AJ Diemel holds on to win a thriller over Joey Pederson.
By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (September 6) - After the stout 26 car field paid tribute to the late John Seitz with their four wide missing man formation, the drivers cinched down their seat belts and got their elbows up for the 92 lap, $9,200-to-win Late Model feature.
Don Shaw jumped out the early lead over Jeff Provinzino and looked like he had the car to beat. On lap 13, however, AJ Diemel came flying through the field and passed Shaw to take over the point in lapped traffic. Diemel then held the lead until the lap 32 fuel stop, just as he did one year ago.
After the eight minute break, the race resumed and Diemel picked up right where he left off. Within 10 laps, Diemel had opened up a heathy lead over second place running, Shaw, but as Diemel approached lapped traffic Shaw began to erase that gap considerably. On lap 77 Shaw had shrunk Diemel's lead down to virtually nothing and he determined it was time to make his bid for the lead. As the two leaders headed into turn one Shaw pitched his Blaine Brother's #42 hard to the inside of Diemel for a Hail Mary slide job. The drivers made substantial contact, but Shaw completed the slide job and took over the point down the back stretch. When they exited turn four to complete the circuit, Diemel returned the favor to Shaw which resulted in Shaw being sent hard into the front stretch wall. The Ham Lake, MN rode against the concrete barrier for the length of the straightaway as sparks and smoke poured from his severely damaged race car; ending the great opportunity he had to win the event dedicated to his good friend.
The ensuing Evergreen Insurance restart was key for Joey Pederson as the 23rd place starter moved from sixth to second in on lap. Pederson, the defending RCS Late Model track champion, then set his sights on the Beltline Body Shop #58 in the closing laps. The two drivers ran completely different lines, but both were equally fast. Diemel drove right around the berm on the low side, while Pederson had the hammer down up on the cushion.
The white flag flew and Pederson chased Diemel into turn three for the final time. Pederson got a good run off of turn four as they headed for the checkers, but Diemel's line carried him in front of Pederson. Pederson went for the crossover move and the two driver drove under the checkered flag side by side, but Diemel edged out the hometown driver by 0.116 seconds. Ricky Weiss finished in third, while Jake Redetzke and Provinzino rounded out the top five.
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