Red River Valley Speedway hosted a rare Wednesday night show, with five classes running. The IMCA Modifieds had the night off.
A good 82-car count was in attendance for Red River Valley Speedway Hall of Fame night, but I was disappointed in the small crowd, frankly. It does indicate how tough it is to draw fans during mid-week shows, especially with school starting.
It was Red River Valley Hall of Fame Night as Big Joe Jacobson, Ambrose Spieker, Steve Pavlicek, the late Danny Schatz and Ed and Jan Dollinger were the 2022 inductees.
One thing is for certain after Wednesday – the points races in several divisions got tighter.
Thomas Sandvig of West Fargo led the first three laps of the IMCA Sport Mod feature but he would spin his #14 in turn four two laps into the main event. Matt Clark of Fargo would move into the top spot on the ensuing restart.
Andy Wagner of Ada used the high side to take over the top spot with Scott Jacobson of Fargo moving into second after starting in 10th. Those two, let’s say, have had their battles before – but they will never back down from each other.
Jacobson applied the pressure to Wagner as Clark settled into third. Point leader Rich Pavlicek of Casselton moved into the fourth spot after starting 11th with Landon Maatz of Walcott in fifth.
About halfway through it, Jacobson was able to use aa slider to take the top spot, and he stuck his #5 machine to the bottom. Ryan Restad of West Fargo also moved into the top five.
The caution came out with five to go for a spin out. On the restart Wagner was able to take over the top spot for a lap, but Jacobson responded with a slider. Restad had moved into third and was pressuring Wagner as the race up front turned into a three-car front.
The caution came out for a multi-car incident in turn three setting up a frantic finish. Wagner would take over the lead as the white flag waved but Jacobson fought back with a slider. There was contact – I would call it hard racing frankly that the fans like – and Jacobson would prevail for the win in an extremely hard-fought race between the two rivals. Wagner settled for second with Restad taking third.
Always consistent Chris VanMil of Barnesville had a nice run through the field, going from 12th to fourth.
Clark capped off a good night in fifth.
The points race in the IMCA Sport Mod class tightened up. Jacobson entered the night nine points behind Pavlicek; but Pavlicek would limp his #17 machine home with a flat tire and finish outside the top 10. That race will go down to the season championship on Sept. 2.
A dozen IMCA RaceSaver Sprints were on hand as Marcus Rothenbacher of Ulen took the lead from the green and also held it after the first caution, but shortly later his machine would slow, and his night would come to an end with mechanical issues.
Rabenberg, only 16, took over the lead after Rothenbacher’s misfortune and would open up a straightaway lead on the field.
Brandon Rekow was running well in second as Dustin Bluhm of Herman settled into third. Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes was in fourth with Andy Pake of Felton into the top five.
Rabenberg would turn the race into a rout, lapping several cars, on his way to his first win at Red River Valley. Rekow ran a strong second with Wilke in third. Bluhm was fourth and Ty Hanten of West Fargo was fifth. Hanten entered the night with a 20-point lead over Morgan Nyquist in the points, and that lead grew a little as Nyquist finished in ninth.
Pake’s hopes for a top five finish ended with a flat tire.
Tanner Engen of Detroit Lakes had the inside pole for the IMCA Hobby Stock feature and took the lead from the green.
Dan Dowling of Davenport entered the night with a slim four-point lead over Tim Church of Moorhead. But his point championship hopes literally went up in smoke as he blew the motor on his #02 machine. I know Dowling really wanted that points title this season, so Wednesday night had to be a disappointment.
Engen continued up front with Church moving into second. Brad Orvedal of Fargo moved into the third spot with Andrea Jacobson of Fargo in fourth.
On the restart, Eckerdt applied the pressure to Church for second as Engen maintained his lead. Eckerdt would take over second and set his sights on Engen. And soon it turned into a great battle as Eckerdt would pull beside.
Eckerdt would edge ahead with two to go and would open up a few car lengths on Engen by the checkered to win by .639 seconds. Eckerdt has 10 victories this season. Church was third, with Jacobson taking a solid fourth. Orvedal rounded out the top five.
The very tight points race will come down to three drivers on Sept. 2 – Church and Eckerdt, by my math, are now tied for the point lead with Dowling two points back.
Evan Hendrickson took the lead of the INEX Legends. His first challenger was Collin Compson of Valley City, who applied a lot of pressure for the top spot.
Point leader Tye Wilke – in his farewell tour in the legends (his car has been sold), was making a lot of headway on a higher line, and it seemed like he was picking off one car per lap almost. He soon moved into second and worked on the high side of Hendrickson.
Wilke would take over the top spot with Hendrickson now facing a lot of heat from Compson and Richardson.
Wilke had opened up a 1.2 second lead on second as Hendrickson and Richardson raced side-by-side for second. Richardson would move into second as the caution waved with three to go. The Braseth brothers, Alex and Ryan, were also solidly in the top five as the caution waved.
Ashton Spieker of Sabin – who made it to the track after football practice at Moorhead High School – had made a big charge through the field, going from 22nd to seventh.
There were a few late cautions, but each time, Wilke got a great restart each time, including on the final restart as he opened up a few car lengths quickly.
Compson was still battling with Richardson with the Braseth brothers joining that battle.
Wilke would top Compson by .600 seconds for the win. Ryan Braseth worked into third by the checkered with Richardson, coming off of a win at Buffalo River Speedway on Sunday, had a good run in fourth. Alex Braseth rounded out the top five. Spieker, by the way, finished sixth after starting dead last on the 22-car field.
The IMCA Stock Cars capped off the night and it turned into a night where the top two cars in points – Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Brennan Borg of Harwood – had trouble.
They didn’t even make it a lap as there was a multi-car incident in turn two.
VanMil – who was the point leader entering the night – suffered a flat in that incident and had to go to the pits. His crew would get the tire changed and he would restart at the back of field.
On the restart Rick Schulz of Horace took out the lead and he would storm out to a two-second lead on Keaten Froemke of Glyndon. Trent Grager moved into third.
A three-car pileup in turn three, which saw Kollin Hibdon’s #A machine spin, and that collected Andrew Jochim of Glyndon and VanMil. Jochim left on the hook to cap off a pretty frustrating finish.
Schulz was the last one who wanted to see the caution wave as his more than two second lead over Froemke was now gone.
VanMil, the 2022 Norman County Raceway Champion, was caught up in two incidents not of his doing; and after the Hibdon spin he would bring his #40 back to the trailer.
Grager would go to work on Schulz up front as Tyler McDougall of Hawley challenged Froemke for third.
With seven to go the caution came out for debris. Grager put the heat on Schulz on the restart and for a few laps, seemed quicker. But Schulz’s #4 machine was consistent on top and never allowed an opening. Grager would try valiantly to make the low lane work to make up ground on Schulz but started to fall back a little, which brought Froemke into the battle for second.
Travis Robertson of Moorhead – who entered the night third in the points – and Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada were having a good fight for the fifth spot as well that went down to the finish.
Schulz would pick up his second win of 2022 by 1.301 seconds over Grager, who held off Froemke for second. McDougall capped off a consistent night in fourth while Robertson edged Kesselberg by .001 seconds for fifth.
With Borg and VanMil both recording DNFs, Robertson gained some valuable points heading into the Sept. 2 Season Championship. Unofficially he leads the points by two over VanMil, with Froemke and Borg now 10 points back.