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RaceChaser Notebook: Caution Free Features, a Boom in INEX Legends

In the last week, I’ve watched a handful of longer feature races, whether in-person or on video streams, that have gone caution free.

Example 1 was the Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series at Madison Speedway last Saturday, where 25 late models ran 40 laps without a yellow. That race got over in a hurry.

Example 2 was the Northland Super Stock series at Grand Rapids Speedway, where 26 super stocks raced 25 laps with zero yellows. And there was some very good racing all through the field.

Example 3 was the late model feature at Night 1 of the Masters at Cedar Lake Speedway on Thursday, where 24 cars ran without stoppages for 40 laps. The race simply flew by.

Example 4 was the INEX Legends feature at Red River Valley Speedway, where 20 cars ran 16 laps with some good battles towards the front.

Why I bring this up is this is I’ve seen the other side of the spectrum, where races turn into demo derbies or marathons, usually unnecessarily. There are a handful of drivers who drive like they don’t respect others’ equipment, or some that drive over their heads, that lead to cautions and pileups. Feature races taking forever is a good way to turn off fans.

On the positive side, these four races I mentioned earlier show racing a long race without wrecks can be done. I think this is important in a show getting done in a reasonable amount of time to see a race get done in five minutes – plus you don’t have half your field sitting in the pit area with beat up race cars. Just a fan’s perspective.

INEX Legends on the Upswing

The INEX Legends class is booming in this area right now. I remember a few years ago the class was struggling in the lower teens, but in the past two years we’ve seen a big jump in numbers.

Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo has averaged 30.5 Legends during its first four nights, with a high of 34 on Friday. They’ve had to run B mains in the last two weeks. Buffalo River Speedway is averaging 24 Legend Cars, with a high of 28 last week.

The class has some solid established veterans – Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids, Australian Glenn Mitchell and Sean Johnson of Kindred come to mind – but is brimming with young talent, many of which are graduates of karting.

That includes the Braseth brothers of Ulen, Ashton Spieker of Sabin and Collin Compson of Valley City. Compson might be the most improved driver in the class over the past couple of years and has four wins this season. Teenagers Kody Machart and Evan Hendrickson picked up their first career wins earlier this season. There are more but those are examples.

And some of the class has moved up to other divisions in recent years. Tim Estenson dominated the class and is now racing sprint cars across the Midwest;; Tye Wilke likewise dominated the class and is now winning races in the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint class. Andrew Jochim of Glyndon and Brody Carlsrud of Fargo both are doing well in the IMCA Stock Car class and have recorded feature wins.

The class is proving to be a good fit for young drivers coming out of go-kart racing and the numbers give me optimism for the future of racing in the area.

Some Great Races...

I’ve seen some great races in the past 10 days. The Wissota Street Stock feature at Casino Speedway was terrific last Sunday with a four-car fight between winner Jason Marko of Watertown, Andy Rossow of Florence, Tyler Lamb of Clark and Maria Broksieck of Goodwin. It was the best race of the night.

The Wissota Midwest Modified feature at Sheyenne Speedway on Thursday was a phenomenal three-car battle for the lead between winner Jarod Klein of Jamestown, Kyle Langland of Enderlin and Brennan Urbach of Lisbon. That trio ran three-wide for several laps, and did it without touching each other. It might have been the best Midwest modified feature I’ve seen at Sheyenne.

I got home in time to watch the USMTS race at Cedar Lake last night, and watching it made me kick myself for not going after watching that. A 45-lap race on a very fast track with Cayden Carter topping Jake O’Neil and Dustin Sorenson for the win. Really the whole field put on a show but the racing up front was tremendous.

Clearing My Head

Mike Nichols lives in Watertown, but is sure making I-94 EMR Speedway in Fergus Falls look like his home track. He leads the Wissota Midwest Modified points at I-94 by more than 100 points over Ron Saurer. Nichols has three wins in six starts with five top fives. Overall Nichols has four wins in 11 starts with 10 top five finishes.

There have been four Wissota Super Stock features contested at Viking Speedway in Alexandria this season – with four different winners. Trevor Saurer, Jeff Crouse, Carson Miller and Matt Miller each have earned feature wins.

One driver who has made a quick adjustment to the A mods is Justin Froemming of Garfield. He jumped into the class later last summer, and then picked up a huge victory at the Silver 1000 at Halvor Lines Speedway in Proctor. This year, he won the King of the Dirt at I-94 in a stacked field, and has three wins in 10 starts. He’s finished in the top five on both Moonshine Mod Tour stops so far.

Haley Lee of Starbuck picked up her first career win at few years ago in the Wissota Midwest Modified class at Sheyenne Speedway. The past couple of years haven’t been very kind to Haley in terms of luck, as she usually was caught up in others’ wrecks. But starting with a top three finish at the Fall Classic in Ogilvie last October, Lee has built some momentum. She has wins at Viking and KRA Speedway and has four top fives in 11 starts. She did have three DNFs to start this season but has left them in the dust.

The Rebel Midwest Mod tour kicks off next week (June 22-25), starting Thursday at Norman County Raceway. The tour will go to River Cities Speedway on Friday, Greenbush Race Park on Saturday and wrap up the weekend at Buffalo River Speedway near Glyndon on Sunday. There is a second four-night swing in August with the finale set for I-94 EMR Speedway on Aug. 18.

First wins club

I’m going to keep track of first career wins. We have a handful so far if anyone wants to add names to the list let me know

Kody Machart, Moorhead, May 21, INEX Legends (Buffalo River Speedway)

Evan Hendrickson, Mapleton, May 26, INEX Legends (Red River Valley Speedway)

Andrea Jacobson, Fargo, June 11, IMCA Hobby Stock (Buffalo River)

Laela Eisenschenk, West Fargo, June 15, IMCA RAceSaver Sprints (Norman County Raceway)

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