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Jones, Blacklance, Grager Post Wins at Norman County Raceway

RaceChaser was at opening night for Norman County Raceway, and it was a hot one to say the least. It’s always good to the 3/8-mile oval.

As I’ve mentioned in previous blogs, I’m not going to analyze car counts and track conditions this early in the season — especially since its as NCR’s opener. Let’s get later into June and maybe some opinions can be formed. I will say NCR is typically slow starting car-count wise but picks up momentum as the season goes on.

I admit I was a little disappointed to see only six IMCA Modifieds in town. Hoping to see more at NCR in the weeks ahead.

Two of the contenders in the IMCA Sport Mods had issues. Rich Pavlicek of Casselton, who won his heat, blew his motor and was gone shortly after. The Pavlicek crew was headed home shortly after the heats to get a different engine put in for Friday’s show at Red River Valley Speedway.

Kelly Jacobson of Fargo, who won the other IMCA Sport Mod heat going away, was the victim of a spinning car at the start of the feature and was collected; he left on the hook.

Once the race got going, Paul Colvin of Horace took the lead with Justin Jones of Bemidji, interviewed above, giving chase. Scott Jacobson of Fargo, already armed with two wins this season, on the move and took over the third spot.

Colvin slid high in turn four, and that was the opening Jones needed to take over the lead. Colvin then had to battle Scott Jacobson for third; and this allowed Jones to open a nice advantage on the field.

Andy Wagner of Ada and Chris VanMil of Barnesville were battling for fourth.

Jacobson made his move on Colvin to take over second but the gap too was much to catch Jones. For Jones, it was his first feature win in four years, and in talking to him afterwards, a giant relief.

Scott Jacobson, who started eighth, finished second. Colvin was third, VanMil fourth and Wagner fifth.

A pair of Brainerd drivers shared the front row in the IMCA hobby Stock feature. Scott Herron took the lead. Todd Gettel of Mahnomen, coming off of a win at Red River Valley last Friday, was on the move and took over the second spot.

Scott Herron went on to take the win with Gettel settling for second. William Herron of Brainerd was third. Will Miller of Sacred Heart, coming off of his first career win at Buffalo River Speedway a couple of weeks ago, was fourth with Skyla Miller of Harwood, who won the heat race in the class, taking fifth.

The Wissota Midwest Modified class was a race for survival as only five of the 12 starters finished. Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls, interviewed above, led from start to finish — but had to survive a battle with Reise Stenberg of Argusville, and numerous cautions, to pick up his first win in a midwest modified this year.

Stenberg drove hard as he battled Blacklance for the top spot. Defending NCR champion Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls was battling with Jamie Dietzler for third.

After a restart, Stenberg hit a bump in turns one and two and slid high, and elected to pull into the pit area. That left Dietzler and Gronwold to chase down Blacklance. Blacklance, however, stayed steady and went on for the feature win. Dietzler ran well all night and finished second with Gronwold third. Chris Mack of Jamestown and Joe Henninger of East Grand Forks rounded out the finishing order.

Trent Grager of Sykeston, N.D., an IMCA Stock Car rookie, is having quite a week. He picked up the feature win in the class last Friday at Red River Valley Speedway and followed that with a win Thursday at Norman County.

Grager, interviewed above, took the lead from the outset. Rick Schulz of Horace and Brandon Schmidt of Hillsboro were battling for second. Kalvin Kasselberg of Ada also moved into the top four.

As the checkered flag waved, Grager had some breathing room for the win. Schulz was second, Schmidt was third, Kesselberg fourth and Todd Heinrich of Fargo, N.D., fifth.

Heat race winner Rob VanMil ended up with a DNF in the feature — I didn’t get a chance to see what happened to the #40 car.

Nevada driver Kollin Hibdon is working with the Arneson racing team this summer. And he’s proving to be a force in the IMCA Modified class. He picked up his fourth win of the year with an impressive showing on Thursday.

Jesse Skalicky of Fargo had a solid run, taking second. Tyler Hall of Fertile moved from fifth to third on the grid, ahead of Mack. Joshua Johnson of Harwood finished fifth.

NCR Notes

—Grager has raced in several different classes recently — Wissota Street Stock, IMCA Modified, Late Models — but has hopped into an IMCA Stock Car this year. He said he’s enjoying the class.

—Schmidt, who finished third in the IMCA Stock Cars was coming off of a feature win at North Central Speedway in Brainerd on May 29. He took the 2020 season off but looks formidable again.

—It was good to see Joe Henninger of East Grand Forks back in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds. He went for a wild ride last year at NCR on the backstretch, flipping his #68 several times.

—Jamestown driver Chris Mack was doing double duty — running an IMCA Modified and a Wissota Midwest Modified.

—I visited briefly with Joshua Johnson of Harwood. Johnson is a diehard, and has raced in three classes in recent years — IMCA Modified, Wissota Late Model and wingless sprint classes. The wingless sprint was out last weekend and the modified was out on Thursday, and he said the late model could be out soon as well.

—Scott Samuelson of Fergus Falls was having a nice run in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature; he ran in the top five for most of the race, but pulled in late…I didn’t see what happened.

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