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NICK SCHWIEN • Hays Daily News Jake Bubak leads a URSS 305 sprint car heat out of turn two Sunday at Rush County Speedway in La Crosse.

Teen claims top prize at 'Bullring'

By NICK SCHWIEN

nschwien@dailynews.net

La CROSSE -- The first time, Jake Bubak learned his lesson.

Then next time, the teenager delivered one of his own.

On Sunday night at Rush County Speedway in La Crosse, the Colorado teen pulled off his fourth United Rebel Sprint Series 305 sprint car win of the season on the second night of the Bullring Nationals.

"It's great,"  Bubak said. "Any win is great, but a national win makes it better."

Bubak, who's in line to be the URSS national rookie of the year, started outside the front row alongside Jared Kern. Bubak led the first lap before J.D. Johnson went flying around him on the second lap.

Johnson, a regular on the NCRA 360 sprint car series, led until the halfway point. But Johnson continued to slip up in turns three and four on the dry, slick track.

Bubak nosed his car under Johnson the first time he slipped, only to have the driver of the No. 98 car edge back in front of him at the next corner.

On lap 16, Johnson's car pushed again, and this time Bubak didn't back down.

"The first time he did it, he chopped me pretty hard going into one," Bubak said. "I had to regain my composure a bit, made me a little upset. But the next time, I just didn't lift going in so he couldn't chop me going in that time. It's nice racing against guys like that. You can learn a lot from them."

Bubak led the rest of the 30-lap feature, but that didn't mean it wasn't full of excitement.

Jason Martin, who started 10th, continued his assault by marching to the front. He battled Jeff Radcliffe for third and fourth for numerous laps until Radcliffe put some space between the two by driving under Johnson on lap 22 to move into second.

"There was water going into (turn) three, and everybody kept hitting it,"  said Martin, who had won three of the last four races at La Crosse entering Sunday. "It was just making it treacherous. I never could get the top right. There just wasn't nothing to lean on up there, so I couldn't keep my momentum up."

Bubak continued to hold down the top spot as Radcliffe drew closer, and Martin began working to get by Johnson.

When the fourth and final caution flew with four laps remaining, Martin made his move. He was neck-and-neck with Johnson as the two crossed the line on lap 27.

In turns three and four, Radcliffe hit the slick spot and spin, collecting others running closely to him. He was able to keep his car running, but lost momentum.

That allowed Martin to move into second as several other drivers hit the brakes to avoid the spin.

Josh Fairbank, who won the night's B-feature and started 11th, got by Radcliffe into third on lap 29 as Radcliffe's car slowed due to damage from the contact in the spin. Luke Cranston, who was caught up in an early caution and sent to the back, got by Radcliffe as well into fourth.

"I saw them spinning, and I knew J.D. was on the outside of me,"  Fairbank said. "I knew I didn't have much room. I really thought he was going to shut it down, but he kept on it. He tagged me a little, and I hit J.D. a little but didn't do much damage. But everybody kept on going, so no harm."

Bubak had a large enough cushion, though, that Martin never really could challenge for the win. Martin took the runner-up spot, with Cranston edging out Fairbank for third at the line. Johnson was fifth, with national points leader Brian Herbert in sixth.

"The short tracks are more like what we race at in Colorado," Bubak said. "I seem to struggle with these guys because they're used to the bigger 3âÑ8ths and half-miles. This is a little more comfortable for me, more what I'm used to."

The URSS wraps up the season Saturday at Dodge City Raceway Park. Herbert is on the verge of becoming the first two-time series champ, although Bubak and Radcliffe are hot on his heels.

"We were just coming to be top 10 in (national) and top five in Colorado, and we won that,"  Bubak said about his first year with the URSS. "We're hanging strong. I got to know Jeff Radcliffe and Brian Herbert real well, and I like racing with those guys."