Wagner, Arneson Win at Norman County; Wilke and Gonska Keep Rolling; Nitro Wins Street Stock Tour
I was back at Norman County Raceway in Ada on Thursday. It was Meet and Greet Night before the races and also Ladies Night, which meant all ladies got in free.
I think Meet and Greets are great for fans and every track should do it at some point during the year. For me personally they don't do much since I've seen most of the drivers in the pit area but they are a great way for fans to get cards and see the drivers up close.
Car counts were solid with 64 on hand, led by 16 IMCA Sport Mods, 12 Wissota Midwest Modifieds, 11 IMCA Hobby Stocks and 10 IMCA Modifieds. Eight IMCA Stock Cars — down a little bit from normal — were on hand while only seven INEX Legend Cars were in attendance.
Ryan Veralrud of Ottertail, looking for his first feature win of 2020, set the pace early in the IMCA Sport Mods. Andy Wagner of Ada — who is not having a good season — eventually took over the top spot, although he was chased by Chris VanMil of Barnesville.
VanMil poked his nose underneath Wagner, interviewed above, a few times but eventually the #3X machine opened up a little breathing room to pick up his first feature win of 2020. VanMil, who won at NCR earlier this season, was a strong second with Rich Pavlicek of Casselton running a solid third. Aaron Wetterlin of Moorhead was fourth after starting eighth while Scott Jacobson of Fargo was fifth. Entering the night, Luke Johnson held a seven point lead over Wetterlin for the track championship.
Wagner, by the way, has raced eight times, and has only finished four. His wife, Tori, is due to be induced on Tuesday with the couple’s first child so it’s a big week for the Wagner family.
I think it’s time for a bounty on Tim Gonska of Brainerd in the IMCA Hobby Stocks. He started eighth, quickly worked to the front and crushed the field. He was closing in on a half-lap lead at the checkered. That is his fifth win of 2020 at NCR.
Scott Herron of Brainerd was second, and 14-year-old Brodee Eckerdt of Grand Forks was third. Nick Shumansky of Perham had his best finish of the year, taking fourth while veteran Brad Orvedal of Fargo added another top five by placing fifth.
Speaking of bounties, one might be needed for Tye Wilke in the INEX Legends soon. The Detroit Lakes driver won a fierce battle with the Braseth brothers of Ulen that saw the cars run three-wide several times. As the white flag came down, however, Wilke made the pass for the lead and went on to his fourth NCR win of 2020. He now has 13 wins on the season. Ryan Braseth had to settle for second with Alex Braseth third. Brody Carlsrud of Fargo was fourth and Tony Brockhouse was fifth.
Hunter Hougard of Warren led the Wissota Midwest Modified feature early but Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls didn’t waste much time going to the front in taking the lead. Gronwold passed Hougard and led the rest of the way and was never seriously threatened. That makes 10 wins on the season for Gronwold.
Hougard had a good battle with Reise Stenberg of Argusville — who started dead last on the 11-car field after having brake trouble in his heat — for second for several laps. That battle was soon joined by Jason Strand of Portland, N.D., who was coming off of a $2,000 win at the Golden Hammer Challenge at Devils Lake last Saturday.
Hougard — who has two straight wins at Greenbush Race Park — ran a solid second while Strand was third and Stenberg fourth. Jeff Nelson of Perham rounded out the top five.
There was a points shakeup in the midwest modified class with point leader Brendan Blascyk not in attendance. Justin Jones of Bemidji was second entering the night while Blacklance was third and Gronwold fourth. Jones was a DNF in the feature while Gronwold has now assumed the point lead. He has a realistic shot at winning three track point championships this season.
Casey “Deuce” Arneson of Fargo, interviewed above, was clearly the fastest car all night in the IMCA Modified. After dominating the heat, Arneson wasted little time getting to the front of the IMCA Modified feature — like about two laps. Arneson and Michael Johnson of Moorhead moved into the top two spots and completely checked out on the field.
The best battle on the track was for third between Rob VanMil of Barnesville and Tyler Hall of Fertile. The two ran side by side for many laps before Hall made the move to take the spot.
Arneson won by a straightaway over Johnson, who ran well and tied is best finish of the season with a runner-up finish. Hall topped VanMil for third with Brady Petermann of Hawley finishing fifth.
Todd Heinrich of Fargo controlled the IMCA Stock Car feature from the green flag, and weathered a couple of cautions to pick up another win, his second of the year at NCR. Rob VanMil won a multi-car battle to finish second while Kalvin Kesselburg of Ada, who picked up his first career win a few weeks ago, was third while Rick Schulz of Horace was fourth and Travis Robertson of Moorhead fifth.
—Skyla Miller of Harwood won her heat in the IMCA Hobby Stocks. Skyla, 17, is one of the many teenage drivers I highlighted recently that are racing locally. She’s made a lot of progress this season, and in the feature finished a solid sixth.
—Tim Shiek of Fargo was off the pace in his #31 IMCA Hobby Stock. Usually a top five finisher, he had trouble and ran a few laps before pulling in. Orvedal moved into second in the points as a result behind Gonska.
—Taylor Jacobson of Roseau damaged his #6J machine in one of the Wissota Midwest Modified heats and left via the tow truck. He was loaded and on his way home by intermission. It’s about a two-and-a-half hours from Roseau to Ada, by the way. Jacobson is one of a handful of Wissota Midwest Modified that runs a Crate Engine.
—Wissota Midwest Modified driver Lindsey Hansen, who previously lived in Jamestown, has relocated to Fargo. He drives the #32 machine. That means you’ll likely see him more often at NCR and I-94 Sure Step Speedways in the weeks ahead.
Nitro Wins Steffes Street Stock Tour at KRA
Veteran Jimmy “ Nitro” Williams, 61, of De Graff, Minn., won the Steffes Street Stock Tour stop at KRA Speedway in Willmar on Thursday. The win was worth $1,300.
Nitro became the seventh different winner on the tour this season.
Williams topped Eric Riley of Morris for the win. Riley was the hard charger, starting 12th and finishing second. Justin Vogel of Brooten was third, Jonny Carter of Lisbon fourth and Daniel Aberle of Finley, N.D., who started 10th, rounded out the top five. Jake Froemke of International Falls was sixth.
Congrats to Ashley Mehrwerth of St. Stephen for winning the Wissota Midwest Modified feature for her first victory of the season. Look for a story on the Mehrwerth family next week.
The Steffes Street Stock Tour attracted 25 cars to KRA Speedway in Willmar which is another excellent turnout. It’s been maybe 13-14 years since I’ve been to KRA but seeing pictures, the track hasn’t changed much.
—Jeffrey Schwind Jr. of Jamestown won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature Thursday night at Tri County Speedway in Wishek. Brennon Weight of LaMoure was second and Jaren Wibstad of Jamestown third.