By: Mike Spieker
WEST FARGO — Before last week’s season opener, it had been three years since Matt Aukland has turned a lap at Red River Valley Speedway. But Friday night, the Glyndon (Minn.) driver was in a league of his own.
Aukland dominated the IMCA modified main event, which boasted a stout 16-car starting grid. Aukland took the lead from Dave Shipley on lap two of 20 and never looked back.
By the late stages of the race, Aukland had built up a comfortable five-second lead over the rest of the field, equating to over a full straightaway around the three-eighths-mile oval.
Aukland cruised to the win over Shipley, Jesse Skalicky, last week’s winner Austin Arneson, and Billy Kendall.
“It’s been so long since I’ve driven one of these, I almost forgot how to do it,” Aukland said. “It’s been a few years since I’ve been behind the wheel and Michael Greseth (a Harwood, N.D. modified standout) offered me this car and I figured I better give it one more shot.”
Second-year IMCA SportMod driver Doug Gardner of Glyndon raced to his first career Red River Valley Speedway win. Gardner took the lead at the halfway point of the 15-lap feature. A late race caution with three laps to go put the 21-car field right on the rear bumper of Gardner for the restart, but Gardner was able to hold on for the win. Scott Jacobson and last week’s winner, Luke Johnson rounded out the top three.
Rob VanMil of Barnesville, Minn., went back to go back in the IMCA stock cars. The defending stock car track champion took control of the lead after a three-wide battle with Travis Robertson and Aaron Olson resulted in Robertson and Olson making contact. Robertson suffered a flat tire, while the caution was called on Olson which sent him to the back of the field. VanMil went on to cruise to the win.
A hard-charging Andrew Jochim nearly stole the INEX legends feature win away from Tye Wilke in the closing stages. Jochim started 13th on the grid but took the second position just before a caution came out, which put him right behind Wilke. On the restart, Jochim held a narrow advantage at the start/finish line with two circuits to go, but Wilke drove underneath Jochim coming to the checkers to take the win.
Mathew Olson made the long haul from Morton, Minn., to Red River Valley Speedway last week and left town with the IMCA hobby stock trophy and the big check. Friday night, he did it again. Olson took the lead from Tim Shiek with four laps to go to pick up his second consecutive win.
FEATURE: 1. 12-Matt Aukland, Glyndon, Minn. 2. 72-Dave Shipley, Argusville, N.D. 3. 3S-Jesse Skalicky, Fargo. 4. 10-Austin Arneson, Fargo. 5. 9-Billy Kendall, Baxter, Minn.
FEATURE: 1. 41-Doug Gardner, Glyndon, Minn. 2. 5-Scott Jacobson, Fargo. 3. 8J-Luke Johnson, Moorhead. 4. 6-Austin Veralrud, Barnesville, Minn. 5. 55-Kenneth Bye, Moorhead.
IMCA Stock Cars
FEATURE: 1. 40-Rob VanMil, Barnesville, Minn. 2. 18-Mike Anderson, Walcott, N.D. 3. 52-Brennan Borg, Harwood, N.D. 4. 21-Tim Church, Moorhead. 5. 1-Tyler McDougall, Hawley, Minn.
FEATURE: 1. 72-Tye Wilke, Detroit Lakes, Minn. 2. 21-Andrew Jochim, Glyndon, Minn. 3. 58-Sean Johnson, Kindred, N.D. 4. 69X-Josh Julsrud, Barnesville, Minn. 5. B1-Brody Carlsrud, Moorhead.
IMCA Hobby Stocks
FEATURE: 1. 56M-Mathew Olson, Franklin, Minn. 2. 31X-Tim Shiek, Fargo. 3. 3XL-Brad Orvedal, Farg. 4. 44T-Tanner Engen, Detroit Lakes, Minn. 5. 14-Alyssa White, Fargo.