Lessons learned in first title chase pay off for Grabouski

Jordan Grabouski (center) became a two-time Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified national champion this season, adding the 2016 trophy to matching hardware from 2011. At left is Clay Smith, president of Speedway Motors, title sponsor of IMCA Weekly Racing, and at right is Brett Root, IMCA president. (Photo by Bruce Badgley, Motorsports Photography)

BEATRICE, Neb. – The lessons he learned winning his first IMCA national championship paid off again this year for Jordan Grabouski.

So did his success at a slew of early-season specials in Kansas and Nebraska.

The Beatrice, Neb., hotshoe parlayed a division leading and single season career-best 33 feature wins and two local track titles into the 2016 Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified national title.

“When I won my first national championship in 2011, the points really went down to the last weekend and I had to win my last race,” he said. “I had a better understanding that the point season was 50 races and was more patient this year.”

“We only finished outside the top five eight times (in 51 starts) this year,” Grabouski noted. “A lot of that was because as you race more, you don’t put yourself in position to wreck or get a DNF.”

“We’ve run a crate engine from Friesen Chevrolet for a couple years and that’s been a big boost for us,” he added. “We had another year where we didn’t have any problems engine-wise and that gave us more time to focus on other areas of our program where we need to improve or develop more consistency.”

The Jet Racing Central Region king also topped local track point standings at Beatrice Speedway and Thunder Hill Speedway. He won 10 features at his hometown track and nine more at the Mayetta, Kan., speedplant.

“We’ve always enjoyed racing with (promoters) Mike and Pam Conkwright at Thunder Hill. My brother lives in Kansas City so we could stay overnight with him and then race Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka,” Grabouski said. “Beatrice is my favorite track. It’s minutes away from home and I grew up watching races there.”

Grabouski’s longest winning streak during his 2011 championship season was four; he set the tone early in 2016 with eight straight checkers between March 25 and April 15.

After sweeping Sunflower Classic features at RPM Speedway and DirtFest main events at Salina Speedway, Grabouski won the Husker Duel at Beatrice, the Husker State Duel at Thayer County Speedway, opening night at U.S. 30 Speedway and the first Ice Breaker show at Eagle Raceway.

Two starts later, he won his first-ever outing at Atchison County Raceway.

“Running for the national championship wasn’t something we planned to do before the start of the season. It just happened,” Grabouski stated. “After winning eight in a row we thought maybe it was something we could pursue. Later in the year, when we figured it could be reality, we started racing four times a week when we could to make sure we got all our starts in.”

Grabouski is now ninth on the all-time IMCA Modified wins list with 160 career checkers. He’s posted double figure feature win totals in seven of the past eight seasons.

“A lot of drivers have won one national championship but not a lot have won two,” Grabouski said. “I told my crew we’d get through 2016 and then make some decisions about next year.”

The City of Beatrice now has bragging rights as home to six IMCA Modified national championships, with Johnny Saathoff owning the other four. Des Moines, represented by Dave Farren, Bill Davis Sr. and Danny Wallace, had also had five.

Listen to “Episode 192 Jordan Grabouski” on Spreaker.

Starts: 51

Wins: 33

Additional Top Five’s: 10

HIS CREW: Father Kent, wife Whitney, crew chief Jackson Weeks, Eric Ebeling, Josh Houseman, Steve Durman, Jordan Junker, Damian Anderson and Kevin Vanlaningham.

HIS SPONSORS: GRT Race Cars of Greenbrier, Ark.; Friesen Chevrolet of Sutton; Fast Shafts of Des Moines, Iowa; Terry Phillips Racing of Springfield, Mo.; Wehrs Machine and Racing Products of Bangor, Wis.; Ricochet Shock Guards of Brush, Colo.; Keyser Manufacturing and Integra Shocks, both of Coopersville, Mich.; Strange Oval of Morton Grove, Ill.; Penner Insurance, Wrightway Hay Harvesters, Orange Bowl, Nippert Farms, J’s Grill and Pub, Nelson Tree Service, The Auto Shop and Twin Rivers Chrysler Jeep Dodge, all of Beatrice; PBS Rentals of Crete; Side Trek Bar & Grill of Harbine; Novotny Ag and Brynn Novotny Motorsports, both of Jansen; Schmidt’s Inc. and Schmidt Machine, both of Fairbury; Sasse Farms of Diller; Wojo Painting and Moock Trucking, both of Lincoln; Hergott & Traeger Farms of Gilead; VP Heartland of Manhattan, Kan.; Zeck Ford of Leavenworth, Kan.; Sweet Manufacturing of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Callies Performance Products of Fostoria, Ohio; Sybesma Graphics of Sanborn, Iowa; CPD Racing Shocks of Fort Dodge, Iowa; Real Racing Wheels of Independence, Iowa; Marshalltown, Iowa, Speedway; Total Power Batteries of Vista, Calif.; FK Rod Ends of Southington, Conn.; Kevko of Fairmont, Minn.; Speedwerx Headers of Forest Lake, Minn.; Simpson of Brownsburg, Ind.; Icon Pistons of Carson City, Nev.; Roscoe Carburetors, Roscoe, Texas; and Jones Pulley Systems of Ottsville, Pa.