Mod Tour dominated by veterans, but also provides chance for up-and-comers to improveWhen it comes to the Dakota Classic Modified Tour, greenhorns need not apply.
By: Dustin Monke, The Dickinson Press
When it comes to the Dakota Classic Modified Tour, greenhorns need not apply.
Nonetheless, Travis Olheiser and Bill Miller say they’re willing to take a butt whoopin’ — if it helps them improve.
The Modified Tour, a six-night dirt-track racing series that features some of the top IMCA Modified drivers from North Dakota, the upper Midwest and the nation, arrives at the Southwest Speedway tonight for its fourth of a scheduled six races. Wednesday night’s races at Williston’s Basin Speedway were canceled by rain and severe thunderstorms.
Miller, a first-year Modifieds driver but a veteran at the race track south of Dickinson, competed the first two nights of the Tour at Minot’s Nodak Speedway.
He said racing in the Tour is difficult and humbling.
But he also sees it as a way of improving.
“It’s nice to be able to see the really talented people, how they drive their cars and what they’re doing,” Miller said. “It’s always good to get seat time. You can never go wrong with that. We’re a long ways from being able to run how those guys run, that’s for sure.”
Miller is sixth in the Southwest Speedway standings and 13 points out of first place. With half the season remaining, it’s entirely possible that he could make a run at the season title. But during the Tour, the Plevna, Mont., racer knows his place.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve been racing in Dickinson,” Miller said. “But once you get on that Tour, it’s a whole different ballgame. I’m not even a top 50 car in the Tour. It’s an amazing amount of talent in that Tour. It’s crazy.”
The Dakota Classic Modified Tour, in its 23rd year, has always been an event dominated by the drivers who have paid their dues in the racing class.
“They drive those cars around like they’re on a Sunday drive,” Miller said. “They’re haulin’ butt.”
Hank Berry, a veteran from Sidney, Mont., has been one of the top drivers on the Tour for years, winning it several times in past years. He was leading the point standings in this year’s Tour after three nights.
In 2007, Steve Aprin of Ontario won it all. He now competes in the ARCA Racing Series.
Guys like Miller and Dickinson’s Travis Olheiser, on the other hand, aren’t in it to win it.
They want to learn from the drivers who are beating them.
“That’s the biggest thing. Trying to get seat time, learn and watch how they race because they’re pretty good,” Olheiser said. “The guys that come around there are pretty good.”
Olheiser is in his third season racing Modfieids and sits second in the Southwest Speedway’s point standings. He’s only seven points behind leader Jeff Decker of Dickinson, who is also racing in the Tour and was 24th in the point standings after the third night in Estevan, Saskatchewan, on Tuesday.
Olheiser did not race in Estevan, but said Tuesday. He planned to race Wednesday night at the Basin Speedway before the races were canceled because of weather.
His goal is to make at least one A-Main Feature on the Tour. Eight heat winners and the top four B-Main consolation drivers earn spots in the 24-car finale.
“My best shot would probably be Dickinson, to make the main, if I had to pick a spot” Olheiser said. “But you never know how things go.”
Dakota Classic Modified Tour
What: 23rd annual six-race IMCA Modifieds dirt-track racing series. Dickinson is fifth race on Tour.
Where: Southwest Speedway, 10 miles south, 1 mile west of Dickinson
When: Races begin at 7 p.m. today, pit gates open at noon, general gates at 3 p.m.
Prices: $15 adults, $5 kids 6-12, Free to kids 5 and under.
Mod Tour Feature winners: Todd Dart, Algoma, Wis. (Minot Night 1); Jeff Taylor, Cave City, Ark. (Minot Night 2); Hank Berry, Sidney, Mont. (Estevan, Sask.).
IMCA Stocks: The IMCA Stock Cars and Wissota Street Stocks are also running six races along the Tour.
Stock Tour Feature winners: Gregg Mann, Estevan, Sask. (Minot Night 1); Nathan Burke, Minot (Minot Night 2); Steven Pfeifer, Minot (Estevan, Sask.).
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