Saturday Ice Breaker Challenge checkers fly for Braaksma

Ethan Braaksma ventured to Eagle Raceway for his latest Friesen Performance IMCA Modified feature win, taking the $2,000 checkers on night two of the Ice Breaker Challenge. (Photo by Joe Orth)

By Greg Soukup

EAGLE, Neb. (April 20, 2024) – On a track that’s definitely different than what he’s used to running on, Ethan Braaksma raced to the same results Saturday night.

Braaksma won his sixth Friesen Performance IMCA Modified feature, and fifth Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational qualifying race of the season, collecting $2,000 on night two of the Ice Breaker Challenge.

“It was a pretty good run. I just took my time and hit my marks. I was kind of searching there at the beginning but once I found the bottom I hit it really good,” said Braaksma, the leader from lap 11 to the finish. “I could see where the others were messing up in front of me and that’s how I got to the lead. I just had to be sure to get the left side down in the moisture so I could get off of the corner.”

Ricky Stephan and then Shawn Harker held down the front spot early on. Braaksma caught Chad Andersen for second on lap seven and grabbed the lead from Harker on lap 11.

Plenty of action continued in the top four behind him before Braaksma crossed the stripe ahead of Friday winner Andersen, Harker and Stephan.

“This place is really different. I don’t get over here a whole lot, although I did come here one time last year. It’s definitely different than what we’re used to back home,” said the Iowa visitor. “Eagle is unique. It’s high banked and very fast. I know that the banking here scares a lot of people. You definitely have to be up on the wheel and be hammer down.”

Other Saturday winners were Tyler Drueke in the IMCA RaceSaver Sprint Cars, Neil Pella in the IMCA Sunoco Hobby Stocks and Lance Borgman in the Friesen Performance IMCA Northern SportMods.

Defending national and track champion Drueke started sixth, passed Trevor Grossenbacher for the lead on lap 12 and quickly built an advantage of a full straightaway.

He’d win in front of Cody Ledger, Grossenbacher and Gene Ackland.

“I wasn’t very good on the top because I was too tight. I knew that I had to move around and find something that worked,” Drueke said following career win number 55 in the class. “I finally did find a good line and just stuck with it.”

Pella was first back to the flag stand at the end of lap one and stayed right there through a series of cautions and much swapping of positions close behind him. Brad Schreiner, Travis Landauer and Dillon Richards were scored 2-3-4.

“I finally got into a nice little groove on the bottom for a little while and then was able to jump up high,” summarized Pella. “After that it was just lap after lap. I wish we had had a lot less cautions so the race would have gotten over a little sooner, but that the way that racing is.”

Borgman held off Adam Vrbka in a green, white, checkered finish to the Northern SportMod feature.

He’d worked his way to second with nine laps to go and into the lead with seven laps left.

“We had the racing gods on our side tonight. When we took off, the cars got jumbled up a little bit but we got a real good break on the start and we worked our way to the front,” he said. “I definitely didn’t want to see that caution. I would rather we ran green to checkered.

“Luckily, we ended up holding everybody off and got the win.”

Saturday, April 27 kicks off the IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing season at Eagle Raceway as Pepsi presents Start Your Engines!

All five IMCA classes will be competing. Pit gates open at 3:30 p.m. with pit passes being $30. Front gates open at 5:15 p.m. with adult admission $15, youth 6-12 are $5 and children five and under free.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply