Mikkelson rallies to victoryFor all intents and purposes, the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified main event at Jamestown Speedway on Saturday night appeared to be over long before Jamestown’s Ryan Mikkelson came into the fray.
By: Michael Savaloja, The Jamestown Sun
For all intents and purposes, the 20-lap WISSOTA Modified main event at Jamestown Speedway on Saturday night appeared to be over long before Jamestown’s Ryan Mikkelson came into the fray.
Enderlin’s John Nord started the race on the pole and built a commanding lead on the 21-car field in the opening five laps. Nord was bad fast on the high side, amassing a full-straightaway advantage.
But just when this reporter decided to sit back and watch Nord checkout, a key element in racing swung the momentum.
The track changed, Nord’s high line was no longer the preferred groove, and Mikkelson — who won his heat race and drew a dreaded eighth starting position in the transfer — was somehow in second place and running down the leader like he was bogged down in mud.
According to Mikkelson, the NLRA Late Models had something to do with that. Saturday night’s 25-lap Late Model Special was moved ahead of the WISSOTA Street Stock and Modified feature events, due in part to threatening skies.
“They ran the late models first, and they ran through the middle with twice as wide tires,” Mikkelson said. “The track was already hard to begin with, so you knew that the rubber was going to be there.
“I was actually surprised with what the officials did. They watered the bottom and top to keep everyone away from the middle, but they didn’t take care of the middle.”
That’s where Mikkelson planted his No. 15 machine and the track came to him. The driver blew past Nord for the lead with five laps to go and drove to his third Jamestown Speedway feature victory of the season.
Nord, who absolutely dominated the opening 10 laps, came home third.
Mikkelson was on the move from the opening lap, motoring all the way up to fourth after four laps were completed. Winnipeg’s Ward Imrie started third but was running fifth behind Mikkelson at that time, with Arthur’s Bob Sagen — the outside polesitter — running second and Lisbon’s Jerry Lamb running third.
“I’ve got to thank Ward Imrie for showing me the way, because I was actually wanting to pass Lamb up top,” Mikkelson said. “Ward came underneath me a couple of times and me and him are good buddies, so I was like, ‘Ah, I better take his line away from him.’
“So I went down there and I was like, ‘Wow, this thing’s got traction.’”
Mikkelson cleared Lamb and Sagen with 10 to go and set his sights on Nord. Sagen finished second, with Jamestown’s Jason Grimes finishing fourth and Minot’s Allen Kent finishing fifth. Lamb took seventh after starting fourth, while Imrie fell back to finish eighth.
The race stayed green from start to finish. Mikkelson built up a full-straightaway lead of his own over the field over the final five laps.
Mikkelson also overtook the points lead at the track with the win. Jamestown’s John Corell was the points leader coming into the night, but Corell was absent on Saturday. Mikkelson now has an eight-point lead over Grimes with 528 points, while Corell fell all the way to fourth, 48 points off the lead.
Mikkelson was second to Corell in the standings, 11 points back, to start the night. Both have three wins in Jamestown this season.
The final night of points racing is this Saturday, as Season Championship Night is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.
“I told (Corell) last week at a wedding dance that he put me in a pretty tight situation for this deal, and he said, ‘It don’t matter. Just try to win,’” Mikkelson said. “I’ve been in many points battles before, and that’s really the only thing you can do. Just try to do good every night.”
WISSOTA Street Stocks
It was the race that wouldn’t end.
A total of eight caution flags were displayed during the WISSOTA Street Stock 20-lap feature event, but when the dust finally settled — approximately 30 minutes after the first green flag was displayed — Sykeston’s Trent Grager found himself on the winner’s stage in Jamestown for the third time this season.
“Being out front, a guy hates going through yellows,” Grager said. “When a guy gets a rhythm going, you hate to screw up after a caution. I got lucky I guess.”
Just 15 cars started the race, but only nine would make it to the finish line. The cautions took a toll on the field, as six drivers ended the night with a DNF.
Grager started the race in fourth but quickly found the lead, passing the polesitter, Marion’s Jeff Vogel, for the top spot after three caution flags and two laps were completed.
The race, however, stayed green over the final eight circuits, where the track’s points leader Duffy Froemke, of Lisbon, challenged Grager hard for the lead over the final seven laps.
The duo battled door-to-door for five laps, before Grager finally staved off the attack from the high side coming to the white flag.
“That was fun racing with Duffy. It was nice and clean,” Grager said. “I just kept running my line. I moved down just a hair and it seemed to be a little better for me.”
Froemke finished second, with Jamestown’s Billie Chirst, Joe Jacobson and Dustin Erickson completing the top five, respectively.
It was Grager’s seventh overall feature win of the season. The Sykeston native has won twice at both Mandan and Watertown.
Froemke currently holds a 17-point lead over Christ in the track standings with one night of points racing left.
Feature: 1, Ryan Mikkelson; 2, Bob Sagen; 3, John Nord; 4, Jason Grimes; 5, Allen Kent; 6, Dustin Strand; 7, Jerry Lamb; 8, Ward Imrie; 9, Tyler McDonald; 10, Josh Eberhardt; 11, Scott Bintz; 12, Randy Tarno; 13, Dwight Wegner; 14, Eric Edwards; 15, Randy Klein; 16, Rusty Kollman; 17, Tim Thomas; 18, Delray Dykstra; 19, Jeff Odden; 20, Bob Banish Jr.; 21, Cody Skytland.
Heat 1: 1, Mikkelson; 2, Nord; 3, Skytland; 4, Kent; 5, Bintz; 6, Thomas; 7, Banish Jr.
Heat 2: 1, Grimes; 2, Sagen; 3, Lamb; 4, Edwards; 5, Eberhardt; 6, Kollman; 7, Dykstra.
Heat 3: 1, McDonald; 2, Strand; 3, Imrie; 4, Tarno; 5, Klein; 6, Wegner; 7, Odden.
WISSOTA Street Stocks
Feature: 1, Trent Grager; 2, Duffy Froemke; 3, Billie Christ; 4, Joe Jacobson; 5, Dustin Erickson; 6, Josh Ganser; 7, Jake Emo; 8, Kyle Langland; 9, Jason Dick; 10, Matthew Lesmeister (DNF); 11, Jeff Vogel (DNF); 12, Casey Stangeland (DNF); 13, Shawn Becker (DNF); 14, Royce Jawaski (DNF); 15, Rory Opp (DNF).
Heat 1: 1, Opp; 2, Vogel; 3, Erickson; 4, Christ; 5, Froemke; 6, Ganser; 7, Emo; 8, Dick.
Heat 2: 1, Jawaski; 2, Jacobson; 3, Grager; 4, Becker; 5, Langland; 6, Stangeland; 7, Lesmeister.
Sun sports writer Michael Savaloja can be reached at (701) 952-8461 or by email at email@example.com