Tripp Gaylord crashed the victory lane party between Ricky Thornton Jr. and Jake O’Neil with a win Wednesday on the final night of the week-long Dakota Classic Modified Tour at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan.
Gaylord, of Lakewood, Colo., started on the pole and led all the way to the IMCA Modifieds checkered flag. Thornton and O’Neil had split the first five wins.
“I did it, man,” Gaylord said. “This is awesome. It’s so cool to be here against this competition and to get this win. Look at the guys here racing, you don’t get that at a lot of places.”
Gaylord owned the night, but steady Austin Arneson of Fargo owned the week. His seventh-place finish in the feature secured the tour points title.
Elijah Zevenbergen of Ocheyedan, Iowa, continued his dominance in the Stock Car class. His fifth win in six nights on the tour clinched his fifth tour title in seven years. In the two years he didn’t win (2014 and 2019), he was second.
“This track is one of my favorite tracks. I’m glad to be back here for the first time this year,” Arneson.
Arneson, meanwhile, simply needed a good run and to avoid trouble to win the tour points title. And the final night was at a track on which he has had success. Last July, Arneson won the $10,004 purse at the Corral Sales RV Legendary 50 at Dacotah Speedway.
It was a great place to finish the tour.
“We were consistent all week. We didn’t get any wins, but that’s all right. We set out to win the points deal. Feature wins would be great, but they’ll come down the road. Me and Jason ran 1-2, we were consistent each night.”
Arneson was seventh twice, fifth twice, third and second in six races. Wolla was 11th, sixth, third, eighth, fourth and 17th.
Arneson just needed to stay within sight of Jason Wolla of Ray to win the title. But early on, Wolla was running near the front with Arneson well back. Then Wolla ran into mechanical trouble, which caused him to finish 17th.
“Hats off to them, it’s good to keep that title in North Dakota,” Wolla said. “We were just kinda riding around. I broke something … and the car was shaking so bad I couldn’t even breathe on the gas. Next year maybe we’ll win it.”
Arneson was one of six heat winners in IMCA Modifieds. Others were Jake O’Neil of Tucson, Ariz.; Alex Stanford of Chowchilla, Calif.; Gaylord; Robert Hellebust of Minot; and Shawn Strand of Bismarck.
Heat winners advanced to the feature, while others found themselves in one of the three B mains. From there, the top five in each of the three races advanced.
Mike Hansen of Dickinson won the first B main, but he was disqualified, giving Jacob Bleess of Chatfield, Minn., the win. Travis Hagen of Williston and Quentin Kinzley of Bismarck also won B Main races.
The sixth- and seventh-place finishers in each B main earned spots in the last-chance qualifier race, from which John Correll of Jamestown emerged to join the 30-car feature.
Zevenbergen, meanwhile, started second in his heat race and took the checkered flag. He was joined by Austin Daae of Estevan, Saskatchewan, and Eric Mahlik of Green Bay, Wis., as heat winners.
Those three battled it out for most of the feature. Starting second again, Zevenbergen chased Daae for the first 15 laps, running bumper to bumper.
With 10 laps left, Daae slid high in turn four and Zevenbergen dived below him and into the lead. Once there, he stayed there despite a charge from Mahlik late in the race.
“It feels awesome, especially after how last year went” Zevenbergen said. “I can’t thank everybody enough who worked on this car all week.”
Mahlik and Dalton Flory of Williston, who finished third on Wednesday, placed second and third in tour points.
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