By Jackson Braun
MINOT, N.D. (July 7) – 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 in Sunday’s second installment of the Kupper Chevrolet Dakota Classic Tour.
The 2015 tour champion started outside row four alongside the winner of the opener at Jamestown, Tom Berry Jr.
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 cautions. Lucas Schott challenged O’Brien for second 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 five 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 third with 2006 tour champion and 14th place starter Troy Cordes wrapping up the feature with a fourth place finish. Schroeder stayed ahead of Hunter Marriott and Jason Wolla to hold on to a top five finish.
Sleepy Eye, Minn.’s Matt Speckman has been a faithful runner in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Car division on the Dakota Classic Tour since 2013. Coming into the night, his best finish was second, twice.
A starting spot in the pole position helped Speckman’s cause, but he still had to fight off the starter to his outside, five-time tour champ Elijah Zevenbergen.
Speckman ran an absolutely perfect race, even with a bunch of pressure from the racers behind him. Zevenbergen and Thornton were trying to make the middle line work while Austin Daae rode 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 seventh year of running the tour.
Thornton placed second, with Daae ending up third and Dalton Flory in fourth while Zevenbergen fell to fifth.
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.
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.