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  • tombergie01

Thoughts and Observations as Red River Valley Speedway Opens Season

Gwen Sailer's 76G car was damaged in a rollover, but she was not injured.

The Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo opened the 2019 season on Friday night, here are some thoughts:

The good

—83 cars were on hand for the opener, including 22 IMCA Sport Mods, 21 IMCA Modifieds and 14 IMCA Stock Cars. The very encouraging sign was the IMCA Stock Cars, with 14. Some new faces, too.

—The show was done in three hours and that was in spite of a rollover in the sport mod feature.

—The young talent in the legends class, especially the amount of teenagers.

The not-as-good

—early in the year, especially after the winter and spring we’ve had, it’s going to be tough to get tracks perfectly smooth. The track had rough spots on Friday but considering the cool, wet weather we’ve battled, that shouldn’t be unexpected. A week of 80-degree weather would do wonders for a lot of area tracks.

—I wonder what the future of the IMCA Hobby Stock class is locally. There were nine on Friday — not bad, but you’d like to see that class in the 12-car range. Ironically, it was a driver from Morton, Minn., — Matthew Olson — who won the feature. Morton is less than 10 minutes from Redwood Falls and about 3 hours from here.

—the weather. Cool and windy, and unfortunately the wind was blowing into the grandstands. I’ve been to races in much worse weather but still a bit on the cool side which certainly affected the size of the crowd.

The Racing…

Austin Arneson of Fargo won the IMCA Mod feature in impressive fashion. That isn’t a big shock; he usually runs up front. Dylan Goplen of Fargo impressed me with his second-place finish and I expect him to be a contender locally this season. Casey Arneson, Dustin Strand and Rob VanMil rounded out the top five. There were some very good cars in the IMCA Mod class.

There was a lot of good racing in the sport mod feature. Vince Jegtvig of Dilworth led early but soon turned into a multi-car battle. Scott Jacobson had the lead but was pressured by Doug Gardner of Glyndon. Gardner’s hopes for a win ended with a spin in turn four. Moorhead driver Luke Johnson out dueled Jacobson for the win; Andy Wagner of Ada ran a solid third.

The INEX Legends put on a good show as well. Jaden Christ of Jamestown led early before Kaitlyn Skalicky of Fargo took the lead. Skalicky was spun moments later but got her spot at the front. However, Sean Johnson of Kindred and Dylan Johnson of Durbin worked to the front with Skalicky and teenager Brody Carlsrud also in the battle. Sean Johnson prevailed while Dylan Johnson settled for runner-up honors.

Rob VanMil won the IMCA Stock Car feature over Travis Robertson of Moorhead and Brennan Borg of Harwood.

Some Observations...

—Good to see Matt Aukland (pictured above) back behind the wheel this season; he is piloting the 12A IMCA Modified. Aukland ran a late model for several years and didn’t race last year. Aukland, of course, is the son of Rick Aukland, who I would consider one of the top two dirt drivers to ever come out of North Dakota, along with Donny Schatz.

—Got a chance to visit with Billie Christ of Jamestown briefly. Billie had a tough feature, losing a wheel in the IMCA Mods. The Christ family will be busy this summer. Billie will run an IMCA Mod; Chuck Christ, the patriarch, will drive an INEX Legend Car; Charlie Christ, Chuck’s son, and Jaden Christ, Billie’s son, will be back in Wissota Street Stocks but may also drive the Legend cars. In all, the Christ family will have five cars on the track this summer.

—Young Gwen Sailer rolled her 76G sport mod. A car in front of her lost it and got sideways and Green had nowhere to go. It wasn’t a hard roll but there was enough damage to knock her out of the race. The good news is Gwen was not injured. She wins the award for the first rollover in the area this season.

—There are a lot of young drivers in the Legends Class, which is always good to see. I think that class could be wide open this year as Tim Estenson, the dominant car in the class the last few years, is doing some sprint car racing out west. There are several teenagers in that division; it is a perfect class to transition from karting too. I expect to see a lot of different winners in that class locally. One of the youngest is Ashton Spieker, who has raced karts for years but has moved into the legends.

—Moorhead, Minn., driver Travis Robertson has bought an IMCA Stock Car to race at RRVS and Norman County Raceway this season, according to a Facebook post from him. He will run his late model on some Saturdays and at some NLRA shows as the schedule allows. Robertson was very good in the Wissota Street class and I expect him to be a contender in the stock cars, especially after a runner-up finish on Friday.

--you should check out some of the wraps for this year -- Torey Fischer of West Fargo has a very sharp one on her No. 9 IMCA Sport Mod. Love the purple on that car.

—I am curious to see how Brandon Schmidt does in the IMCA Sport Mod class. He was a top runner in the stock car and hobby stock classes and finished a solid fifth on Friday in the sport mods. His former stock car was purchased by Brennan Borg of Harwood, who looked pretty darn good in finishing third in the main event last night.

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