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Blackhurst Edges Kennedy for Thrilling Win at River Cities; Dvergsten and Robertson Victorious

Jake Blackhurst edged Thomas Kennedy at the line on Saturday (Photo by Mike Spieker/Speedway Shots)

I was at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks for the final night of the Wayne Anderson Cup. The big show of the night was the Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprints vs. the IRA Sprint Showdown with 33 410 sprints on hand.

What a finish it turned into, perhaps the most exciting sprint finish of the season at River Cities.

I am a big believer that when you bring two sanctioning bodies together for a challenge like this, the home track regulars have the advantage. And that clearly showed for the NOSA cars on Friday; Saturday was a little different story, however thanks to Jake Blackhurst of Hanna City, Ill., who spoiled the party.

I was disappointed to see only five IMCA Stock Cars in attendance. Some of it was some of the Red River Valley Speedway regulars just ran some or all of the six-night Dakota Tour rhat concluded on Thursday. But RRVS usually gets around 20, so I’m guessing some just took the weekend off, which is totally fine. Stock cars put on a great show and the more the merrier I say.

There were 12 Imca Hobby Stocks on hand, boosted by several cars from the Minot region. The POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprints had 17 on hand, just one less than Friday.

Jade Hastings of Grand Forks, coming off of a runner-up finish on Friday, took the lead from the outside pole of the sprint car feature, and set a frantic pace; he was into lapped traffic in three laps.

Josh Schneiderman of West Burlington, Iowa was in second, and Jake Blackhurst of Hanna City, Ill. were into second and third. Thomas Kennedy of Winnipeg and Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks were running in the top five.

Blackhurst, the IRA season points leader, moved into second and Kennedy was in hot pursuit and soon took over the spot. Hastings had built a straightaway lead on Kennedy; Grand Forks driver Mark Dobmeier had worked his way to third place.

Kennedy was cutting into Hastings’ lead; Dobmeier, the NOSA point leader would drop out with about 10 to go.

The caution came out with eight to go when Nick Omdahl went off of turns three and four. Hastings was the leaders, Kennedy was second and Blackhurst third. Mullen had run well all night and was in fourth.

The finish was something else and maybe the best sprint finish I’ve seen.

Hastings led the field on the restart with eight to go. Kennedy quickly went to the high side. It took just a few laps for Hastings to catch the back of the field, but he had some breathing room on Kennedy.

Lapped traffic slowed Hastings and Kennedy was closing fast. With three to go Kennedy pulled a slider, and the two exchanged the top spot. On the white flag lap, Kennedy protected the bottom lane from Hastings — but both drivers were overtaken by Blackhurst in an incredible finish. Blackhurst won by .139 seconds to claim the $5,000 top prize. Kennedy was second, Hastings third.

It was such a stunning finish that the announcer on Flo racing had said that Kennedy was the winner. I was sitting in the turn two pit bleachers and I thought Kennedy had won, too. In fact, in post race interview, Kennedy was shocked by the ending like most in attendance.

But Blackhurst made an incredible run on the high side and got both drivers at the line. The last three laps were the highlight of the race with a terrific finish.

Mullen was fourth after running in the top five all race long with Austin Pierce of Grand Forks, the winner of the $3,000 on Friday, taking fifth.

I felt for Hastings; he wasn’t that far from walking away from $8,000 on the weekend, leading 55 of the 60 laps in the two features. On Friday it was a late restart that was his doom while lapped traffic was his undoing on Saturday. But that’s the breaks of racing.

The POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprint feature went caution free and took a matter of minutes. Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush took the lead from the outset and went on to a 1.352 second lead over Friday’s winning, Alex Truscinski of Greenbush.

Dvergsten started on the inside pole and opened a big lead on the field. Alex Truscinski was fast and cut into the lead some, but honestly needed a caution to make a charge. Alan Truscinski of Greenbush, the runner-up on Friday, settled into third.

Garrison Miller of Fargo was running a solid fourth, but reeling him in was Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks, who started back in ninth.

The top three had some distance between them, and Pederson had caught Miller for fourth But the top five remained the same at the finish as Dvergsten picked up his third win of 2022. Dvergsten, much like Alex Truscinski, has been remarkably consistent this season; he’s finished in the top five in all 14 of his starts. Alex Truscinski, Alan Truscinski, Miller and Pederson rounded out the top five.

If I were a betting man, which i’m not, Travis Robertson of Moorhead would have been my favorite in the Imca stock cars, in large part because he’s run a ton of laps in Grand Forks, particularly in the street stocks. The early leader was Brody Carlsrud of Moorhead with Tyler McDougall of Hawley giving chase. Robertson was in pursuit.

At least for a few laps you could throw a blanket over the five car field. Carlsrud looped his B1 machine in turns three and four for the first caution.

After the restart Robertson moved into the lead and opened a sizeable advantage on second, which was a battle between Mike Anderson of Walcott and Brennan Borg of Harwood.

Carlsrud’s night would end with a flat right rear, leaving four cars on the track. A caution came out for debris.

On the final restart Anderson stayed within a decent distance of Robertson but never got close enough to mount a challenge as Robrertson picked up the win. Anderson was second, McDougall third and Borg fourth.

It was clear that Tim Anderson of Minot was fast from the outset of the IMCA Hobby Stock feature. He started sixth but quickly got tot he front of the 12-car field.

Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks, getting a chance to race at his hometown track, was battling for a spot in the top five. But his night would end shortly after with a right-front flat tire.

Anderson would go on to win over Minot driver Jacob Robinson. Jay Loughman of Rugby was third. Andrea Jacobson of Fargo was the top local finisher, taking sixth.

It was more than four hours of racing on Saturday, as track officials farmed the track several times throughout the evening.

Saturday Notes

Congrats to Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls for winning the Wissota Midwest Modified feature Saturday night at Greenbush Race Park. Blacklance has seven wins in his Midwest Modified this season.

Tyler Peterson of Horace continues his winning ways at Greenbush, picking up the Wissota Modified win. Peterson has five wins in five starts at Greenbush this season alone.

Weston Ramsrud of Bagley won the Wissota Street Stock feature at Greenbush; He holds a one-point lead in the season standings over Jeremy Gust of Strathcona, Minn.

Cole Haugland of Brocket won the Golden Hammer Classic Midwest Modified feature Saturday night at Devils Lake Speedway. Haugland started third. Brennon Weight off LaMoure was second, Jason Halverson of Devils Lake third and Jory Berg of Grand Forks was fifth.

Brandon Palm of Portland won the Western Renegade Non-Winged Sprints main event over Myles Tomlinson of Turtle Lake.

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