Troftgruben Savors Memorable First Win
What a way to earn your first career win.
You pass a former national champion on the last lap to take the lead, and the car that finished runner-up to you was also a former national champion.
That’s the scenario that played out for Brody Troftgruben on Saturday at Devils Lake Speedway near Crary, N.D. The fourth year Wissota Late Model driver passed Don Shaw of Ham Lake, Minn. — the 2017 Wissota Late Model National Champion — on the white flag lap to take over the lead on his way to the NLRA win. Finishing second behind Troftgruben was Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks, the 2016 Wissota Late Model National Champion.
Troftgruben set a goal of winning his first feature this season. That goal was accomplished in a manner he will never forget.
“Having a green-white-checkered finish with two national champions around you and beating both of them to the line for my first win — I don’t think it could’ve gotten any better,” Troftgruben said.
Troftgruben is a graduate of the Forks Karting Association. He raced karts for six years and then hopped into the late model class. The first night behind the wheel at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks was memorable to say the least.
“It was a lot different, and it was very interesting. I had an expectation of what it was going to go like, and it went beyond my expectation as far how fun it was,” Troftgruben said.
One driver who was influential in getting Troftgruben in the late models is veteran Tom Corcoran of East Grand Forks, who is in his 51st year in racing in 2020. Corcoran is one of several formidable veteran late model pilots at River Cities Speedway, which includes Dustin Strand, Brad Seng and Joey Pederson, plus Canadian drivers Shane Edginton and Mike Balcaen (who haven’t raced at RCS in 2020 because of the non-essential travel ban between the U.S. and Canada).
“It took me a year-and-a-half to score my first top five, and I was thinking, I only beat one of those (drivers); how am I going to beat all of those guys on the same night?” Troftgruben said. “It’s a very good group…all of them are very consistent. It takes a complete night —you’ve got to draw good, run well in your heat and start up front in the feature and have another good car for that as well.”
Troftgruben, who works at Coca Cola in Grand Forks, suffered an early setback in 2020, blowing his primary late model engine during a practice night at River Cities. He borrowed one of Dustin Strand’s modified motors to run while waiting to get his late model engine back.
He had an inclination good things might happen at Devils Lake. At River Cities on Friday night, Troftgruben started 10th and finished third in the feature.
“The car we had last weekend was really balanced and driver-friendly,” Troftgruben said. “On Friday at RCS we started 10th and finished third. It was one of the best nights of my career and when we went to Devils Lake we left the car alone.”
He started 10th in the feature, and early on, the track was fast. Once some laps were in the books, passing became easier. Troftgruben went to the high side and found speed. On the final restart with two to go, Troftguben chose the outside lane.
“With a couple to go I knew I needed to make the top work to get around Don,” Troftgruben said. “The last restart it was me and Dustin in the same row, and he thrives up on the cushion so giving him the top wasn’t an option.”
He felt the impact of the feature win as soon as he took the checkered flag.
“I was very emotional. The instant I passed the line taking the checkered I was already tearing up,” Troftgruben said. “Me, my dad Rod Troftgruben, my grandpa Jerry Gustafson, Jeremy Kvamme — all of us have worked our tails off for the last four years every race day and a lot of nights in the garage. Finally picking up the win made all of those nights worth it.”
#14 Wissota/NLRA Late Model
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