RaceChaser was at Norman County Raceway for season championship night at the 3/8-mile oval. Despite some rain in the late afternoon the show got in and was done by 9:30 p.m. Nice work by the NCR officials and drivers to keep the show moving.
Despite the overcast weather and rain, the track was actually on the drier side with a little dust. My guess is track prep workers erred on the side of caution with water earlier in the day knowing rain was on its way.
A couple of the divisions had very close point races heading into the evening.
The points race in the IMCA Stock Cars couldn’t have been closer. Rob VanMil of Barnesville led Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada by one point with Travis Robertson of Moorhead and Rick Schulz just a few points further back. The points battle was heavily impacted by the first half. The #76 car of John Sandvig of West Fargo spun on the start coming out of turn four, and Kesselberg had nowhere to go and was collected, along with Rick Schulz of Horace. Schulz and Sandvig were able to continue, but a broken right front control arm was broken on Kesselberg’s #11 machine, ending his night and hopes for the points title.
Robertson had a tough feature as well and did not finish; he was understandably disappointed afterwards. That also meant the point title was all but clinched for VanMil, interviewed above. However, VanMil finished the season championship strong, holding off Schulz for his second stock car win of 2020. It was quite a turnaround for VanMIl; last week his modified was damaged after a lapped car took him out while leading the feature at NCR; and on Saturday while leading the IMCA Stock Car feature at Red River Valley Speedway he blew a motor. So the win was welcome for the #40 crew. VanMil won the title by six points over Schulz.
Schulz settled for second with Sandvig recovering from the spin to finish third. First-time visitor Alex Dostal of Glencoe, Minn., was fourth and Derrick Kronbach of Barnesville was fifth.
Another close point race was in the IMCA Modifieds, where Jesse Skalicky of Fargo held a slight lead over Tyler Hall of Fertile. Hall had the pole for the feature and led early but Austin Arneson of Fargo, who has been the class of area modifieds this season, made the pass and took control after that. Hall was running a solid second; but Skalicky ran in fifth the whole race and finished there which ensured him the season championship.
Hall finished as the runner-up. Michael Johnson of Moorhead battled tough with Casey Arneson of Fargo for third with Arneson prevailing. Skalicky won the points title by four over Hall.
Paul Colvin of Horace, N.D., was looking for his first IMCA Sport Mod win of the year.
Wagner wasn’t content to play follow the leader on the high side, which was the preferred lane, so he chose the bottom on the restart. That opened the door for Scott Jacobson of Fargo, who had the high side on the Delaware restart. He pulled a slider in turns one and two on Colvin and made it stick and took over the lead and led the rest of the way for his second NCR win of 2020. Jacobson was interviewed above.
Colvin stayed close and finished second. Luke Johnson of Moorhead won the season championship in the Sport Mods and finished third, ahead of Rich Pavlicek of Casselton. Wagner settled for fifth.
National point leader Cory Probst of Brewster, Minn., needed a caution as he trailed Tim Gonska by several car lengths and he got it when his teammate Daniel Probst spun in turn four (conspiracy theorists, I know what you are thinking, and I thought the same). On the restart, Cory Probst quickly passed Tim Gonska of Brainerd for the lead and pulled away to the win. Gonska won the season championship in the class and finished second. 14-year-old Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks finished a solid third after driving another good race while Tim Shiek of Fargo was fourth. Ken Crane of Mahnomen rounded out the top five .
Jeff Nelson of Perham, looking for win #2 of 2020, led the first half of the Wissota Midwest Modified feature, but the #2G of Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls has been the car to beat all year. He had the points championship already well in hand and appropriately finished it off with a win.
Nelson led but Gronwold found a spot by on the lower line and then pulled away. A caution came out late, and Hunter Hougard of Warren moved into second.
Also on the move was first-time visitor Corey Storck of Morris. He worked his way into the top five and soon passed Nelson for third by the finish. Gronwold won for the 19th time this season while Hougard and Storck rounded out the top three. Nelson finished a solid fourth while Reise Stenberg of Argusville rounded out the top five. Just imagine if there Wissota National Points — Gronwold would be running away with the title.
Brody Carlsrud of Fargo has sold both of his INEX Legend Cars and is moving to the IMCA Stock Car class, but he’s piling up the wins of late in the #B1 machine. He took the lead from the outside pole and prevailed for his sixth career win and fourth of 2020.
The point battle in the INEX Legends came down to Ryan Braseth of Ulen and Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes. Wilke held a slim lead going into the night and finished fourth on Thursday while Braseth finished second. With the fourth-place finish, Wilke prevailed for the season championship by a slim two-point margin. Wilke also leads points at Sheyenne Speedway Jamestown Speedway and Red River Valley Speedway.
Kody King of Clear Lake, Iowa, who is making the long trip north each weekend, was third while Ashton Spieker of Sabin was fifth behind Wilke.
NCR/Thursday Night Notes
—The exit of turn three and turn four gave the IMCA Mods some trouble. Cole Neset of Fargo slid his #30 machine off and into some kind of embankment. The rear of his car was damaged, and he was loaded up just as I walked by at intermission. In the second heat, Matt Aukland of Fargo also slid off in similar fashion and pulled in. Cole Babcock also slid off the corner in the second heat but was able to continue.
—Tracy Johnson of Montrose, S.D., made his first appearance of the season in the IMCA Mods. He normally runs #19 Midwest Modified in eastern South Dakota.
—Ryan Satter of Dent won the Wissota Street Stock feature Thursday at KRA Speedway in Willmar. Justin Vogel of Brooten was second, Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck third and Eric Riley of Morris fourth. Nitro Williams of De Graff was fifth.
Brandon Mehrwerth outdueled his sister Ashley Mehrwerth for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature win.