Braaksma Express rolls on with IMCA Frostbuster win at Stuart

After going without a feature win in both 2022 and 2023, Ethan Braaksma celebrated his fifth Friesen Performance IMCA Modified victory of the season in the Thursday night Frostbuster opener at Stuart Speedway. (Photo by Tyler Hagen)

STUART, Iowa (April 4, 2024) – The Ethan Braaksma Express kept on rolling Thursday, opening night of the IMCA Frostbuster Tour at Stuart Speedway.

Braaksma raced to his fifth Friesen Performance IMCA Modified win of the season, taking the $1,000 checkers ahead of Dylan Thornton, Dallon Murty, Jerry Flippo and Todd Shute.

He’d won twice in Arizona before sweeping Southern Iowa Frost Out features at Bloomfield last weekend; the continued early season success is especially gratifying as he’d gone winless in both 2022 and 2023.

“It’s only April and I never thought we would have that many wins already. We just had a couple years where we struggled but now everything is falling into place,” Braaksma said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for everything I have and everyone I have around me.”

The 2021 Frostbuster champion and already Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying eligible, Braaksma would lead every lap from the pole, weathering multiple cautions and finding the smoothest line around the oval.

“I knew I’d be good if I hit my marks. I could move all over,” he said. “There were probably five or six guys that could have won that race. I just had to keep my head down and race hard to do it.”

The Frostbuster opener might have been their closest to home race of the season but Team Braaksma wasn’t able to make an early night of it: Their tow rig broke down on the interstate outside Stuart and they didn’t pull into their own driveway until 3 a.m. the next morning.

Also earning Frostbuster wins were Austin Bouzek in the IMCA Sunoco Stock Cars, Bradly Graham in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks and Tyler Inman in the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods.

Bouzek, the defending track champion at Stuart, earned $750 for his career first feature win, along with B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational qualifying eligibility.

“We had a lot of seconds here last year but I was never able to pull one off,” said Bouzek, who makes the two hour trip from Trenton, Mo. “I got lucky and drew the pole, held my line and stayed where I needed to. I heard Buck (Schafroth) a couple times but never saw his nose.”

Schafroth and Bryan Snell cross the stripe second and third, respectively. Bouzek watched the replay of his feature (at least a couple times” on IMCA.TV when he got home and got the day off from boss John Graber to change gears for Friday’s Frostbuster at Marshalltown.

Making a rare visit to Stuart, Graham tussled with John Watson before a quck caution, then led the distance in the Hobby Stock main.

“I’ve been here twice, maybe three times,” he said. “Once I got to the lead I was able to get lapped cars ahead (of Watson) and never looked back.”

He’d been fourth in the opener at Bloomfield, then rocketed from 21st starting to second on night two.

“I’ve had good luck so far this season,” he said. “Hopefully we can keep that up.”

Watson and Cody Williams were scored behind him.

And Inman, who’d won the Northern SportMod crown at Stuart five years ago at the age of 16, was challenged but never caught by the likes of 12th starting Brayton Carter, Cam Reimers and Alec Fett.

“We didn’t race the last couple years,” said Inman, the wheelman in a Carter VanDenBerg owned X-Caliber ride. “This is one of the most fun tracks around and it’s a great feeling when you can race against guys like this and come out on top.”

Nebraskan Kaden Murray was the Mach-1 Sport Compact winner, ahead of Jake Paysen and Bryan Vannausdle.

Next up are Frostbusters tonight at Marshalltown and Saturday at Boone Speedway.

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