Long time coming
Erik Laudenschlager has won his fair share of International Motor Contest Association Hobby Stocks features, but he hasn’t tasted victory in his three years as an IMCA Sport Modifieds driver.
Laudenschlager finally got that elusive Sport Modifieds victory Sunday at Nodak Speedway, but it took longer than anyone would have thought more than 30 minutes to be specific.
Six cautions, pit stops and lineup confusion pushed the feature race to its time limit and beyond. Throughout all the stoppage, one thing remained constant the No. 49 of Laudenschlager leading the pack.
He started in the fourth position and quickly overtook Mike Lemay for the lead on the first lap. He wouldn’t relinquish it.
“The track went away real bad,” Laudenschlager said. “It was one lane around the bottom the whole way, so there wasn’t really a lot of passing. Cautions all over the place. You don’t get a lot of green-flag runs.
“I’ll take one anyway I can get it. I’ve been waiting this long. This class is super competitive. There’s a lot of the best drivers at this track in this class.”
The first four laps went smoothly before the yellow flags reared their ugly heads. There were two cautions on Lap 5 and two more on Lap 6, prompting officials to shave four laps from the 20-lap feature. It took approximately 20 minutes to complete six laps.
A single-file restart following the fourth caution allowed for a few laps, and Robbie Conway benefited most from it, moving from fifth to second. Yet Conway admitted the constant cautions hurt him more than the rest of the field.
“I wanted to get out and race,” Conway said. “I run an open motor rather than a crate. With that car it’s kind of a momentum-type thing. All those cautions interfere with the momentum of the car. It takes a couple of laps to get it going. The crate engines are really good on the restarts, so I’m at a little bit of a disadvantage on the restarts.”
The cautions took a toll on Laudenschlager, as well.
“It’s really tough to try and stay in a groove,” he said. “You spend that long under caution, the car sets back down, and when it really gets back up on the suspension it feels weird.”
Two more yellow flags on Lap 13 brought out a green-white-checkered finish, during which Laudenschlager held off Conway by nearly a second. Nathan Burke took third, followed by Jeff Hooker and Kelly Henderson in fourth and fifth, respectively.
While it took the Sport Modifieds more than a half hour to complete 14 laps, the IMCA Modifieds needed less than 10 to finish its 25-lap feature. Aaron Turnbull crossed the finish line first, 0.485 seconds in front of Jerad Thelen.
Spencer Wilson grabbed third and moved into a first-place tie with Drew Christianson for the points lead. Christianson took fifth. Steven Pfeifer was fourth.
Cody Nelson joined Laudenschlager as a first-time winner at Nodak Speedway, grabbing the checkered flag in the IMCA Stock Cars feature. Nelson won by 2.518 seconds over Chris Ellis and 3.124 seconds over Rob Stenvold.
Points leader Dalton Flory finished sixth. Michael Vennes took fifth to climb within seven of the points lead.
Troy Hoff won the INEX Legends feature in a field of just seven cars. Hoff also won the only heat race.
The top two in points – Shane Williams and Donavin Wiest – did little to separate themselves from one another. Wiest didn’t compete in the feature and Williams brought up the rear.
Brock Beeter continued to pad his points lead, winning the IMCA Hobby Stocks feature for the second straight week. Beeter, who entered the night with a three-point cushion over Brad King, grabbed the lead with four laps remaining and won by more than two seconds over the rest of the field.
Ben Zietz took the lead on the opening lap and held the top spot for 10 laps before a wide turn on Corner 4 dropped him to second behind Beeter. Zietz dropped six more spots when he got loose in Turn 1. He finished eighth.
King finished second and trails Beeter by four points in the point standings. Dana Brandt, Vance Tomlinson and Jason Olsen rounded out the top five.
Perhaps the highlight of the night came during the intermission when the Minivans ran for the first time at Nodak Speedway. They were set to make their debut at the North Dakota State Fair, but rain postponed their feature.
Makenzie Baker held off a hard-charging Tasha Williams to win the inaugural race. Samantha Wickman, Tracy Knutson and Cierra Sorum rounded out the top five.
Donny Schatz and the World of Outlaws come to Nodak Speedway on Sunday at 6 p.m. Stock Cars will also run.
Mike Kraft covers Minot High athletics and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @MKraft24_MDN.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
Heat 1: 1. Vance Tomlinson; 2. Brock Beeter, Minot; 3. Kadi Ruby, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Dana Brandt, Minot; 2. Scott Joern, Minot; 3. Jason Olsen, Minot.
Heat 3: 1. Brad King, Fairbanks, Alaska; 2. Darren Schatz, Williston; 3. Kalden Heggen.
A-Main: 1. Beeter; 2. King; 3. Brandt; 4. Tomlinson; 5. Olsen.
IMCA Sport Modifieds
Heat 1: 1. Alan Bertsch, Minot; 2. Brandon Beeter, Minot; 3. Nathan Burke, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Erik Laudenschlager, Surrey; 2. Robbie Conway, Minot; 3. Jason Kniffen, Minot.
Heat 3: 1. Kevin Eklund, Sawyer; 2. Ryan Wolla, Tioga; 3. Robby Rosselli, Minot.
Heat 4: 1. Jeff Hooker, Minot; 2. Matt Lizotte, Minot; 3. Justin Medler, Minot.
B-Main: 1. Jon Lizotte, Grand Forks; 2. Chase Conway; 3. Bryce Beck; 4. Mike Lemay; 5. Isaac Sondrol.
A-Main: 1. Laudenschlager; 2. Robbie Conway; 3. Burke; 4. Hooker; 5. Kelly Henderson.
Heat 1: 1. Troy Hoff, Flasher; 2. Shane Williams, Minot; 3. Nathan Watne, Velva.
A-Main: 1. Hoff; 2. Tom Wagner; 3. Watne; 4. Steven Kuntz; 5. Drew Papke.
IMCA Stock Cars
Heat 1: 1. Rob Stenvold, Minot; 2. Austin Daae, Estevan, Sask.; 3. Billy Preston, Burlington.
Heat 2: 1. Dalton Flory, Williston; 2. Cody Nelson, Kenmare; 3. Dave Swallers, Williston.
Heat 3: 1. Sterling Labatte, Weyburn, Sask.; 2. Justin Striefel, Minot; 3. Nathan Burke, Minot.
A-Main: 1. Nelson; 2. Chris Ellis; 3. Stenvold; 4. Bob Fuegmann; 5. Michael Vennes.
Heat 1: 1. Travis Hagen, Williston; 2. Dallas Rice, Minot; 3. Steven Pfeifer, Minot.
Heat 2: 1. Aaron Turnbull, Estevan, Sask.; 2. Travis Peery, Yreha, Calif.; 3. Drew Christianson, Minot.
Heat 3: 1. Allen Kent, Minot; 2. Randy Conway, Minot; 3. Spencer Wilson, Minot.
Heat 4: 1. Eric Sinness, Williston; 2. Jerad Thelen, Bismarck; 3. Joe Flory, Williston.
B-Main: 1. Shawn Anderson, Minot; 2. Jordan Huettl; 3. Wayne Johnson; 4. Robert Hellebust; 5. Jeremy Sorenson.
A-Main: 1. Turnbull; 2. Thelen; 3. Wilson; 4. Pfeifer; 5. Christianson.
A-Main: 1. Makenzie Baker; 2. Tasha Williams; 3. Samantha Wickman; 4. Tracy Knutson; 5. Cirerra Sorum.