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Heinrich Wins King Pin Klash Night #1; VanMil, Blacklance, Skalicky and Wilke Post Victories

Jesse Skalikcy won his first IMCA Modified feature of 2020.

RaceChaser was back at Norman County Raceway in Ada for Night 1 of the King Pin Klash for IMCA Stock Cars. There was a solid 63-car field on hand on a nice June evening.

After being a little stickier last week, the track was dry this week and smooth.

Four drivers found victory lane for the first time this season — Chris VanMil, Aaron Blacklance, Jesse Skalicky, and Todd Heinrich. Tim Gonska and Tye Wilke continued their great starts with more wins.

Torey Fischer of West Fargo led first half of the IMCA Sport Mod feature. For a while, it was a three-car battle up front as veterans Chris VanMil of Barnesville and Scott Jacobson of Fargo made their presence known. There was some really good racing up front.

VanMil, interviewed above, was patient and found an opening and passed Fischer for the lead about halfway through and built a nice advantage by the checkered. VanMil is a good, solid local veteran who doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.

Fischer had her best career finish in a sport mod, taking second and running well all race long. She had a few car lengths on Jacobson for second at the finish line. Fourth was Luke Johnson, whose 8J car looked a little battle worn after the 20-lap feature.  Vince Jegvtig of Dilworth also had his best run of the season, finishing fifth.

Tim Gonska of Brainerd and Brad Orvedal of Fargo had quite a battle in the first portion of the IMCA Hobby Stock feature before Gonska was able to gain the position and pull away for his second NCR win of 2020. Orvedal finished a strong second with Tim Shiek of Fargo third. Teenager Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks was fourth and Scott Herron of Brainerd was fifth. A nice 10-car hobby stock field was on hand.

Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls, interviewed above, has been doing a lot of work to his 5BA machine trying to find the right setup. He broke through with his first feature win of the season in the Wissota Midwest Modified class. He had an early battle with Matt Schow of McIntosh, who took the lead on the first restart which was nullified by a caution flag. Soon a determined Justin Jones of Bemidji joined the battle, moving into second and began pressuring Blacklance.

Blacklance didn't waver at all and got his first win of 2020 by a few car lengths over Jones, who had his best finish of the season. Jones, by the way, is 34 years old and in his 21st year behind the wheel of a race car. He has 90 career feature wins, watch for a RaceChaser blog on him in the weeks ahead.

Aaron Blacklance, right, won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature.

Schow finished third. Brendan Blascyk of Kensington continues to run well at NCR. He won last week and finished fourth on Thursday. Brandon Mehrwerth of St. Stephen ran in the top five night and finished fifth.

Jesse Skalicky of Fargo has ran well all season long in the IMCA Modifieds. Heading into Thursday night he already had three top five finishes on the year. When the 3S team broke through with a convincing win on Thursday.

Skalicky, interviewed above, had a nice battle with Tyler Hall of Fertile and Brady Petermann of Hawley for the first portion of the modified feature. He was able to pass Hall and then opened up a nearly four-second lead on the second spot on his way to his first feature win of 2020. Hall was runner-up once again; he was also second at Red River Valley Speedway last week. Petermann, Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Erv Grossman of Fargo rounded out the top five.

It was a rare DNF for Austin Arneson of Fargo, who dropped out early in the race with some mechanical issue.

Detroit Lakes teenager Tye Wilke is up to a half-dozen wins already this season. And that is out of the eight features he has started so far, the 72 car is on a rail right now. Brody Carlsrud of Moorhead had trouble before his heat and was unable to start but rebounded with a nice runner-up finish in the feature after starting seventh. Ryan Braseth and Alex Braseth, both of Ulen, were third and fourth, respectively with Tony Brockhouse fifth.

The IMCA Stock Cars then took center stage for Night 1 of the King Pin Klash with 14 cars on hand. If I were a betting person, I would have had a hard time betting against Rob VanMil winning since he started on the pole, especially since he’s dominated the class locally the past few years. But, the parity of the class really showed on Thursday.

A caution came out with six to go after an incident up front and VanMil was sent to the rear. Todd Heinrich of Fargo assumed lead and survived several cautions to pick up the $500 winning check. Heinrich, by the way, is a veteran driver in the area and was a good super stock runner in the valley for many years.

Travis Robertson of Moorhead was among the many cars to battle in the top five and topped Brennan Borg of Harwood for second. Rick Schulz of Horace, last week’s winner, was fourth and Kalvin Kasselberg added another top five, placing fifth. VanMil recovered to finishing sixth.

There have been nine different winners in the King Pin Klash at NCR in nine years (the Wissota Street Stocks used to run for it before the stock cars were added).

Norman County Raceway Notes

—Josh Johnson of Harwood is an interesting guy to talk to and is kinda of an old school racer. He got his IMCA Modified ready for the first time this season and made it for the feature. Johnson also had raced a wingless sprint this season at RRVS, and he’s still working on getting his late model ready. Johnson had trouble in his feature and did not finish.

—It's interesting that a group of 4-5 Brainerd IMCA Hobby Stocks have been at NCR the past two weeks. One of those is Tim Gonska, who finished in the top 10 in IMCA Hobby Stock national points a year ago. We've seen Gonska at Buffalo River Race Park and Red River Valley Speedway in the past.

—The IMCA Modified and INEX Legends counts were down at NCR with eight mods in attendance and seven legend cars.. West Fargo draws around 18-20 mods per night and only seven were in attendance on Thursday in Ada. RRVS is also usually in the mid-teens in the Legends.

I have a theory on car counts locally: I think a lot of the uncertainty with the Covid-19 and whether tracks were going to race at all play a role in this. Some decided not to race, some may have waited a while to put a car together. I also think Buffalo River Race Park not opening in 2020 has had an impact on local car counts as some drivers who were regulars there either are sitting out or haven't been in a big hurry to put a car together. Just my opinion.

—One note on hobby stock driver Will Miller. He is from down in my home area in southwest Minnesota -- Sacred Heart, which is about 25 miles from my hometown of Clarkfield. That is about a 200-mile trip, one way, by the way.

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