Menomonie WI, Sept. 24 – Jimmy Mars, who began his racing career at this very speedway and has moved on to national driving fame, returned to his home roots and drove to victory in the thirty second annual Punky Manor Challenge of Champions Late Model special Saturday night at the Red Cedar Speedway. Winners in the other divisions competing Saturday included Kevin Adams in the Modifieds, Steve Thomas in the Super Stocks, Shawn Huse in the Midwest Modifieds and George Richards in the Pure Stocks.
Mars started in the third row of the twenty five car field that took starter Rick Cook’s green flag, and it took Mars nearly half the main event to work his way into the lead.
The early leader was Lance Matthees, who is on a hot streak of his own, having swept the boards at last weekend’s WISSOTA 100 in Huron South Dakota. Matthees came off the outside of the front row to take the early lead from Brent Larson, and once in front Lance opened up some space on the field. Mike Prochnow and Joel Cryderman battled Larson for second as Mars and Jake Redetzke began to both charge to the front. Mars made a strong move to get underneath Redetzke and then drove past Prochnow to take over the second spot.
Matthees, meanwhile, was motoring away from the field but Mars slowly but gradually closed on the Winona MN. Ace. Mars closed to within a car length of Lance, but the grizzled veteran refused to yield as he kept up his pace and repulsed several probing attempts by Mars. Finally, Jimmy was able to get to the inside off turn two and edged into the lead on lap nineteen. Matthees fought back and they raced side by side but Mars then assumed control at the halfway point of the race.
Matthees stayed close, as Mars was never able to put more than just a few car lengths on his chaser as the leaders started to deal with lapped traffic. Meanwhile, Redetzke was on the move also as he seemed to be gaining ground on both the leaders while A.J. Diemel also began to move to the front.
The leaders carefully worked their way through traffic, as the race remained under the green in what would turn out to be a nonstop forty lapper. Matthees would remain close, but every time he would get near Mars, Jimmy would make another move through traffic and gain the edge again. Running in heavy traffic, the track suddenly started to take rubber in the low groove and the pack backed up in front of Mars. Jimmy made a key pass with a bold move under John Kaanta in turn three to put one car between himself and Matthees.
The last ten laps of the race, Mars spent tucked tight in behind the car of Joel Cryderman as the pack lined up in single fashion formation. Mars crossed the line with two lapped cars between himself and Matthees, with the second , third and fourth place cars of Matthees, Redetzke and Diemel in nose to tail formation while Prochnow completed the top five. Mars took home $5,000 for his victory in front of the home town crowd.
Jimmy also entered the Modified field this weekend, and while his effort was good, he was no match for Adams who led wire to wire for the thirty lap win. Kevin started on the outside of the front row and beat Mark Hanson into the first corner and pulled into the early lead.
Riding the high side of the track, Adams quickly put some distance on the field and Mars moved up to challenge Hanson for second. Jimmy swept under Mark to take the second spot, and then set said to catch the high flying Cameron resident. Dave Cain was also on the move and he took the third spot from Hanson and also set off after the leaders.
Adams continued to sail along, as the race remained under the green. The top two runners were running distinctly different lines, with Adams running tight up against the wall while Mars worked the middle of the track. Jimmy appeared to be gaining slightly as the race reached its halfway point, but at that juncture Adams picked up the pace and gradually began to extend his lead until he nearly had a straightaway on the field.
Back in the pack , the driver to watch was Mike Anderson who had started eighteenth but was coming through the field with a vengeance, moving into the top ten and continuing to charge. Adams continued his charge while the third spot was getting interesting as Hanson was fighting back to give Cain a serious threat.
Adams was working through lapped traffic without problems when the unexpected occurred. Kevin was trying to work past the duo of Ross Prochnow and Jake Hartung when a large piece of the suspension of Hartung’s car came off and crashed into the window bars of Adams’ car, badly bending the bars but protecting Adams from possible serious injury. The debris on the track did bring out the first yellow flag of the race with only five laps to go.
The restart was bad news for fourth running Hanson, as he got into the back stretch wall while battling with Cain and Anderson, and he damaged the battery on his car, with it sparking down the front chute and then shutting down the car entirely , causing another yellow flag.
The last four laps ran nonstop, and Adams took off strongly and put distance on Mars, as any attempts by Mars to steal the victory were quickly stifled by Adams’ strong start. The dream season for Adams continues, as he crossed under the line to win his second straight Punky Manor title as well as his thirty third feature win of the 2011 racing season. Mars made his second Modified outing of the year a successful one in second with Cain holding off hard chargers Anderson and Robby Bunkelman.
Thomas was on his game Saturday as he led from start to finish to record the Super Stock win. He started on the outside pole and fought his way past Jeff Brauer to take the early lead with Ben Hillman moving up to challenge Brauer for second. They had quite a battle for that position before Hillman was able to edge in front. Thomas continued to show the way, with Scott Lawrence, Aaron Wilson and Tom Karis battling behind the top three.
After a lap seven yellow, Thomas continued to lead with Hillman challenging him severely, while Brauer and Wilson fought for position. Moving from the eighteenth starting slot, Eric Olson was making an impressive charge through the pack. While most of the field raced the high side, Olson was working the low groove and he gradually worked his way into a challenging position. He was battling Lawrence for position when Scott went around in turn one, and the second yellow flew.
Thomas continued to show the way on the restart, with Hillman continuing to pressure while Olson tried to work the low line. However, with only a few laps remaining in the race, Thomas continued to work the high groove and failed to give the competition an opening, as he drove on for the win. Hillman finished a few car lengths back in second with Olson completing his strong challenge in third. Brauer and Wilson completed the top five.
Huse completed an impressive charge from the tenth starting position in the late going of the nonstop Midwest Modified main event to sweep past Shane Halopka and take the twenty lap feature win. Halopka had moved into the lead early in the event when he drove past initial leader Travis Anderson. Halopka put some distance on the field as Anderson tried to stay with the leader. Josh Smith was the first driver to make a big move as he came charging up from the fourth row to pressure Anderson for second. Just when it looked like Smith might have something for Halopka, Huse made his move.
Using the extreme high side of the track, Huse was flying as he clicked off the leaders in his run to the front. He soared past Smith and Anderson and closed on Halopka as the laps ran down.
A pack of about five cars was running in tight formation as Halopka approached them. At the same time, Huse caught the leader and it was a wild scramble as both the front runners tried to find racing room through the freeway like traffic. Huse found an opening on the high side as they charged down the front chute, and Shawn blew past Halopka who was trapped by traffic and unable to fight back. In the final few laps, Huse continued to stretch his lead while Halopka tried to fight back. Making one of his first runs in Mark Clements’ car, Huse added a Punky trophy in the Midwest Modifieds to previous wins in the Super Stock class. Halopka settled for second ahead of Smith, Anderson and Grant Southworth.
George Richards controlled the Pure Stock field from start to finish to win his sixteenth feature win of the year at area tracks. Richards came off the front row to take the early lead in a race that was plagued by yellow flags, spins and wrecks. The pattern was set early with a grinding crash on the back chute of the opening lap that sidelined several cars and there never was a period during the race when more than a couple laps were able to be strung together without the caution waving.
Through all the yellows, Richards continued to maintain his superiority over the field as every time the green would restart the race, George would pull away from the field. With the amount of yellow flags, the race was eventually cut from twenty laps to eight. However, there was no stopping Richards as he drove home for the win with Jason Havel eventually working his way into second at the finish. Jay Folz, Gunnar Watkins and Jason Supri completed the top five at the finish.
The Punky completed the 2011 racing season at the Red Cedar Speedway with both nights playing before a packed grandstand. The 2012 racing season is expected to commence sometime in April. Fans should check the website periodically during the off season at www.redcedarracing.com for updates and announcements.
Red Cedar Speedway
Sept. 24, 2011
WISSOTA Late Models
40 lap Feature – Jimmy Mars(Menomonie), Lance Matthees(Winona MN), Jake Redetzke(Eau Claire), A.J. Diemel(Navarino), Mike Prochnow(Menomonie), Scott Gilberts(Menomonie), Chad Mahder(Eau Claire), Justin Fegers(Minnetonka MN), Brent Larson(Lake Elmo MN), Ron Berna(Green Bay), Joel Cryderman, Rick Hanestad, John Kaanta, Jesse Redetzke, Scott Duval, Eric Pember, Mark Rose, Rick Friendt, Greg Nippoldt, Chris Oertel, Marshal Fegers, Cory Mahder, Ashley Anderson, Steve Laursen, Jordan Yaggy
10 lap Heat 1 – Larson, Mars, Gilberts, Ja Redetzke, Berna, Anderson, Laursen, Co. Mahder, Yaggy
Heat 2 – Prochnow, Diemel, Ch. Mahder, Je. Redetzke(Eau Claire), Hanestad(Boyceville), Kaanta, Nippoldt, Friendt
Heat 3 – Matthees, Cryderman(Thunder Bay Ont), J. Fegers, M. Fegers(Mound MN), Duval(Bloomer), Oertel, Pember, Rose
30 lap Feature – Kevin Adams(Cameron), Jimmy Mars(Menomonie), Dave Cain(Corcoran MN), Mike Anderson(Colfax), Robby Bunkelman(Abbotsford), Mark Gerth(Menomonie), Eric Pember(Pittsville), Brandon Jensen(Hammond), Craig Thatcher(Knapp), Ross Prochnow(Boyceville), Jared Loos, Al Uotinen, A.J. Diemel, Brent Larson, Jerry Hartman, Dave Baxter, Wayne Stricker, Kent Baxter, Mark Hanson, Jake Hartung, Kevin Eder, Scott Splittstoesser, Tony Bahr, Bryan Nayes
10 B Feature 1 – D. Baxter(Eau Claire), Prochnow, Curt Myers(Cameron), Ashley Anderson(Elk Mound), Cory Williams(Spring Valley), Destin Lorimor, Bryan Hessler, Robbie Johnson
B Feature 2 – Eder(Ashland), Uotinen(Superior), Mark Hessler(Menomonie), Paul Knauf(Marshfield), Scott Miller(Rice Lake), Pat Hoffman, Don Brightbill, Steve Hallquist
WISSOTA Super Stocks
25 lap Feature – Steve Thomas(Menomonie), Ben Hillman(Menomonie), Eric Olson(Ladysmith), Jeff Brauer(Rochester MN), Aaron Wilson(Menomonie), Mike Keller(Menomonie), Deven Neske(Princeton MN), Dan Gullikson(Stacy MN), Ken Truscott(Greenland MI), Tom Karis(Menomonie), Jesse Redetzke, Andy Grymala, Wayne Dean, Tommy Richards, Luke Plank, Nick Oreskovich, Adam Ayotte, Mark Stender, Brad Johnson, Scott Lawrence, Brian Mikkonen, Justin Stahl, Cory Davis, Michael Hofer.
10 lap B Feature – Richards(Mondovi), Grymala(Superior), Rich Bishop(New Richmond), Mike Hince(Greenfield), Jason Forehand(Eau Claire), Darrel Hazelton, Rick Hallquist, Chad Johnson, Ben Hanke, Brad Edington
B Feature 2 – Mikkonen(Iron River), Plank(Eau Claire), Bart Steffen(Eau Claire), Tony Falkner(Menomonie), Terry Kroening(Colby), Bernie Christianson, Jon Duffy, Eric Davis, Curt Hazelton, Wayne Bignell
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
20 lap Feature – Shawn Huse(Bloomer), Shane Halopka(Greenwood), Josh Smith(Rice Lake), Travis Anderson(Colfax), Grant Southworth(Bloomer), A.J. Roschen(Hudson), Kevin Smeltzer(Menomonie), Clark Swartz(Bloomer), Ryan Viltz(Chetek), Jake Smeltzer(Menomonie), Jordan Hessler, Jake Smith, Rick Przybylski, Mike Truscott, Mark Thomas, Eric Klafka, Jesse Aho, Scott Guthrie, Dusty Brown, Dan Svea, Nathan Thums, John Feirn, Darren LaBlonde, Neil Balduc
4 lap B Feature – Swartz, Truscott(Chippewa Falls), Aho(Twin Lakes MI), LaBlonde(Baldwin), James Bandow(Stratford), Mitch Anderson, Chris Bretting, Paul Socwell, Kerry Halopka
8 lap Feature – George Richards(Mondovi), Jason Havel(Rice Lake), Jay Folz(Rice Lake), Gunnar Watkins(Elk Mound), Jason Supri(Chippewa Falls), Krysta Swearingen(Little Canada MN), Dan Hensel(Rice Lake), John Erickson(Cameron), Jeremy Dahl(Knapp), Bill Skoug(Osseo), Brandon Davis, Kory Hathaway, Dustin LaBlonde, Chad Eastman, Colt Hartwish, Lucas Kallenbach, Brandon Lofgren, Jason Stevens, Dustin Doughty, Cooper Berlin, Mike Schnider, Bob Wahlstrom, Ken Tody Jr, Gunnar Zurek, Randy Burton, Chaz Ducommun
10 lap Heat 1 –Richards, Watkins, Havel, ,Folz, Wahlstrom(Chetek), Ducommun, Skoug, Swearingen, Stevens
Heat 2 – Berlin(Rice Lake), Doughty(Ladysmith), Lofgren(Taylor), Hathaway(Elmwood), Davis(Chetek), LaBlonde, Tody Jr, Erickson, Zurek
Heat 3 – Dahl, Eastman(Rice Lake), Schnider(Rice Lake), Hensel, Burton(Menomonie), Supri, Kallenbach, Hartwish