By Jackson Braun
MINOT, N.D. (July 7, 2019) – Ricky Thornton Jr. may have had the worst redraw of the IMCA Modified heat race winners at Nodak Speedway, but he maneuvered his 20RT machine through the field and grabbed a cool $2,400 check.
The 2015 Tour champion started outside of row 4 alongside the winner of the opener, Tom Berry Jr. Williston’s Chris Schroeder and Iowa wheelman Justin O’Brien led the field to green. O’Brien tried to get a jump on Schroeder, but Schroeder took the field by surprise and powered his machine below O’Brien’s back into the top spot.
Racing action was fierce in between the caution flags that occurred during the feature event. Lucas Schott challenged O’Brien for 2nd early on. Schott and O’Brien had a handful of cars to fend off, as the likes of Thornton, Berry, Jason Wolla, Hunter Marriott and Robert Hellebust contended for top 5 positioning.
On a restart after the halfway point in the race, Thornton got a couple good runs in the corners and made his way around Schroeder. From there on out, it was smooth sailing for Thornton, even with Berry trying to keep pace with the pilot from Adel, Iowa. Schott ended up 3rd with 2006 Tour champion and 14th-place starter Troy Cordes wrapping up the feature with a 4th-place finish. Schroeder stayed ahead of Hunter Marriott and Jason Wolla to hold on to a top-5 finish.
Sleepy Eye, Minnesota’s Matt Speckman has been a faithful runner in the IMCA Stock Car division on the Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Tour since 2013. Coming into the night, his best finish was 2nd, twice. A starting spot in the pole position helped Speckman’s cause, but he still had to fight off the starter to his outside, 5-time tour champ Elijah Zevenbergen.
Speckman ran an absolutely perfect race, even with a bunch of pressure from the racers behind him. Zevenbergen and Ricky Thornton Jr. were trying to make the middle line work, while Austin Daae would ride the rim right behind Speckman, waiting for a mishap by the 81. Speckman was able to hold off Thornton as the 20RT tried to make a late race charge at the lead, dipping his nose underneath Speckman’s Sniper Speed chassis. However, Speckman’s consistency held off Thornton and the rest of them, taking the checkers in North Dakota for the first time in his 7th year of running the tour. Thornton placed 2nd, with Daae ending up 3rd and Dalton Flory in 4th while Zevenbergen fell to 5th.
IMCA Modifieds – 1. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel, Iowa; 2. Tom Berry, Newburg; 3. Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.; 4. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton, Iowa; 5. Chris Schroeder, Williston; 6. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.; 7. Jason Wolla, Ray; 8. Robert Hellebust, Minot; 9. Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.; 10. Justin O’Brien, West Union, Iowa; 11. Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.; 12. Kody Scholpp, Estevan, Sask.; 13. Casey Arneson, Fargo; 14. Spencer Wilson, Minot; 15. Travis Hagen, McGregor; 16. Shawn Strand, Mandan; 17. Travis Olheiser, Dickinson; 18. Hank Berry, Sidney, Mont.; 19. Jeff Taylor, Cave City, Ark.; 20. Drew Christianson, Minot; 21. Travis Ulmer, Mandan; 22. Marcus Tomlinson, Turtle Lake; 23. Tanner Black, Otis, Kan.; 24. Roy Spielman, Mills, Wyo.; 25. Tyson Turnbull, Estevan, Sask.; 26. Dylan Goplen, Fargo; 27. Tracy Domagala, Bismarck; 28. Mark Dahl, Bismarck; 29. Brock Beeter, Minot.
IMCA Stock Cars – 1. Matt Speckman, Sleepy Eye, Minn.; 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel, Iowa; 3. Austin Daae, Estevan, Sask.; 4. Dalton Flory, Williston; 5. Elijah Zevenbergen, Ocheyedan, Iowa; 6. Devon Gonas, Midale, Sask.; 7. Keith Mattox, Ray; 8. Scott Gartner, Jamestown; 9. Joren Boyce, Minot; 10. Mike Hagen, Williston; 11. A.J. Zimmerman, Cleveland, Minn.; 12. Michael Swallers, Minot; 13. Chase Davidson, Macoun, Sask.; 14. Aden Clark, Surrey; 15. Joe Schrodt, Coleharbor; 16. Justin Bachmeier, Williston; 17. Randy Schultz, Swift Current, Sask.; 18. Gary Goudy Sr., Stoughton, Sask.; 19. Will Scheresky, Max; 20. Jeremy Swanson, Estevan, Sask.; 21. Jace Iverson, Tioga; 22. Hunter Fears, Riverdale; 23. Chris Hortness, Estevan, Sask.; 24. Scott Yale, Minot; 25. Joe Flory, Williston.