RICE LAKE, Wis. – Kevin Adams has more than 500 feature race wins to his credit in a variety of divisions since his first in a street stock in 1997 at Rice Lake Speedway.
However, he is a rookie in the late model division, with just a handful of starts in the class this year on his resume. However, that didn’t seem to bother him at all Saturday night as Adams led all 55 laps to win the fourth annual Mahder 55 late model event. The race honors the memory of Duane Mahder, a late model track champion at Rice Lake who was killed in a work place accident in 2016.
Adams fought off a strong field of contenders, overcame brake issues and, along with the rest of the field of drivers, waited out an approximately two and a half hour rain delay after showers hit the track with one qualifying event left to run.
The late models took to the track for their main event at approximately Midnight, with 23 drivers taking the green flag for the 55-lap journey. Adams started on the outside pole and got the jump on Lance Matthees to lead the initial laps. Adams immediately pulled out to a healthy advantage over the field as Matthees fought to hold off Jimmy Mars for second. Adams quickly caught the back of the pack and he was lapping the first car only six laps into the race.
The green stayed out for the first 15 laps until Rick Hanestad got tired up with a slower car and stalled on the back chute, triggering the first yellow of the contest. On the green, Mars was able to pass Matthees for second and he took off after the leader, setting up a classic battle for the top spot.
Mars sought to close the gap on the leader and he pushed hard, but Adams was able to maintain his lead through a series of three quick yellow flags for one car spins. Following the first of these slow downs, Adams would report later that he began to have brake issues but with the quick yellows which continued to bunch the field, the brakes problems were not overwhelming plus he had a nice outside cushion to roll off of which he reported also helped.
Following each of these yellows, Mars would put the pressure on Adams as Mars would continue to get away from Matthees on the green but not be able to put significant pressure on the leader. Pat Doar was running in the top five when he slowed on the back chute with twenty eight laps complete and pulled off the track, triggering the final yellow of the race as the last twenty seven laps of the contest would be raced under the green with no slow downs.
As Adams sped away from the field once again, Matthees would make a giant slide job in turn two and regain second from Mars and as Jimmy jumped the cushion and fell back, he was also passed by A.J. Diemel and Darrell Nelson, who had worked his way forward after starting thirteenth on the grid.
With Matthees in second, Adams was able to gain more ground as the leader while Matthees had his hands full with the three cars right behind him, all wanting to get past.
The battle for second was a tight one but this all played into Adams’ hands as he was able to extend his lead over that group. Finally, with forty eight laps in the books, runner up Matthees got tired up with a lapped car in turn four and ended up sliding over the cushion and forfeited second with all three drivers right behind him able to get by.
Adams continued as his torrid pace, working his way through the lapped cars while Diemel and Mars had a very aggressive battle for second with Mars all over Diemel’s rear bumper as they battled for the second spot. Mars would eventually jump the cushion while trying to get past Diemel and smack the first turn wall which allowed Nelson to get past him for third.
The last few laps saw Adams alone up front and he drove on unchallenged for the gigantic win. Diemel would finish a strong second and Nelson would hold off Mars for third with Matthees rounding out the top five.
Adams earned $5,555 for his winning efforts.