Ice Breaker Challenge checkers are first for Andersen

Defending track champion Chad Andersen was the Friesen Performance IMCA Modified winner on Friday, opening night of the Ice Breaker Challenge at Eagle Raceway. (Photo by Joe Orth)

By Greg Soukup            

EAGLE, Neb. (April 19, 2024) – Eagle Raceway got the first night of its Ice Breaker Challenge in for the first time since 2019 and Chad Andersen won for the first time at the special that starts the season at America’s Home Track on Friday night.

The defending track champion scored the $1,000 Friesen Performance IMCA Modified victory in the final event of the evening, outrunning Jordan Grabouski, Ryan Jenkins and Drew Janssen.

“We’ve come to the Ice Breaker Challenge ever since I started racing a Modified and we’ve been close, but we‘d get a third or a second and never seemed to have enough to lead the final lap,” said Andersen, newly eligible to qualify for the Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational. “We came up with a game plan after the heat race because we felt really good. I just wasn’t quite as comfortable as I wanted to be in the heat so we made a couple of changes for the feature and it felt like the car came to life.”

“Hopefully, that means that we’re on to something sooner than everybody else so we can keep this going.  Everything is just clicking for us right now,” he added. “There is a lot of great competition here so we just take the wins when we get them. I wouldn’t be able to win if it wasn’t for my crew guy Andy. We didn’t go to any specials and we missed practice last Sunday with the kids and their activities.”

Janssen had slowed to bring out the yellow flag on lap one. Jenkins made a huge run to second following the restart.

Andersen pulled out to a straightaway lead on lap seven as Jenkins and Grabouski battled for second. Grabouski finally got past Jenkins for second with seven to go. The final change in the top four came two laps later when Janssen passed Dustin Andersen for fourth.,

“I think the track was pretty good. It was a little different from last year with the new dirt. It was smooth with a couple of dips, but for the first race of the year it was awesome. Props to (promoter) Roger (Hadan),” said Chad Andersen. “It’s going to be racy and will be a lot of fun this year.”

Dylan Schmeer, a 22-year racing veteran and Wyoming native, became a first-time IMCA Sunoco Late Model winner at Eagle, leading from lap five to the finish

Self-funded and running with a used motor, he took the checkers ahead of Jacob Kubicka and Jesse Sobbing.

A green, white, checkered finish saw Jordan Grabouski hold off the field for the $800 IMCA Sunoco Stock Car win with Benji Legg and Kyle Vanover next.

“The track was cowboy up tonight,” said Grabouski, already B & B Racing Chassis All-Star Invitational qualifying eligible. “With new dirt on the track I think it’s going to provide some great racing here all year because it will hold moisture better. Roger is going in the right direction.”

And Gary Saathoff led the distance of the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMod main, with plenty of jockeying for position behind him.

Brayton Carter ended in second and Joe Feyen was third.

“I drew one in the computer draw for the heat, then drew one again for the feature,” said Saathoff. “I was watching the Stock Cars and they were all running around the top, then the track started changing on them and they started getting down in (turns) three and four. Jesse Sobbing had been running hard low in one and two so I decided to start running the bottom and see what happens. That was a safe bet for me.“

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