One Heck of a Friday Night...
What a Friday night. Big wins, huge car counts, what a night in the RaceChaser area. I wished I could have cloned myself and been at three tracks at once! Nights like Fridays are why I do this blog and why I love racing.
And to think, two months ago we wondered if there’d be any kind of racing season at all. For many tracks in Minnesota, that still hasn’t happened. I’ve counted more than a dozen tracks in Minnesota that have yet to turn a competitive racing lap this season (besides Test and Tunes). Our Canadian friends who race haven’t turned a lap, either, except Ricky Weiss, who is racing full-time on the World of Outlaws Late Model tour.
States like Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, Wyoming and Montana have raced with fans for several weeks now. There have been no Covid-19 outbreaks as a result. At the tracks I’ve been at the crowds (which have been limited to a certain percentage of capacity that has steadily increased) have been spread in the stands out to practice social distancing and so have the pit areas. Concession and ticket lines have spots specifically set six feet apart. It can be, and has been done.
Which brings me to Friday. All three tracks I cover that night — River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks, Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo and I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls— had big nights.
RCS, where I attended had 74 cars in four classes, which was a nice turnout, but remember, the Canadian border was closed for non-essential travel, which costs them probably 7-10 cars and a decent number of fans. So 74 is pretty good. The significance of the night, to me, was the drivers who found victory lane. Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks won his first career street stock feature; popular veteran Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks won the late model feature, and now has feature wins in six different decades. More on that later. Jade Hastings of Grand Forks, who had wrecked his #8H sprinter the week before, was out with a new car and won a very entertaining NOSA Sprint main event.
Red River Valley Speedway packed in 101 cars on Friday, including a whopping 30 IMCA Modifieds. I talked to a few fans who attended who said the racing was terrific. The stock cars continue to put on a show. - 18 were on hand, and what a big win for Andrew Jochim. Jochim had won features in the INEX Legends but for a stock car rookie to break through so early, that’s a massive win.
I-94 Sure Step Speedway had 137 cars on hand in six classes on Friday, and that was without the late models. Brady Gerdes of Villard winning the mods isn’t a surprise at all; he is a former track champion. But think about the stacked field he beat: Tyler Peterson, Dan Ebert, Landon Atkinson, Dave Cain, Blake Jegtvig, Matt Gilbertson and Travis Saurer were among the drivers who finished. You earn your modified wins at I-94 perhaps more than any track in Wissota.
Back to River Cities. Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks, pictured center above, was absolutely fired up after his street stock win. And he should have been. John Halvorson — who’d later win the midwest modified feature — was ALL over him. Didn’t touch or wreck him but gave him everything he could handle. A major mistake, and Klostreich doesn’t win that feature. He prevailed for his first career victory, and he was a popular guy in the pit area afterwards. You’ll never forget the first win.
Then there’s the 65-year-old Corcoran, in his 51st year of racing. He’s still got it. In fact, he was blowing away the field about halfway into the feature — at least a straightaway on second — when the caution came out. He was the last guy who wanted to see that yellow. After the restart Joey Pederson presented a serious challenge and put some pressure on, but Corcoran didn’t waver.
The coolest part was after the race. There was a loud ovation from the grandstand for Corcoran, and many congratulations from people in the pits. Fellow competitor Brad Seng brought over Corcoran a victory beer right after, and Pederson, another driver who’s won quite a bit at River Cities, was there to congratulate him. It was a highly-popular late model win. Corcoran is a well-respected guy at River Cities and a class act. He and I have had many Facebook chats on racing and politics.
Corcoran now has a feature win in six different decades which is remarkable. That spans the Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II, Obama and Trump administrations, by the way.
Speaking of popular wins, the crowd also went crazy after Jade Hastings won the sprint car feature. He wrecked last week and had to to go a different car. I’ll tell you, he and Nick Ranten of East Grand Forks went at it for about 3-4 laps in lapped traffic, and it was hard to figure out who was leading with all of the cars there. Nick Ranten, in his third year of racing, is looking for his first career win in the sprints but if he runs like he did on Friday, he’ll get one this season.
Hastings prevailed but Chris Ranten made it interesting with a run on the high side. However, he was sideways in turn four on the high side — I have no idea how he saved from wrecking — and lost valuable ground. The crowd went nuts for Hastings’ win which was great to see. Plus, another note on the NOSA Sprints — 21 were on hand on Friday, which is a very good field. And that was without Mark Dobmeier who was running the World of Outlaws on Friday.
Watch for some stories to come out of Grand Forks in the weeks ahead as I compiled several interviews — Brad Seng, Brady Troftgruben, Brendan Mullen, and Nick and Chris Ranten. Seng, in addition to racing and being president of the NLRA Late Models, also is now part owner of River Cities Speedway, which I think is a positive move.
Speaking of big wins, Andrew Jochim’s IMCA Stock Car victory at RRVS was huge. Jochim moved up to the class from the INEX Legends — which to me is a big jump — and honestly had been very competitive for a rookie in a tough class. Well, his win on Friday came after starting seventh. Keep in mind, four drivers in the field — Brennan Borg, Mike Anderson, Todd Heinrich and Rick Schulz — already have feature wins this season. What big win for a driver in his seventh night in the class.
Austin Arneson of Fargo always seems to rise to the occasion when there’s a special event, or when there is a big field of cars. There were 30 IMCA Modifieds on hand on Friday, and the Fargo driver again worked to the front for the win. He’s quite a talent and I expect him to be a big-time contender for the Dakota Classic Mod Tour stop. Meanwhile, Tye Wilke (nine INEX Legend wins) and Tanner Engen (
Another item of note about RRVS — seeing pictures of the racing, looking at the strong car counts, and seeing pictures of a great crowd — what momentum has been built in West Fargo right now. It’s taken a few years of building but you can see the results of the work put in by the Bitkers and Nick Skalicky.
I-94 Sure Step Speedway just piled in the cars on Friday. 27 Wissota Mods, 32 Wissota Midwest Modifieds, 22 Wissota Super Stocks and 20 Wissota Street Stocks were on hand. And quality in every class. I would have taken that Wissota Mod group to any track in Wissota country, it was that good.
It’s good to see some momentum built in racing locally. Whether it’s good crowds, car counts or simply good racing — all of that is positive. Hard to believe after where things were at two months ago.
Speaking of Friday night, what a huge week for Kyle Anderson of Jamestown. He had been pushing hard for that first Wissota Street Stock win, and last Sunday at Sheyenne Speedway he got it. He added another one Thursday at Tri-County Speedway in Wishek, and made it three in a row with a win at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen. You get the feeling getting that first win was a big burden lifted from Anderson's shoulders and now the #59 car has some real momentum.
First Career Wins
Klostreich became the latest to join the first-career wins club. Justin Hainline of Lisbon won his first last week, while Steve Nordhagen of Thief River Falls and Bryce Haugeberg of Fargo also have earned their first career wins this season.