By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, N.D. (September 9, 2017) – The 11th annual John Seitz Memorial came to a close Saturday night with a record 211 cars checked in for action. The night was highlighted by the 92-lap, $9,200-to-win Late Model A-main, which was won by Seitz’s brother-in-law, Don Shaw of Ham Lake, Minn.
Shaw has openly said the John Seitz Memorial was at the top of his list of events he’s wanted to win in his career. He has been close on several prior occasions, but victory lane has always eluded him.
“This is so unbelieveable. This is great,” said Shaw in RydellCars.com Victory Lane. “I would have given this race up for the national points if I had to. This race means so much to me and I tell you what he was riding with me tonight.”
On the initial start, Jeffery Massingill and Jake Redezkte made contact in turn one which resulted in a four car pile up. Redezkte and Dustin Strand, who was also involved in the incident, restarted at the tail of the field.
The Evergreen Insurance restart brought the field back to green, where 2017 NLRA series champion, Ricky Weiss, powered around the outside of AJ Diemel to take the lead. Seitz Memorial rookie, Ryan Mikkelson, made waves early as he moved into the second position briefly before a mechanical failure forced him pitside.
Weiss led the first 10 trips around the three-tenths mile bullring before Shaw, who started fourth, drove underneath him following a restart on lap nine. Weiss tried to battle back as Diemel, Zach Johnson and Joey Pederson all battled within the top five.
Shaw immediately began driving away from the field and ran unchallenged up to the fuel stop on lap 32.
As the race resumed, Diemel drove around Weiss for second, while 21st place starter, John Kaanta, drove around Pederson for fourth. Towards the halfway point of the event, Shaw and Diemel distanced themselves from the rest of the field, which set up a mirror image of last year’s classic battle between the two veteran drivers.
Diemel closed to within one car length of Shaw in lapped traffic and placed a bid for the lead, but Shaw was able to power away once he found open track.
A caution with four to go set up a dramatic finish with Diemel, who was in search of becoming the first driver to win three Seitz Memorial championships, right on the rear bumper of Shaw. Diemel put heavy pressure on Shaw in the final laps, but the driver of the Shaw Trucking No. 42S was up to the challenge. Shaw ran a flawless lap as the white flag flew with Diemel just two car lengths behind. Shaw took the checkered flag to become the ninth John Seitz Memorial winner in its 11-year history.
“I have had just an incredible year. I don’t know if it’s one I could ever repeat,” continued Shaw. “I am just so thrilled to finally, finally get this one down. [John and I] have been competitive since the day we met each other. Everything from snowmobiles to race cars, everything. We did a lot of stuff together.”
Diemel and Weiss rounded out the podium. Scott Ward finished fourth from 15th, as Kaanta rounded out the top five from the 21st starting position. Brad Seng started dead last on the field with a past champion’s provisional and drove through the field to finish sixth. Last chance race winner, Nick Anvelink, finished seventh after starting 25th.
Strand had a notable run after restarting last following the lap one incident. The 2016 WISSOTA Late Model national champion raced through the pack and ran in the top five for the majority of the event, but was involved in a late race incident, which ended his night.
River Cities Speedway
2300 Gateway Dr
Grand Forks ND 58203
216 4th St. NW
East Grand Forks, MN 56721