39th Punky Manor Challenge of Champions
Menomonie, Wisconsin -- The Red Cedar Speedway presented the 39th Annual Punky Manor Challenge of Champions under glorious fall skies closing out the 2018 racing season. The Thursday night portion of the race program succumbed to rain, but the main event went on as planned in spectacular fashion. The WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds, Super Stocks, Modifieds, and Late Models competed for large prize monies and the racing action was nothing short of stellar. The feature winners were Tony Bahr, Tommy Richards, Kevin Adams, and Travis Budisalovich.
Friday night was comprised of heats in all four classes with music and a dance following the races. The first eight rows of the features were set by passing points from the heats. Saturday brought single B-Features in the Super Stocks and Midwest Modifieds whereas the top eight cars qualified for the feature. The Modifieds ran two B-Features with the top four from each moving on. All the Late Models were decided though the heats.
Further festivities included out of car introductions in every class and the 2018 Hall of Fame introductions ceremonies. Luanne Prochnow was introduced through her several years of volunteering as an official, concessions stand worker, and office holder, including both vice president and president. Todd Sinz was introduced through several years of intense involvement, specifically as a sponsor of individual classes, races, and drivers. Steve Wik was introduced as a driver who made his name as a Modified standout. Rick Egersdorf was also introduced as a driver who will forever be known for his dominant Late Model.
Four heats of Southworth Chevrolet Midwest Modifieds saw Michael Truscott, Cody Borgeson, Kevin Adams, and Tony Bahr carry the checkered flag as Mark Thomas won the B-Feature. At feature time it was Bahr leading passing points after winning his heat from seventh. He was flanked on the front row by Dan Kingsley.
At the drop of the green flag, Bahr moved out front as Truscott powered to second. A lap three caution flag saw a Craig Haas spin in turn three slowing the action. Back under green, Bahr set a torrid pace and moved away from the field, but the pace was slowed again on lap six as a car slowed on the raceway in turn one.
The race then began to have severe difficulties getting back under green as the next three attempts all were thwarted by crashes or spins in turn three. The most notable was when a spinning Jesse Bryant collected multiple cars. Travis Anderson, with no room to escape, climbed the wall and rolled over onto the raceway drawing the red flag.
The racing action was intense as they restarted successfully as Truscott applied the heat on Bahr. The two raced side by side in an intense battle when Bahr retook a slight advantage. However, on lap ten, it was Adams closing in and stealing the lead. Bahr now chased Adams for the next two laps but a lap 12 caution flag for debris changed the entire complexion of the race. Under caution at pace speed, Adams suddenly spun in front of the field. Everyone was able to avoid hitting him, but his race ended as he was towed from the raceway.
The restart saw dramatic moves behind the leader, Bahr. As positions two through five swapped and made bold moves against each other, Bahr checked out on the field. It was Bahr with the big win as Calvin Iverson raced to second from his ninth starting position. Dan Kingsley was impressive in third as he beat Truscott late in fourth. Shane Halopka who qualified after racing from the back of the B-Feature into a qualifying position, started 20th in the feature and finished fifth. Gunnar Watkins, Mark Thomas, Jake Smith, Antonio Pintaro, and Jesse Aho rounded out the top ten.
The Union Trailer and Power Equipment Super Stocks saw Ben Hillman, Kevin Burdick, Terran Spacek, and Tommy Richards win heats as Danny Thomas made a rare appearance and won the B-Feature. The feature had top passing points drivers Bart Stephen and Kevin Eder on the front row as each finished second in their heats from eight and seventh starting positions, respectively.
The first lap of the feature went three-wide for the lead but a Tony Falkner yellow in turn one forced a complete restart. Under green, the race went cover to cover and was spectacular. They were led by Eder who stretched his lead over Burdick who too stretched his advantage over seventh starting Richards in third. As the leaders reached the back of the pack, they entered very heavy lapped traffic. The long green flag allowed for terrific racing through the back markers.
Firstly, it was Burdick who closed the gap on Eder and the two began too battle hard for the lead. As they fought it out, it was Richards who was perfect down on the tires in the low lane as he dissected lapped cars and closed on Burdick. He drove under Burdick and shortly thereafter, forged past Eder into the lead.
Richards was able to put lap cars between him and second on his way to the checkers, but the battle was not yet decided behind him. It was Ben Hillman with a late upper deck charge to score the runner up position on the last lap as Eder came home in third. Kevin Burdick finished fourth over Dan Gullikson in fifth. Terran Spacek, Nick Oreskovich, Jesse Redetzke, Bart Steffen, and Wayne Dean rounded out the top ten.
The Tim’s Automotive and Machine Modified heats were won by Jimmy Mars, Michael Truscott, Jake Miller, and Kevin Adams as the B-Features were topped by Josh Hessler and Dave Cain. It was Mars on the pole with Miller to his outside. At the start of the feature, it was Mars moving out front but Cory Mahder, who had been flirting with the wall in all corners made hard contact on lap two, ending his night early.
Back under green, the Modifieds drove without another slow down and they too found lap traffic. It was Mars driving out to a large lead over Kevin Adams, who had raced to second from fifth. Truscott ran a strong third for several laps but it was Grant Southworth tracking down Truscott for the third position as the leaders reached lapped traffic.
Up front it was Mars and Adams as the two worked their magic through traffic. Adams either was saving some car for late or found something to his liking and he closed on the leader. Coming to the last lap Adams was able to power past Mars, as unrelated to the leaders, Troy Girolamo broke down spewing a thick cloud of smoke and literally blocking this writer’s view momentarily. When the smoke cleared, it was Adams in the lead with Mars setting chase for the final circuit.
It was Adams at the line as Mars chased him home in second. Darrell Nelson had a fine run from 12th on the grid to finish third late. Grant Southworth and Jody Bellefeuille rounded out the top five. Positions six though ten were secured by Michael Truscott, Mike Anderson, Jake Hartung, Dave Cain, and Ashley Anderson. Notably, Ross Prochnow raced from the back of his B-Feature to make the main and drove from 24th to 11th in the feature.
The T.L. Sinz Plumbing Late Model heats were won by Jimmy Mars, Travis Budisalovich, and A.J. Diemel as Mars and Budisalovich held the front row of the feature. Imagine starting outside of Jimmy Mars, most certainly one of the men who has owned the Red Cedar Speedway victory lane, specifically the Punky Manor. He was just narrowly beaten after leading all but the final circuits of the Modified feature and he is seeking his 12th Punky Manor win from the pole of the Late Model feature. It would take nerves of steal and a great amount of skill to win and Budisalovich did just that; impressively.
Not only did Budisalovich win, he led every lap as he took the quick lead from the drop of the green. A quick yellow reset the field, but again, it was Budisalovich. Mars set chase and Mike Prochnow moved into third. It was Diemel in fourth as Jesse Glens moved into fifth from tenth starting position. As the leaders closed on lap traffic, Mars pulled even and raced side by side for the point. They battled hard in lap traffic as Prochnow found his way into the fray and slipped by Mars for runner up. A Denny Cutsforth breakdown slowed the action and allowed for everyone to breath for a moment.
Under green, it was Mars back into second as he again chased the leader. Lap 24 and 26 debris cautions made for intense and close racing on the restarts as the field tried to get around very tricky turns one and two and make ground. Under green, Chad Mahder and Prochnow came to grinding stops on the raceway after being involved in extremely aggressive maneuvering, which included contact over a two-lap span.
At speed racing to the checkers, Mars made a great move for the point in turn two off the restart. Budisalovich was undaunted though and never flinched, maintaining the lead coming down the backstretch. Try as he may, it was Mars finishing second behind Budisalovich in and outstanding finale. Jesse Glenz, Darrell Nelson, and Diemel finished in the top five. Mark Hessler drove from 20th to sixth over Rick Hanestad, Lance Matthees, Pat Doar, and tenth finishing Ben Hanke.
The Red Cedar Speedway will return to racing action in April 2019. It thanks all the fans, sponsors, and racers for a great 2018 season.Back to News