Picking up where he left off the previous Saturday, Richfield’s Brad Barickman continued his Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) winning streak when he raced to victory in the prestigious 18th Annual Earl & Ethel Kouba Memorial at North Central Speedway on Saturday night July 24. The event began back on June 5, but it was interrupted by rain following the Ultimate Sprint Heats. The race continued with the Challenge races and the 20 lap Kouba Memorial feature on July 24. Barickman drove around early race leader Mark Toews on lap four and never looked back to earn his third straight UMSS feature win.
Commenting in victory lane following his victory, Barickman expressed his appreciation and what it meant to add his name to an already impressive previous champions list. “This is a very special race honoring a special family in this sport. This win means a lot to me. I’m honored to be able to add my name along side some outstanding drivers who are previous champions.” Barickman then talked about his current winning streak. “It’s great to win three straight against some very strong competitors. I’ll try for four in a row a bit later on this evening.”
On behalf of the Kouba family, Joe Kouba then thanked Cliff Sasker and North Central Speedway for hosting the event for the sixth time and their generous contribution to the purse. “This race has grown to not only honor my parents but to also celebrate a great night of sprint car racing. Thanks to all of the sponsors, drivers and race fans for making this night so special each year,” stated Kouba. In addition to North Central Speedway and the Kouba family, GRP Motorsports, Proto-Fab Engineering, Bev-Lor Utilities, Precision Tool Technologies, Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing, Ronnie Wuiff and Rik Sandberg all added money to the purse to make a great payout for the 18th running of this annual event. The feature race alone had an $8,500 payout, and when adding in the challenge races, heat races and other awards, the total Kouba Memorial purse was $9,550.
With 19 of the original 23 cars on hand plus two new cars, a full field of 21 UMSS sprint cars lined up to do battle for 20 racing laps around the North Central Speedway. Rookie Andy Jones was on the pole flanked by veteran sprint car driver Mark Toews from Spirit Lake, IA. Toews grabbed the early lead with third starter Brad Barickman quickly moving to second on the cushion. On lap four, Barickman blasted around Toews for the top spot. Fourth starter and defending Kouba Memorial champion Jerry Richert Jr. raced past Toews for second on lap six. The first of three cautions waved with six laps in the books when rookie Mark Yetter stopped in turn three. Yetter refired and tagged the tail.
Barickman opened up a lead on the restart over Richert. Two laps after the green replaced the yellow, 2009 UMSS Rookie of the Year Cody Hahn got under Toews for third. While running seventh with eleven laps down, rookie Andy Jones may have seen his season go up in smoke when he grenaded his engine on the front stretch to bring out the second caution. Barickman led Richert and Hahn to the green while Toews, Tim Johnson and Jimmy Kouba battled for the fourth spot. The final caution flew after sixteen laps when Mark Yetter looped his sprinter in turn four. Barickman continued to show his strength up front during the final four laps enroute to his third UMSS win of the season. Richert and Hahn completed the top three. North Central Speedway street stock and super stock competitor Tim Johnson ran a solid race in the TW Motorports entry to finish fourth ahead of two-time Kouba Memorial champion Jimmy Kouba. A strong run forward by 15th starting rookie Jared Goerges produced a sixth place finish. The $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Charger Award was won however by 19th starter Scotty Thiel. Thiel made the nearly eight hour tow from Sheboygan, WI, to tag the back of a challenge race, and then start 19th in the feature. Thiel raced his way forward to a fine seventh place finish. Rounding out the top ten finishers were Toews, Joseph Kouba and Sye Anderson. Only three cars failed to finish the race.
Currently sitting in second place in the UMSS point standings, Brandon Allen saw his season take a turn for the worse when he blew his motor early in the race. Allen received the $100 Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Luck Award for his misfortune. The Ethel Kouba Challenge Races sponsored by Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing saw Jerry Richert Jr. top Tim Johnson and Brad Barickman in the first challenge while 2009 UMSS Champion Leigh Thomas raced ahead of Mark Toews and Troy Manteufel in the second challenge. Ultimate Sprint Heat winners from June 5 included Chris Graf, Kevin Nickel and Jimmy Kouba. Unfortunately Graf was not able to be on hand due to motor issues at Elko the previous weekend. Receiving $25 gas cards from JKD Communications were Tim Johnson, Scotty Thiel, Ronnie Erickson, Mark Toews, Leigh Thomas, Mark Yetter, Brandon Allen and Joseph Kouba.
Following the conclusion of the Kouba Memorial, the UMSS sprint cars geared up for another full program of racing action. A complete race report on that event is separate from this one. During the evening, the UMSS sprinters ran nine different races with many drivers able to be on the track in five events including two features, two challenge races and a heat race. Indeed it was a very special and very busy evening at the North Central Speedway on Saturday July 24.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway July 24, 2010 (Race #9) Kouba Memorial:
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (8 laps): Chris Graf, Jack Zweber, Cody Hahn, Sye Anderson, Tim Johnson, Leigh Thomas, Shannon Eriksen, Ronnie Erickson.
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (8 laps): Kevin Nickel, Brad Barickman, Mark Toews, Jerry Richert Jr, Troy Manteufel, Jennifer Eriksen, Dave Becker, Anna Kouba.
GRP Motorsports Ultimate Sprint Heat #3 (7 laps): Jimmy Kouba, Joseph Kouba, Brandon Allen, Andy Jones, Brett Allen, Johnny Parsons III, Jared Goerges.
Note: The Ultimate Sprint Heats were run on June 5. Chris Graf, Dave Becker, Brett Allen and Johnny Parsons were unable to return on July 24.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #1 (11 laps): Richert, Johnson, Barickman, Hahn, J. Eriksen, Jimmy Kouba, S. Eriksen, Goerges, Mark Yetter, Anna Kouba DNF, Brandon Allen DNF.
Gillund Enterprises/JB Distributing Ethel Kouba Challenge Race #2 (10 laps): Thomas, Toews, Manteufel, Jones, Anderson, Joseph Kouba, Scotty Thiel, Erickson, Nickel, Zweber DNS.
Note: Mark Yetter and Scotty Thiel were added to the back of each challenge race, as they were newcomers on July 24. Jack Zweber arrived at the track late and did not run a challenge race.
Kouba Memorial A Main (20 laps): Barickman, Richert, Hahn, Johnson, Jimmy Kouba, Goerges, Thiel, Toews, Joseph Kouba, Anderson, S. Eriksen, Thomas, Zweber, J. Eriksen, Manteufel, Erickson, Nickel, Anna Kouba, Yetter DNF, Jones DNF, Brandon Allen DNF.
Lap Leaders: Toews 1-3, Barickman 4-20.
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Race: Jared Goerges
Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Charger Award Sponsored by Rik & Sandy Sandberg: Scotty Thiel (19th to 7th)
Raleigh Sandberg Memorial Hard Luck Award Sponsored by Ronnie & Cindy Wuiff: Brandon Allen (blown engine)
Making a nearly eight hour tow from Sheboygan, WI to North Central Speedway near Brainerd to race in two feature events, young Scotty Thiel put an end to Brad Barickman’s three race winning streak when he trounced the field to the win the Upper Midwest Sprintcar Series (UMSS) second event of the evening on July 24. Following the conclusion of the 18th Annual Kouba Memorial, a full UMSS sprint car program was run on the 1/3 mile North Central oval. Thiel, who regularily races with the southeastern Wisconsin MSA sprint car group, decided to make his second UMSS apperance of the season. His first visit west back in April to Kopellah ended up with a wrecked car. This long haul was much more profitable, as the young hotshoe wheeled his sprinter to victory from his outside front row starting spot on what became a much drier surface from the first feature race of the evening. Thiel’s smaller MSA motor package may have benefited him under just the right conditions in the second feature.
An excited Thiel stated in his victory lane interview, “This is just awesome to make a long haul over here and come away with a win. I love racing with the UMSS on their smaller tracks. I have to thank my crew, my sponsors and my parents for allowing me the opportunity to do this. This will make the long drive back home tomorrow go a little bit faster.” Hopefully it will, as Thiel had some problems during the last 30 mile jaunt of his journey over on Saturday when his tow vehicle would only pull the trailer at about 30 MPH. At that pace, Scotty jokingly indicated they might get back home in time to race next weekend.
A competitive field of 18 UMSS sprint cars lined up for their second 20 lap feature race of the night sponsored by Crosslake Sheet Metal. 2010 rookie contender Jared Goerges and Scotty Thiel brought the field to the green. Three cars of the 21 on hand were unable to race in the second feature due to mechanical problems. Thiel immediately bolted into the lead after Goerges caught a rut on the low side of turn one on the opening lap and fell back to fourth. Brad Barickman, who had won the Kouba Memorial earlier in the evening, blasted to second on the opening lap from his fourth starting spot. Barickman was trying to make it four straight UMSS feature wins, but Thiel would have something to say about that. When the lone caution of the race flew with five laps in the books for debris in turn two and a flat tire on Joseph Kouba’s car, Thiel had already opened up a bit of a lead. That evaporated under the caution, putting Barickman, Mark Toews and Goerges right behind the leader. The race would then run 15 laps nonstop to the finish when the green replaced the yellow.
Thiel gradually pulled away from the field, as the battle for second heated up behind him. Goerges recovered from his earlier miscue on the opening lap and raced back to the runner-up spot on lap nine. One lap later, Mark Toews got by Barickman for third. A good battle for several positions behind the leaders developed under green flag racing conditions. Toews swapped the second place spot a couple of times with Goerges before taking control on lap fifteen. With Thiel working lapped traffic and well over a full straight away ahead, Toews would need a yellow to close the gap.
The race stayed clean and green to the finish with Thiel winning by a very comfortable margin over Toews. Goerges turned in his best finish of the season with a solid third place effort, as the young rookie from Brainerd continues to get faster, run better, and impress many on-lookers as each additional race night unfolds. Another Brainerd native, Sye Anderson, also raced to his best finish of the season with a charge from tenth to finish fourth. Last September, Anderson won both nights at the Mighty Axe on his home track. Completing the top five was 2009 UMSS Rookie of the Year Cody Hahn. Rounding out the top ten finishers saw another Brainerd driver, Tim Johnson, in sixth followed by 18th starter Jimmy Kouba, Jerry Richert Jr, Brad Barickman, and Jack Zweber. Jimmy Kouba jumped into team-mate Mark Yetter’s sprinter following a rear end failure in his car after the heat race. Kouba raced his way past eleven cars in the feature. Like the earlier feature race, only three cars failed to finish the 20 lap distance.
In Ultimate Sprint Heat Race action, Cody Hahn topped the Midwestracingtalk.com first heat. The Driverwebsites.com second heat win went to Goerges. An exciting third Sprintsource.com heat saw Mark Toews and Leigh Thomas swap the lead back and forth numerous times before Toews emerged victorious. The Bryant Heating and Cooling Systems Challenge Race saw young Jack Zweber race ahead of the field for the win over Scotty Thiel. The Mastell Brothers Trailer Service second Challenge Race would see Tim Johnson hold off Brad Barickman for the top spot. In all, many drivers raced in a total of five events during the busy evening which saw the UMSS sprint cars run two features, four challenge races, and three heats. A total of 99 laps of 360 winged sprint car racing certainly should have provided fans with their money’s worth of entertainment in addition to a full regular stock car racing program at North Central Speedway. 2010 UMSS rookie contender Andy Jones won the modified feature portion of the program while Tim Johnson copped the street stock main event.
The UMSS season continues in high gear with a double-header weekend on Friday July 30 at the Kopellah Speedway followed by Arlington Raceway on Saturday July 31. Although it is not a UMSS race, the rain-delayed feature from July 5 at Arlington will conclude with 12 laps remaining prior to the full UMSS-IMCA Challenge #2 show on July 31. Race fans and drivers can be a part of the action at the track and can also follow along on our website at www.umsprints.com or keep tabs on the UMSS on Facebook. The UMSS Report is handed out free at all events while Stan Meissner brings you “Inside The UMSS” each week on his internet show called Midwest Racing Talk at www.midwestracingtalk.com. Stan’s Minnesota Dirt Track Racing Message board also contains reports and comments regarding the UMSS. For series questions, please contact Ron Bernhagen at 612-363-5302.
UMSS Race Results – North Central Speedway July 24, 2010 (Race #10):
Midwestracingtalk.com Ultimate Sprint Heat #1 (7 laps): Cody Hahn, Brad Barickman, Scotty Thiel, Tim Johnson, Anna Kouba, Ronnie Erickson, Shannon Eriksen.
Driverwebsites.com Ultimate Sprint Heat #2 (7 laps): Jared Goerges, Jerry Richert Jr, Sye Anderson, Jack Zweber, Jimmy Kouba, Kevin Nickel, Jennifer Eriksen.
Sprintsource.com Ultimate Sprint Heat #3 (6 laps): Mark Toews, Leigh Thomas, Joseph Kouba, Troy Manteufel, Mark Yetter, Brandon Allen DNS, Andy Jones DNS.
Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems Challenge Race #1 (9 laps): Zweber, Thiel, Joseph Kouba, Toews, Richert, Hahn, Anna Kouba, J. Eriksen, Nickel, Brandon Allen DNS.
Mastell Brothers Trailer Service Challenge Race #2 (9 laps): Johnson, Barickman, Anderson, Goerges, Thomas, Jimmy Kouba, S. Eriksen, Erickson, Manteufel, Jones DNS, Yetter DNS.
Crosslake Sheet Metal UMSS A Main (20 laps): Thiel, Toews, Goerges, Anderson, Hahn, Johnson, Jimmy Kouba, Richert, Barickman, Zweber, J. Eriksen, Anna Kouba, S. Eriksen, Nickel, Manteufel DNF, Joseph Kouba DNF, Erickson DNF.
Lap Leader: Thiel 1-20
GRP Motorsports/BP Trading Company Rookie of the Race: Jared Goerges