September 2, 2010 at 9:01 a.m.
As always, the Hornets started the feature race buzzing with their twelve lap main event. Two time feature winner Kris Kaphing and Rice Lake, Wisconsin's Jon Wigchers paced the fifteen car field to the green flag, but it didn't take long for the running order to change. Division points leader, Kevin "Rocketman" Bradwell launched his #95 mount from the outside of the third row and into the lead in the opening set of turns in front of Kaphing and third starting Dylan Roberts. Making an even bigger move, however, was second heat race winner Jesse Tripp. Tripp, who had picked up his first feature win of the season back on August 7, took just four laps to move from ninth to second. After dogging Bradwell for a few laps, Tripp slipped past Bradwell coming to the crossed-flags. From there, the Spooner, Wisconsin hot shoe ran smooth and fast to pick up his second consecutive trophy in front of Bradwell, Doug Fick, Kaphing and Dan Strobach. By virtue of his runner-up finish, Bradwell managed to extend his points advantage over Kaphing to 14 markers, with just three events remaining in the 2010 campaign.
Kevin Bradwell came into the night as the leader in two divisions at the speedway, and after scrambling from his Hornet and into his Pure Stock, he set out to further his advantage in that division as well, albeit from the seventh starting position in the eight-cylinder car. Previous feature winner Tyler English and Turtle Lake, Wisconsin pilot Keith Duffee led the Pure Stocks to green - and just like in the Hornets, the Rocketman didn't stay on the launch pad long. Blasting toward the front, when the field had completed the first lap, it was with Bradwell as the leader. English and Duffee were giving chase, but it wasn't long before they were both feeling heat from "Downtown" Dusty Brown. Brown has been dominating in 2010 with his Ford Thunderbird, parking his #28 ride in victory lane every event dating back to July 9, when English took top honors. Brown worked up to third by lap three, and was pursuing English for the bulk of the race. On lap ten, Brown finally managed to get by English and into second, but with a few lapped cars as a cushion, Bradwell snapped Brown's hot streak with his second Pure Stock feature of the summer, and the 20th feature win overall for his career. Brown settled for second in front of English, second heat race winner Kyrsta Swearingen, Justin Rick.
While the points battle isn't nearly as tight in the Street Stock division, the on track racing action is every bit as exciting. Marcus Simonson has a commanding 40 point lead in the division, but all those extra points were no match for the evenly matched field on Friday night. Melvin Raska started the fifteen lap affair on the front row along side of Myles McEvers, and Raska held the field at bay for the first nine circuits. Before completing lap ten, Raska got loose in turn four, and heat race winner Chad Ogilvie was right there to pounce. While Ogilvie was having his best run of the season, Behn Mensen was also looking the strongest he has all summer, as he resumed his heat race duel with Simonson in the battle for second. Unlike in the heat race when Mensen was runner-up to Ogilvie, Simonson won the duel for in feature race. At the point, Ogilvie looked strong as an ox in cracking victory lane for the first time this season, and doing so in clean sweep fashion. Simonson, Mensen, McEvers and Raska rounded out the top five.
In the premier division NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Midwest Modifieds, the race had all the markings of the apprentice finally besting the master. Back when he was winning races in the Pure Stock division, Luck Wisconsin's Josh Bazey parked his #55 steed on "Vaccination Alley", so named by the legendary 1980 Indy 500 racer Roger Rager due to it's population of 'rusty bombers'. In 2010, Bazey moved his pre-race digs to the pit area south of turn one, next door to the Mike Gibson owned and 'gentleman' Jason Miller piloted #431 Modified. Miller has been other-worldly at Kopellah this summer, coming into the night riding a streak of seven consecutive feature wins. Combined with two wins to open the season, the nine feature stickers give the presumptive champion an astounding 78 point advantage over Mike Mueller, his closest competitor in the division. Parked next door for most of that ride has been the young Bazey, who has sharply picked up on some of Miller's techniques and tendencies - many of them freely shared by the veteran Miller. To start the feature another Kopellah Pure Stock graduate, 'Nasty' Nate Fisk of nearby Centuria, Wisconsin, shared the front row with Bazey and the pair led the thundering herd of seventeen cars to green. Miller re-drew the #4 pill, giving him the outside second row starting spot behind his young neighbor, and the duo quickly nabbed the top two spots on lap one. Slowed occasionally by cautions, Bazey led every lap until the sixteenth, when he made his only mistake exiting turn two - enough for Miller to squeeze by underneath. A final lap caution set up a two lap shoot-out. In the same turn two that Miller used to pass Bazey, Miller himself bobbled, and Bazey used the same opening he had earlier provided to his mentor. The pair was even down the back stretch, but with the stronger run, Bazey dived low and threw a slide job on Miller in turn three, taking over the lead. "Masterfully", one might say, the veteran smoothly and calmly returned the favor in turn four, quickly reclaiming first place. Bazey gave it all he had on the final lap, but to no avail, Miller ran smooth and flawless the last quarter mile to secure his eighth consecutive trophy, and tenth feature sticker of the summer at Kopellah. In the pit area afterward, a smiling and relieved Miller proclaimed, "I thought he had me," noting that Bazey was able to pull away on the handful of restarts during the race.
The penultimate weekend of activity at Kopellah is scheduled for Labor Day weekend, with another Friday/Saturday double-header. Two complete shows on each night, September 3 and 4, featuring all four NASCAR Whelen All-American Series divisions - Hornets, Pure Stocks, Street Stocks, and of course the premier division Midwest Modifieds. Racing action on both nights begins with the initial green flag waving at 7:30 p.m. While championship battles are all but settled in the Street Stock and Midwest Modified divisions, things are far from settled in the Hornets and Pure Stocks. Kevin Bradwell leads each division by a mere 14 points, and coupled with season championship night scheduled for Friday, September 10, there is plenty of racing remaining to determine who will take home the $800 up for grabs in those points title chases. For the most up to date point standings information, please visit the track's website at www.kopellahspeedway.net.
Hornets, Feature: Jesse Tripp, Kevin Bradwell, Doug Fick, Kris Kaphing, Dan Strobach, Ben Kaphing, Tony Dubois, Kyle Hallin, Jon Wigchers, Travis Swanson, Kyle Dahlheimer, Steve Sutton, Dylan Roberts, Mitchell Goossens, Jason Christianson, Monty Jepsen, Jeff Morse.
Pure Stocks, Feature: Kevin Bradwell, Dusty Brown, Tyler English, Krysta Swearingen, Justin Rick, David Leaf, Steve Baker, Fabian Jackson, Nick Axelsen, Keith Duffee, Mike Olson, Josh Merrill.
WISSOTA Street Stocks, Feature: Chad Ogilvie, Marcus Simonson, Behn Mensen, Myles McEvers, Melvin Raska, David Mastell, Kurt Becken.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Feature: Jason Miller, Josh Bazey, Mike Mueller, Doug Merrill, Vince Corbin, Tony Schill, John Remington, Brian Collins, Elizabeth Toepper, Corey Fogleson, Dan Larson, Cole Neisius, Jared Gorka, Tim Swanson, Paul Neisius, Michael Haseltine, Nathan Fisk, Douglas Toepper..