Kesselberg, Jacobson, Wilke, Eckerdt Lead Norman County Raceway Winners
I ventured to Norman County Raceway for the 3/8-mile’s season opener on Thursday. It was one of the nicest days of the abbreviated spring we’ve had – nice temperatures, clear sky and light winds.
One of the things I noticed on the way up there was the amount of tractors and farm equipment in the fields. It’s catchup time for farmers after a brutally wet stretch, and I know of several drivers who may miss some racing while working in the fields this spring. So seeing the tractors working was encouraging.
I’m not going to get too worked up about car counts at this point – I think the supply chain shortage for parts and the late farming season are huge factors right now -- but I also hope to see more IMCA Stock Cars and Wissota Midwest Modifieds at NCR as the season goes on. Both classes can put on a good show there.
The most entertaining race of the night in my opinion, was the IMCA Sport Mods.
Scott Jacobson of Fargo, who had a great 2021 season in his #5 machine, took the lead from the outside pole and opened up some breathing room. An early caution came out after contact in turn two, which ended the night for long-time veteran David Siercks of Princeton. Siercks, by the way, is a very well-known racing name in the Princeton area.
Rich Pavlicek of Casselton was charged with the caution but didn’t waste much time getting back towards the front.
There was a tense four-car battle for second between Torey Fischer of West Fargo, Andy Wagner of Ada, Kelly Jacobson of Fargo and Paul Colvin of Horace. Wagner eventually took over second and started closing in on Jacobson.
Wagner erased Scott Jacobson’s lead and got underneath him in turn three; contact occurred, sending Jacobson spinning. Jacobson was able to continue and got the top spot back, while Wagner went pit-side to change a flat right-front tire. Like Pavlicek, Wagner wasn’t out of the race by any means.
Pavlicek moved into second and set his sights on Scott Jacobson. Kelly Jacobson soon joined the battle, and he and Pavlicek raced hard for the second spot.
Wagner came back into the top five as well and moved into third. He and Pavlicek gave a valiant chase at Scott Jacobson but the Fargo veteran survived all challenges for a hard-fought win. Pavlicek, Wagner, Kelly Jacobson and Fischer rounded out the top five.
My observation of the sport mods is you have a lot of experienced racers in the class, and they race each other hard. Sometimes there’s some rubbing but for the most part I think it’s good hard racing.
Kalvin Kesselberg is one of two drivers from Ada who race weekly at NCR. And when he wins, there is quite a cheer from the fans, which was evident on Thursday.
Kesselberg had the inside pole for the IMCA Stock Car feature alongside veteran Rick Schulz of Horace.
It turned into a three-car battle up front between Kesselberg, Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Schulz that went down to the wire. Kesselberg, coming off of a strong 2021 season, outlasted VanMIl’s challenges to pick up the opening night win. VanMil settled for second with Schulz taking third. Kollin Hibdon and Brody Carlsrud of Moorhead rounded out the top five.
It usually spells trouble for the field when Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes is in the front row in the INEX Legends, and that was the case on Thursday. A nice 14-car field took the green as Wilke took the lead from the outset. At one point, Wilke had a lead of more than four seconds before a late caution came out to erase that margin.
Ashton Spieker of Sabin and the long-time veteran Tony Brockhouse of Glyndon were in a good battle for second with Brockhouse prevailing at the finish.
Wilke – the most dominant Legend car in recent years locally – picked up another win with Brockhouse edging Spieker for second. Sean Johnson of Kindred was fourth with Alex Braseth of Ulen taking fifth.
Six IMCA Hobby Stocks were on hand. Brainerd driver Scott Herron was the early leader with Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks, the defending Red River Valley track champion, pressuring him. Also becoming a factor was Tim Church of Fargo.
Eckerdt took over the top spot. After a caution, Church took over second and applied some pressure to Eckerdt. Eckerdt was too strong, picking up the win with Church, Herron and Orvedal rounding out the top four.
Wisconsin driver Owen Carlson of Somerset, Wis., had the field covered in the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Car division as he rolled to a convincing win over Brandon Rekow of Ellendale, N.D. Ty Hanten of West Fargo was third and Marcus Rothenbacher of Ulen fourth.
Only three of the four Wissota Midwest Modifieds took the green, and it looked like defending NCR champion Aaron Blacklance was on his way to a win. But Blacklance had rear end issues which ended his night. It turned into a pretty good dual between Reise Stenberg of Argusville and Jamie Dietzler of Larimore with Stenberg prevailing.
--A rookie in the IMCA Sport Mods, 14-year-old Kamey Leedom of West Fargo, had some mechanical issues in her heat race and was unable to make the feature. She has a unique looking 17K machine.
--Josh Johnson of Harwood had some engine issues prior to the IMCA Racesaver Sprint Car feature and was unable to start the main event. Josh also has a late model and modified in his racing stable. His teammate, Tom Cummings of Grandin, has a late model he plans to run this season.
--Brad Orvedal of Fargo has a sharp-looking IMCA Hobby Stock which is a look-like to Dale Earnhardt’s black No. 3 machine he made famous in NASCAR.
--Tim Church spent a few years in the IMCA Stock Car class but now is back in the hobby stocks