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VanMil, Borg, Wilke, Eckerdt Lead Red River Valley Speedway Winners

Chris VanMil prevailed in the IMCA Sport Mod feature.

RaceChaser blog made an appearance at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo on Friday. A solid 86-car field was on hand on a breezy May evening.

The racing was pretty good, and even though a couple of the features had more than their share of cautions, I thought it was a good second night of the year.

Doug Gardner of Glyndon led the first half of the IMCA Sport Mod feature with Kelly Jacobson of Fargo running a strong second. The sport mods got off to a rotten start with a bunch of cautions -- remember a few years ago when promoter Jake Bitker put the class in a timeout -- well, I’m guessing he was tempted this time.

Once the race got some green flag laps in the books it was a good race. And it was Chris VanMil of Barnesville, interviewed above, who was on the move. He went to the high side, where Gardner and Kelly Jacobson of Fargo were running low, and surged into the lead.

VanMil then had to weather a challenge from Week 1 winner Scott Jacobson of Fargo later in the race, as the #5 car had moved into second and was closing, but VanMil was the car to beat, and picked up the win. Scott Jacobson took second with his son Kelly in third. Rich Pavlicek of Casselton -- who had mechanical trouble before his heat -- made a good run in the feature to take fourth. Pavlicek didn’t even make it to the green in his heat as his fuel pump went out. He started 14th in the feature and made a good run for a top five finish. Gardner finished fifth.

So while VanMil had his success up high, Brennan Borg of Harwood found it on a lower line in the IMCA Stock Car feature. That #52 machine was stuck to the bottom the entire race, and that proved to be the right strategy.

Borg’s 52 car seemed like it ran the same line every lap as he never wavered from the low line and at one point, had a straightaway lead on the field. A lot was happening in the field as there were battles everywhere. Trent Grager of Carrington eventually worked his way to second and was closing in on Borg.

While the gap was closed, Borg was too strong on this night, picking up the win. Grager slid up high in turns three and four and that allowed Mike Anderson of Walcott to move into second. Grager settled for third with Tyler McDougall of Hawley fourth and Brandon Schmidt of Hillsboro — making his return to racing after a one-year hiatus — finished fifth after starting 10th. Andrew Jochim of Glyndon made a nice run through the field, taking sixth after starting 18th.

Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks, the defending IMCA Hobby Stock champion at RRVS, made a nice move through the field and passed early leader Caleb Gardner of Glyndon after a restart midway through. Eckerdt, interviewed above, started ninth but was patient in working through the field.

Tanner Engen of Detroit Lakes started 10th — right beside Eckerdt in the back row — and moved up to second by the finish. Gardner was third and Marvin Priem of Moorhead fourth. Andrea Jacobson of Fargo ran well the whole race — she was in the top four much of the night and battling hard for a top four finish. She finished fifth, giving the Jacobson family three top five finishes on the night.

A familiar face won the INEX Legend cars — and that was Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes, who won four track titles in the class last year. Wilke started eighth on the 14-car field and outlasted Sean Johnson of Kindred in what was a good battle for the lead.

Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids led early before Ryan Braseth of Ulen took over the top spot. Soon, Johnson was out front with Wilke running a higher line and moving towards the top spot.

Wilke made the pass and went on to take the win. Braseth made a late pass of Johnson for second. Joshua Wiest of Jamestown and Tony Brockhouse of Glyndon rounded out the top five.

A lot happened in the IMCA modified feature — some cautions, and some restarts which changed the complexion of the race.

Jamie Schulz of Harwood led early but was overtaken by Jordan Sours of Lisbon. Sours, a former hobby stock driver, led but a determined Jesse Skalicky of Fargo was running a high line and took over the top spot.

Some late cautions brought some new faces into contention — Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., and Casey Arneson of Fargo, who had went to the rear earlier in the race but had worked back through the field into the top five. Hibdon went on to win with Arneson second. Skalicky’s nice run ended in third. Tyler Hall of Fertile is just steady, and he finished in the top five for a second straight week, in fourth.

Sours, by the way, is a four-time North Dakota high school state champion in wrestling. He looked good in the #02 machine.

Wilke made it two wins on the night by taking the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint feature. Ty Hanten of West Fargo was second.

RRVS notes

—Torey Fischer of West Fargo ran a solid sixth in the IMCA Sport Mod. Fischer has gained good experience this season doing some racing in Iowa, and at North Central Speedway in Brainerd. She’s knocking on the door for that first sport mod feature win and I have a feeling that will happen soon.

—Brody Carlsrud of Fargo is a rookie in the IMCA Stock Car class after starting out in the Legends class. Naturally there is a learning curve when switching classes but this is a big change in terms of horsepower and a heavier car. Every lap Brody makes is valuable experience. Keep in mind, the IMCA Stock Cars around this area are brutally tough in terms of competition -- as many as 10-12 drivers could win a feature on a given night.

—Luke Johnson of Moorhead, the defending IMCA Sport Mod champion at Norman County Raceway, has not had good luck in his debut season in the IMCA Modifieds. He was caught up in someone else’s wreck last week and had another DNF this week. He’s a good driver and hopefully his luck turns around.

—The IMCA Racesaver Sprints had four in attendance again. Like i mentioned it is way too early to judge this class. I’m told there are a few still being built. It looks to be a good move for drivers like Tye Wilke, who won four track titles in the Legends last year. Give it time and let’s see how the numbers develop after a year or two.

Strand Takes 2 at RCS; Stenberg, Johnson Win

Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks had a great night at River Cities Speedway, winning the Wissota Late Model and Modified features on Friday in Grand Forks.

Reise Stenberg of Argusville won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature while Ryan Johnson of Karlstad won the Wissota Street Stock main event.

It was Wissota Race of Champions night at RCS, meaning the winners of the features qualified for the Race of Champions in their respective classes at the Wissota 100.

Strand won the late model feature from the pole position. What a great run for late model rookie Mike Greseth of Harwood; he started sixth and finished second, his best finish in a late model so far. Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks was third, Brad Seng of Grand Forks fourth and Shane Edginton of Winnipeg was fifth.

Strand started fifth in the modified feature and prevailed over Joe Thomas of Glyndon. Tim Thomas of West Fargo had a nice run, taking third, while Jordan Duray of Halma was fourth. Aaron Holtan of Newfolden was fifth.

Stenberg started on the outside of the front row and picked up his first win of 2021. Keep in mind, this is a new car this year for Stenberg; it was built by himself and Matt and Ryan Schow. Jamie Dietzler of Larimore was second, Jory Berg of Grand Forks, the Week 1 winner at RCS, was third and Lance Schill of Langdon fourth. Matt Schow of McIntosh, who started 16th, made a solid run to fifth in his season debut.

Johnson, the defending RCS street stock track champion, had to work his way to the front from his seventh starting spot in the street stocks to pick up the win. Daniel Aberle of Finley was second. Joe Potter of Euclid — who started 12th — finished third as he continued his strong start to the season. Alex Minks of Larimore was fourth and James Meagher of Grand Forks fifth.

I-94 Sure Step Speedway cancelled Friday because of weather.

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