When racing returned to Off Road Speedway on Saturday night after a two-week hiatus, results included a battle between brothers, a pair of first-time winners, and a sixth trip to victory lane for a driver in the IMCA Hobby Stocks division.
In the IMCA Late Models “A” feature, brothers Jim and Chris Johnson — of Plainview and Norfolk, respectively — pulled away from a 15-car field to wage a two-car competition that dated back several years.
“We’ve raced against each other a lot of times in 31 years but going head-to-head like this hasn’t happened a lot of times — but enough times,” Jim said. “We used to share a stock car back in 1988; he’d run at Hartington, and I’d race it at Riviera. When Hartington’s track closed, we each had to have our own cars.”
The brothers continued to race stock cars for a number of years until eventually switching over to compete in the Late Models division.
On Saturday at Off Road, Jim, who is two years younger than his brother, burst into the lead from the second row on the start while Chris had to work his way through traffic until falling in behind his brother following a caution with 20 laps left.
Jim led all 25 laps despite Chris briefly pulling ahead ever-so-slightly on the low side of the track as the pair passed the flag stand with three laps remaining. But Jim immediately returned to the lead as the two entered turn one and held on to notch his second win of the season at Off Road Speedway.
“He’s always better on the bottom of the track; I knew I had to be super fast and hit my marks, which I screwed up a couple times,” Jim said. “If the track is bottom-oriented, he’s probably better, but if the top is better, it’s probably me.”
“It was a good race; everybody told me it was as good as they come, so that means a lot,” he added. “And we almost had my nephew, Devin, in there, too; he was in third for a while.”
Meanwhile, Eric Vanosdall of Hoskins grabbed third place, his fourth top-five finish in nine nights of racing at Off Road Speedway.
Norfolk drivers Tejay Mielke and Tyler Afrank each picked up their first victories of the season at the track, with Mielke taking the lead late in the 15-lap IMCA Stock Cars feature while Afrank led all 18 laps of the IMCA SportMods race.
A caution on the opening lap created a new lineup, forcing Mielke back from the second row to the fifth row, but with five laps remaining he was back in contention and able to pass race-leader Sean Primrose and then held on for the win. Primrose, of Norfolk, finished second, while current points leader Austin Brauner of Platte Center took third place.
Afrank’s feature win in the Stock Car feature came in a race that involved only one caution and a challenge from Norfolk’s Kyle Prauner, who was working the bottom of the track in an attempt to gain ground. But Afrank’s ability to take advantage of the high side of the track led to a victory over a spread-out field of cars. Prauner and Cameron Meyer of Pierce finished in second and third, respectively.
In the IMCA Hobby Stock feature, Neligh’s Cameron Wilkinson broke out of a three-wide competition for the lead on the race’s seventh lap and sped away from the 16-car field for his sixth win of the season.
Despite his win total, Wilkinson trailed points leader Lance Mielke of Norfolk by a single point entering the race, but now leads the division by three. Verdigre’s Nate DeSive took second place, while Norfolk’s Gage Koch finished third.
Pierce driver Ramsey Meyer won the IMCA Sport Compacts “A” feature for the seventh time in nine tries. Mark Benedict and Bo Cleveland, both from Norfolk, finished second and third, respectively.
The season continues at Off Road Speedway with a regular night of racing on Saturday, August 3.