VanMil, Greseth Pick Up Big Wins at Norman County Raceway
I was back at Norman County Raceway, where Night 1 of the Sanders Stock Car Challenge was on tap. The NLRA Late Models were also in town with a great 23-car count signed in. There was an excellent crowd in the stands as well and despite a 20-minute delay for a rain shower, the night went pretty smooth.
Todd and Debbie Sanders were inducted into the NCR Hall of Fame at intermission. Todd was a former racer from Ada; and Sanders Metal Products has sponsored many cars and events locally.
A 17-car field took the green for the IMCA Stock Car feature which capped off the night.
Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada used the low line to get past Klein and McDougall for the early race lead. Travis Robertson of Moorhead also moved into the top three. Rob VanMil of Barnesville also stuck his #40 to the bottom and worked into the top three.
It was clear VanMil had an awful fast race car, and he won a three-wide battle to take over the top spot. Rick Schulz of Horace also was fast and moved into third.
VanMil opened up a 1.318 second lead over Kesselberg with 16 to go. Ryan Satter of Dent was running in the top five but was able to get by Robertson for fourth.
Robertson tried valiantly to make the high line go, but it was clear the bottom was the place to be. And VanMil was an absolute rocket on that low line.
The caution came out with 15 to go. Two laps later, Satter worked the lower line effectively and got by Kesselberg for second. VanMil had about a 1.257 lead on Satter. Brennan Borg of Harwood was having a nice move through the field as well, taking over fourth.
VanMil was in control as the lead grew to over two seconds over Satter. Kesselberg had a ton of pressure from Borg and Robertson for third. With six to go, Robertson moved into third with Borg taking over fourth. Kesselberg then had to fend off Todd Heinrich of Fargo for the fifth spot. Heinrich, who was a DNF in his heat, had started way back in 16th but had patiently worked through the field.
The lead grew to nearly three seconds for VanMil, who had a lot of distance on the field on his way to the win on Night 1 of the Sanders Stock Car Challenge, picking up $800 in the process. Satter picked up $600 for a good second-place run with Robertson capturing third. Borg and Heinrich rounded out the top five.
Night 2 of the Sanders Stock Car Challenge is Friday at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo.
Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton and Josh Zimpel of Braham led the 23 NLRA Late Models to the green as Meyer took the lead on the opening lap, with saw a pair of early cautions.
After the cautions, Meyer opened up a 2.2 second lead over Zimpel, who picked up his first late model win recently at Granite City Motor Park. Zimpel soon found pressure from Mike Greseth of Harwood, who won the NLRA show at Devils Lake last Saturday.
Greseth was able to pass Zimpel for second and he set his sights on Meyer who was in the midst of lapped traffic. He erased a 1.8 second lead quickly and passed Meyer for the top spot. Once he did, the #17 car just checked out.
Meyer then had his hands full with Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks for second. Don Shaw of Ham Lake, a former NLRA winner at NCR, started eighth but got into the fourth spot ahead of Jason Strand of Portland, who had won his first late model feature at NCR earlier this season.
Greseth was absolutely flying in the 17, opening up a huge lead on Meyer who was fighting Troftgruben for second. Zimpel, who ran well early, ended with a DNF.
Greseth won by 7.495 seconds — a thrashing of the field in the most dominant late model performance I’ve seen this season — with Troftgruben making a late pass of Meyer for second. Shaw and Jason Strand rounded out the top five. Greg Friestad of Valley City had a nice run, going from 10th to eighth.
Greseth entered the night with a 22-point lead in the NLRA points over Troftgruben.
The best Wissota Midwest Modified feature of the season at NCR, at least in my opinion, took place on Thursday. Cole Neset of Fargo had a good start and led the first few laps.
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls was on the move, as was Reise Stenberg of Argusville. Blacklance stuck the #5BA to the bottom and just powered his way to the front. Justin Jones of Bemidji, who started seventh, had worked his way into second.
Stenberg had cleared Neset for the third spot as Taylor Jacobson of Roseau, who finished third last week, settled into fifth.
Jones closed the gap on Blacklance and the two went at it hard for the top spot. Jones used the lower line and finally made the pass with about two to go. It wasn’t over yet. Blacklance found something on the higher line and that set up a great finish.
Blacklance got the run he needed off of turn four and edged Jones at the checkered — by .054 seconds — in a classic finish to a tremendous duel. Stenberg finished a strong third, while Neset capped off a good night by finishing fourth. Jacobson got his second straight top five finish, taking fifth.
Alex Braseth of Ulen is having some kind of week. Armed with wins at Red River Valley Speedway last Friday and at Buffalo River Speedway on Sunday, Braseth was looking for three in a row.
He took the early lead from Evan Hendrickson of Mapleton, but it only took a few laps for the #2 of Ashton Spieker of Sabin to make his presence felt. He was all over Alex Braseth for the lead for the last several laps, and it appeared at one point he was going to make the pass; but Braseth had enough momentum on the outside to hold on to the top spot.
Spieker was persistent but couldn’t make the pass as Alex Braseth held on for his third win in seven days. Spieker was second, Ryan Braseth of Ulen was third. Hendrickson, 16, finished a career-best fourth with Cody Jawaski of Kindred fifth.
The IMCA Sport Mod feature turned into a great duel between Andy Wagner of Ada and Rich Pavlicek of Casselton, who are fighting for the point lead at NCR.
Wagner jumped out to the lead from the outside pole over Chris VanMil of Barnesville.
Rookie Tucker Tschakert of Kent — who has shown a great deal of improvement in just a few nights in the 1X machine — settled into fourth with Scott Jacobson of Fargo, the winner at Buffalo River Speedway on Sunday, moving into fourth.
The best battle was for the top spot Wagner was running a higher line with Pavlicek putting the #17 on the bottom. Pavlicek worked and worked the lower line and eventually pulled beside Wagner as the laps waned.
Pavlicek inched ahead with three to go and would hold on for a hard-fought win over Wagner. VanMil finished in the top three for the third straight night (going back to last Friday) as the 40 car continues to run well. Tschakert finished a career-best fourth with Jacobson taking fifth.
A hard crash marred the beginning of the IMCA Hobby Stock feature, as Todd Gettel’s #73 machine hit the wall hard in turn four. He was OK but his night was over. Tim Church of Moorhead, another contender, was also collected in that incident.
Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks has arguably been the fastest IMCA Hobby Stock locally this season. He’s had some bad luck with a few DNFs, but when he’s finished, he’s usually won. But Brad Orvedal of Fargo didn’t make it easy.
After the early caution Orvedal took the lead with Tyler Hehn of Horace taking second. Eckerdt was closing and soon worked on Orvedal for the top spot. Eckerdt’s persistence on the lower line paid off as he finally inched ahead of Orvedal. Orvedal didn’t go away and stayed close but couldn’t mount a challenge as Eckerdt picked up his seventh win in 12 starts. Orvedal settled for second with Hehn, Jeff Busby of Hitterdal and Trystyn Halvorson of Twin Valley rounding out the top five.
--- Cole Schill of Hawley is third in the NLRA Late Model points, but was not in attendance on Thursday. He's been plagued by motor issues over the last few weeks. He even brought the #44 to run some test laps at Buffalo River Speedway on Sunday trying to pinpoint the issue. He hopes to race this weekend.
---The 15 late model of Donny Schatz of Fargo was on hand, and so was the World of Outlaw Sprint Car champion, but his niece, Amelia Eisenschenk, would hop behind the wheel to make her debut. She had a solid debut, finishing 13th after starting 17th in the NLRA feature.
---Sam Zender of Fergus Falls was on hand in Scott Rachels' #7s late model. They were hoping to have some issues sorted out on that car but Zender pulled in early in the feature.
---The Innovator, Bob Sagen of Arthur, has his #99 Wissota Midwest Modified back out. It was his third night out of 2022 and he finished a solid sixth in the main event. He is running a concept motor in that car, and no, it is not the leaf spring car he's brought out in recent years.
—Brady Gerdes of Villard topped Joseph Thomas of Glyndon for the Wissota Modified feature win Thursday night at KRA Speedway in Willmar. Mike Stearns of Aberdeen was third. McKenzie Mikkelson of Alexandria had a nice run, taking fifth.