By JOE LINDHOLM
BARROWS — Patience was the key for fan and driver Saturday night at North Central Speedway.
Those who waited were rewarded as Chris Graf took home the first-place trophy in a high powered and intense UMSS sprint car 20-lap feature event.
Hot and dry conditions made for a dry track that needed attention throughout the day. Track officials put an estimated 20 loads of water on the track during the day. There were a number of delays in between heats and feature events to get the surface into driving condition.
Graf was surprised that things were able to turn around in the time between the heat race and feature.
“After the heat race, I would have told you, let’s just load up and go home,” Graf said. “This track was extremely slick with no passing. But come feature time it was a completely different track. We were able to go low and we were able to go up high. That’s the fastest we have ever went at Brainerd and we had a lot of fun.”
Graf finished third in the heat race and finished first in the challenge race to earn his spot in the 20-lap feature. In the feature event, Graf moved out quickly and was able to build a cushion over his closest challengers — Scott Broty and Andy Jones.
A late caution flag with one lap left resulted in a green-white-checker restart. Graf was not rattled as he got back out to his lead and won by a comfortable margin. Broty finished second followed by Jones.
Cliff Sasker and the NCS crew received praise from Graf for the track conditions.
“I prefer when it is a little cooler, and I know it makes it uncomfortable for the fans and the driver when it’s so hot,” Graf said. “But if they hadn’t have reworked the track, there wouldn’t have been much for the fans to watch. I am really glad that they reworked it.”
Graf will be returning to North Central in September for the Mighty Axe Nationals, a favorites of Graf.
“I am looking forward to that weekend,” he said. “We’ve won the Mighty Axe here before and I have always liked this track because I have some family that lives up here in Pine River. It makes it fun when you can race closer to home and family.”
The Hornet racing got the program started with two feature events. Abby Garin came away victorious in the Hornet feature and Brandon Mehrwerth won in the Outlaw Hornet car.
Mike Nelson won for the first time this season at the speedway as he started out from the front row and held off Billy Devries and Josh Tomberlin to get the win.
Dave Read had a strong Street Stock car as he won the 15-lap event from a fourth-row start. Read executed a pass on turn two of lap nine to take away the top spot from John Kropuenske, who ended up second.
Troy Kuehl won the Mod 4’s feature and Danny Vang became a multiple race winner in the Midwest Modified class.
Tim Johnson took home the checkered flag in both the Super Stock feature and in the A-Modified feature event to finish off the program.
Feature: 1-Abby Garin, 2-Hannah Jones, 3-Jake Hagemann
NCS OUTLAW HORNETS
Feature: 1-Brandon Mehrwerth, 2-Cole Shake, 3-Matt Everts
NCS PURE STOCK
Feature: 1-Mike Nelson, 2-Billy Devries, 3-Josh Tomberlin
Heat 1: 1-Robert Mueller, 2-Aaron Johnson, 3-Rodney Larson
Heat 2: 1-Billy Devries, 2-Tim Bergerson, 3-Gary Sack
Heat 3: 1-Bill Nelson, 2-Josh Tomberlin, 3-Craig Paul
Heat 4: 1-Gary Ohnstad Jr., 2-Mike Nelson, 3-David Eich
WISSOTA STREET STOCKS
Feature: 1-Dave Read, 2-John Kropuenske, 3-Jack Peterson
Heat 1: 1-John Kropuenske, 2-Dave Read, 3-Allen Brehmer
Heat 2: 1-Jack Peterson, 2-Robert Young Jr., 3-Dan Bartick
WISSOTA MIDWEST MODIFIEDS
Feature: 1-Danny Vang, 2-Shane Sabraski, 3-Dennis Czech
Heat 1: 1-Danny Vang, 2-Ashley Mehrwerth, 3-Tom Gill
Heat 2: 1-Shane Sabraski, 2-Rob Vanmil, 3-Dustin Joel
Heat 3: 1-Dennis Czech, 2-George Sniezek, 3-Larry Menk
WISSOTA SUPER STOCKS
Feature: 1-Tim Johnson, 2-Shane Sabraski, 3-Seth Kramer
Heat 1: 1-Shane Sabraski, 2-Tim Johnson, 3-Seth Kramer
Heat 2: 1-Dave Read, 2-Max Dondelinger, 3-Dexton Koch
WISSOTA MOD 4s
Feature: 1-Troy Kuehl, 2-Rob Vanmil, 3-Josh Abrahamson
Heat 1: 1-Josh Abrahamson, 2-Troy Kuehl, 3-Tommy Sabraski
Heat 2: 1-Rob Vanmil, 2-Ryan Buer, 3-Landon Atkinson
WISSOTA A MODIFIED
Feature: 1-Tim Johnson, 2-Don Eischens, 3-Shane Sabraski
Heat 1: 1-Shane Sabraski, 2-Shawn Fletcher, 3-Matt Weisman
Heat 2: 1-Justin Jones, 2-Don Eischens, 3-Tim Johnson
Feature: 1-Chris Graf, 2-Scott Broty, 3-Andy Jones
Heat 1: 1-Jerry Richert Jr., 2-Andy Jones, 3-Chad Patterson
Heat 2: 1-Jason Jostenson, 2-Scott Broty, 3-Chris Graf
Challenge Race 1: 1-Scott Broty, 2-Jared Goerges, 3-Rob Caho Jr.
Challenge Race 2: 1-Chris Graf, 2-Tony Kavs, 3-Jason Jostenson