Opp on top, againIt’s been described in such ways as having ice water in the veins, or being one cool cat under pressure. Whatever it is, Rory Opp’s got it.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
It’s been described in such ways as having ice water in the veins, or being one cool cat under pressure.
Whatever it is, Rory Opp’s got it.
For 19 of the 20 laps in the $1,000-to-win Jamestown Speedway WISSOTA Street Stock Labor Day special here on Sunday, Opp either refused to be rattled, or he just plain can’t be.
Lap after lap, Lisbon’s Duffy Froemke was glued to Opp’s back bumper desperately trying to overtake the lead from the Hannaford native, who started alongside Froemke on the outside of the front row.
All Opp would have needed to do was miss just one mark, or over-drive a corner, and Froemke would have been the winner. But Opp never missed a beat, literally driving a brilliant race to keep Froemke squarely behind him, as he went on to win both nights of the speedway’s two-day special.
“(Froemke) was right there. I was just trying to drive as cautious as I could, until someone showed they were going to beat me,” Opp said. “I didn’t want to over-drive the car. I never drove it wide open. I probably should have, but I didn’t want to break something.”
Opp’s $1,000 winner’s purse was added to the $500 he won for besting the field the previous night on Saturday. The back-to-back wins gave Opp seven feature victories on the season in Jamestown.
Opp was feeling the pressure on Sunday, even before the green flag flew. The 18-year veteran had never won a big-money show, and this race would be his best chance at checking that off his career bucket list.
The driver has virtually been unstoppable this season when starting on the outside pole. He’d won two previous races from the position this season, as both he and his machine prefer the high line.
“I was nervous. I’ve been on a helluva run, but it doesn’t take much to take you out,” Opp said. “A cut tire and you’re back on the trailer. In the hot laps the car was a little pushy, and I wasn’t sure what it was going to do.”
But Opp shot out in front of Froemke on the very first lap, and once again used the high side of the track as his ally. Froemke attempted on numerous occasions to try to get under Opp’s No. 43, but there just wasn’t enough grip left anywhere else on the track at the end of the evening for the driver to make a move.
Froemke made one last attempt to take the lead by diving under Opp in turns one and two on the final lap, but the move was too aggressive and he ended up spinning out in front of the field. The race ended under yellow — the race’s only caution — and Froemke finished dead last in 20th position.
“It’s nice to win this one. Two in a row,” Opp said. “It’s even better to do it after getting tore down two weeks ago. I’ve got a new run going again.”
Opp’s motor was protested last month after winning a streak of four-consecutive feature victories at the track, but it was determined to be legal.
Jamestown’s Dustin Erickson and Troy Nelson finished behind Opp in second- and third-place, respectively, while Mandan’s Travis Ulmer took fourth and Mike Jans, of Clarkfield, Minn., rounded out the top five.
Jans started the farthest back in ninth position.
A total of 34 WISSOTA Street Stocks were present for the event, which included four heat races and a pair of consolation races.
“The car, for whatever reason, has got unconscious here at the end of the season,” Opp said. “The harder I drive it, the faster it wants to go.”
Opp will have the opportunity to push his win count this season at Jamestown Speedway up to eight when the 40th annual Stock Car Stampede unfolds on Sept. 23-24.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Jamestown’s Josh Eberhardt is always a threat to win no matter where he’s racing at, but for some reason his strong car and consistent driving hadn’t added up to any victories in 2011.
It all finally came together for the driver on Sunday.
After losing the lead early to Valley City’s Greg Friestad, Eberhardt left the bottom and went to the high side of the track to storm back past Friestad and capture WISSOTA Midwest Modified win No. 1 on the season.
“It’s been a long year,” Eberhardt said. “But I’ve finally got it working pretty good, and at the right time I think.
“I could see (Friestad) get under me and we were going back-and-forth there for a bit,” Eberhardt added. “I thought I was a tick quicker if I hit my marks. But I knew I couldn’t keep that up for 20 laps, so I moved up and it worked.”
Eberhardt regained the lead just as the second and final caution flag flew with 11 laps left. On the restart, Friestad challenged Eberhardt on the low side, while Jamestown’s Scott Bintz was threatening up high from the third position.
But Eberhardt was able to maintain the lead and began pulling away in the closing laps.
“I just kept doing what I was doing,” Eberhardt said. “(Friestad) was the only one I ever heard.”
Friestad, Bintz, Carrington’s Rusty Kollman and Grand Forks’ Dustin Strand rounded out the top five, respectively. Eberhardt won the Jamestown Speedway Stock Car Stampede in 2007, which was his B-mod rookie season.
The largest ovation of the evening went to Jamestown’s Randy Tarno at the conclusion of the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified race.
In a green-white-checker finish, Tarno outran Lisbon’s Jerry Lamb and Jamestown’s John Corell to notch his first feature victory in Jamestown since the 2008 season.
“It feels pretty good,” Tarno said. “I think the momentum I had on the high side carried it. That was the advantage.”
Tarno started the race from the second position and overtook Lamb, the polesitter, on the high side of the track seven laps in.
But Lamb never let Tarno run away with it. In fact, Lamb was using the bottom of the track to pull even with Tarno at times nearly every lap.
“It keeps you on your toes when you look down and someone’s always there,” Tarno said.
Cautions weren’t helping the driver’s cause either. The race included six yellow flags, including the final one with two laps left, and by which time Corell was using Tarno’s high line and making a charge of his own to the front. Corell started ninth.
“It felt like it was 100 laps and 80 yellow flags,” Tarno said. “I knew (Corell) was back there, and I figured I had to protect my line pretty good.”
Tarno did just that, as Lamb finished second, Corell settled for third and Winnipeg’s Ward Imrie took fourth.
Just like Rory Opp in the Street Stock ranks, Marion’s Jeff Vogel rolled to back-to-back wins during the speedway’s two-day special to capture victories No. 6 and No. 7 at the track this season.
But the 2011 Jamestown Speedway track champion appeared as if he was going to have to settle for second on Sunday.
Following a restart with eight laps remaining in the 15-lap feature, Vogel and Fullerton’s Lucas Rodin drove door-to-door battling for the lead over the next four laps. The problem for Vogel, however, was that Rodin’s low line was sending him across the finish line first during each of those circuits.
It wasn’t until Rodin bobbled in corner No. 4 with 12 laps left that Vogel took the lead, and if not for Rodin’s mistake victory No. 7 may have eluded the driver.
Vogel led the remaining three laps, with Rodin — last year’s Stampede winner — taking second, Buchanan’s Levi Hintz finishing third and Enderlin’s Tyler Pfaff finishing fourth.
Labor Day WISSOTA Street Stock Special
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Feature: 1, Rory Opp; 2, Dustin Erickson; 3, Troy Nelson; 4, Travis Ulmer; 5, Mike Jans; 6, Trent Grager; 7, Barrett Berg; 8, James Tandeski; 9, Randy Klein; 10, Justin Kollman; 11, Royce Jawaski; 12, Randy Kollman; 13, Billie Christ; 14, Brian Swenson; 15, Kelly Hoerner; 16, Ryan Hugelen; 17, Jake Emo; 18, Kelly Hagel; 19, Allan Frederick; 20, Duffy Froemke.
Consi 1: 1, Emo; 2, Hoerner; 3, Nate Keena; 4, Josh Ganser; 5, Bob Banish Jr; 6, Kevin Gelinske; 7, Joe Jacobson; 8, Ryan Pommerer; 9, John Feist.
Consi 2: 1, Swenson; 2, Christ; 3, Zach Frederick; 4, Jordan Zillmer; 5, Mike Mund; 6, Scott Witkowski; 7, Cammy Ost; 8, Spencer Johnson; 9, Matthew Lesmeister.
Heat 1: 1, Froemke; 2, Nelson; 3, Jans; 4, Hugelen; 5, Hoerner; 6, Emo; 7, Pommerer; 8, Ganser; 9, Ost.
Heat 2: 1, Erickson; 2, Klein; 3, R. Kollman; 4, Jawaski; 5, Johnson; 6, Swenson; 7, Christ; 8, Zillmer; 9, Mund.
Heat 3: 1, Opp; 2, Tandeski; 3, Hagel; 4, J. Kollman; 5, Keena; 6, Jacobson; 7, Banish Jr; 8, Gelinske.
Heat 4: 1, Berg; 2, Ulmer; 3, Grager; 4, A. Frederick; 5, Z. Frederick; 6, Witkowski; 7, Lesmeister; 8, Feist.
WISSOTA Midwest Modifieds
Feature: 1, Josh Eberhardt; 2, Greg Friestad; 3, Scott Bintz; 4, Rusty Kollman; 5, Dustin Strand; 6, Jeremy Forester; 7, Nate Reinke; 8, Darren Pfau; 9, Taylor Weight; 10, Royce Jawaski; 11, Brandon Gussiaas; 12, Steve Ost; 13, Travis Aljets; 14, Darin Smith; 15, Eric Edwards; 16, Shawn Nostdahl; 17, Andy Kapp; 18, Jess Brekke; 19, Chris Michaelsohn; 20, Tyler Schrenk.
Consi: 1, Nostdahl; 2, Jawaski; 3, Michaelsohn; 4, Brekke; 5, Kapp; 6, Ryan Lehr; 7, Terry Sahr; 8, Chuck Christ; 9, Lucas Rodin; 10, Andee Beierle; 11, Dave Peterson; 12, Greg Langford.
Heat 1: 1, Forester; 2, Weight; 3, Ost; 4, Edwards; 5, Kollman; 6, Peterson; 7, Rodin; 8, Sahr; 9, Kapp.
Heat 2: 1, Strand; 2, Eberhardt; 3, Pfau; 4, Gussiaas; 5, Smith; 6, Nostdahl; 7, Christ; 8, Brekke; 9, Beierle.
Heat 3: 1, Bintz; 2, Friestad; 3, Aljets; 4, Schrenk; 5, Reinke; 6, Jawaski; 7, Michaelsohn; 8, Langford; 9, Lehr.
Feature: 1, Randy Tarno; 2, Jerry Lamb; 3, John Corell; 4, Ward Imrie; 5, Ross Romdalvik; 6, Tim Perkins; 7, Jayson Corell; 8, Randy Klein; 9, Mark Trautner; 10, Dwight Wegner; 11, Brian Strand; 12, Eric Edwards; 13, Delray Dykstra; 14, Ryan Kereluk; 15, Jamie Trautner; 16, Ben Mickelson; 17, Josh Eberhardt; 18, Dustin Strand; 19, Ryan Mikkelson.
Heat 1: 1, Kereluk; 2, Tarno; 3, Romdalvik; 4, B. Strand; 5, M. Trautner; 6, Edwards; 7, Wegner.
Heat 2: 1, D. Strand; 2, Klein; 3, Jayson Corell; 4, Mickelson; 5, Eberhardt; 6, Dykstra.
Heat 3: 1, Imrie; 2, Lamb; 3, Corell; 4, J. Trautner; 5, Mikkelson; 6, Perkins.
Feature: 1, Jeff Vogel; 2, Lucas Rodin; 3, Levi Hintz; 4, Tyler Pfaff; 5, Leann Christensen; 6, Chris Gussiaas; 7, Mike Sahr; 8, Devin Christ; 9, Keith Striefel; 10, Dalton Polries; 11, Ethan Mabus; 12, Kyle Langland; 13, Brandon Moser; 14, Tyler Hintz; 15, Matthew Kropp; 16, Scott Gartner; 17, Dusty Hinrichs; 18, Casey Zink; 19, Shannon Schlenker; 20, Matt Gumke.
Consi: 1, Striefel; 2, Gartner; 3, Zink; 4, Langland; 5, Kropp; 6, Keith Kinzler; 7, Garrett Morlock; 8, Cory Rodin; 9, Nick Ziegler; 10, Lindsey Hansen; 11, Shawn Becker.
Heat 1: 1, Gumke; 2, Hintz; 3, Pfaff; 4, Mabus; 5, Christ; 6, Kinzler; 7, Langland; 8, C. Rodin; 9, Hansen.
Heat 2: 1, L. Rodin; 2, Vogel; 3, Moser; 4, Gussiaas; 5, Sahr; 6, Gartner; 7, Becker; 8, Kropp; 9, Ziegler.
Heat 3: 1, Hintz; 2, Polries; 3, Christensen; 4, Hinrichs; 5, Schlenker; 6, Striefel; 7, Zink; 8, Morlock.
Feature: 1, Andrew Michel; 2, Donnie Schrader; 3, Bud Cruff; 4, Alex Kelstrom; 5, Sam Gray; 6, Gabe Kilzer; 7, Anthony Clark.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com