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Greseth Captures NLRA Title, Diemel Wins Prelude to the Johnny

The Prelude to the Johnny attracted 44 late models to River Cities Speedway on Thursday night. There were good car counts in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds (29) and Wissota Street Stocks (32) as well.

I thought the racing was terrific, and if that is a preview of what’s ahead, it should be a great weekend at River Cities.

There were two races really going on with the late models — the Prelude feature, which paid $1,492 to win, and the NLRA Late Model point championship. Shane Edginton of Winnipeg, who led the NLRA standings by eight points over Mike Greseth, started eighth. Greseth started 10th. Edginton and Greseth both won their heat races.

Two old pals — I say that tongue-in-cheek after some of their history — Don Shaw and Dustin Strand shared the front row for the NLRA Late Model feature. Shaw, a former winner of the Seitz Memorial, shot to the lead from the outside pole.

Greseth worked into the top five but Edginton was usually two or three positions behind, at least for the first 20 laps.

Shaw loves the high side of River Cities, and he flew his #42S around there, although Lance Schill of Langdon challenged for a few laps on the lower line. Dustin Strand, Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire and Greseth battled for the third, fourth and fifth spots.

After a restart, Greseth moved by Lance Schill for the second spot, but had his hands full with Schill and two-time Seitz winner AJ Diemel of Elk Mound, Wis. Dustin Strand remained in the top five.

With five to go, Edginton’s #5E came was stopped in turns one and two. He got his spot back as Cole Schill was charged with the caution. I didn’t see what happened.

On the restart, Greseth took the higher line with Diemel on the bottom. Diemel made the move into second and pressured Shaw heavily over the final laps. He made his move on the bottom line and took over the top spot with three to go, and went on to take the feature win in what turned into a pretty dang good race over the final 15 laps.

Greseth and Edginton both slid back on the final restart — Greseth would finish fifth and Edginton 12th. That was enough for Greseth to pass Edginton in the points, giving the late model rookie the NLRA title. Congrats to both drivers it was a hard fight battle to the final race.

Diemel gets around River Cities Speedway as well as any late model driver, and it’s hard not to consider him as one of the favorites for the Seitz Memorial crown. It was an impressive charge he made over the final 15 laps, and also a great display of patience. Shaw settled for second with Strand taking third. Brad Seng of Grand Forks — another two-time Seitz Memorial champion — came from 13th to finish fourth while Greseth finished fifth.

Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks went from 18th to sixth and did a nice job in the 25-lapper.

Wissota Street Stock driver Parker Anderson of Phillips, Wis., is having the kind of year most racers dream of. He picked up win #32 on the season after starting from the pole as he continues his stellar season. Thursday was one hell of a race to the finish, too.

Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks moved into second, while Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls moved ahead of James Meagher of Grand Forks for third. John Halvorson of Warren was also in contention in the top four.

After a caution with 17 to go, Daniel Aberle of Finley and Justin Vogel of Brooten each moved into the top five. Blacklance was pressuring Anderson heavily for the lead — first on the bottom, and then on the outside. The two put on a great show for the lead.

Vogel, meanwhile was on the move on the high line. He moved into third and then was closing on the top two. Aberle was in fourth.

Blacklance worked and worked on Anderson for the lead for what seemed like the entire race. Vogel was making a higher line work and they were running three-wide

Of course, they started going three wide, and a caution comes out and halts the action up front. On the restart, Vogel was now the primary challenger for Anderson. For the last six laps those two put on one heck of a show for the lead til the checkered. Anderson edged Vogel by 0.051 seconds at the line.

Blacklance finished third with Aberle, who ran well all night, taking fourth. Jerome Berger of Roseau — a driver who I don’t get to see race much — ran a solid fifth.

Preston Carr of Carrington led from the pole in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature with Jory Berg of Grand Forks, the 2021 RCS runner-up, giving chase.

On the move was Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls and Lucas Rodin of Marion, the national point leader in the most recent posted standings.

Carr ran up high and Blacklance closed the gap low as the two put on a great show up front for a few laps. Rodin settled into third.

Lapped traffic became a big factor in the feature as Blacklance pressured Carr. Rodin closed quickly. Carr was leading and all of a sudden, went off of turn one with a flat tire, ending his night. Rodin used the lapped traffic to take over the top spot.

With six laps left, Logan Bauer spun in turn one for the first caution.

On the restart, Rodin pulled away to a nice lead as Blacklance was contending with Rusty Kollman of Carrington for the runner-up spot. Rodin picked up win #19 on the year with Kollman edging Blacklance for second. Trent Grager of Sykeston, N.D., took home fourth ahead of 2020 River Cities Speedway champion Matt Schow of McIntosh. Reise Stenberg of Argusville made a good run on the field, going from 18th to sixth.

Blacklance finished third in both feature races as he continues his outstanding 2021 campaign.

The midwest modifieds did a nice job with just one caution, and 22 of the 24 starters finished. Nice work by that crew.

River Cities Notes

—It was good to see Canadian late model veteran Mike Balcaen back at the bullring. The border closure, which has gone on far longer than necessary, has really impacted car counts and crowds at River Cities this year. Balcaen started third and finished 13th.

—Bryce Sward of Nelson has a t throwback graphic scheme on his 1-2 late model, in honor of his grandfather, Gerry Geris, who is in the Viking Speedway Hall of Fame.

—Trent Grager of Sykeston, N.D., seems to have raced everything in his career — street stocks, A mods, Limited Late Models, Late Models, and this year, IMCA Stock Cars. On Thursday he was behind the wheel of the #71 Wissota Midwest Modified that finished fourth.

—A surprise entrant appeared in the late models, and that was Cory Dumpert of York, Neb. Dumpert normally drives his #77 IMCA Late Model but was behind the wheel of a #28 machine that was driven by Dylan Barnhardt earlier this year on Thursday. Dumpert is an excellent late model driver in his region with 16 feature wins this season.

—Thursday is a separate show from the Seitz Memorial. The late models, midwest modifieds and street stocks will run two-day shows this weekend; the Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprints will run a complete show on Friday while the Wissota Modifieds will run a pair of full shows. It’s a busy weekend ahead at the Bullring.

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