By Jackson Braun
MANDAN, N.D. (July 11, 2019) – A great week of racing for the 30th Annual Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Modified Tour was wrapped up by a nail-biting finale at the Dacotah Speedway that included one of the closest finishes in recent memory.
Jeff Taylor and Ricky Thornton Jr. led the IMCA Modified field to green for the final 30 laps on the 2019 Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Modified Tour. Coming into the night, Thornton had a 14-point deficit to make up. 3-peat champion Hunter Marriott did not come across his usual luck this season, but heated up towards the end of the tour as the Brookfield, Missouri racer took advantage of a starting spot inside of row 2.
Taylor was able to get a jump off of the start as Marriott advanced into second place in his number 62 Rage chassis. Marriott was able to set his car through the corners smoothly around the rim of the speedway and to pull alongside Taylor’s number 5 machine. A good run off of turn 4 gave Marriott the momentum to take sole possession of the lead.
As Thornton faded, his hopes of sweeping the Tour championships came to a close as Tom Berry was able to take his car from 12th spot around Thornton during the middle portion of the event. Once Marriott got out to the lead, it was smooth sailing until he reached lap traffic.
Marriott usually is able to slice and dice through the lap cars pretty well, but a mishap let Casey Arneson and Taylor gain ground on Marriott. Marriott was able to keep his nose clean enough and had a big enough gap that there was no real contention for the win. Arneson ended up staving off Taylor to grab the runner up spot while Jason Hughes made a run up to 4th and Berry completed the top 5, winning the tour championship in the process. Arneson’s brother Austin ended up making a run from 19th place to place 6th at the end of the feature event.
The IMCA Stock Car feature was looking to end up the same way that it has been for most of the tour: Ricky Thornton Jr. was up front and looked like he was going to take the checkers. A late-race caution made way for some close racing in the closing laps. Thornton had Matt Speckman, the only guy who has beat him in Stock Car feature action up to that point, right on his bumper looking to make a move. However, Dalton Flory lurked behind them.
Flory put his car way down on the inside of the speedway and had a huge run coming out of turn 4 on the final lap. That huge boost off of the bottom of the speedway gave the 2014 tour champion enough oomph to outlast Thornton to the line in an absolutely stunning turn of events. Thornton ended up 2nd, winning the tour championship with an unprecedented 198 out of a possible 200 points. Those two, along with 3rd-place finisher Speckman, finished in the top 5 every night on the 30th Annual Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Tour. Austin Daae finished 4th, as his 7th-place effort in Jamestown was the only time he finished outside of the top 5. Dalton’s dad, “Smokin'” Joe Flory, rounded out the top 5 finishers.
A total of 110 IMCA Modified racers and 35 IMCA Stock Car racers competed on the 30th edition of the tour. Next year promises to be huge as Bob Kupper, owner of Kupper Chevrolet, announced in victory lane tonight that he will double the purse for the 31st Edition of the Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Modified Tour. Thanks to everyone who attended the 30th Annual Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Modified Tour, and start making plans to make your way out to North Dakota next July!
IMCA Modifieds – 1. Hunter Marriott, Brookfield, Mo.; 2. Casey Arneson, Fargo; 3. Jeff Taylor, Cave City, Ark.; 4. Jason Hughes, Watts, Okla.; 5. Tom Berry, Newburg; 6. Austin Arneson, Fargo; 7. Jacob Bleess, Chatfield, Minn.; 8. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel, Iowa; 9. Marlyn Seidler, Underwood; 10. Tanner Black, Otis, Kan.; 11. Shawn Strand, Mandan; 12. Jason Wolla, Ray; 13. Alex Stanford, Chowchilla, Calif.; 14. Jesse Skalicky, Fargo; 15. Mark Dahl, Bismarck; 16. Justin O’Brien, West Union, Iowa; 17. Hank Berry, Sidney, Mont.; 18. Troy Cordes, Dunkerton, Iowa; 19. Travis Hagen, McGregor; 20. Lucas Schott, Chatfield, Minn.; 21. Billy Kendall, Baxter, Minn.; 22. John Corell, Jamestown; 23. Drew Christianson, Minot; 24. Kody Scholpp, Estevan, Sask.; 25. Brad Hartigan, Dickinson; 26. Jeremy Keller, Mandan; 27. Dylan Goplen, Fargo; 28. Robert Hellebust, Minot; 29. Marcus Tomlinson, Turtle Lake.
IMCA Stock Cars – 1. Dalton Flory, Williston; 2. Ricky Thornton Jr., Adel, Iowa; 3. Matt Speckman, Sleepy Eye, Minn.; 4. Austin Daae, Estevan, Sask.; 5. Joe Flory, Williston; 6. Michael Swallers, Minot; 7. Beau Deschamp, Bottineau; 8. Aden Clark, Surrey; 9. Keith Mattox, Ray; 10. Chase Davidson, Macoun, Sask.; 11. Justin Bachmeier, Williston; 12. A.J. Zimmerman, Cleveland, Minn.; 13. Gary Goudy Sr., Stoughton, Sask.; 14. Gary Goudy Jr., Stoughton, Sask.; 15. Dustin Hoffert, Underwood; 16. Jace Iverson, Tioga; 17. Randy Schultz, Swift Current, Sask.; 18. Joe Schrodt, Coleharbor; 19. Aaron Aaseth, Washburn; 20. Scott Gartner, Jamestown; 21. Hunter Fears, Riverdale; 22. Elijah Zevenbergen, Ocheyedan, Iowa.