Austin Brauner’s name has remained atop the points list in the IMCA Stock Cars division at Off Road Speedway since early in the season — but with a noticeable ‘0’ in the win column.
That changed for the 27-year-old racer from Platte Center on Saturday night when he won an exciting back-and-forth competition with Neligh’s Kyle Wilkinson — which featured multiple lead changes between the two cars — and guided the No. 10A into victory lane for the first time this year.
Meanwhile, Chad Bruns of Wayne picked up his eighth top-five finish while finishing third.
“I’ve won here and actually have a points championship in the Hobby Stocks class, but that was two years ago,” Brauner said. “I went to the Stock Cars division two years ago, this was my first win on this track and now I’m looking for a points championship as well.”
Brauner had already secured the points title at Boone County Raceway in Albion the night before, but had managed just one win on that track also. Now, he’s all but clinched the track championship at Off Road Speedway and indicated that he’s hoping to pocket the state championship — adding that he believes his “consistency” is the key to his success.
“Basically, I’ve been leading in points here since the second or third night. I picked up the points championship at Boone County Raceway last night — which is the seventh championship of my career,” he said. “I only have two wins this year, but I have something like 15 second-places this season. I’d been getting real tired of finishing second.”
Brauner, who began racing as a teenager in a Sports Compact, said he took time away from racing to concentrate on high school sports but then returned in the Hobby Stock division before the change to driving a stock car.
“I had goals for the Hobby Stock and achieved all my goals, so now I’ve got goals in the Stock Car (division),” he said. “I’ve always loved stock cars; I think that’s been my calling for a long time. It’s been a lot of fun.”
In the feature race, Brauner and Wilkinson not only exchanged the lead, but also their line on the track — each using the high side or the low side to their own advantage throughout the race.
“I’d throw it on the bottom, and he’d go on the high side; then if I went a little too hard, he’d get underneath me and come back through the bottom,” Brauner said. “I knew exactly what he was doing; I just kept playing my own game. I was thankful that on that late caution, we were single file because I knew he was going to try to get underneath me on the restart. I knew I just had to hug the bottom and stay calm and collected.”
“That was a lot of fun — it was nerve-wracking, but a lot of fun,” he said. “Kyle raced me very clean; I have a lot of respect far that guy and their whole (Wilkinson) team, but we’ve busted our butts on this car, and it’s really come around.”
In other features, Cameron Wilkinson of Neligh won for the eighth time in the IMCA Hobby Stocks race — starting toward the back of the field but then finishing well ahead of the field, including Norfolk’s Shannon Pospisil and O’Neill’s Nate Desive, who took second and third, respectively.
Another driver who won by a large margin and also picked up his first Off Road Speedway win of the season was James Roebuck of Genoa, who got the lead midway through the IMCA SportMods feature and pulled away despite three cautions that repeatedly brought cars to his rear bumper. Robbie Thome of Spalding finished second, with Tim Swartz of Lincoln accomplished his first top five finish by taking third.
Dylan Schmer of Aurora managed his first win of the season at Off Road Speedway in his sixth try, leading all but two laps of the 25-lap IMCA Late Models ‘A’ feature. Hoskins driver Eric Vanosdall and Chase Osborne of Norfolk took second and third place, respectively.
In the IMCA Sport Compacts feature, Ramsey Meyer of Pierce added points to his lead in the division with his ninth win in 11 feature races, finishing ahead of Stanton’s Parker Vollbrecht and Norfolk’s Mark Benedict — replicating the top three drivers on the Sport Compacts points list.
On Saturday, Aug. 24, Off Road Speedway will add a special event to a regular night of racing — a return of the winged cars representing the Nebraska 360 Sprint Cars and the Midwest Sprints Touring Series.