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Arneson, Kesselberg, Gronwold, Johnson and Wilke Pick Up Norman County Raceway Wins

Casey Arneson won the Dakota Cat Mod Shootout.

RaceChaser was back at Norman County Raceway in Ada for the Dakota Cat Mod Shootout. It was an Arneson picking up the IMCA Modified win — this time Casey — and earning the $700. Another big news item of the night was Kalvin Kesselberg’s first career win in the IMCA Stock Cars.

It was a nice, sunny, warm and windy day, and the track was hard, dry and smooth — but dust was a battle much of the night. It was not an easy track to pass on.

Jesse Rogotzke of Sanborn, Minn. — which is more than four hours away from Ada — was making his first appearance of the season at NCR, and set the pace for the first several laps. However, Arneson was steadily closing the gap and moved up to a higher line to make the pass. He cruised from there to pick up the $700 feature win. Rogotzke — who I expect to run the Dakota Classic Mod Tour stop at West Fargo on Friday — ran second. Veteran Dave Shipley of Argusville ran a solid third, and Matt Aukland of Fargo was fourth. Austin Arneson of Fargo was fifth.

A great 18-car field was on hand for the Dakota Cat Shootout.

The most popular win of the night, however, came in the IMCA Stock Cars, where Kesselburg, interviewed above, survived some furious challenges from veterans Rick Schulz of Horace and Rob VanMil of Barnesville to win his first career feature.

Todd Heinrich of Fargo looked like he was in pretty good shape, taking the lead in the stock car main event. Heinrich, however, slipped up and lost several positions and that opened the door for Kesselberg to take the lead.

It was a nerve-wracking final few laps for the 20-year-old Kesselberg. Schulz has been one of the fastest stock cars in the area all year with three feature wins, and VanMil has been very tough in the division since it was added locally.

Schulz peeked underneath Kesselberg a few times and VanMil made his presence known on a restart, but the Ada driver wasn’t going to be denied his first-ever win, which led a loud roar from the grandstand. Schulz was second, VanMil third, Travis Robertson of Moorhead fourth and Brennan Borg of Harwood fifth.

Earlier in the night, Aaron Wetterlin of Moorhead, who started fourth, took the lead early in the IMCA Sport Mod feature as he was seeking his second win of the year at NCR. Luke Johnson of Moorhead, interviewed above, avoided a couple of early pileups and moved into the top three.

Johnson was in second on the restart and went high while Wetterlin ran a lower groove. Johnson made the pass and extended a pretty decent advantage on the field by the checkered for his second win of 2020. Johnson also won at Red River Valley Speedway earlier this season. Wetterlin ran a solid second. Scott Jacobson of Fargo, who went to the back for an early caution, recovered to finish in third while Andy Wagner of Ada, who is not having a particularly good year, finished fourth after starting dead last (16th) on the field. Vince Jegtvig of Dilworth was fifth.

There were a few upset drivers in the post-race tech area of the sport mods after some banging on the track left some crumpled sheet metal. We must be in July of the racing season. The sun and dust combo in that feature was difficult for the sport mods and it was difficult to see in turns three and four.

Tim Gonska of Brainerd avoided a few messes in the IMCA Hobby Stock feature to pick up another convincing win, his third of the year at NCR and 11th overall. There were a couple of spins that could have turned into big pileups but fortunately most of the field could continue.

Joe Gonska of Breezy Point was second. The Fargo veterans — Tim Shiek and Brad Orvedal — continued to consistently run in the top five at the two local tracks. Shiek was third after starting sixth while Orvedal was fourth after starting seventh. Todd Gettel of Mahnomen, making his season debut, was a solid fifth.

The top five in the INEX Legends finishing order had some very familiar names — Tye Wilke, Brody Carlsrud, Ryan Braseth, Alex Braseth and Sean Johnson.

Young Ashton Spieker of Sabin took the lead from the outside pole early before Carlsrud made the pass for the lead. Wilke, running a little lower line, persistently worked on Carlsrud and took the win, his 11th of 2020. Carlsrud finished second with Ryan Braseth, Alex Braseth and Sean Johnson rounding out the top five. Spieker finished a solid sixth.

I figured Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls, interviewed above, would be tough to beat from the outside pole in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature and he was. But Jason Strand of Portland, N.D., making his first appearance of 2020 at NCR, was game. Strand battled within a few car lengths but Gronwold didn’t make any mistakes, picking up his second NCR win of 2020 and sixth win overall. Strand was second, Justin Jones of Bemidji ran well all race long and finished third while Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls was a solid fourth.

Reise Stenberg of Argusville, another driver having rotten luck lately, scored a top five, holding off season point leader Brendan Blascyk for fifth.

NCR Notes

—There is a little Brainerd group who’ve been racing weekly in the IMCA Hobby Stocks at NCR. Joe Gonska is from Breezy Point and Tim Gonska (who leads the points at NCR) andJoe Visser of Ironton have been making the trip — about two hours one way — to NCR.

—There were season highs in the IMCA Modifieds (18) and IMCA Sport Mod (16) at Norman County. Good quality in both classes. Each division had at least two heat races with a total of 77 cars, a season-high, on hand.

—The average age of the top four finishers in the INEX Legends feature was 17.8. The front row starters, Ashton Spieker (age 13) and Elzetta Bitker (age 15) — were a combined age 28.

Thursday Night Notes

—Kyle Anderson of Jamestown picked up his fourth Wissota Street Stock feature win of the year on Thursday at Tri-County Speedway in Wishek, N.D. Royce Jawaski of Horace was second.

Brennon Weight of LaMoure topped Jaren Wibstad of Jamestown for the Wissota Midwest Modified win. Nate Reinke of Lisbon was third.

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