Gottschalk tops IMCA Modified main on night one of RPM’s Sunflower Classic

Daniel Gottschalk motored to the $1,000 Friesen Performance IMCA Modified checkers on opening night at RPM Speedway’s Sunflower Classic. (Photo by Carl Larson)

By Sheldon Wickwar

HAYS, Kan. (March 29, 2024) – Nine years after winning his first Sunflower Classic main event, Daniel Gottschalk celebrated after winning his second.

The Ellis charger got the best of Eddie Belec in the Friday night feature for Friesen Performance IMCA Modifieds at RPM Speedway, earning $1,000 and Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying eligibility for his efforts.

“It’s hard to find victory lane here. The competition is just so tough,” said Gottschalk, a Northern SportMod winner at the Sunflower Classic in 2015 and a three-time Modified track champion at RPM since. “I rolled under Eddie, then tried high and once I got to the front it was smooth sailing.”

Gottschalk and Belec had raced side-by-side early on, with Gottschalk gaining the lead seven laps in. The 20-lapper ran green to checkered with Belec, Brett Berry, Greg Gustus and Dakota Sproul completing the top five.

Mike Nichols’ IMCA Sunoco Stock Car career 628th win was also his Sunflower Classic career 10th while Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod win number 97 for Blaine Walt doubled as the Sunflower Classic fourth for Blaine Walt.

Now eligible to qualify for the B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational, Nichols pocketed $750 in a thriller, taking the lead on the final circuit after a three-wide tussle with Tathan Burkhart and Jason Rogers. Burkhart would end in second, Kyle Pfeifer in third.

Walt started on the pole and led start to finish of the SportMod main, navigating traffic as the last 10 laps ran caution free.

“It was kind of dicey but I was able to work my way through it,” he said. “Tyler Watts, Hunter Smith and Jeff Hunter are all pretty tough but I was able to hold them off.”

Cody Williams continued his early-season success with the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stock win, in front of 13th starting Tyler Heath and Tyler Thompson.

And Brandon Carmichael was the Mach-1 IMCA Sport Compact winner, with Kaylee Richards second and Gage Porter third.

One hundred and twenty-eight race teams saw action Friday at Hays.

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