Drueke Tops Red River Sprints; Veterans Halvorson and Schill score Wissota wins
The season may be winding down but the action is still in midseason form as three drivers parked their cars in RydellCars.com victory lane for the first time in 2023, including Jade Hastings who won his first Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint Car Blazin' Challenge Friday night. Nebraska native and IMCA national point leader Tyler Drueke won the Red River Sprint Series main event while veterans Lance Schill and John Halvorson won WISSOTA features in the Midwest Mods and Street Stocks respectively.
Blake Egeland led the field to green as the special Blazin' Challenge format put him alone out front for the 35-lap feature.
Egeland led the first two circuits before Jack Croaker and Adam Sobolik got crossed up on the third lap. Egeland led on the restart but was quickly challenged by Sprint Car sophomore Gage Pulkrabek who took the lead on lap number five.
Pulkrabek had a straight away lead before tenth starting Jade Hastings moved past Egeland on the following lap. Lap seven saw Austin Pierce move into third with Brendan Mullen, who ran a 9.91 second lap in the ‘King of the Hill’ race, move up to fourth.
Through ten laps of the 35-lap special, Pulkrabek was running at a very good pace, though Hastings did begin to reel him in shortly thereafter.
Pulkrabek, who has spent most of his season running at Knoxville Raceway, continued to lead as the leaders pulled up to the rear of the field with 20 laps to go.
It was at this point when Hastings pulled to the tail tank of Pulkrabek’s No. G5 machine and took the lead coming off of turn two with 19 laps remaining. Pierce followed into second as the new lead duo continued to work heavy lap traffic.
Hastings had to work the same lapped cars for four laps before he finally found clear air again with 14 to go, giving him about a straight away advantage over Pierce.
The final caution with eight to go gave Pierce and the new third place runner Mark Dobmeier a chance at the Blazin’ Challenge victory. Dobmeier and Pierce went side-by-side as the race went back to green with Dobmeier taking second and Pulkrabek moving back in on Pierce for third.
With five laps to go Dobmeier reeled in the leading Hastings and started to stalk him in a bid to repeat the previous September’s close Blazin’ Challenge finish.
Dobmeier pulled even briefly coming off a turn four with two to go and again on the following lap, but Hastings was able to hold him off for the victory, his 12th of his career at the Bullring, which was worth $3,250. Pierce was third with Pulkrabek scoring a career best fourth place run, 15th starting Brendan Mullen finished fifth.
Josh Johnson and Dan Griep led the Superior Customs Red River Sprint Series to green for their third appearance at the Bullring this season.
Griep took the lead early as Ty Hanten and Jeremy Snow moved into second and third while the pair avoided disaster. when Snow bicycled in turn two on the opening circuit. Snow held off Tyler Rabenberg to complete the top three through the opening lap.
Griep led through three laps as Rabenberg eventually moved into the third spot with IMCA national point leader Tyler Drueke following him into fourth.
Griep started working lap traffic with 11 to go and led for one more lap until Jeremy Snow rolled on the front stretch at the midway point. He exited his destroyed mount okay.
The wreck also eliminated Ty Hanten from contention, moving Drueke to second and Red River. Sprint Series point leader Ty Wilke into third.
Griep fought hard in the first handful of laps following the restart to hold off Drueke for the lead. Drueke eventually threw a slide job on Griep in turns one and two with three to go and led the rest of the way for his first Bullring victory.
Griep was second with Rabenberg third, Wilke fourth, and Morgan Nyquist fifth.
Between the Midwest Mod and Red River Sprint Series features, the ever-popular School Buses. The ran their second feature of the season following their initial appearance at the ‘Sunday at the Fair’ event. Justin Lundeen won in the Thunder Bus.
Aaron Blacklance and Joe Henninger led the 20-lap Happy Harry's Midwest Mod main event to the stripe to start.
Blacklance took the point at the start and brought Lance Schill with him into second. The lead pair was able to pull away while Henninger tried to fend off Jory Berg and Bemidji runner Brennan Schmidt for third.
Blacklance was able to build a half straight away through five laps and maintain that advantage until a caution on lap nine. Schmidt, having won the battle for third, took second from Schill in the battle for second.
Schill regained second with eight to go and began to reel in Blacklance, once again, for the lead. A caution with three to go gave Schill another shot at the lead. He pulled to the outside of Blacklance on the ensuing restart and took the lead coming off of turn four with two to go.
Schill continued on to victory over Blacklance, Brennan Bahr, Brennan Schmidt, and Austin Hunter. Schill’s win was his 53rd spread among 4 different classes he’s run at the track.
Chris Ekren and John Halvorson made up the front row at the beginning of the 20-lap Big Al's Construction Street Stock feature. Halverson took the lead at the start with third starting Trey
Hess moving into second and Tucker Pederson eventually following into third.
The top two pulled away from the rest of the field as Hess remained within five car lengths of Halverson until the first caution on lap four. On the ensuing restart, Pederson took the second spot as the top three continued to run bumper-to-bumper until lap eight when Hess had a mechanical failure send him to the infield.
At the midway point, Pederson continued to hound Halverson for the lead. On lap ten Pederson pulled even to the inside of Halverson in turn two in a door-to-door bid for the lead.
Pederson again peaked to the inside of Halvorson going into turn three with eight to go, but Halvorson again was strong enough to keep the point.
For the third time Pederson pulled to the inside and went door-to-door with Halvorson coming off of turn four with five to go while the pair worked through lapped traffic.
Pederson again pulled even on a restart with five to go and remained even for the duration of the 16th lap but was unable again to take the lead. Pederson pulled even one final time as the pair came off of turn four while crossing under the white flag but Halvorson was able to fend off Pederson one final time for the victory.
The win is the 21st of Halvorson’s career spread among three different classes including Midwest Mod and Late Model since his career at the speedway started in 1994. Shane Swenson was third with Weston Ramsrud fourth and Josh Barker fifth.
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