Stories

History, Bullring await sprint driver Herbert

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

La CROSSE -- History is in the hands of Brian Herbert.

Now, the sprint car driver in the United Rebel Sprint Series is hoping it doesn't slip through his hands this weekend at Rush County Speedway in La Crosse for the two-day Bullring Nationals.

Herbert is poised to win his second URSS national title. That accomplishment would be the first in the history of the series.

While he has a good lead on second-place Jake Bubak of Colorado and third-running Jeff Radcliffe of Hill City, he's not about to have any early coronation ceremonies.

"I hope we don't have any breakdowns in the next three races,"  Herbert said. "Anything is possible. We're not going to count our chickens before they hatch."

Herbert leads the national points battle with 2,558 points. Bubak, a teenager who has taken the Colorado Region by storm this year, is second in the nation with 2,504 points, and Radcliffe is third with 2,502.

Only three races remain in the URSS season, and the first two of those are Saturday and Sunday in La Crosse.

Action at the quarter-mile dirt track begins at 7 p.m. Saturday, and Sunday's races start at 4 p.m. Also competing Saturday will be hobby stocks and stocks, while mod lites and mini sprints will serve as the supporting classes Sunday.

The track is one of the smallest in the region, but has produced top-notch action in past years.

"A lot of drivers like it,"  said Gerald Washburn, who is helping promote the two-day show. "The sprint drivers love it."

It will be the first time the 305 sprint cars have competed in a two-day show at the track, nicknamed "The Bullring" for its furious action.

Washburn said extra bleachers will be brought in to help with the expected large crowd. He said the community and surrounding counties have stepped up to make the weekend possible.

Saturday's URSS feature winner will pocket $500, while Sunday's feature offers a $1,000 payout to the winner and $200 to start the A-main.

"We've got a bunch of good sponsors to help make it go," he said. "We've got support classes added. I hope everything works out."

Herbert hopes things work out, too, especially this weekend. The Dodge City driver is fifth on the all-time win list in the series with 18. Another win would tie him for third with Patrick Bourke and Jason Martin.

Martin has won the last three races in La Crosse but recently shelved his steering wheel after moving to Nebraska for a new job. But, he is expected to compete this weekend.

Herbert won his lone race at the speedway in 2010, passing Corey Lutters on the final lap to take the checkered flag. In eight URSS events at La Crosse, there have been six different winners.

"We've always been good at La Crosse," said Herbert, who won the URSS national crown in 2008. "It's one of our better tracks."

With a comfortable margin for another title, though, Herbert said he doesn't plan on riding around at the back of the pack.

"We're not going out to run second or third or fifth or sixth," he said. "We're going out to win them. You could be back in the back and get caught up in something that kills your chances."

Tickets at the gate both days will be $12. Those ages 5 to 12 will be $5, with children 4 and younger free.