash title back in July.  Anderson came home second in front of Duval, Gustafson and Jake Miller.

The Pure Stock finale was once again dominated by Jason Havel.  Havel had seven Valley wins coming into the night and drew the pole starting position inside of Rob Lowe for the feature.  Third-starting Dustin Doughty immediately shot to second and was able to keep Havel in his sights while track champion Ben Kaphing ran third until a flat right rear ended his night on lap seven.  After a lap nine caution for “Jetlag” Jon Wigchers’ flat, Doughty began to apply pressure to Havel while Kyle Dahlheimer was locking horns with Krysta Swearingen for third.  The race stopped a third time after Swearingen slapped the turn four wall hard.  Swearingen restarted but was unable to complete another green flag lap, leaving Dahlheimer to battle with Doughty.  With two laps to go, Dahlheimer claimed second but couldn’t run down Havel, who claimed his eighth Valley win of the summer over Dahlheimer, Doughty and Casey Ogilvie.

Riding a two week hot streak, Derek Reding started the Future Four main event on the pole alongside of Brock Anderson.  At the drop of the green, fourth starting Kris Kaphing charged up to make it a three wide battle out of the second turn, with Reding winning the dash to turn three.  While top three broke away, Kayla Lallier was trying to sneak under Nicki DuBois for fourth while DuBois was laying heavy into the throttle in the high groove to keep Lallier at bay.  On lap six, Kaphing shot low and hard into turn three with enough speed to get by Reding and assume the lead.  Once in front, Kaphing began pulling away, but also began puffing smoke from his right front in the waning laps.  The smoke proved inconsequential as Kaphing cruised to his third win this season over Reding, Anderson, DuBois and Lallier.

Jeremy Brake and Allison Berger paced the UMSS Micro Sprint field; with heat race winner and season champion Ty Sampair blasting from fourth to second at the start.  Berger was being chased by Sampair when Sampair’s #64 suffered a breakdown, ending his night.  Sampair’s exit opened the door for Bryan Patrick to take up the challenge of Berger and the two set out on a slicing and dicing tango for the lead.  With only a handful of laps remaining, Patrick swept high around Berger coming out of turn two to claim the top spot.  From there, Patrick would motor the last few laps to gain his second win of the month over Berger and Brake.

Just one race remains on The Valley calendar for 2013, the “Halloween in September/Crash-Tastic Smash-O-Rama” event set for Saturday, September 14th.  UMSS Micro Sprints will be in action along with the Pure Stocks and Future Fours.  In addition to the racing, young fans are encouraged to wear their Halloween costumes, as there will be Trick-or-Treating on the track with the drivers during the evening.  Scott Turkiewicz will also be thrilling the crowd with a series of stunts, and the monster truck “Heart Breaker” will be smashing and crashing around the grounds as well.  The always popular and hilarious Trailer Races are also a part of this event.  The final event of the 2013 season will be the swap meet and “arrive and drive” on Saturday, October 5th.  The arrive-and-drive is a chance for prospective drivers to pay a small per-lap fee and hot lap a race car.  SCVR hosted two similar events last season, one for Micro Sprints and another for Traditional Sprints.  Both were very well received, and multiple classes will be included into a single, larger test session this October.  As the event draws closer, more details will be posted on the track’s website,, as well as their Facebook page.

Race summary (unofficial)

Pure Stock- Heat- Ben Kaphing, Jon Wigchers, Dustin Doughty, Jason Havel, Rob Lowe, Krysta Swearingen, Myles McEvers, Kyle Dahlheimer, Casey Ogilvie

Feature- Jason Havel, Kyle Dahlheimer, Dustin Doughty, Casey Ogilvie, Krysta Swearingen, Jon Wigchers, Ben Kaphing, Rob Lowe, Myles McEvers

Future IV- Heat- Kris Kaphing, Chris Arnett, Derek Reding, Kayla Lallier, Brock Anderson, Nicki DuBois, Damon Roberts

Feature- Kris Kaphing, Derek Reding, Brock Anderson, Nicki DuBois, Kayla Lallier, Chris Arnett, Damon Roberts

UMSS Micro Sprint- Heat- Ty Sampair, Bryan Patrick, Allison Berger, Jeremy Brake

Feature- Bryan Patrick, Allison Berger, Jeremy Brake, Ty Sampair

UMSS Traditional Sprint- Heat 1- Johnny Parsons, Jake Kouba, Cam Shafer, Lucas Milz, Jesse Tripp, Jake Hendrickson, Tom Porter Heat 2- Rob Caho Jr., Mike Mueller, Jason Schill, Katrina Sautbine, Denny Stordahl, D Taubert

Feature- Johnny Parsons, Rob Caho Jr., Jake Kouba, Cam Shafer, Jason Schill, Lucas Milz, Katrina Sautbine, Mike Mueller, Denny Stordahl, D Taubert, Tom Porter, Jake Hendrickson, Jesse Tripp