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Jones, Spieker, Strand, Kesselberg, Pavlicek and Eckerdt Win at Norman County Raceway

Ashton Spieker in victory lane with his family (Photo provided by Chad Spieker)

Norman County Raceway in Ada held its Wissota Midwest Modified Race of Champions qualifier on Thursday with a solid 12-car field on hand.

Thursday night racing, particularly with high fuel prices and this economy, is a tough road right now. Grand Rapids and KRA Speedway in Willmar also aren’t bringing in a lot of cars, so NCR isn’t alone in that boat. Bottom line is that is the situation we are facing this season with a lot of external factors to blame.

I’ve talked to a few drivers who race at Red River Valley on Fridays who say getting off of work on Thursday night and getting to the racetrack is difficult, and I can understand that part of it, too.

The good news was racing was done by 9:41 p.m., which is a good thing on a Thursday night for those who have to work the next day.

Justin Jones of Bemidji took the early lead in the Wissota Midwest Modified feature with Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls taking over the second spot over Justin Olson of Thief River Falls. Former national champion Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls moved into the top five

Olson of passed Blacklance for second after the restart; Gronwold then began a battle with Blacklance for third.

Jones opened up an advantage of 1.789 seconds on Olson, who had some breathing room over Blacklance. Jones would pick up the victory, which qualifies him for the Wissota 100 Race of Champions. Olson was second, Blacklance third, Gronwold fourth and Ryan Schow of McIntosh held off Reise Stenberg of Argusville for fifth.

The INEX Legends put on a good show up front. Ryan Braseth of Ulen took the lead a few laps into the race, but soon was pressured by the Australian, Glenn Mitchell, who was looking to rebound from a rough night at Sheyenne Speedway, where he was caught up in a crash that wasn’t his doing.

Mitchell applied a lot of heat to Braseth, but working his way from the ninth starting spot was Ashton Spieker of Sabin, who won his first career feature at NCR in 2021.

After a restart, Mitchell took the lead, but Spieker went to the bottom of the track to make the pass of Mitchell and take over the top spot. Another caution waved late, and that brought Ryan Braseth back into play.

Braseth got past Mitchell and stayed on Spieker’s heels, but Spieker would prevail for the win. Braseth was second and Mitchell was third after starting seventh. Alex Braseth of Ulen, who started 10th, worked up to third with veteran Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids taking fifth.

Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada put the #11 back in victory lane from the outside pole over Rob VanMil of Barnesville. Rick Schulz of Horace was third, Brody Carlsrud of Fargo fourth and Todd Heinrich of Fargo fifth. It’s a bummer only six IMCA Stock Cars were on hand.

Jason Strand of Mayville is in his second year in a Wissota Late Model, but looked like a seasoned veteran on Thursday.

Mitch Johnson of Hickson was looking for his first win in his comeback, but Strand used the high lane to work around him. Soon, Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks had moved into second and Cole Schill of Hawley passed Johnson for fourth.

Strand had about a 4-5 car length advantage on Troftgruben, who had a decent gap on Schill, who won the NLRA show at Greenbush last Saturday for his first feature win of 2022.

Strand won by 1.2 seconds over Troftgruben with Schill taking third and Johnson fourth. The veteran Tom Cummings, who has built a late model for 2022, was fifth in his first night out of 2022.

Rich Pavlicek of Casselton added to his point lead in the IMCA Sport Mod with his second feature win of 2022 at the 3/8-mile oval. Pavlicek started fourth on the field and got to the front for the win over Vince Jegtvig of Dilworth. Scott Jacobson of Fargo was third, Chris VanMil of Barnesville and Thomas Sandvig of West Fargo was fifth.

Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks started fifth on the five-car IMCA Hobby Stock feature but got to the front for the win over Tim Church of Moorhead. Brad Orvedal of Fargo was third, Todd Gettel of Mahnomen was fourth and Tyler Hehn of Horace fifth.

RaceChaser Notes

--Norman County Raceway has a big week next week during the Norman County Fair. On Wednesday a full IMCA Show plus INEX Legends cars takes place, highlighted by a 40-lap IMCA Sport Mod feature. On Thursday, the NLRA Late Models and the Rebel Midwest Mod Tour come to down.

--The very hot weather forecast – for highs around 105 or even a bit higher -- has caused the cancellation of racing at several tracks this Sunday, including Sheyenne Speedway in Lisbon and Casino Speedway in Watertown. Bemidji Speedway and Granite City Motor Park in Sauk Rapids also cancelled.

It’s ironic, about a month ago most of us were frustrated with wet and cool weather, and now we are seeing racing cancelled because of the heat. Just sucks.

--Justin Vogel of Brooten topped Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck for the Wissota Street Stock win Thursday night at KRA Speedway in Willmar.

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