Wetterlin, Nordhagen, Blascyk, Richardson, VanMil and Schulz Post Norman County Raceway Wins
RaceChaser made its first trip to Norman County Raceway in Ada. It was a great night weather-wise and 60 cars were in attendance to compete at the 3/8-mile oval.
There were no repeat winners from Week 1 as six new drivers found victory lane.
Aaron Wetterlin of Moorhead -- on just his second night out of the year -- took the lead early in the IMCA Sport Mod feature from his sixth starting spot and just checked out on the field. Wetterlin, interviewed above, had more than a straightaway on second as Rich Pavlicek of Casselton and Luke Johnson of Moorhead worked into the top three.
Wetterlin, however was in his own area code as the 3W car found a fast groove and stuck there. He was never challenged, winning his first feature of 2020 in convincing fashion by more than a straightaway. Pavlicek, the Week 1 winner, was second with Johnson third.
Andy Wagner of Ada was fourth and Brandon Tendeland of West Fargo, who looked good all night long, was fifth.
What a fight to the finish the IMCA Hobby Stock feature turned into late as Tim Gonska of Brainerd, the week 1 winner, was all over Steve Nordhagen of Thief River Falls late. Gonska took the lead at the white flag Nordhagen fought back in turns three and four. There was some contact as Nordhagen drove in hard in the corners and that gave him just enough of an advantage to take the win. Nordhagen, by the way, had a different car than the orange #74 car I had seen him compete with at Devils Lake earlier this season. The #2B car he drove on Thursday had several sponsors from the Redwood Falls area.
Scott Herron of Brainerd finished third with Brad Orvedal of Fargo fourth and Tim Shiek of Fargo fifth.
All I can really say about the Wissota Midwest Modified feature was it wasn't dull. Plenty of beating and banging that seemed more like an August feature race than June. A first lap pileup collected several cars in the midwest modified feature. Most were able to continue - although several cars were dinged up -- but front-end damage ended Matt Schow's night.
Jamestown, ND driver Chris Mack set the pace for several with pressure from Zach Bruer of Fisher. Brendan Blascyk of Kensington, Minn., was on the move, however. He closed the gap to the top two quickly and took over second from Bruer. Mack spun to bring out a yellow, and that put Blascyk up front.
Blascyk was never seriously challenged after that in picking up the win. He's look good both nights I've seen him run this year. Perham driver Jeff Nelson was a solid third behind the runner-up Bruer, Hunter Hougard of Warren fourth and Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls fifth.
It was a tough feature for Week 1 winner Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls. He was involved in the Lap 1 melee (not of his doing) and had some damage and later pulled off after receiving some more damage in another incident. One unique thing about Gronwold’s 2G car — on side is the color black and one is the color white. I expect him to be ready for his home track, I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls, to open on Friday.
The INEX Legends saw an intense three-car battle up front with Scott Richardson of Pelican Rapids, interviewed above, fighting off numerous challenges from Alex Braseth and Ryan Braseth, both of Ulen. Alex Braseth put all kinds of pressure on Richardson — who had gone winless in 2019 — and he could ill afford to slip up. He didn’t in picking up the win. Alex Braseth and Ryan Braseth were second and third, respectively with Tony Brockhouse of Glyndon and Brody Carlsrud of Moorhead rounding out the top five.
Rob VanMil of Barnesville, sporting a new-look #40 IMCA Modified with more red in its scheme, took the lead from the pole in the IMCA Modified feature and picked up the win. Michael Johnson of Moorhead held off Week 1 winner Austin Arneson of Fargo for second. Aaron Johnson of Brainerd was fourth and Jesse Skalicky of Fargo finished fifth for his second straight top five at NCR.
Veteran Rick Schulz of Horace had the pole in the IMCA Stock Car feature and had some momentum after winning a 20-car main event at Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo. Schulz didn’t run away with the win on Thursday as Kalvin Kesselberg of Ada was in hot pursuit. Kesselberg, chasing his first career win, put together a valiant effort and was on Schulz’s bumper at the white flag lap, but Schulz weathered the challenge for his second win in a span of seven days. Kesselberg tied his best career finish in second, with Travis Robertson of Moorhead third, Rob VanMil fourth and Week 1 winner Mike Anderson of Walcott fifth.
—After an eventful Week 1, Andy Wagner of Ada is probably satisfied with taking fourth in the IMCA Sport Mod. Wagner’s 3X car was leading his heat last week when the steering broke heading into turn four. At first he was headed straight to the wall but then the car jerked left into the infield and struck a pickup truck.
—It was a quite an interesting night for Bemidji Midwest Modified driver Justin Jones. He had trouble in his heat and hard to start at the rear of the field in the feature. He was involved in a multi-car pileup, not of his doing, in the feature. He was able to continue and managed to finish sixth. Jones is back in the B mods after being in the IMCA A mods for the last few years.
—Checked with former IMCA Stock Car and Sport Mod feature driver Brandon Schmidt, who told me he plans to take 2020 off. He and his wife just had another child this offseason. He does plan to return with a new car in 2021.
—The legend cars only had nine cars for the opening night of the Minn-Kota tour, which was disappointing to me. The class seems to be down in numbers in this area right now, I hope to see a rebound.
—I was encouraged by the car counts in the IMCA Hobby Stocks (11 cars) and Wissota Midwest Modified (12 cars). Those classes struggled some last year but to see good fields — and good quality — was a big positive. Several hobby stocks came from the Brainerd area. And keep in mind, defending NCR midwest modified champion Reise Stenberg of Argusville is still waiting for his new motor for his 87s car. Stenberg blew a motor at Devils Lake a few weeks ago.
Thursday night notes
—Lucas Rodin of Marion topped Zach Reinke of Lisbon for the Wissota Midwest Modified feature win Thursday at Tri-County Speedway in Wishek, N.D. Jeffrey Schwind Jr. of Jamestown was third with Nate Reinke of Lisbon fourth.
—Todd Carter of Lisbon picked up his fourth feature win of 2020 with a victory in the Wissota Street Stocks. Chris Ritter of Jamestown was fourth and Kyle Anderson of Jamestown fifth.
--Local drivers Tyler Peterson of Hickson, Zach Johnson of Alexandria and Brandon Dolman of Alexandria qualified for the A main out of 59 USMTS Modifieds at the Masters at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. Peterson finished 14th, Dolman 17th and Johnson 24th. Multi-time USMTS national champion Rodney Sanders won the feature.