VanMil, Braseth, Schow, Church, Pavlicek and Hibdon Win Norman County Finales
Norman County Raceway in Ada wrapped up its 2022 season with Season Championship night. The forecast for the day was bleak but NCR avoided the heavy rains that hit some spots and was able to wrap up it season, which I am very happy to see.
The closest point battle was in the IMCA Stock Cars, where Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada were separated by one point. To win the points, Kesselberg would have to finish two spots ahead of VanMil. VanMil would start third and Kesselberg ninth.
Keaten Froemke of Glyndon took the lead into the first corner but Ryan Satter of Dent used momentum on the high side to take over the top spot. VanMil would get around Froemke for second. Todd Heinrich of Fargo moved into third, while the 1JR of Tim Johnson was also moving into the top spot.
VanMil went to work on Satter and with six to go, was able to make the pass for the lead. Johnson used a slider to take over third.
Heinrich and his teammate Rick Schulz of Horace had a nice duel for fourth along with Kelly Jacobson of Fargo, who was driving the #17 car. Jacobson told me he’d drive about any car he’s offered and I believe him.
Kesselberg was never in contention as his #11 was off the pace; he told me it was a case where he made the wrong adjustments on the setup. VanMil, meanwhile opened up a more than a second lead over Satter on his way to the win, his fourth feature victory of 2022. The win capped off the track championship for VanMil. Satter ran a solid second with Johnson in third. Heinrich outdueled Schulz for fourth.
One of the more interesting developments of the night was in the INEX Legends. Ashton Spieker of Sabin was the point leader in the class by seven points over Alex Braseth of Ulen. The twist – Spieker had football practice at Moorhead. And if you’ve seen Ashton in person, he’s grown about a foot in the past 18 months and looks like a true football player. So he attended practice on Thursday, and was hoping to get to the track prior to the Legends feature.
Spieker would make it in time for the feature – and then all he needed to do was take the green to wrap up the title. He did better than that, but, Alex Braseth of Ulen, who has had a great season, was the car who rose to the top.
Spieker started in the back of the seven car field but quickly moved into the top three. Alex Braseth, meanwhile was setting a pretty blistering pace up front. Elzetta Bitker of Halstead, a driver who has made good strides this season, had settled into fourth.
Spieker and Ryan Braseth of Ulen had a phenomenal race for second as Alex Braseth pulled away to a more than three second lead on the field. By the checkered, Alex Braseth’s lead was more than 3.4 seconds as he rolled to his fifth win of the season.
Ryan Braseth made a move on the outside to past Spieker for second; but Spieker’s third-place finish was more than enough to wrap up his first career track championship. Bitker finished fourth which was her best career finish with Cody Jawaski of Kindred was a solid fifth.
Rich Pavilcek of Casselton has been the fastest IMCA Sport Mod at Norman County Raceway and Red River Valley Speedway this season, and that is evident by him leading the points at his tracks. Pavlicek basically had to show up and start the feature to win the title at NCR.
Vince Jegtvig of Dilworth took the early lead in the feature but it wasn’t long before Pavlicek challenged him and took over the top spot.
Andy Wagner of Ada, coming off a bitter disappointment last week, moved into second and was within striking distance. Jegvtig and Tucker Tschakert of Kent were facing pressure from Paul Colvin of Horace.
After a caution with five to go, Colvin – who had a good car all night long – made a move past Tschakert and Jegtvig into third. Pavlicek got a good restart and was able to open up a lead of more than a half second, on his way to putting a wrap on the track championship with a win. Wagner, who will be the points runner-up at NCR, was second while Colvin capped off a run from seventh to third. Tschakert and Jegtvig, respectively, rounded out the top five.
Phil Christlieb’s 4x machine rolled in one of the Wissota Midwest Modified heats and he did not make the call for the feature.
Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks had to start the IMCA Hobby Stock feature to win the points title in that division. Tim Chnourch of Moorhead, though proved to be the class of the field on Thursday.
Church put his #21 on the high side and after starting fourth, moved to the front. He was soon challenged by Brad Orvedal of Fargo for the top spot.
Eckerdt started back in fifth but had worked past Todd Gettel of Mahnomen for third and quickly closed on the top two. Eckerdt was able to get around Orvedal for second and set his sights on Church.
Church could ill afford a mistake with the heat coming from Eckerdt, and the Moorhead veteran picked up his third win of 2022. Eckerdt wrapped up the point title with a runner-up finish with Orvedal third. Gettel and Tyler Hehn of Horace rounded out the top five.
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls had wrapped up the point title in the Wissota Midwest Modified division going into the night with a 198-point lead over Brady Jawaski of Kindred.
Matt Schow of McIntosh jumped out to the lead but Chris Edmonds of Larimore was a challenger early.
Cole Neset of Fargo was settling into third with a host of cars battling behind him. Blacklance soon moved into fourth and went to work on Neset, who has run well at NCR this season.
Schow opened up about a second lead on Edmonds, who was having an excellent run. The best battle was between Neset and Blacklance for third with Reise Stenberg of Argusville also moving up into that group.
Neset and Blacklance were closing in on Edmonds as Schow’s lead stayed at about 1.2 seconds. Schow picked up his fifth win of 2022 with Edmonds holding off Blacklance for third. Neset was a solid fourth and Stenberg was fifth. No cautions in the 12-lap event.
Blacklance has won back to back points titles at NCR, and over the past two years, has finished in the top three in every Midwest mod feature. That’s remarkable consistency.
By the way, the Schow brothers, Matt and Ryan, are two of the nicer guys you will meet in racing. Win or lose, they always seem friendly and willing to chat afterwards.
The IMCA Mods never consistently produced great numbers at Norman County Raceway this summer which was disappointing to me. Most of the nights it was in the single digits, and only seven were on hand on Thursday.
Tyler Hall of Fertile led the IMCA Mod feature early with Matt Aukland of Glyndon was on a mission from the green. He drove hard to get to the front to take over the top spot.
Kollin Hibdon of Pahrump, Nev., who has been the fastest IMCA Mod locally this season, was fast once again. He and Aukland raced extremely hard for the lead.
Luke Johnson of Moorhead was having a good run in third, while Rob VanMil, driving the #30 car, moved into fourth.
Hibdon made an aggressive move to take over the lead and he would open up a 1.7 second lead by the checkered. Aukland, the 2022 track champion at NCR, was second. Johnson capped off a good night in third with VanMil and Jeff Nelson of Perham rounding out the top five.t
The show was done in two hours and 20 minutes as NCR ended with a really nice night of racing.