Aukland, Grager & Wilke Dominant in Red River Valley Victories; Big Wins for Troftgruben & Cody Lee
I made my first trip to Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo on Friday with a very good field of 94 cars on hand.
There were three really dominant, impressive performances on the night – Matt Aukland of Glyndon in the IMCA Mods, Trent Grager of Sykeston in the IMCA Stock Cars and Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes in the IMCA RaceSaver Sprints.
Let’s start out with Aukland’s performance. I normally don’t put a ton of stock in how someone looks in a heat race, but he kicked the tail of the field in his heat, and picked up where he left off in the feature after starting on the inside pole.
He blew away the field in his heat and quickly stormed out to commanding lead before the caution came out for a spin in turns one and two.
Dave Shipley of Argusville was on the move. He started ninth and moved on the high side to take over the second spot. After the caution, he pulled a slider on Aukland and briefly took over the top spot; but Aukland quickly responded to regain first and after that, checked out on the field.
Aukland won by 6.7 seconds in as decisive a victory as you will see. Shipley had a good night to finish in second.
A nice job was done by veteran Jeff Odden of Reiles Acres, who finished third after running in the top five much of the night. He started sixth. Jesse Skalicky of Fargo and Tyler Hall of Fertile, each driving the Fury Chassis, both were solid with top five finishes; Skalicky was fourth after starting eighth while Hall rounded out the top five as he is very consistent at the 3/8-mile oval.
I was happy to see Luke Johnson of Moorhead have a competitive night in the IMCA Mods after having a 2021 season filled with bad luck. He ran in the top five much of the night and settled for sixth and won his heat by several car lengths. If he can avoid the mechanical gremlins that haunted him last year I’m hoping for a good year for the 8J,.
Speaking of impressive performances, Trent Grager certainly had one on Friday. Veteran Todd Heinrich of Fargo was the early leader but Grager, who started in 10th, was charging to the front.
The race for the lead went three-wide between Grager, Heinrich and Travis Robertson of Moorhead with Grager splitting the two veteran drivers to take over the top spot. After that, he was in his own zip code, winning by more than 4.6 seconds over Robertson in a very impressive showing.
There was some incredible racing for position with some spots going four-wide. Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Kelly Jacobson of Fargo were among the drivers moving through traffic. VanMil worked into third after starting eighth while Jacobson, driving Tyler McDougall’s #1 machine, moved into fourth after starting 11th. Both drivers finished in those spots. Heinrich, a former Red River Valley Speedway track champion, finished a solid fifth.
Wilke didn’t take long to get to the front of the IMCA Sprint feature and once he did, it was pretty much over. He bested the six-car field by 3.34 seconds. The driver who finished second, Trevor Serbus of Olivia, is a solid runner in southern Minnesota, settled for second with Marcus Rothenbacher of Ulen finishing third and Ty Hanten of West Fargo was fourth. A total of seven sprints were on hand.
The big one happened in the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints on the start with a bad crash on the frontstretch. Dylan Langevin of Thief River Falls and Alan Truscinski crashed hard with both cars wrecking hard. Langevin’s #4 machine was badly tore up. After a lengthy red flag delay the race finally got going.
Teenager Kate Taves of Detroit Lakes – who looks better and better each year in the Lightning Sprints – led the first several laps. But charging through the field were Alex Truscinski and Dexter Dvergsten, both of Greenbush, two of the fastest lightning sprints in recent years. They caught Taves and passed her almost at the same time with Truscinski flying around the high side.
Jason Berg of West Fargo was applying pressure to Taves for third with Bryce Haugeberg of West Fargo on the move from 14th on the field. He moved into the top five. Haugeberg had moved into third but spun in turns one and two to end his hopes for a top five. After the restart Alex Truscinski re-established control up front on his way to the win over Dvergsten.
One driver who really had a great run through the field was Wesley VanDrunen of Fargo. He started 15th on the field and worked his way into third at the checkered to cap off a greaqt night. Travis Sureus of Fargo and Jason Berg rounded out the top five.
The IMCA Sport Mod feature was frustrating with several early cautions, including a pileup on lap one which saw Brady Jawaski spin, that also collected Scott Jacobson of Fargo, Torey Fischer of West Fargo and Doug Gardner of Glyndon. All drivers were able to continue although each had some damage.
Kelly Jacobson rolled out to a commanding lead over Thomas Sandvig of West Fargo. Ryan Restad of West Fargo and Rich Pavlicek of Casselton were on the move. Restad moved into second after starting eighth while Pavlicek was third after starting 10th.
The one thing that Kelly Jacobson didn’t want to happen did – a caution flag. Sandvig’s hopes for a top five ended with a spin in turn two to bring out the caution, and that brought Restad and Pavlicek to Kelly Jacobson’s bumper.
On the restart, Pavlicek went down low in one and two and powered into the top spot past Jacobson, who now had to fend off Restad for second. Pavlicek picked up his first win of 2022 with Jacobson outlasting Restad for third. Gardner made a good comeback to finish fourth, and Scott Jacobson – who started 16th, also recovered from the early pileup to finish a solid fifth. Andy Wagner of Ada, who has two wins already this season, finished in sixth.
The INEX Legends had 22 cars on hand. Ryan Braseth of Ulen, the winner Thursday at Norman County Raceway, took the lead fro the pole.
Several drivers were working through traffick including Sean Johnson of Kindred, who started 10th, and Tye Wilke, who started 11th. Australian driver Glenn Mitchell was also running in the top five.
A lapped car got into Braseth to bring out the caution, and the Ulen driver got his top spot back. But it also brought Johnson and Wilke to his bumper. Wilke tried valiantly to make the high side work but couldn’t quite get it to go. Johnson, meanwhile pestered Braseth for the top spot, but Braseth would weather the storm for the win.
Two drivers who have shown big improvement in the past couple of years in the Legends are Ashton Spieker of Sabin and Zander Bauer of Gwinner. Both ran solid races on Friday and finished in the top five – Spieker went from seventh to third while Bauer went from ninth to fourth. Mitchell rounded out the top five.
--Brody Carlsrud of Moorhead picked up his first IMCA Stock Car feature win on Thursday night at Norman County Raceway.
--Landon Maatz of Walcott has a sharp-looking #22M IMCA Sport Mod, sporting purple and white this season.
--Kyle Hallgren of Hankinson has moved from the hobby stocks to the stock cars for 2022.
Macedo Wins WOO Sprints at River Cities; Troftgruben Wins NLRA
California driver Carson Macedo picked up the World of Outlaw Sprint Car feature win Friday night at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks. Brad Sweet of Grass Valley, Calif., finished second with Donny Schatz of Fargo third. Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks was the top finisher among RCS regulars, finishing ninth.
A field of 38 NLRA Late Model were on hand, and Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks prevailed for the feature win after starting in eighth.
Cole Schill of Hawley went from 18th to second while Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria finished third. Winnipeg driver Mike Balcaen and veteran Mitch Johnson of Hickson rounded out the top five.
Only 10 of the 24 late models who started the main event finished.
Lee Picks Up Rebel Midwest Mod Win at I-94
The Rebel Midwest Modified Tour kicked off at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls on Friday with 45 midwest mods on hand. Cody Lee of Starbuck picked up a big win over Preston Carr of Carringotn.
Ron Saurer of Dalton was third while Brendan Blascyk of Hoffman was fourth. Lucas Rodin of Marion, the defending Wissota national champion and the defending Rebel tour champion, was fifth.
Ryan Satter of Dent topped Justin Vogel of Brooten for the Wissota Street Stock win. Kyle Anderson of Jamestown was third, Kyle Howland of Zimmerman fourth and Scott Rebel Bintz of Jamestown fifth.
Travis Saurer of Dalton topped Don Eischens of Richmond for the Wissota Modified win. Dan Ebert of Lake Shore was third, Landon Atkinson of Little Falls fourth and Shane Sabraski of Rice fifth.
Sabraski prevailed in the Wissota Super Stocks over Jack Koranda of Bluffton. Trent Brutger of Watkins was third, Jordan Henkemeyer of Sauk Rapids fourth and Karter Reents of Villard fifth.
Travis Saurer finished with two wins on the night as he also prevailed in the Viessman Late Models over five-time champion Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls. Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was third, Tony Croninger of Watertown fourth and Scott Harrington of Waubay, S.D. fifth.
Shawn Beto of Wahpeton topped Hunter Goulet of Fargo for the Short Tracker win. Zach Kort of Fergus Falls was third.
The King of the Dirt is set for Saturday at I-94.