Pierce, Schill Pick Up First River Cities Speedway Wins; Halvorson, Strand Back in Victory Lane
RaceChaser was headed back to River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks on Friday. It turned into a nice night weather wise, and a good field of 83 cars signed in, including 24 Wissota Midwest Modifieds, 23 Wissota Street Stocks and 20 Wissota Late Models.
There were 17 NOSA Sprints on hand; two of the top regular stars, Mark Dobmeier and Wade Nygaard, both of Grand Forks, were at the World of Outlaws event at Cedar Lake Speedway near New Richmond, Wis.
With it being midseason championship night, it might the features were lined up straight up from the heat race finishes. As a result many of the faster cars started towards the front.
The track, well, was pretty narrow, honestly and not very racy. There was some side by side racing but not a ton. Let's say I've seen better racing at the bullring.
It's hard to judge the grandstand crowd at River Cities because it is so large and spread out, and since I don't get there much for a weekly show, I won't speculate if the crowd was good or not.
John Halvorson of Warren, interviewed above, took the lead from his pole position in the Wissota Street Stock feature and never gave it up. In fact, he was never seriously threatened. The best battle on the track was for second, while Chase Boen of Karlstad, Jonny Carter of Lisbon and Dan Aberle of Finley were in a fierce fight. They went three-wide into turn two and this forced Boen off of turn two; Aberle was charged with the yellow and sent to the rear and wound up 15th.
Ryan Johnson of Karlstad had been stalking the second place battle as well and after a restart, got around Boen and Carter and took over second. But Halvorson had the field covered as he picked up the win with Johnson, Boen and Carter trailing. Kyle Anderson of Jamestown had a nice top five finish, taking fifth after starting eighth.
Halvorson has been a model of consistency at River Cities this season and leads the points as a result. He has two wins, a second and two thirds at the track with only one blemish, a DNF on June 14.
Langdon driver Lance Schill had the midwest modified field covered. He started fourth and took over the lead early and went on to a several car-length win. Matt Schow of McIntosh was second, Reise Stenberg of Argusville third, Jeremy Lizakowski of Veseleyville, ND fourth and Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls, who picked up his first win of the year at Bemidji last Sunday, was fifth.
Schill has three wins this season, but this was his first at River Cities. His last two nights at the track have been DNFs, and as a result, he is fourth in the points, 62 behind leader Matt Schow. One interesting note about the midwest modifieds at River Cities — in six races this year, six different drivers have wins.
Austin Pierce of Grand Forks, interviewed above, started on the pole and led from green to checkered in the 2A machine to pick up the NOSA Sprint feature win. He weathered a few late cautions and a lengthy red flag to pick up his first victory in 2019. Keep in mind it was only Pierce’s eighth night of racing in 2019 because of all of the rainouts.
Jade Hastings of Grand Forks chased Pierce for much of the race, and when the leaders encountered lapped traffic, the gap shrunk. There were a few cautions and then a red flag when something broke in Shane Roemeling’s #31 machine and he turned hard right into the fence coming off of turn four. Roemeling was ok but there was a delay in repairing the fence after the car hit it hard.
Nick Omdahl of East Grand Forks worked by Hastings for second on a late restart with Jordan Adams of Reynolds moving into third. After a restart with two laps left, Chris Ranten of Climax made a late charge into the top three, settling for third behind Pierce and Omdahl. It was good to see Ranten have a good run; he flipped his #27 car pretty hard a couple of weeks ago during the Grand Forks Fair.
Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks started on the outside pole in the Wissota Late Models and led from start to finish. He had a few dicey moments in lapped traffic as Winnipeg driver Shane Edginton closed the gap significantly. Strand pulled away after a late restart to pick up the win, his fourth straight at River Cities. He and Edginton, who finished second, are in a tight battle for the points title; Edginton, despite not having a win at RCS, leads by seven points thanks to seven top five finishes this season.
Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks is an up-and-coming driver in the late models. He started sixth and worked into third and was within striking distance of Edginton at the checkered. Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks was fourth and Brad Seng of Grand Forks was fifth.
--I will commend RCS on getting started on time. The first heat was on the track by 6:59 and the heats were pretty much done by a little after eight. Nice work in that regard, RCS.
—The sprint car counts have been down some this year at RCS. Usually they are around 20, this year they have averaged in the 16-18 range. Only 15 of the 17 cars took the green; Brayden Pengilly of Langdon and Tom Egeland of Climax did not start the main event.
—I-94 Speedway in Fergus Falls rained out (So much for the 10 percent chance of rain, Weather Channel App) as did Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen. Dacotah Speedway in Mandan and Red River Valley Speedway are both off this week. And with Jamestown Speedway running the Dakota Classic Mod Tour and not running Wissota Streets this week, ND drivers like Jonny Carter, Kyle Anderson, Royce Jawaski and Kasey Ussatis made the tow north. Carter and Anderson both finished in the top five. Ussatis started 22nd but finished 10th after getting ripped off, in my opinion, by a call in the heat race.
—Two of the Limited Late Models that compete weekly at I-94, Trent Grager of Carrington, N.D., and Dan Dowling of Davenport, entered into the Wissota/NLRA Late Models. Grager looked good in his heat, taking fourth, but did not start the feature. Dowling finished ahead of four drivers at the finish in the feature so I wouldn’t say it was a bad showing at all for the 2D.
—There were some long haulers in the midwest modifieds, but none came as far as George Dalbeck of Wakefield, Mich. Dalbeck has six feature wins at Wisconsin tracks the season and has been a good runner at Superior and Ashland, among other tracks. He did not finish in the feature, however. Two others making the trek, although not as far as Dalbeck, Mike Nichols of Watertown,S.D. who drives the sharp looking 67 machine, and young Ryan Gierke of Villard. Nichols finished ninth after starting 16 while Gierke was a DNF.
Saturday, there are some options for drivers and fans: Buffalo River Race Park in Glyndon will (let's hope) get their second race in of 2019, while the Dakota Mod Tour is at Jamestown. Viking Speedway in Alexandria also resumes. If you are up to the north, Greenbush Race Park, another track that has had terrible weather luck, also resumes. Greenbush also has only one show in this season.