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Wisconsin driver wins NLRA season finale at River Cities Speedway; Seitz weekend now underway

A.J. Diemel captures 25-lap feature Thursday night as more than 40 late models are in Grand Forks for the 15th annual Seitz weekend

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Wisconsin driver AJ Diemel motors past the main grandstand at River Cities Speedway as part of a heat race during the Prelude To The Johnny auto racing event on Thursday, September 9, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

A.J. Diemel usually races at River Cities Speedway once a year, making the haul from his Elk Mound, Wis., home to The Bullring each September.

He’s had considerable success at RCS, and the driver of the No. 58 late model had more good fortune Thursday night when he won the 25-lap NLRA season finale, which also serves as the kickoff for the annual John Seitz Memorial Late Model Invitational.

Diemel, who started fifth, passed pole-sitter Don Shaw out of Turn 4 with two laps to go and hung on for the win and a winning check of $1,492.

More importantly, he got another feel for the track as the Seitz weekend officially begins Friday night with qualifying for Saturday’s 92-lap, $9,200-to win feature.

Diemel has won the Seitz twice, one of only three drivers to do so.

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The NLRA finale drew 44 late models from North Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Canada. While Diemel won the race, Harwood’s Mike Greseth wrapped up the NLRA season points title with his fifth-place finish.

Most of the non-RCS regulars raced the NLRA finale to prepare for the two-day Seitz race.

Diemel’s NLRA win makes him a strong favorite to become the first three-time Setiz winner.

“We run good here and you kind of keep building on that year after year,” said Diemel. “It’s a lot of fun and there are a lot of good people up here. I love the atmosphere here.”

Shaw, another Seitz winner, had the dominant car early, and held off challenges from Greseth, Lance Schill and Dustin Strand before Diemel came on strong late.

“We finally got a clear track,” said Diemel. “There was a top and bottom groove. The track was kind of bottled up for a bit. Everyone is going to race it hard and there were two good lanes of racing which made it kind of hard to get through it. But once it got cleared up, the car was really good through the middle.”

Diemel beat Shaw to the flag stand by 0.964 seconds. Strand finished third, followed by Brad Seng and Greseth.

Two other classes raced Thursday night, streets and Midwest modifieds.

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Wisconsin driver Parker Anderson won the streets feature in thrilling fashion.

He edged Justin Vogel by 0.051 seconds in one of the closest features at RCS in recent years. For a good portion of the race, Anderson, who won at RCS earlier this season in a street stock special, Vogel and Aaron Blacklance were in a three-way battle for the lead.

Lucas Rodin captured the Midwest modified feature. Rusty Kollman was second followed by Blacklance, Trent Grager and Matt Schow.

NOSA sprints and modifieds join the field Friday night at RCS as the Seitz weekend gets into full swing.

The Wayne Anderson Cup will be decided Friday night as the fourth and final leg of the series is scheduled for the sprints. Mark Dobmeier has two wins, while Austin Pierce has one.

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WISSOTA Midwest Mods driver Jeff Reed flips over after flying off the Bullring track during a heat race as part of the Prelude To The Johnny event at River Cities Speedway on Thursday, September 9, 2021. Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald

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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