RICE LAKE, Wis. — Nick Traynor led all 35 laps to win the 26th annual Street Stock Little Dream race Tuesday night at the Rice Lake Speedway.
While few would have thought it possible, last year’s record payoff for the race was topped as generous race fans and area businesses dug deep into their pockets to support the street stock drivers.
When all the contributions had been tallied, Traynor would go home with a first-place winner’s share of $26,000, besting last year’s record payoff by $1,000 in what is thought to be the highest-paying race in the country for this division of race cars.
Fifty-three street stock drivers from four states signed in for this annual event.
Having topped the passing points and earning the pole position, Traynor would lead on the opening lap on what would be a rocky start for the main event with the yellow flying before the first lap would be scored. Billie Christ and Calvin Iverson would come together but both cars would be able to restart with Iverson going to the rear.
The second attempt saw Traynor lead the opening lap with Justin Vogel, Eric Riley and Kyle Genett battling for second. However, Genett would have the front end on his car break and he would lose steering, ending his race after a promising start. Traynor could continue to lead on the restart with a swarm of drivers right behind him battling for position.
Eric Olson, one of only two, three-time winners of this race, would then roll to a halt with steering problems on his car also which ended his night without the chance to get that record breaking fourth win. Before the field could even make it to the first turn on the restart, Todd Carter and Shawn Amundson would come together and the yellow would wave once again with Amundson then calling it a night.
From this point on, it would be largely green flag racing with just a single yellow flying later, but it would be a significant one. Traynor continued to hold the top spot with Riley and Vogel still battling for second. However, several drivers were already on the move to the front with Christ, Dustin Doughty and Parker Anderson all strongly advancing their positions.
Christ particularly had found a good groove running low on the track and after surviving a scare on the first lap, he drove under the duo battling for second and claimed the spot for himself. Doughty also broke into the top five for the first time with Anderson just back behind him.
Christ began to close up on the leader and was knocking on his door for the top spot after ten complete laps with Riley and Doughty close behind.
Christ made his move for the lead, running on the lower side of Traynor and was just ready to edge past him for the point when the yellow flew one last time when Hunter VanGilder stalled on the back chute on the fifteenth lap. Traynor was saved by the yellow and was restored to the lead with Christ right behind him as Doughty had climbed up to third with Anderson now moving up to fourth.
The last 21 laps of the race went green to checkered. Traynor was able to fight off Christ on the green and continue to hold the top spot. While the battle for second got very heated, this was an opportunity for Traynor to lengthen his lead while everyone fought for second.
At the halfway point of the race, Traynor was trailed by Christ, Doughty, Anderson and defending champion Jimmy Randall who had cracked the top five for the first time.
The race for second continued to occupy the crowd while Traynor smoothly began to stretch his advantage. Randall, who had dropped back to seventh and was languishing there, then made the bold decision to move up the track and try a different line and it immediately paid dividends as he began to pass cars on the high side. He made a strong run as he was clearly the driver on the move at this time.
As the race reached its 10-lap-to-go point, Randall had pulled up beside Christ and they had a great battle for second, running side by side for several laps before Randall was able to clear the North Dakota driver and claim second.
The final part of the race saw Randall try to chase down leader Traynor, but Nick was running smoothly up front and with no lapped traffic to deal with, Traynor continued to maintain a smooth and solid race line. His run seemed to be effortlessly and he continued to motor around the track, running lap after solid lap with and with Randall trying his hardest, he was not able to narrow the gap between himself and the leader. In fact, it appeared the Traynor was actually gaining in the final few laps.
With no incidents to slow the action, Traynor pulled to a comfortable lead and was able to take the checkered flag with a half straightaway advantage over the defending champion, Randall. Christ maintained his strong run as he finished a strong third with his best run ever in this event. The top five was completed by Doughty and Zach Elward.
Elward had himself quite a night including a first round heat race where he was sent off the track for triggering two yellow flags. He fought his way back into the feature by finishing second in a B Main and drove from 20th starting spot to crack the top five.
The second five to cross the line included Anderson, Riley, former winner Danny Richards, Tommy Richards and Vogel.