Big field of lates and sprints take on The Bullring

Shane Clanton wins late model feature; Austin Pierce wins in dramatic fashion in sprint feature

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River Cities Speedway flagman Mike Witheril waves the checkered flag during a Late models qualifying race at the Bullring in Grand Forks on Friday, July 15, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — In a first-of-its-kind night at River Cities Speedway, The Bullring may have set an unofficial record for the number late models and sprints to race on the quarter-mile track for one night.
In a marathon Friday night of racing, 39 World of Outlaws Late Model series cars competed for a $10,000 top prize while 35 sprints competed in the NOSA-IRA King of the Wing Challenge that paid $3,000 to the winner.
In the end, both features were worthy of the headlines they drew leading up to the five-hour night of racing.
In the 40-lap WoO LMS feature, Georgia driver Shane Clanton — a past winner at RCS — led from start to finish. He started on the front row and held off last year's winner Dennis Erb Jr., by 0.590 seconds. Clanton's fastest lap was 12.477 seconds.
Clanton hit lapped traffic 10 circuits into the feature. He smoothly navigated lapped traffic while holding off Erb.
"I didn't want to get into lapped traffic again," said Clanton. "But we got into it later. I kind of had to go to the top and that's where I should have been anyway."
Clanton won at RCS in 2017 and it's one of his favorite tracks on the WoO LMS circuit.
"I love this track," he said. "It's one I always mark on the schedule."
Mike Marlar — another past winner at RCS — finished third followed by Tyler Bruening, Tanner Englis and Ricky Weiss of Winnipeg. Weiss, who has raced at RCS a number of times, raced with the Outlaws the past two years but is not running with them full time this season.
Joey Pederson was the top RCS driver, finishing 11th. Brad Seng was 13th while Mike Balcaen ended 15th.
In the NOSA-IRA sprint challenge, Austin Pierce put on a show in the final laps as he passed Jade Hastings for the lead with two laps to go. Pierce slid under Hastings coming out of Turn 4 and was in control in the final two laps.
Pierce said it was his biggest win of his career.
Pierce started 8th and became a factor in the race in the final 10 laps.
"This definitely is my biggest win," said. "I've never raced with the IRA before and the first time we do we pick up a big win. That's pretty incredible. This is a good payday and hopefully we come back (Saturday) and win the $5,000.
Pierce used the bottom groove to make his way to the front.
"I started to use the bottom and went where the other cars weren't," said Pierce. "I could roll the bottom pretty good where those tractor tires were. Coming out of Turn 2 and 4, there was a lot of bite."
Hastings, looking for his third-straight win, led the first 28 laps, finished second followed by Mark Dobmeier, Thomas Kennedy and IRA driver Jake Neuman.
"I didn't need the yellow flags we had in the final laps," said Dobmeier. "We were much better on the long runs."
The race also was the second leg of the Wayne Anderson Cup, a four-race event this season to honor the late founder of the track.

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NOSA sprints driver Mark Dobmeier cruises past turn two during a time trials event at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks on Friday, July 15, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

The night started with qualifying, which took nearly an hour because the high number of cars.
Clanton also posted the fastest time at 11.978 seconds for the late models. The fastest local qualifier was Dustin Strand. He was 12th at 12.885 seconds. Clanton also earned the pole for the 40-lap feature.
NOSA regulars dominted the sprint qualifying. The top five qualifiers were NOSA regulars — Kennedy (10.275), Pierce (10.313), Hastings (10.346), Brendan Mullen (10.350) and Wade Nygaard (10.356).
The NOSA-IRA series will continue again Saturday night at RCS while the WoO LMS will compete in Fergus Falls.

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Late Models drivers Sam Zender (7S) and Mike Balcaen (10) race past a grandstand at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks on Friday, July 15, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

Related Topics: AUTO RACING
Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.

He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.

He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.

Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or
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