Friday night, January 20, driver Blaine Stephenson laid his head on his pillow with visions of $6,500 floating around his very fast Pro Champ 440 Wahl Brothers Polaris. His wife Alexis gently pinched him and said, “No Blaine, it is not a dream.”
It was that kind of a day for the four-time world champion as Round 2 of the ProStar Cup Tour stopped in Eagle River, Wisconsin. A total of 25 drivers registered for Round 2 with 24 making it to the heats. Three rounds of heat racing took place during the afternoon portion of the Friday show causing teams to be quick on their turn arounds with the sleds. It worked well for some and not so well for others.
Through three rounds of heat racing, many of the Tour favorites found their way toward the front of the heats. Names like Stephenson, Sterne, Goede, Peterson, and Olson were mentioned often, but also new names like Sears, Garceau, Lambert, Sather, Wojick and Christiansen were getting some airtime.
With a strong field of 24 sleds, the top 9 in heat points moved on to the front row of the 15-lap final. The next 12 in points went to the LCQ and unfortunately, the remaining three sleds were done for the night. The LCQ offered its winner the remaining spot on the front row of the 15-lap final while the 2nd and 3rd place riders earned a spot in the back row. The rest of the field was done for the night. Little did we know how important the LCQ qualifiers would be to the final. The LCQ was won by the #75 of Calvin Cook followed by #157 of John Henke and the #31 of Will Garceau.
With outstanding sponsorship support of World Tek Industries, the purse for the 15-lap final had ballooned to over $16,500 with a minimum of $5000 to win. One could tell from the demeanor in the paddock area the stakes were high. Important season long points and a boat load of cash were on the line. The Round Two final lined up in this order: Stephenson, Goede, T Olson, Peterson, Lambert, Sears, Sterne, Wojick, Graber, Cook, Henke, and Garceau.
A twitchy throttle thumb by the #28 of Matt Goede caused an initial jump start relegating Goede to the back row. In the end, the jump start proved costly as Goede needed the low groove to try and catch the field. But minimal ice in the low groove caused the handling to quickly go away on his Ski-Doo. When Rico pulled the flag on the second starting attempt, Blaine Stephenson set his eyes on the prize and never looked back. Not once. The #102 earned the Woody’s Hole Shot award and led all 15 laps earning $5000 for winning the race and the $1500 in Bad Boy Benjamin monies.
Stephenson had company for a good portion of the first 6 to 8 laps with the ever present #220 Red Bull Ski-Doo of Gunnar Sterne not far behind. It appeared at one point that Tour point leader Sterne was ready to make a move and dive deep into a corner hoping to pass Stephenson, but a sudden change in handling on the Red Bull machine immediately stopped his momentum. From that point on, Sterne had all he could to simply drive the #220 the full 15 laps.
Attrition took its toll on a few other favorites opening the doors for some fresh faces. On the very last lap, after starting in the back, the #157 Ski-Doo of John Henke snuck by Sterne and took the 2nd spot on the podium, paying Henke one of the biggest payouts of his snowmobile career at $2800. The jubilation expressed by Henke at the post race photos was contagious. Sterne finished third earning $1800. LCQ winner Calvin Cook finished a very respectable fourth in the final. That put two of the LCQ qualifiers in the top four.
The updated Tour point totals will be posted shortly. The next event for the ProStar Cup Tour is the inaugural Sprint World Cup weekend in Wausau Wi, Jan 27-29. Over the 3 days, Pro Champ teams will be competing for nearly $30,000 in cash and prizes. For more race information, jump to our website at ussaprotstar.com.
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