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  .: August 19, 2023 :.

Johnsen Jr. Wins; Point Titles Decided at Rice Lake Speedway

By Ed Reichert

Rice Lake WI, Aug. 19 – The final point night of the 2023 racing season was held on Saturday night at the Rice Lake Speedway. On an extremely hot and humid night, there would be plenty of action on the track including a first time winner in Willie Johnsen Jr, continued domination performances by Mike Anderson and Jake Stai plus a return to victory lane by Nick Traynor and James Rahn, both in exciting fashion as well as the crowning of five point champions for 2023.

Next Saturday night the track Season Championships will be held in all five divisions and then the 2023 racing season will conclude with the Labor Day weekend special slated for Saturday night, September 2nd.

Johnsen Jr. has spent the Summer karting with his kids and just recently got his Super Stock back out on the track. In fact, Saturday night was just his second appearance of the year here and only the fourth time that he has raced anywhere in 2023. But he was on point Saturday as he led from start to finish to win the Super Stock feature and chalk up his first win of 2023.

He would start on the outside pole and quickly establish his lead over Warren Bartelt with Eric Olson quickly moving up from the fourth row to drive into the third spot. The yellow would fly three times in the early going of this event for minor spins and debris on the track which would keep the field bunched.

As Johnsen Jr maintained his lead, the best battle for position in the race broke out as Olson and Kolby Kiehl would fight it out for second. They exchanged that position a couple of times before Kiehl finally claimed it for good following the lap seven yellow for a spinning car.

Johnsen Jr would continue to mantain around a three car length advantage over Kiehl who was trying hard but simply not able to cut into the Superior driver's lead. Olson continued to run third but was feeling pressure from Leslie Leu for that spot.
Things got wild near the end as Leu tried to dive under Olson in turn one, clipped him and both drivers would spin. At this point, track officials would throw the checkered as the race came up two laps short of completion due to the time limits for the event. Johnsen Jr would claim the win with Kiehl second and Olson restored to his third place in the official running order.

Not to be forgotten was the charge of Tucker Quinn who started dead last in the sixteen car field after having mechanical issues in his heat race. He would then put on a show as he charged through the field and with the last last tangle, he would be elevated to fourth in the final running order ahead of Bartelt.

Johnsen Jr would become the eighth different feature winner in the Super Stock class here this season and with his solid finish, Eric Olson would once again claim yet another point title in the division for the Ladysmith driver.

The track's most dominant driver in 2023 would be at it again as Mike Anderson would win his fifth Modified feature race of 2023 at the track, tops for all drivers who have competed here this year. His win would be a hard fought one and one that carried just a bit of controversy after an early race pile up threw the front running cars for a loop. Kyle Helling would start on the outside pole and take the lead on lap one. Only one lap would be completed before a charging Austin Ellis would spin in turn one and go to the tail of the field, only to make a charge back up into contention.

Helling's lead was challenged just a lap later when Kennedy Swan, looking for her first ever Modified feature win, would slide under Helling and take over the top spot. Unfortunately, just a lap later, in heavy traffic as the top four continued to battle, her car would come around on her in turn one with the closely bunched group of Helling and Kevin Adams smashing into her and each other.

Suddenly, three of the four front runners would lose their spots. Swan would go to the tail of the field, Helling would pit for a tire change and Adams would go off on the wrecker, done for the night.

Anderson, who was running right with this tightly grouped field of cars, somehow avoided being part of the pileup and when racing resumed, he would find himself in the lead with his brother Travis in second and Joe Chaplin Jr, who somehow found a way to move from eleventh to third in just three laps, next in line.

From this point on, the race would be Anderson's as he would lead the rest of the laps and never be seriously challenged. Chaplin Jr was able to move past Travis Anderson into second but would never provide a stiff challenge to the leader. A late race yellow would bunch the field one more time but Anderson would pull away again as he cemented the track point title in the Modifieds. There were battles behind him right to the wire however, as a last corner charge by Travis Anderson saw him come up just a half car length short of second with Chaplin Jr holding on and Ellis made a terrific charge back after his early spin to nip Simon Wahlstrom for fourth.

2023 has been a great comeback year for Jake Stai. The New Auburn driver, never a big winner at the track before, has had a very strong season in the Midwest Modifieds this year and he continued that trend as he won his third feature event of the season here Saturday. He would start in the second row of the feature and take the lead on lap two with a pass on Matt Brandemuehl who had led the opening round.

Unfortunately for Matt, one lap later he would spin in turn one and trigger a yellow flag. Stai would continue to lead from that point with Mike Schnider, Mitchell Larson and Blake Adams all trying to move forward in the field.

By the halfway point of the race, Schnider had moved into second and was trying to track down Stai with Aiden Hoffman moving up to third. The last eight laps of the race would go green and Stai was running a solid line as while Schnider pushed hard, he simply couldn't cut into the lead of Stai. Jake would cross the line with room to spare as he claimed yet another feature win. With his strong second place finish, Schnider would claim the point title in the Midwest Modifieds with Adams making a late charge into third over Larson and Shadow Kitchner.

Perhaps the two best races of the night, though, were reserved for the last two that were run. The Street Stock feature, as is usually the case here, was a dandy with a late race pass by Nick Traynor allowing him to secure his second feature win of the year here. Cody Cimfl, seeking his first win, would take the early lead and in fact, run in front for the first twelve laps. He was challenged though, by rookie driver Levi Randt who was having a strong run of his own and was right on Cimfl's rear bumper.

Traynor found a line that would allow him to tear up through the field as he would start eleventh after a rare heat race gaff that would force him to start deep in the pack. By the halfway point of the race though, he was up to third with his car owner Travis Loew right behind him.

Cimfl would continue to hold the top spot though and only a late race yellow would sink his ship. Ironically, the yellow was triggered when second place running Traynor was clipped by a lapped car and he spun, While initially upset, it proved to be good luck for Traynor as this allowed him to start right behind the leader for the restart and actually gain ground.

The three lap sprint to the checkers would see Traynor make a deep dive into turn one on the green and edge ahead of Cimfl to take over the lead. Cimfl would ride his rear bumper but could not make a counter move and would have to settle for second with Traynor taking the win. Loew would finish third and a fourth place run by Danny Richards would secure the point title for the Mondovi driver.

The Pure Stocks, though small in number on this night, would wrap up the evening with an excellent race that featured a three car battle for the win that went right down to the wire. Chris Gross would lead his first feature lap of the year as he held the top spot for the first lap before Trenten Holub would get past him. Holub, seeking his first ever feature win, would then lead the next eight laps with both James Rahn and Ryan Olson right on his tail. Both would be working hard to try and pass him and the three ran in a tight racing formation.

Bad luck would hit Holub though as on this steamy night, his car's motor started to heat up and he started to spray water out of the engine, which was going right on to his right front tire and that slippage made it hard for him to turn in the corners.
When Holub pushed up the track, both Rahn and Olson dove for the hole with Rahn getting there first. He took the lead with just three laps to go and then would hold off Olson for the win, his fourth of the year at the track, tops for the division. Olson would finish a close second and nail down his third consecutive point title in the Pure Stocks before he moves up two divisions next year. Devin Fries would nip the struggling Holub for third at the finish.

Next Saturday night, August 26th, the track will celebrate its seventy first year of consecutive operation with the Season Championship event. All race cars are welcome to compete, whether they have raced previously this year or not. The drivers will draw for their heat race starting positions and then those drivers that make the redraw spots will be lined up by the points they have earned at the track this year with the other drivers lining up behind them, based on their heat race finishes.

The season will then conclude on Saturday night, September 2nd when the one night special for all five WISSOTA classes will conclude the season.

14 entries


A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 57-Mike Anderson[8]; 2. 5-Joe Chaplin Jr[11]; 3. 37-Travis Anderson[1]; 4. 20-Austin Ellis[4]; 5. 38-Simon Wahlstrom[6]; 6. 308-Pat Hoffman[14]; 7. 27H-Steve Hallquist[5]; 8. 3-Bryan Hessler[10]; 9. 18S-Kennedy Swan[3]; 10. 204-David Mayala[9]; 11. 4N-Nick Wojcik[13]; 12. (DNF) 10-Kyle Helling[2]; 13. (DNF) 28-Don Gleason[12]; 14. (DQ) 40-Kevin Adams[7]
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 57-Mike Anderson[1]; 2. 20-Austin Ellis[5]; 3. 38-Simon Wahlstrom[2]; 4. 37-Travis Anderson[3]; 5. 204-David Mayala[4]; 6. 5-Joe Chaplin Jr[6]; 7. 4N-Nick Wojcik[7]
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 40-Kevin Adams[1]; 2. 27H-Steve Hallquist[2]; 3. 10-Kyle Helling[3]; 4. 18S-Kennedy Swan[4]; 5. 3-Bryan Hessler[7]; 6. 28-Don Gleason[6]; 7. (DNF) 308-Pat Hoffman[5]

16 entries


A Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 18-Willie Johnsen Jr[2]; 2. 9K-Kolby Kiehl[6]; 3. 1E-Eric Olson[8]; 4. 11-Tucker Quinn[16]; 5. 14-Warren Bartelt[4]; 6. 10B-Rich Bishop[3]; 7. 71X-William Fisher[12]; 8. 77L-Andy Ladd[1]; 9. 6-Dan Peterson[10]; 10. 01-Michael Anderson[9]; 11. 28-Josh Cappo[11]; 12. 14X-Leslie Leu[7]; 13. (DNF) 247-Jackson Larson[13]; 14. (DNF) 20-Chris Johnson[5]; 15. (DNF) 21-Mike Siewert[14]; 16. (DNF) 22AT-Austin Tilton[15]
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 14X-Leslie Leu[2]; 2. 10B-Rich Bishop[3]; 3. 14-Warren Bartelt[8]; 4. 77L-Andy Ladd[4]; 5. 01-Michael Anderson[7]; 6. 28-Josh Cappo[6]; 7. 247-Jackson Larson[1]; 8. (DNF) 11-Tucker Quinn[5]
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 9K-Kolby Kiehl[1]; 2. 18-Willie Johnsen Jr[5]; 3. 20-Chris Johnson[3]; 4. 1E-Eric Olson[7]; 5. 6-Dan Peterson[4]; 6. 71X-William Fisher[8]; 7. 21-Mike Siewert[6]; 8. 22AT-Austin Tilton[2]

13 entries


A Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 1-Jake Stai[3]; 2. 7-Mike Schnider[8]; 3. 40D-Blake Adams[5]; 4. 63L-Mitchell Larson[6]; 5. 68-Shadow Kitchner[7]; 6. 19A-Aiden Hoffman[4]; 7. 1M-Matt Brandemuehl[2]; 8. 88K-Jason Knutson[1]; 9. 18-Tacoma Randall[11]; 10. 410-Jesse Young[13]; 11. 19H-Kevin Herrman[9]; 12. (DNF) 11R-Landyn Randt[10]; 13. (DNF) 87-William Moelter[12]
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 7-Mike Schnider[3]; 2. 68-Shadow Kitchner[6]; 3. 1M-Matt Brandemuehl[7]; 4. 88K-Jason Knutson[1]; 5. 19H-Kevin Herrman[2]; 6. 18-Tacoma Randall[4]; 7. (DNF) 410-Jesse Young[5]
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 1-Jake Stai[1]; 2. 40D-Blake Adams[5]; 3. 19A-Aiden Hoffman[3]; 4. 63L-Mitchell Larson[6]; 5. 11R-Landyn Randt[2]; 6. (DNF) 87-William Moelter[4]

16 entries


A Feature 1 (15 Laps): 1. 40T-Nick Traynor[11]; 2. 19C-Cody Cimfl[2]; 3. 40-Travis Loew[6]; 4. 3R-Danny Richards[8]; 5. 11X-Levi Randt[1]; 6. 3RJR-Cole Richards[7]; 7. 9-Adam Soltis[5]; 8. 10B-Dylan Baskin[3]; 9. 66-Eric Haupt[10]; 10. 00Z-Bryar Zimmerman[15]; 11. 19H-Kevin Herrman[13]; 12. (DNF) 52-Aden Saunders[12]; 13. (DNF) 92R-Courtney Rose[14]; 14. (DNF) 20-Connor Franson[9]; 15. (DNF) 79-Joseph Ott[4]; 16. (DNF) 19-Jenna Herrman[16]
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 3R-Danny Richards[2]; 2. 9-Adam Soltis[4]; 3. 19C-Cody Cimfl[8]; 4. 79-Joseph Ott[1]; 5. 20-Connor Franson[5]; 6. 40T-Nick Traynor[7]; 7. 19H-Kevin Herrman[3]; 8. 00Z-Bryar Zimmerman[6]
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 10B-Dylan Baskin[2]; 2. 40-Travis Loew[4]; 3. 11X-Levi Randt[7]; 4. 3RJR-Cole Richards[3]; 5. 66-Eric Haupt[8]; 6. 52-Aden Saunders[5]; 7. 92R-Courtney Rose[1]; 8. 19-Jenna Herrman[6]

10 entries


A Feature 1 (12 Laps): 1. 23R-James Rahn[7]; 2. 1-Ryan Olson[3]; 3. 95F-Devin Fries[6]; 4. 15H-Trenten Holub[5]; 5. 52W-Austin Fencl[8]; 6. 18M-Leo Moos[2]; 7. 16-Rob Grabon[9]; 8. 88-Robert Wahlstrom[4]; 9. 101-Michael Grover[10]; 10. (DNF) 17G-Chris Gross[1]
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 15H-Trenten Holub[2]; 2. 23R-James Rahn[4]; 3. 1-Ryan Olson[5]; 4. 95F-Devin Fries[1]; 5. 16-Rob Grabon[3]
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 88-Robert Wahlstrom[1]; 2. 52W-Austin Fencl[5]; 3. 17G-Chris Gross[2]; 4. 18M-Leo Moos[4]; 5. 101-Michael Grover[3]