With just three regular nights of racing remaining at Off Road Speedway before “Championship Night” on Aug. 31, a glance at the points standings revealed that just two of the leaders in the five divisions entered Saturday night holding a double-digit advantage.
Austin Brauner of Platte Center owns the largest lead of 12 points in the IMCA Stock Cars standings, while Pierce driver Ramsey Meyer leads all IMCA Sport Compacts drivers by 10 — providing those two drivers a significant advantage as the season winds down.
Meanwhile, the other three classes are definitely up for grabs.
Cameron Meyer of Pierce entered Sunday night’s competition with a seven-point lead in the IMCA SportMods division, while Norfolk’s Ben Sukup tops the IMCA Late Models list by just two points, and Cameron Wilkinson of Neligh clings to a three-point edge in the IMCA Hobby Stocks class.
Of all those points leaders, only Meyer and Wilkinson left Off Road Speedway with a win on Sunday night — the seventh of the season for Wilkinson, a 2019 Neligh-Oakdale graduate who has already accumulated several seasons behind the wheel.
“I started when I was 11, driving in the Junior Hornets class at Riviera Raceway here in Norfolk,” Wilkinson said. “I only ran it for two years. We didn’t have a car that was very competitive, so I got out of it and waited a year before I got in a hobby, and I’ve been in one ever since.”
Wilkinson’s success this season at Off Road Speedway isn’t a new experience, and he said the car’s set-up doesn’t require significant changes for other tracks.
“We won something like four-in-a-row here last year, too. It’s just something about this track. They can throw anything at me, and I can still win with this car,” he said. “A lot of people would say that we have to change it up (for other tracks), but I’ll take
that car the way it is now and I’ll still be fast.”
If Wilkinson is able to hold on for the IMCA Hobby Stocks track championship, it will be his third-consecutive title — including a co-championship two years ago and an outright win last year.
But keeping track of wins during the season isn’t part of his game plan.
“I learned that once you get wrapped up in the points and the wins, you don’t drive the same,” he said. “So I just go out and drive.”
On Sunday, in his feature win — a race that included seven cautions and ended with a green-white-checkered finish — Wilkinson didn’t get to the front until the final lap, passing fellow-Neligh driver Nate Buck on the outside entering turn three and exiting turn four with the lead.
“The top of the track, it’s a long way around up there,” Wilkinson said. “I just kind of bided my time, waiting for people to mess up, then tried to cut it down the middle, but there was nothing for me to get ahold to. I decided I had to try something different,
so I put it up on the top and ‘let her eat’ and got the win.”
Buck, who led the other 14 laps before relinquishing the lead, earned second place while sliding sideways across the finish line. Norfolk’s Gage Koch finished third.
Another driver who won by taking a late lead was Columbus driver Brian Osantowski, who picked up his second IMCA SportMods win of the season at Off Road Speedway.
Osantowski took the lead from Jeremy Gnat of Battle Creek with just four laps left in the 18-lap feature. Norfolk’s Kyle Prauner then edged Gnat in the battle for second.
In the IMCA Stock Cars feature, John Hadcock of Wayne led all 15 laps to take his first win of the season at Off Road Speedway. Wakefield driver Chad Bruns and James Kleinheksel of Columbus finished in second, and third place, respectively.
Chase Osborne also went wire-to-wire during his IMCA Late Models feature victory, holding off a late charge during the final five laps from second-place finisher Ben Sukup. Robert Osborne, who trails Sukup by just two points in the division, finished third. All three are Norfolk drivers.
Ramsey Meyer picked up his eighth win in 10 IMCA Sport Compacts ‘A’ features at Off Road Speedway, crossing the finish line ahead of second-place finisher Parker Vollbrecht of Stanton and Norfolk’s Mark Benedict, who finished in third place.