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Omdahl Breaks Through at Norman County Raceway; Gronwold, Wilke, Schulz Add More Wins

Nick Omdahl won his first NOSA Sprint feature of 2020.

The Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprints were on hand for the first time this season on Thursday at Norman County Raceway in Ada. A solid 17-car field was on hand.

Other questions entering the night — could Brock Gronwold, Tye Wilke and Tim Gonska continue their hot streaks at NCR? Well, two of the three continued their winning ways as Gronwold and Wilke found victory lane. They were joined by Rick Schulz in the IMCA Stock Cars and

Let’s highlight the sprints. It’s hard to believe that Nick Omdahl of Grand Forks — the defending NOSA Sprint champion — entered the night with no feature wins this season. Veteran Wade Nygaard of Grand Forks — who has 142 career NOSA wins — also has yet to win in 2020. Which is even more hard to believe.

Brenden Wilde of Thief River Falls led early in the Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprint feature. Tim Estenson of Fargo moved past Omdahl into second.

On a restart, Omdahl got around Estenson and then quickly set his sights on Wilde. He quickly made the pass on the outside and took over the lead. A caution came out with 15 to go, and the restart was wild — and in turn two a melee ensued, taking out several cars, and including Jack Croaker who flipped his 8-ball car. Wilde also had damage and came into the pits but was able to continue. Croaker’s night was over.

Omdahl had new pursuers after that restart, which included Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks and Jade Hastings of Grand Forks, who leads the NOSA standings on the season.

On the restart Omdahl and Mullen made contact (I didn’t see it since it was on the front stretch) which ended Mullen’s night. Hastings gave chase to Omdahl, but the Grand Forks driver — who had wrecked his car at River Cities Speedway last week — was too strong on this night to pick up his first feature win of 2020. Hastings took second and Nygaard — who started 17th, dead-last on the field — finished third. Estenson had an excellent night, running in the top five the whole race and taking fourth. Jordan Adams of Reynolds finished fifth.

The IMCA Sport Mods get a bad rep sometimes for having some caution fests locally, but deserve credit for a good, clean race on Thursday. The 12-lap main event went caution free. Chris VanMil of Barnesville took control early in the #40 machine and wasn’t seriously challenged in picking up his second NCR win of 2020. The 40 car was clearly the class of the field.

Rich Pavlicek of Casselton finished second after starting sixth while Luke Johnson of Moorhead, last week’s winner, was a solid third. Andy Wagner of Ada and Aaron Wetterlin of Moorhead rounded out the top five.

The Ada-Fargo Sport Mod series was extremely close heading into Thursday. Scott Jacobson of Fargo led Pavlicek by three with VanMil 17 points back. Jacobson finished seventh in Thursday’s feature.

The question in the IMCA Hobby Stock class is can anybody derail the Tim Gonska express. First-time visitor Cory Probst of Brewster, Minn., finally did it. That is about a 5-hour drive for Probst one way.

Skyla Miller of Harwood, looking for her first career win, took the lead by several car lengths to lead off the IMCA Hobby Stock feature. The caution came out two laps into it when Brodee Eckerdt hit the wall coming down the front stretch and went off turn one, ending his night.

Probst passed Miller for the lead with Gonska, charging through the field into second. Miller spun in turn four to bring out a caution. Moments later, Gonska began pressuring Probst for the lead.

A restart occurred with three to go, and Probst got an excellent start, opening up several car lengths on Gonska. He picked up the feature win. Gonska settled for second (he hasn’t finished worse than second at NCR this season) with veteran Brad Orvedal of Fargo finishing a solid third. Ken Crane of Mahnomen also ran well, taking fourth while Shawn Niemeyer of Brainerd was fifth.

Gonska, by the way, is tied for sixth in the IMCA Hobby Stock national points. Probst is fourth.

The question also becomes if Brock Gronwold’s streak could be stopped in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds. The answer is no. Gronwold, from Fergus Falls, was interviewed above.

Reise Stenberg of Argusville, the defending track champion in the class, looked up to the task early, taking the lead and leading the first six laps. On the restart, Gronwold, who moved into second, passed Stenberg in turns one and two and led the rest of the way for his 15th win of the year. Stenberg ran a strong second with Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls taking third. Jesse Aho of Toivola, Mich. — who wins the award for longest tow of the night — was fourth with Hunter Hougard of Warren, who started ninth, taking fifth.

Gronwold, by the way, is running a Lethal chassis formerly owned by Landon Atkinson, and it is one of the fastest midwest modifieds in Wissota right now. Including his wins down south, Gronwold has 15 feature wins this season.

It was an early battle between Travis Robertson of Moorhead and Rick Schulz of Horace in the IMCA Stock Car feature. The two raced hard and clean and side by side for a few laps with Schulz, who was interviewed above, assuming the top spot.

Rob VanMil of Barnesville, however, was making up some ground on the low side, and took over the lead for a few laps. Schulz didn’t give up on the high line, and found a good deal of speed on the top of turn four, and regained the top spot. Meanwhile, last week’s winner, Todd Heinrich of Fargo, was moving through the field after starting seventh. He moved into second but ran out of laps to close the gap on Schulz who won for the second time at NCR this season. Robertson settled for third with Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada fourth. VanMil finished fifth.

Tye Wilke (72) won his 16th feature of 2020.

Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes has been similarly dominant in the INEX Legends, and he added another win to his total on Thursday. But it wasn’t easy as Ryan Braseth of Ulen was all over Wilke for the final laps of the feature. Wilke picked up his 16th win of 2020, and 13-year-old Kody King of Clear Lake, Iowa, made a late pass on the outside of Braseth for second. Brody Carlsrud of Fargo and Alex Braseth of Ulen rounded out the top five.

NCR/Thursday Notes

Ashton Spieker, 13, of Sabin picked up his first career heat race win in the INEX Legends, and ran a really solid race. He’s getting some very valuable seat time this season running at the area’s tracks. And is getting better each week.

—Speaking of the legends, Ryan Braseth of Ulen won the Minn-Kota Legends Tour points title by nine points over his brother Alex. The tour went to Norman County, Red River Valley and Sheyenne Speedways this summer.

—Aho won the long tow award of the night (unofficial of course); he is a cousin to IMCA Hobby Stock driver Alyssa White of West Fargo.

—The first NOSA Sprint heat was rough to say the least. I counted 3 cautions before a lap was completed and five overall. Heat had to take 20 minutes. I’ll call a spade a spade — some of the driving was borderline embarrassing. Contrastly, the second heat had one caution and went pretty smooth.

Chris Mack of Jamestown blew a motor in his Wissota Midwest Modified heat race, ending his night. Jeff Nelson of Perham had similar tough luck as the water pump broke; he and his crew worked hard to try and get it fixed for the feature but were unable to make the call.

Justin Jones of Bemidji had his #69 IMCA Sport Mod out for the third time in 2020 (he’d raced it in Princeton and Brainerd earlier). He had been racing a Wissota Midwest Modified at NCR and other tracks in the region. However, his midwest modified wasn’t put back together yet after a crash at I-94 Sure Step Speedway.

Justin Vogel of Brooten topped Jimmy “Nitro” Williams of DeGraff for the Wissota Street Stock feature Thursday at KRA Speedway. Ashley Mehrwerth of St. Stephen earned his second Wissota Midwest Modified win of the year over her brother Brandon.

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