Tony Stewart finishes 7th at Red River Valley Speedway's Late Model FeatureWEST FARGO – Area racing fans can finally lay claim to seeing Tony Stewart picking up a checkered flag in person. Even if it was in the transfer race to get into the feature.
By: Ryan S. Clark, Forum Communications
WEST FARGO – Area racing fans can finally lay claim to seeing Tony Stewart picking up a checkered flag in person.
Even if it was in the transfer race to get into the feature.
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion won the race he needed to get into the late model feature, yet he finished in seventh place in the final on Wednesday at the Red River Valley Speedway.
He endured a caution-infused, 30-lap final race won by Fargo’s Matt Aukland.
“It’s good to be back,” Stewart told the 6,000-person plus crowd at the speedway during intermission. “Once again, I have successfully screwed up my race car again this year.”
Stewart’s comments were one of many that drew a few reactions from the crowd.
He had to qualify through the transfer as he was narrowly edged out for third in his heat race.
Stewart had third place in his grasp until he came around Turn 4 and collided with Grand Forks’ Brad Seng. Seng bumped into Stewart, allowing him to take the third and final spot.
“I flipped him off at the scales,” Stewart said of Seng. “I thought he was going to put me in the eighth row of the grandstands. If I get the chance in the main (race), I will do it to him and see how he likes it.”
Stewart wasn’t the only driver who had a hard time with the track.
A late afternoon shower took its toll on the track, resulting in crews spending around three hours making it able to race. That led to the races not starting until about 8:40 p.m.
There was a caution in nearly every heat race.
“For as much rain that I drove through to get to the track, these guys got more balls than most promoters,” Stewart said to the crowd, which applauded him for his shrewd assessment. “They worked hard to get this going. Most promoters would have called it. Not them.”
This was Stewart’s sixth time racing at the track, and the event has become a bit of a mainstay during the last three years.
Stewart had never won a feature race in his previous attempts.
Last-minute collision aside, it appeared as if he finally got a grasp on the track, as was evidenced by his transfer race.
He was first on the grid but fell to second after being overtaken on the third and fourth turns. Stewart then switched to a strategy where he went high on the straightaways and low on the turns, allowing him to overtake and slingshot past anyone in his vicinity.
“I might need 400 miles to get it figured out,” Stewart said during the intermission. “We’ve ran here six times, and every time the track has been different. That’s the fun, because every time you come here, it is a bit different.”
Heat 1: 1. Michael LeRoux, Sabin, Minn. 2. Kristen Nelson, West Fargo 3. Taran Langland, Enderlin, ND
Heat 2: 1. Jesse Skalicky, Fargo 2. Dan Dowling, Fargo 3. Tyler Pfaff, Enderlin, ND
Feature: 1. Dowling 2. Skalicky 3. Nelson
Heat 1: 1. Cody Skytland, Fargo 2. Austin Arneson, Fargo 3. Ross Romdalvik, West Fargo
Heat 2: 1. Nate Heinrich, Bellingham, Minn. 2. Rich Pavlicek, Casselton, N.D. 3. Mike Greseth
Heat 1: 1. Casey Arneson, Fargo 2. Jame Winterquist, Grandin, ND 3. Zach Reinke, Lisbon, ND
Heat 2: 1. Bryan Kakela, Langdon, N.D. 2. Ryan Schmitt, Dawson, Minn. 3. Cory Wheeler, Casselton, N.D.
Heat 3: 1. Tyler Peterson, Hickson, N.D. 2. Tim Berg, Grand Forks, N.D. 3. Dan Peterson
Heat 4: 1. Bob Smith, St. Joseph, Minn. 2. Scott Jacobson, Fargo 3. Brandon Gussiaas, New Rockford, N.D.
Feature: 1. Arneson 2. Kakela 3. Rob VanMil, Downer, Minn.
Heat 1: 1. Lance Schill, Langdon, N.D. 2. Don Shaw, Ham Lake, Minn. 3. Brad Seng, Grand Forks, N.D.
Heat 2: 1. Dustin Strand, Grand Forks, N.D. 2. Mitch Johnson, Hickson, N.D. 3. Dave Smith, Edmonton, Alta.
Heat 3: 1. Mike Balcaen, Winnipeg, Man. 2. Jeff Wildung, Nassau, Minn. 3. Michael Johnson, Moorhead
Heat 4: 1. Zach Naastad, Hatton, N.D. 2. Matt Aukland, Fargo 3. Tom Thompson, Brainerd, Minn.
Heat 5: 1. Jeff Provinzio, Hibbing, Minn. 2. Troy Schill, Grand Forks, N.d. 3. Ricky Weiss, Headingley, Man.