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Auto racing: Winnipeg's Kennedy Jr. off to good start in his 29th season

Now in his 29th season of racing a sprint car, Lou Kennedy Jr. is anxious to try new things. "I'd like to go to places we've never raced before," Kennedy said. "And we're going to run against some tougher competition." Kennedy has done just that,...

Now in his 29th season of racing a sprint car, Lou Kennedy Jr. is anxious to try new things.

"I'd like to go to places we've never raced before," Kennedy said. "And we're going to run against some tougher competition."

Kennedy has done just that, racing in Florida, Nebraska and Wisconsin in addition to one show last week in Minot.

So far, Kennedy has shown that he's not slowing down with age. He's as fast as he's been, evidenced by two feature wins in nine nights of racing this season.

He's hoping for win No. 3 tonight at River Cities Speedway, which hopes to finally get its racing season started after four straight weeks of weather-related cancelations.

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Kennedy won the NOSA feature at the Nodak Speedway in Minot earlier this week, passing Bob Martin for the lead with eight laps to go. Earlier this season, Kennedy won the seventh annual Billy Anderson Memorial feature in New Richmond, Wis.

The Winnipeg driver also finished fourth in an ASCS Midwest vs. Northern Plains Challenge Series race in Greenwood, Neb., last month.

"We've won two features, so we can't complain," Kennedy said. "Last year, we had three feature wins and a lot of seconds. But top-three finishes help pay the bills.

"We just hope we can continue this. We worked a lot over the winter to get ready for the season."

Racing is a family affair for Kennedy.

His son, T.J., races a sprint. Another son, Sean, will race a modified this season in Winnipeg.

Kennedy said he plans to race at RCS as much as he can this season. But he also wants to branch out and compete on other circuits -- such as the Wisconsin-based Interstate Racing Association.

Kennedy finished second in RCS season points last season, 26 behind champion Wade Nygaard.

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Combined with this season's strong start, Kennedy said he hasn't thought about retirement. He said he'll race an estimated 40 nights this season.

"If you can pull out a victory or two every year, it's tough to hang it up," Kennedy said. "When I get into a car and I don't feel comfortable or competitive, that's the day I'll get out of it."

A windy, windy night

Wade Nygaard has raced in many different conditions over the years. But last week's weather in Jackson, Minn., topped the list.

At the Jackson Spring Sprint Nationals, which paid $5,000 to win, Nygaard was running in fourth place during the feature when a wind gust created a three-car pileup on the backstretch. Nygaard was involved in the wreck.

"I'd never driven in anything like it," Nygaard said. "The wind was blowing so hard. You could hardly stand up, let alone race in it. Going down the back straightaway, the whole left side of the car was rubbing on the left tires."

Nygaard's strong night, however, ended in the crash, which also involved Missouri's Brian Brown. Nygaard was gaining on the second- and third-place cars when the crash occurred.

"The wind basically blew a lapped car across the track as he came out of the corner," Nygaard said. "He tried to correct it, but he went across the track and right into us. I had nowhere to go. I slammed on the brakes and then Brian went right over us. He flipped end over end."

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The wind at race time in Jackson last Friday ranged from 35 to 40 mph out of the northwest.

The grandstand was full, however. Terry McCarl, taking a break from the World of Outlaws, won the race.

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Tonight's opener

Where: River Cities Speedway.

When: 7:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m. hot laps.

Ticket prices: Adults $16 ($13 in advance); children (7-12) $5; 6-and-under free.

Classes: Streets, Midwest modifieds, late models, sprints.

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Of note: The World of Outlaws will race at RCS on June 19.

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 wnelson@gfherald.com.
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