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105 cars show up for Nelson memorial at KRA Speedway

Dave Cain of Corcoran races to victory in Heat 4 of the Modified Special in his first time on the Willmar oval this season Thursday at KRA Speedway. He then held off Eric Martini and Shane Sabranski to win the 22-car main for the opening-night victory of the Sizzling Summer Nights Advantage RV Modified Tour, which continued last night in Montevideo, at Huron, S.D., tonight and Watertown, S.D. Sunday. Tribune photo by Rand Middleton1 / 2
Shane Sabranski, right, pauses during intermission at the KRA Speedway where he drove in six races Thursday. The Rice throttle jockey accumulated two feature wins (Midwest Mod and Super Stock) and a third place (Modified), plus two heat victories (Midwest Mod and Super Stock). Tribune photo by Rand Middleton2 / 2

WILLMAR — They came from Wisconsin, South Dakota and even a car from Nebraska, and, of course, all over Minnesota for the KRA Speedway races Thursday night on a perfect evening weather-wise.

It would have made the late Charlie Nelson proud. And reinforced what he always said.

“The drivers tell me time and again how much they like coming here because they get treated so well,’’ the lanky gentleman would say in that unmistakable raspy but sure voice.

He took pride not only of the track’s reputation but what it did to put his hometown on the WISSOTA map and juice the economy. Charlie was found dead at home Saturday. He was 78. He had told a caller on Wednesday that he was feeling poorly and would skip his customary trip to senior dining. His body was found Saturday morning.

A total of 105 cars turned out Thursday, overcrowding the pits and spilling onto the fairground’s midway. That’s about 25 to 30 cars over a regular night of racing.

The Sizzling Summer Tour for Modifieds was a factor, the special jacking up the field from 12 to 14 on most nights to 22. The final, won by Dave Cain, attracted many of the best drivers in the WISSOTA series.

Cain outran Shane Sabranski in both Heat 4 and the main, no small feat. Sabranski swept in Super Stock and Midwest Mods to go with a second in the heat to Cain and a third place finish behind runner-up Eric Martini in the Modified feature.

Sabranski outran Cory Crapser of Chippewa Falls, Wis., in the 18-car Midwest Mod and Tim Johnson of Brainerd in the Super final.

Justin Vogel of Brooten in his yellow No. 10 swept in Street and Dustin Zieske of Willmar won another hotly-contested Mod-Four main, followed by Matt Halls, Tyler Larson and Keith Thell.

Other main event winners were Matt Fester in Hobby and Layne Roberts in Hornet.  

MODIFIEDS —  Feature: Dave Cain, Corcoran; Eric Martini, Avon; Shane Sabranski, Rice; Matt Gilbertson, Montevideo; Keith Tourville, Webster, Wis; Mike Steams, Hecla, SD; Andrew Gordon, Murdock; Jason Grimes, Jamestown, Neb; Danny Bayer, Elrosa; Jason Thoennes, Garfield; Brian Haber, Appleton; Don Eischens, Richmond; Jason Voigt, St. Cloud; Zach Johnson, Kensington; Trevor Anderson, Watertown, SD; Phil Braun, Danube; Cory Tammen, Moorhead; Travis Saurer, Elizabeth; Brent Dutenhoffer, Watertown, SD; Ryan Canon, Watertown; Jayson Good, Watertown, SD; Zach Schultz, Grove City … Heat winners: Tammen, Haben, Bayer, Cain

MIDWEST MODIFIEDS — Feature: Shane Sabranski, Rice; Cory Crapser, Chippewa Falls, Wis; Travis Saurer, Elizabeth; Wade Skindelien, New London; Jason Hoffman, Villard; Jason Vejtruba, Atwater; Denis Czech, Sauk Rapids; Brandon Mehrwerth, St. Stephen; Shawn Ferkes, Pennock; Tim Kanten, Milan; Jon Olmscheid, Willmar; Josh Roggatz, Montevideo; Justin Van Eps, Pennock; Corey Flynn, Sauk Rapids; Ashley Mehrwerth, St. Stephen; Andrew Schuelke, Montrose; Jon Hacker, Kerkhoven; Larry Revier, Olivia … Heat winners: Schuelke, Sabranski

MOD-FOURS — Feature: Dustin Zieske, Willmar; Matt Halls, Big Lake; Tyler Larson, Willmar; Keith Thell, Foley; Ryan Buer, Willmar; Dean Larson, Pennock; Jamie Flickinger, New London; Trever Roediger, Big Lake; Thomas Bawden, St. Cloud; Mike Christenson, Willmar; Dan Lorensen, Willmar; Forrest Foster, Spicer; Kyle Thell, Foley; Tom Sabraski, Rice … Heat winners: Ky. Thell, Zieske

SUPER STOCK — Feature: Shane Sabraski, Rice; Tim Johnson, Brainerd; Jeff Crouse, Alexandria; Gary Husmann, Litchfield; Dexton Koch, Rice; Mike Peterson, Dawson; Denis Czech, Sauk Rapids; Curtis Newberg, Willmar; Justin Hedtke, Atwater; Jay Hedtke, Grove City; David Laabs, Grove City; Dalton Landwehr, St. Cloud; Al Cleveland, Breckenridge; Chris Isdal, Willmar; Travis Forcier, Darwin; Ben Johnson, Benson; Jon Stepan, Brandon … Heat winners: Sabranski, Koch

STREET STOCK — Feature: Brian Vogel, Brooten; Tim Johnson, Brainerd; Andrew Hedtke, Grove City; Josh Fredeen, Willmar; Jake Knapper, Montevideo; Kurt Becken, Rogers; Rick Nelson, Litchfield; Jim Williams, DeGraff; Ethan Iiams, Kandiyohi; Durand Peterson, Glenwood; Taylor Willms, Willmar; Scott Stafford, Grove City; Jake Huston, Benson; Jordan Tollakson, Montevideo … Heat winners: Fredeen, Vogel

HORNETS — Feature: Layne Roberts, Willmar; Justin Schelitzche, Winsted; Ashley Bell, Winsted; Sam Lungstrom, Blomkest; Megan Iiams, Kandiyohi; Lexi Gallagher, Brainerd; Jessica Stransky, Paynesville; Tim Sullivan, Cokato; Bronson Hoff, Renville; Keegan Linsmeier, Litchfield; Travis Scott, Glenwood … Heat winners: Roberts, Lungstrom

HOBBY STOCK —Feature:  Matt Fester, Atwater; Carl Duininck, Willmar; Tyler Berry, Hutchinson; Adam Thompson, Willmar; Jed Muller, Willmar; Emily Woods, Raymond; Travis Scott, Glenwood; Alex Wolff, New London; Mark Stahl, Kandiyohi … Heat winner: Wolff


Rand Middleton
Tribune photographer/videographer. Began working in radio and at weekly newspaper in Munising, Michigan, in 1972. Started parttime at West Central Daily Tribune Sept. 1974. Fulltime news/sports beginning Feb. 1979. Married to Tribune news clerk Donna (Miller) Middleton, formerly of Kerkhoven. 2 grown children. 
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