Strand Wins NLRA Show at Norman County Raceway; Robertson, Arneson, Wagner, Braseth Add Victories
RaceChaser blog was back at Norman County Raceway as the NLRA Late Models were on hand. A great 23-car field was in attendance.
It was a completely different track at NCR than we’ve seen previously. Usually it’s dry, hard and smooth; this week it was tacky although not rough. I was told during the show the Ada area has had six inches of rain in the past two weeks, including 3/4 of an inch yesterday. Add a humid day to that with dew points in the low 70s, and no wind and you’re going to have a fast track. All I know is the mosquitos liked the humid still air a lot better than me.
If Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks has the pole in a 22-car NLRA Late Model feature at NCR, and you had a choice of a bet — either him or the field — what bet would you take? Many would take Strand over the field in large part because of familiarity of the track (he’s won in the late models, modifieds and midwest modified there). He led all 25 laps, surviving several cautions, to pick up his second NLRA win of the year at Ada.
Don Shaw of Ham Lake looked to mount a challenge after starting fifth. He moved past his teammate Dave Mass into second and gave chase to Strand. He cut into the lead by a few tenths of a second and made a run late but Strand was too strong again. Shaw settled for second, Mass was third. Casey Meyer of Wahpeton had a nice run, starting seventh and finishing fourth. Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks snared a top five by holding off Brad Seng of Grand Forks.
Travis Robertson of Moorhead, interviewed above, laid a whipping on the IMCA Stock Car field. He had more than a half straightaway lead on Rob VanMil of Barnesville and picked up his first NCR win of the year and third overall. The only thing that went wrong for Robertson was the hood flew off on the cool down lap!
Rob VanMil took second over Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada, who had another solid showing. Dan Mackenthun of Hamburg, making his first appearance at NCR this season, placed fourth while Todd Heinrich of Fargo was fifth. Eight stock cars took the green at the feature.
Speaking of VanMil, he looked to be on his way to winning the IMCA Modified feature. However as he was going through turns one and two, a lapped car hit him, sending him flying airborne off of the corners. In fact, you could see the bottom of the #40 machine as he went off. The damage ended his night. It was a terrible break.
Casey Arneson of Fargo started dead last on the nine-car field and was running second when VanMil encountered his misfortune. Arneson took control for the win. Jesse Skalicky of Fargo ran strong all race long and finished second, with Cole Babcock of Rothsay running a solid third. Tyler Hall of Fertile added another top five, finishing fourth, while Cole Neset of Fargo was fifth.
Ryan Braseth of Ulen, interviewed above, survived challenges from two different drivers to hold on for the INEX Legend win. Braseth at first had to fend off Alex Kukowski of Edgeley, N.D., and then over the final laps Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes, who leads the area with 17 wins this season.
Braseth held on for his sixth win of the year while Wilke settled for second, Kukowski was third, Kody King of Clear Lake, Iowa fourth and Tony Brockhouse of Glyndon fifth. King, by the way is 13 years old while Brockhouse is 60.
Andy Wagner of Ada scored a pretty decisive victory in the IMCA Sport Mod feature. He started sixth on the grid and took the lead early and wasn’t threatened late. It was his second NCR win of the season.
Ryan Veralrud of Ottertail had his best run of the season, taking second after starting on the inside pole. Point leader Luke Johnson of Moorhead ran third while veteran Scott Jacobson of Fargo was fourth. Rich Pavlicek of Casselton was fifth.
Two cars from southern Minnesota — Cory Probst of Brewster and Malik Sampson of Worthington — made the long trek north in the IMCA Hobby Stocks. Probst is the IMCA Hobby national point leader while Sampson is 10th. They built a nice advantage on the field and waged a pretty good battle for the lead on their own.
Tim Gonska of Brainerd, who has dominated the class weekly at NCR, moved into third but the top two had this covered. Probst picked up the win while Sampson was second. Gonska, who is 11th in national points, was third, Scott Herron of Brainerd fourth and Ken Crane of Mahnomen fifth.
Running a concept motor with an RPM chip, usually Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls isn’t a huge fan of tacky tracks. You wouldn’t have known it on Thursday. He passed early leader Reise Stenberg of Argusville and opened up a big lead when a caution came out for a spin in turn three. Gronwold wasn’t challenged as he picked up win #17 on the season.
Stenberg ran second while Jeff Nelson of Perham was a solid third. Hunter Hougard of Warren was fourth and Jamie Dietzler of Larimore, N.D., was fifth. As far as midwest modified features go, this one was so-so.
—Multi-time Wissota Midwest Modified national champion Travis Saurer of Elizabeth was behind the wheel of the No. 41 late model and had miserable night. In the heat, he suffered right side damage and a left rear flat. In the feature he was in a pileup in turn four, damaging the car. Saurer, by my count, didn’t complete a full lap on the night.
Cole Schill of Horace also had bad luck in the heat, getting caught up in an incident in turn two along with Saurer that damaged his front end, ending his race. He took the green in the feature and pulled in.
-Dustin Bluhm of Herman is back after a short lived late model retirement. He bought a Longhorn Chassis from Iowa driver Chris Simpson. He told me there are only four cars in the nation like that; one was driven by Brandon Overton who won the USA Nationals at Cedar Lake.
—It was good to see Jeff Hapala of Fargo get a heat win in the late models. Jeff is not one of the higher-budget late models out there so nice to see him have some success. He held off Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton for the victory.
—If you want to know why some IMCA out-of-towners were at Ada on Thursday, look no further than the national points. In addition to Probst, Sampson and Gonska in the IMCA Hobby stocks, Dan Mackenthun of Hamburg, Minn. (located west of the Twin Cities) had his #92 IMCA Stock Car in town. He is 11th in national points. I’ve seen Dan race many, many times at Redwood Speedway.
—Torey Fischer of West Fargo won the first heat race of the evening in the IMCA Sport Mod.
—I’m disappointed in the IMCA Mod counts at NCR, frankly. West Fargo is usually in the upper teens in that class and NCR hovers around 10; Thursday it was nine Some of it is Thursday nights and people having to work, etc., I get that. But without Glyndon opening this year NCR presents those drivers with another night to race. Only eight midwest mods were on hand while eight stock cars were in attendance.
Satter Wins at KRA Speedway
Ryan Satter of Dent picked up the Wissota Street Stock feature Thursday night at KRA Speedway in Willmar. Justin Vogel of Brooten was third while Nitro Williams of De Graff was fourth.
Brandon Mehrwerth of St. Stephen won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature at KRA. His sister Ashley was third.