RECAP: Season Championship Night
By Mike Spieker
GRAND FORKS, ND (September 2) - Drivers and fans alike packed River Cities Speedway on Friday night as Buffalo Wild Wings presented track championship night at the three-tenths mile bullring. Dustin Strand, Austin Hunter, and Travis Robertson claimed the WISSOTA PolyDome Dirt Track Series wins, while Thomas Kennedy won the NOSA Sprint Car feature.
Nineteen UpNorth Financial Late Models took the green flag for their 20-lap main event, paced by Dustin Strand and Brad Seng. Strand took the lead with Seng, Mike Balcaen, and Bill Mooney racing for second.
Strand opened up a sizable lead as Joey Pederson, who was still looking for his first win of the season, drove up to second from sixth. A couple cautions around the midpoint of the race allowed Pederson to make a run at Strand on the restarts, but each time the defending RCS track champion was able to pull away and maintain the lead.
Strand went on to win his seventh feature of the year at RCS as Pederson, Balcaen, Seng, and Zach Naastad rounded out the top five. Strand also claimed his second consecutive River Cities Speedway track title.
The Happy Harry’s Midwest Modified main event was a wild one. On lap six Matt Schow, who was running in second, clipped the front end of a car that was spun in around in turn four, which sent Schow in a series of barrel rolls. Schow’s #2S machine came to rest on all fours and he climbed out uninjured. When the race resumed Rick Hamel withstood challenges from fellow Millenium Chassis drivers Austin Hunter and Preston Carr and took the win. However, Hamel did not scale after the race which cost him the victory and handed the win over to Austin Hunter.
With the win and Schow’s misfortune, Hunter also scored the Midwest Modified track championship.
Travis Robertson’s dominate season continued Friday night as he led all 15 laps in the Wells Concrete Street Stock feature to pick up the win and the track championship. Robertson held off Karlstad, MN runner Chase Boen in the late going to score his 17th win of the year overall. The best racing on the track was the battle for the final podium position as Ryan Flaten, James Meagher, and Greg Jose all battled hard around the bullring. Flaten, who was fresh off a heat race win, won the fight and crossed the line in third.
The Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint Cars were 26 cars strong for their 25-lap main event. Dusty Zomer sat on the pole with Jade Hastings to his outside. Bobby Martin drove from third to the lead on the opening lap as Hastings filed into second. On lap six, however, Thomas Kennedy drove into the lead and brought Zomer with him into second. Several caution flags slowed the paced throughout the event, but on each Evergreen Insurance restart, Kennedy was able to get his Jamie Moyle 410 up to speed on the cushion and pull away.
Two-time and defending RCS track champion, Austin Pierce, moved into second on lap 11 but slid off the racing surface a couple laps later. Pierce returned to the track before the yellow was displayed, which resulted in an automatic disqualification for Pierce, who entered the night just 15 points out of the lead in the NOSA standings.
Kennedy led the final 19 laps and cruised to his second career win at River Cities and first since August of 2014.
Racing continues Thursday night with the Prelude to the Johnny/NLRA Late Model season championship, featuring the NOSA Sprint Cars.
River Cities Speedway
2300 Gateway Dr
Grand Forks ND 58203
1928 8th St. SE
East Grand Forks, MN 56721