Electric return at SpeedwayAfter a week off, the electricity — and the Northern Late Model Racing Association (NLRA) — returned to Jamestown Speedway on Saturday night. The NLRA kicked off its Western Tour Championship at the track, bringing a total of 40 late model cars and drivers that represented five states and four Canadian provinces.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
After a week off, the electricity — and the Northern Late Model Racing Association (NLRA) — returned to Jamestown Speedway on Saturday night.
The NLRA kicked off its Western Tour Championship at the track, bringing a total of 40 late model cars and drivers that represented five states and four Canadian provinces.
Notables in attendance included the defending WISSOTA Late Model champion and current point leader Rickey Weiss, of Headingley, Manitoba, two-time WISSOTA Late Model champ Mitch Johnson, of Hickson, N.D., and the 2003 WISSOTA Late Model champ John Kaanta, of Elk Mound, Wisc.
But one Garson, Manitoba native outshined them all.
Bill Mooney won his heat race, started the 30-lap main event on the outside pole and used the very top of the quarter-mile oval to pull away from the 24-car feature field en route to his first career victory at Jamestown Speedway.
Along with the NLRA Late Models, Saturday night’s total car count at the speedway topped out at 142.
Carrington’s Rusty Kollman not only maintained his Jamestown Speedway point lead over Jamestown’s Scott Bintz in the WISSOTA Midwest Modified ranks, he gained two points by beating Bintz to the line in his third feature win of the season at the track.
Brain Strand, of Bemidji, Minn., proved to the Jamestown fans that the veteran wheelman can still run with the best of them.
Strand — who won back-to-back WISSOTA Modified national championships from 1997-98 — outdueled a field of 25 mods that included two-time defending national champ Blake Jegtvig, of Hawley, Minn., and Jamestown’s own John Corell Sr. and Jason Grimes.
Surprisingly, the victory came as Strand qualified for his first A-main of the 2011 season.
Hannaford’s Rory Opp won an impressive third straight WISSOTA Street Stock A-main on Saturday, holding off Jamestown’s Billie Christ for his fourth victory at the track this season, while Marion’s Jeff Vogel rolled to his fifth feature win in the Bomber ranks.
In the Hornets division, Jamestown’s Andrew Michel broke up the strangle-hold that Jamestown’s Steven Nicholson and Fargo’s Sean and Dylan Johnson have firmly held at the track all season.
Michel’s win marked the first time in 11 shows this season that someone named other than Nicholson or Johnson has won.
Jamestown Speedway has just one more night of racing before track championship night on Aug. 27. Next Saturday evening is Back to School Night, and all regular classes of cars will be running.
The NLRA tour will remain busy wrapping up a total of seven shows over the course of eight days during the Western Tour’s busiest stretch of the schedule. The tour will be in Williston tonight, Estevan, Saskatchewan, on Tuesday, Fargo on Wednesday, Grand Forks on Friday and Devils Lake on Saturday.
NLRA Late Models
While signing a few autographs at the end of the evening, one young fan looked up at Bill Mooney and said, “That’s a pretty big trophy.”
Mooney smiled and replied, “It’s the biggest trophy I’ve ever won.”
And, Mooney earned it.
For five laps at the opening of the 30-lap NLRA Late Model feature, Mooney fought tooth-and-nail, three-wide with a pair of WISSOTA national champions in the likes of Ricky Weiss and John Kaanta.
Mooney started on the outside of the front row, and as luck would have it that was exactly where his No. 2 machine wanted to be. With Weiss circling the bottom and Kaanta pinned in the middle, Mooney’s high line proved to be the fastest line on this particular evening, and as the laps ticked away Mooney stretched his legs.
“I was just hoping (the high line) was going to prevail. I didn’t want to give up on it,” Mooney said. “I stuck with it and it worked out.”
As the race wore on, Mooney’s car only got faster as he had already caught the rear of the 24-car field halfway through the race on lap 15. Mooney overtook the slower cars with ease and now with lapped cars between him, Kaanta and Weiss all that needed to happen was for the race to stay green and the victory was his.
That’s exactly what happened, as Kaanta settled for second and Weiss came home third in the first stop of the NLRA’s Western Tour Championship.
“The track was pretty racy,” Mooney said. “It’s always good. I’ve never seen a bad track here.”
Mooney has a pair of second-place finishes at Jamestown Speedway in the WISSOTA Super Stock and WISSOTA Modified ranks, but up until Saturday a win at the track eluded the driver.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, as Mooney positioned himself to improve on last year’s seventh-place Western Tour overall finish.
“It’s great. I actually had a really good night here last year as well and won the hard-charger,” Mooney said. “I’m looking forward to the rest of the tour.”
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
There probably isn’t any other driver that Carrington’s Rusty Kollman would like to beat at Jamestown Speedway each Saturday night than Jamestown’s Scott Bintz, and that probably goes vice versa.
Heading into the weekend, the two friends and the hottest pair of area WISSOTA Midwest Modified drivers had racked up six feature victories in 10 shows here this summer — with Bintz winning four times — and Kollman raised that number to seven with feature victory No. 3 at the track by outgunning Bintz in a classic, late-season showdown.
Kollman started the feature seventh, with Bintz starting right behind him in ninth, and the pair immediately shot to the front of the field on the low side of the track at the drop of the green flag. They settled in behind the polesitter, Tony Konold, of Clear Lake, S.D., and proceeded to run door-to-door for second place over the next eight laps in the 20-lap feature.
The wild card in this scenario was Konold, who was obviously going to be passed by Kollman and Bintz as they were all over the leader’s back bumper. But the winning move in this chess match was which driver was going to find the right line around Konold, and which driver was going to get pinned up behind Konold’s No. 15.
Bintz was able to overtake Kollman for second on the eighth lap, but following a restart with 11 laps to go Kollman took to the high side and cleared both Bintz and Konold, and led the remaining nine circuits to victory.
“We had a real good car at the beginning, but then I thought I had a right rear (tire) go flat. The car just got loose and Scott got by me,” Kollman said. “Luckily, I was able to get back by him on the high side, and once I got by I just tried to stay smooth and steady.
“Then, the laps couldn’t go by fast enough.”
Kollman went back to the bottom to protect his lead, and Bintz just couldn’t find enough steam to make a high-side pass.
Kollman now holds a 28-point lead over Bintz in the track standings with 595 points and with two nights of points racing left.
“It’s awesome. That’s what we race for,” Kollman said of his battle with Bintz. “To race side-by-side with someone you can trust, that’s why were here and that’s what makes it exciting.”
Jamestown’s Josh Eberhardt was probably pretty sore on Sunday morning, after he manhandled his No. 2 machine from the 16th starting position to a third-place finish. Eberhardt had a dismal heat race, finishing last out of eight cars, but won the 11-car consolation race to make the feature.
As for Kollman, there are a couple of more things he’d like before seasons end.
“I need one more win and a Stampede win,” Kollman said. “I haven’t got a Stampede win in any class. That’s what I’m really after.”
The 40th annual Jamestown Speedway Stockcar Stampede is scheduled for Sept. 23-24.
After spending much of the summer running with the prestigious USMTS Modifieds, Jason Grimes — who now hails from Mayville — was a little rusty at his hometown track, and it showed.
Grimes drew the pole for the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified feature after winning his heat race, but he spun out in front of the 20-car field in the first set of turns on the opening lap to end his chances at winning.
Grimes was sent to the rear of the field, and two-time national champ Brian Strand took advantage from the fourth starting spot.
Strand — who once earned the moniker, “The Brocket Rocket” — planted his trademark No. 71 car down near the guardrail of the track and stormed to the front, overtaking the outside polesitter, Blake Jegtvig, three laps in.
“I was a little rusty. This was the first feature I’ve run this year,” Strand said. “I’ve been running around with my kid all year, and I guess I decided to run it like he does.
“But, it’s easier watching him.”
Strand’s son, Dustin Strand, of Grand Forks, is a formidable opponent behind the wheel of a modified at any WISSOTA track. Dustin Strand won the WISSOTA Midwest Modified national championship in 2009, giving the Strand family three national titles.
Jamestown’s John Corell Sr. slung his way up to second from the sixth starting spot six laps in, and never let Strand get too far out front. But Strand was just too strong on the bottom to overcome.
“I didn’t know if I was going to get overhauled by someone on the top,” Strand said. “But I wanted to wait and see a challenge before I made a move.”
That challenge never came, as Corell settled for second, Minot’s Allen Kent finished third and Jegtvig came home fourth.
“The track was in excellent shape for all the racing that went on tonight,” Strand said. “It was fun.”
NLRA Late Models
Feature: 1, Bill Mooney; 2, John Kaanta; 3, Ricky Weiss; 4, Zach Johnson; 5, Brad Seng; 6, Mitch Johnson; 7, Chad Becker; 8, Jeremy Keller; 9, Scott Greer; 10, Corey Seckerson; 11, David Mcdonald; 12, Brandon Carlson; 13, Brian Swenson; 14, Dave Zimmerman; 15, Cole Schill; 16, Tommy Thompson; 17, Ed Turnbull; 18, Mike Johnson; 19, Mike Balcaen; 20, Josh Johnson; 21, Troy Schill; 22, Matt Aukland; 23, Joel Cryderman; 24, Brandon Burke.
Consi 1: 1, Zimmerman; 2, Aukland; 3, Tom Corcoran; 4, Harold Schill; 5, Dave Smith; 6, Mike Johnson; 7, Paul Mueller; 8, Cole Schill; 9, Rock Degele; 10, Jake Bitker; 11, Dewayne Rector; 12, Rich Thomas; 13, Adam Fischer.
Consi 2: 1, Swenson; 2, Cryderman; 3, Mike Mccaughan; 4, Josh Skorczewski; 5, Norm Olson; 6, Josh Johnson; 7, Chris Dunn; 8, Wayne Johnson; 9, Jason Grabow; 10, Balcaen; 11, Tommy Thompson; 12, Hank Berry.
Heat 1: Z. Johnson; 2, Seckerson; 3, Becker; 4, Aukland; 5, Swenson; 6, Degele; 7, W. Johnson; 8, Dunn.
Heat 2: 1, Weiss; 2, Carlson; 3, Turnbull; 4, Olson; 5, Smith; 6, Thompson; 7, Rector; 8, Thomas.
Heat 3: 1, Kaanta; 2, Keller; 3, Mcdonald; 4, Zimmerman; 5, Cryderman; 6, Mueller; 7, Balcaen; 8, J. Johnson.
Heat 4: 1, M. Johnson; 2, Seng; 3, T. Schill; 4, Berry; 5, H. Schill; 6, Mccaughan; 7, M. Johnson; 8, Bitker.
Heat 5: 1, Mooney; 2, Greer; 3, Burke; 4, Corcoran; 5, Skorczewski; 6, C. Schill; 7, Grabow; 8, Fischer.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1, Rusty Kollman; 2, Scott Bintz; 3, Josh Eberhardt; 4, Bobby Eckerdt; 5, Lyn Lamb; 6, Ryan Lehr; 7, Brandon Gussiaas; 8, Andy Kapp; 9, Darren Pfau; 10, Tony Konold; 11, Bryce Kuska; 12, Tyler Schrenk; 13, Grant Hall; 14, Eric Edwards; 15, Steve Ost; 16, Darin Smith; 17, Kelly Hagel; 18, Preston Carr; 19, Greg Friestad; 20, Tim Berg.
Consi: 1, Eberhardt; 2, Kapp; 3, Schrenk; 4, Ost; 5, Pfau; 6, Jeremy Forester; 7, Terry Sahr; 8, Dave Peterson; 9, Jason Thoms; 10, Jim Morlock; 11, Greg Langford.
Heat 1: 1, Kollman; 2, Lehr; 3, Berg; 4, Smith; 5, Hagel; 6, Kapp; 7, Pfau; 8, Schrenk; 9, Ost.
Heat 2: 1, Friestad; 2, Gussiaas; 3, Eckerdt; 4, Edwards; 5, Carr; 6, Morlock; 7, Peterson; 8, Forester; 9, Sahr.
Heat 3: 1, Bintz; 2, Lamb; 3, Konold; 4, Kuska; 5, Hall; 6, Eberhardt; 7, Jason Thoms; 8, Greg Langford.
Feature: 1, Brian Strand; 2, John Corell; 3, Allen Kent; 4, Blake Jegtvig; 5, Randy Klein; 6, Alex Englestad; 7, Jerry Lamb; 8, Jason Grimes; 9, Hank Berry; 10, Josh Eberhardt; 11, John Nord; 12, Paul Englestad; 13, Ross Romdalvik; 14, Dale Kraling; 15, Ryan Mikkelson; 16, Bob Sagen; 17, Eric Edwards; 18, Randy Tarno; 19, Mike Anderson; 20, Jayson Corell.
Consi: 1, Edwards; 2, Nord; 3, Romdalvik; 4, Anderson; 5, Jayson Corell; 6, Tyler Mcdonald; 7, Dwight Wegner; 8, Ryan Fike; 9, Jason Strand; 10, Tim Compson.
Heat 1: 1, Grimes; 2, B. Strand; 3, Kent; 4, Kraling; 5, Sagen; 6, Nord; 7, Anderson; 8, Jayson Corell; 9, Fike.
Heat 2: 1, Jegtvig; 2, Berry; 3, Mikkelson; 4, Tarno; 5, Lamb; 6, Edwards; 7, J. Strand; 8, Mcdonald.
Heat 3: 1, Klein; 2, John Corell; 3, P. Englestad; 4, A. Englestad; 5, Eberhardt; 6, Romdalvik; 7, Wegner; 8, Compson.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com