It seems that Mother Nature has felt slighted over the past few years and during the 2021-2022 season, she wants to make her presence known. As teams, drivers and ProStar Cup Tour staff arrived at the purpose-built Wausau 525 facility on Sunday morning for Round 4 of the Tour, the thermometer hovered at a bone-chilling 17 below zero Fahrenheit.
The Wausau facility, built specifically for the sport of ice oval snowmobile racing, is one of, if not the, safest facilities the Tour visits each year. But on the morning of January 23, the below zero temperatures, the lack of wind, and the bowl shape design of the racing surface captured the snow dust and held it firmly in place. After a futile attempt at hot laps, the lack of visibility pushed the program back nearly 90 minutes.
When racing started, the first set of heat races was reduced to four sleds per heat putting five heats out for Round 1. By the time the second and third round of heats were ready to run, the visibility had improved allowing for some of the best heat races of the year. With 22 Pro Champ 440 sleds registered, strong qualifying runs were at a premium.
Twelve of the fastest ice oval drivers in North America qualified and lined up for the 15-lap ProStar Cup Tour final. As the green flag lifted, the #220 Red Bull Ski-Doo of Gunnar Sterne grabbed the early lead, beating the field to the Woody’s Traction holeshot award. Sterne was followed closely by the #28 Ski Doo of Matt Goede and the #102 Polaris of Blaine Stephenson.
Running laps in the 17-second range, the race moved quickly. After five laps, Goede looked inside of Sterne going into the first turn, pushing Sterne to a slightly dirty second groove. From that point forward, Goede never looked back. The race for second place started brewing as Stepheson continued to pursue Sterne. But the #102 Polaris sled decided it didn’t like the drive belt and shredded it causing Stephenson to pull off.
As Goede and Sterne paced the next few laps, the third place #39 Wahl Brother’s racing sled of Thomas Olson began to gain momentum, but there were simply not enough laps to allow Tom to catch or challenge Sterne for second. Olson settled for third and his first appearance of the season on the ProStar Cup Tour podium; A well-deserved spot after a strong weekend of racing.
The final finishing order: 1st – 28 Matt Goede, 2nd – 220 Gunner Sterne, 3rd – 39 Thomas Olson, 4th – 39x Justin Peterson, 5th – 233 Matt Bennett, 6th – 04 Luke Olson, 7th – 68 Tyler Beach, 8th – 1 Griffin Lepak, 9th -115 Dylan the Greek DNF, 10th – 102 Blaine Stephenson DNF, 11th – 32 Max Nelson DNF, 12th – 10 Stephen Manke DNF.
The ProStar Cup Tour takes a weekend off before resuming with a double header at the Fire on Ice event in Weyauwega, Wisconsin, on February 4th and 5th. Round 5 will be Friday night under the lights and Round 6 will be Saturday afternoon. It will be an exciting weekend of racing. Don’t miss it. Live Streaming will be available at USSAPROSTAR.TV.
The 2021-2022 USSA ProStar Cup Tour is proudly brought to you by IncredibleBank, Advanced Compressor Technology, Woody’s Traction, Polaris, Fly Racing Gear, Wahl Brothers Racing, 365 Powersports, and Scott’s Auto Body.
The final for the USSA ProStar Cup event that was supposed to be run in Ironwood, Michigan, was held Saturday at the Wausau 525. A last lap pass by Blaine Stephenson #102 provided the Polaris driver with his first victory at the Wausau facility. After leading 13 of the 15 laps, Red Bull Ski Doo driver Gunnar Sterne finished second. Up and comer John Henke made a visit to the podium finishing third.
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