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Midseason champs hoping to stay ahead at Southwest Speedway

Only midway through the racing season, five drivers were crowned as midseason champions.But none have a lead of more than eight points, so there's still plenty of season left to determine the true class winners.However, Travis Olheiser in the IMC...

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Dickinson driver Travis Olheiser, front, drives next to Dickinson's Josh Jones on the first corner of an IMCA Modifieds heat race on June 11 at Southwest Speedway. (Press Photo by Colton Pool)
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Only midway through the racing season, five drivers were crowned as midseason champions.
But none have a lead of more than eight points, so there’s still plenty of season left to determine the true class winners.
However, Travis Olheiser in the IMCA Modifieds, Robby Rosselli in the IMCA Sport Mods, Jason Berg in the IMCA Sport Compacts, TC Shelhamer in the Wissota Street Stocks, and Casey Vernon in the hobbies sit atop the points standings going into the races at 7 p.m. tonight at Southwest Speedway in conjunction with the Roughrider Days Fair and Expo.
In a class that’s been close all year, Dickinson’s Vernon, with one feature win to start the season, took control of the hobbies over fellow Dickinson driver Tyler Bartholomew, who had been leading most of the year with two feature wins until he finished fifth last weekend. Vernon now leads Bartholomew by four points and Dickinson’s Jordan Binstock by seven points.
Minot’s Rosselli, who has two feature wins this year, leads Dickinson’s Luke Krogh, who won the feature last week, by four points and rookie Robert Sigman of Beulah by 13 points.
Shelhamer leads the Street Stocks over Deryk Voller and Josh Olheiser of Dickinson by eight and nine points, respectively.
“All of those guys make me better,” Shelhamer said.”You’ve got to bring your A game when you step into this class.”
In four races, Shelhamer hasn’t won a feature, but the Plevna, Mont., native has been runner-up twice and hasn’t finished lower than eighth.

“The car’s been running good. We’ve just been fortunate enough to have ... some spots open up that we can take advantage of,” Shelhamer said. “There’s a lot of racers that go out and take a feature any given night. It’s a tough class. But things are going our way so far, but there’s a lot of racing to go.”
Now in his 10th year, Shelhamer hasn’t found racing to be any easier. So to stay in this position, he said, it’ll take some luck and more consistency.
“It’s going to take some doing. It’s certainly no easy street,” Shelhamer said. “If we can get one (feature win) that would be great, but we’ve got to keep pushing. I think you’ve got to have Lady Luck on your side, especially with the likes of those guys.”
Berg, who’s won three feature races in four sport compacts features this season in his second year of the class, has a six-point advantage over Chance Seelye of Regan.
Berg feels relieved to be in this position after having several mechanical issues in his rookie year. The car builder he is, he takes pride in having this success.
“It feels good after the hard year I had with all the breakdowns,” Berg said. “I finally got the car running good. It’s really good to be the man on top and the man to beat.”
Berg, a Bismarck native who also races in Mandan, has been using two different cars this season, and both have handled well for him.
In fact, the only race he lost was to Dylan Sandberg of Bismarck on a nearly rained out feature on June 11.
And Sandberg, among other drivers, have come to Berg for questions.
“I could keep my secrets to myself to be on top, but that’s no fun,” Berg said. “I like to battle the guys I race with. … I think it’s improved a couple guys out there already.”
And his recipe for continued success is no secret either.
“Just keep doing what I’m going,” Berg said. “Whatever I’m doing, it’s been working, so I’m going to keep all four tires on the ground and keep out of the wrecks.”
Travis Olheiser, a Dickinson driver who hasn’t won a feature this season, has finished in the top four in all but one race this season on his way to a one-point advantage over Eric Burwick of Aurora.
“The start of this year has been my best,” Olheiser said. “I’ve been pretty consistent where I’ve been going.”
But he says it’s because of the car.
In his sixth year in the Modifieds, Olheiser has found his stride after he bought Mike Hansen’s car, which Hansen drove to a season championship last year.
“I’m pretty sure I’m not the best wheelman out there,” Olheiser said. “I just got in a good race car. It definitely doesn’t roll around like when Hansen was in it, though, that’s for sure.”
Olheiser said he’s simply raced well because he’s started features near the front of the pack. Still, he’s in the front of the points standings pack too.
“It’s a very tough class to race in,” Olheiser said. “When you think you’re doing good, it’ll knock you down a few steps again. It’s tough. When you think you’re on the right track, the next weekend out you can’t even get out of your own way. It’s not easy, but it’s a lot of fun, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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