Kennedy, Hess and Schill (Twice) Win at River Cities Speedway Opener
I was at the season opener at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks on Friday. It was a much-anticipated season opener as the first three nights were cancelled because of rain and wet conditions.
A good 79-car field was on hand, led by an outstanding 28-car Wissota Late Model field.
The Wissota Street Stock feature turned into a dandy three-car battle late. Outside pole sitter Trey Hess of Grand Forks set the pace for the first several laps, but Greg Jose of Grand Forks, who started fourth, was closing the gap.
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls started eighth but worked his way to the top fourth. Also having a solid run in the top five was Weston Ramsrud of Bagley and Cole Greseth of Harwood.
Jose had caught Hess and was pressuring him when a caution came out, and that bunched the field together. Blacklance had moved into third and now set his sights on Jose, who was dogged in his pursuit of Hess.
Late in the race, Blacklance snuck low and made it three-wide out of turn four. Of course a caution waved seconds later to end that tense battle.
After a late restart, Hess held on as Blacklance moved into second. Hess survived the numerous challenges for the win, with Blacklance second and Jose third. Greseth was fourth and Ramsrud fifth. I had not seen Ramsrud race before but was impressed by him.
I will admit I didn’t catch the Wissota Midwest Modified feature (looking for my lost cell phone, LOL) but I do know Lance Schill went from eighth to pick up the win. It was great to see Austin Hunter of Winnipeg back in town; he will be a formidable foe all season long at the Bullring. Jory Berg of Grand Forks was third, Nate Reynolds of Hoople fourth and Jamie Dietzler of Larimore fifth.
Two contenders in the Wissota Midwest Modified field did not start the feature. Reise Stenberg of Argusville had an engine issue while Nate Raasakka of Grand Forks also did make the field.
The Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprint feature took a while – about 30 minutes – thanks to two red flags and several cautions.
Jordan Graham set the early pace in the Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprint field with Jack Croaker of Grand Forks settling into second.
A few laps into the race saw Thomas Kennedy of Winnipeg move into second and began to put plenty of heat on Graham up front. Kennedy made the pass and quickly opened up and advantage on the field.
Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks also was moving into the top four when the red flag came out when Nick Omdahl’s #0 car ended up on its side in turns one and two. Omdahl was OK but was done for the night.
After the restart, Dobmeier got into second as Kennedy stayed in front. Graham still was running solid in third.
After being faster on the low line early, Kennedy went to the top and just flew around the 3/10-mile oval, opening up some breathing room over Dobmeier. However the red flag would wave again as Croaker’s 8ball machine ended up on its side in turns three and four.
After the restart Kennedy opened a several-car length advantage over Dobmeier, with Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks moving into third. Defending RCS champion Austin Pierce was on the move, as he took over the fourth spot. Graham’s top five run ended when he went off of turn two.
Pierce was now in third and pressured Dobmeier. He pulled a slider in turns one and two to take over second as the caution waved. Because the lineup went to the last completed lap, Dobmeier would regain second.
Quietly putting together a solid run was Nick Ranten of East Grand Forks who was in the top five.
Kennedy would win by 1.2 seconds over Dobmeier with Pierce taking third. Ranten and Mullen rounded out the top five.
It was an interesting night for Zach Omdahl of East Grand Forks. He told me his believed his primary car lost an engine, so the #17 team was busy much of the night getting the back-up car ready for the feature. They got it ready and he went from 19th to ninth in the feature, so not a bad night overall.
Lapped traffic would be the crucial factor in the Wissota Late Model feature. Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks set the pace for the first several laps with Ryan Corbett of Grand Forks settling into second. And it looked like Pederson was on his way to a win when he encountered lapped traffic.
The bottom line was clearly the place to be in the late models and Pederson had to go up to a higher line – and that opened the door for both Corbett and Lance Schill. Schill made an aggressive move in lapped traffic and took over the top spot.
There was contact between the #9A of Blake Anderson, who was about to go a lap down and Schill which resulted in Anderson spinning in turns one and two to bring out the caution. Anderson was charged with the caution and pulled in, and he got beside Schill and revved his displeasure. I guess cases like that depend on your perspective but Schill got his top spot back so the officials didn’t believe he was at fault.
On the restart Schill took over and went on to his second win of the night over Corbett. Brad Seng of Grand Forks was third and defending champion Shane Edginton of East St. Paul, Man. Was fourth.
How about the run for the veteran Mitch Johnson of Hickson, N.D. The RCS Hall of Famer – who got back into racing for a few nights last season after several years away from racing – started 15th but stuck the #00 to the bottom of a track he knows very well. He made a late pass of Dustin Strand for fifth. It looked a bit like the Johnson of old that won a lot of races in this region.
Mike Greseth of Harwood went from 20th to eighth. Speaking of Greseth, his brother in law Casey Stremick, is a rookie in the late models this year after starting his career in the hornets.
It’s the 53rd year behind the wheel of Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks, who is driving a Rocket Chassis this year. He won his heat.
Agen Wins Steffes Tour Stop at I-94
Ty Agen of Chippewa Falls, Wis., captured the Steffes Street Stock feature Friday night at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls, Minn.
Agen, 16, was making his first-ever trip to I-94 and picked up the win over the Wolverine, Justin Vogel of Brooten, who came up from 11th to finish second. 2020 tour champion Jonny Carter of Lisbon was third, Eric Riley of Morris was a solid fourth and Braden Brauer of Rochester was fifth.
Danny Yang of Deerwood captured his first-ever Wissota Late Model feature at I-94 over defending track champion Dave Mass of East Bethel. Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton was third, Josh Zimpel of Braham fourth and veteran Chuck Swenson of Watertown was fifth.
Travis Saurer hopped behind the wheel of the Polydome #77 Viessman Late Model, started seventh and got to the front for the win. Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was second, Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls third, Scott Zimmerman of Rothsay fourth and Jarrett Huus of Fergus Falls fifth.
Zach Kort of Fergus Falls started in the back row of the Short Tracker feature but got to the front for the win over Kevin Wahl of Fergus Falls. Jacob Hagen of Elbow Lake was third, Maddie Swenson of Alexandria fourth and Brian Motz of Fergus Falls fifth.
Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls captured the Wissota Midwest Modified win over opening night winner Justin Froemming of Elbow Lake. Corey Storck of Morris was third, Brendan Blascyk of Kensington fourth and Shane Howell of Buffalo fifth.
The Wissota Modifieds had the night off at I-94.
Wilke, Arneson, Dowling, Wagner Lead Red River Valley Winners
Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes started 21st on the 24-car INEX Legend feature – and got to the front to pick up an impressive win on Friday night at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. A great 94-car field was on hand to open the season.
Sean Johnson of Kindred was second, Zander Bauer of Gwinner third. Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids, who started 23rd, made a run to fourth while Ashton Spieker of Sabin recorded a solid fifth-place finish.
Dan Dowling of Davenport won the IMCA Hobby Stock feature over Tanner Engen of Detroit Lakes. Brad Orvedal of Fargo went from seventh to third while Todd Gettel of Mahnomen was fourth. Andrea Jacobson of Fargo was fifth.
Austin Arneson of Fargo won the IMCA Modified feature form his 11th starting spot over Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev. Dave Shipley of Argusville was third, Jesse Skalicky of Fargo fourth and Jordan Sours of Lisbon fifth.
Andy Wagner of Ada went from 10th to the win in the IMCA Sport Mods. Rich Pavlicek of Casselton was runner-up for the second straight night while Scott Jacobson of Fargo, the winner Thursday at Norman County Raceway, was third. Ironically all three finished in the top three at Norman County. Doug Gardner of Glyndon was fourth and Ryan Restad of West Fargo was fifth.
Hibdon won the IMCA Stock Car feature over Randy Klein of Lisbon. Rob VanMil of Barnesville was third, Tyler McDougall of Hawley fourth and Keaten Froemke of Glyndon fifth.
Ty Hanten of West Fargo won the IMCA Racesaver Sprint feature over Owen Carlson of Somerset, Wis. Brandon Rekow of Ellendale was third.