Jamestown's John Corell Sr. has a virtual doctorate's degree in dirt-track racing. But even with more than 40 years of racing under his belt, a car can still give the man fits.
Corell was one of over 70 IMCA modified drivers preregistered Friday evening to compete in the 30th annual Dakota Classic Modified Tour. The six-night tour begins Saturday at Jamestown Speedway, and Corell is hoping a few pointers from Fargo driver Austin Arneson has his 2017 GRT chassis driving toward the front starting at 7 p.m.
"I'm not as happy with it as I'd like to be, but I tweaked it a little bit," said Corell, who after 11 total shows has posted a season-best second-place feature finish in Jamestown on May 11. "When the track is tacky, or if it's got moisture in it, the car is always really, really good. But as it slicks off I start fighting forward traction.
"I was talking with Austin and he gave me some things to change, so we'll see what happens. That's all we can do."
Corell is coming off a solid Dakota Mod Tour showing in 2018. The Jamestown veteran finished 13th of 109 total competitors in the final points standings, after qualifying for three out of four features and placing a tour-best fifth on opening night in Jamestown.
Corell also qualified for features in Dickinson and Mandan. Last year's events in Estevan (Saskatchewan) and Williston were rained out.
Following Jamestown, the 2019 tour heads to Minot, Estevan, Williston and Dickinson before finishing in Mandan on July 11.
"I don't have a lot of expectations," Corell said. "My goal would be if I could qualify for some features -- every one of them would be my goal."
Strong competitors will be rewarded this season, as the top eight drivers in heat-race passing points will be lined up behind the heat winners for the feature events. The B-main qualifiers will follow. The 30-lap features pay $2,400 to win and $300 to start.
"That'll help a little bit," said Corell of the Tour adopting passing points. "But you've still gotta have a good car."
Jamestown brought in 81 modifieds from all over the United States and Canada for the event last season, along with 44 IMCA Stock Cars, the tour's supporting class. Hunter Marriott of Brookfield, Mo., has won the last three tour championships and is preregistered to attend.
Recent tour champions Ricky Thorton Jr., Jeff Taylor and Hank Berry are also scheduled to attend, along with past Jamestown tour winners Justin O'Brien and Allen Kent. Along with Corell, local drivers preregistered include Don Gumke, Rusty Kollman, Casey Arneson, Marlyn Seidler, Randy Gordon, Jarrett Carter and Marcus and Myles Tomlinson.
Jamestown Speedway has so far been forced to cancel five out of 10 shows this season due to rain, but Saturday's forecast looks promising. Corell is hoping the six consecutive nights of racing can avoid any major rain events.
"I hate it when it does that. It just makes a mess out of things," Corell said. "The people out there work so hard to get these tracks prepped and then you get a quarter, or an inch, of rain and it really messes things up.
"I don't care for the heavy, tied-down race tracks. I'd rather have a dry one. But you take what it is."
Admission for Saturday's opener at Jamestown Speedway is $20 for adults 18 and older, $5 for students 13-17 and 12 and under are free.