By: Gary Jacob|
Where: Belgrade, MT
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Belgrade, MT -- Thirty year old Nathan Kjerstad, a third year dirt late model racer from Quinn SD, drove his Rocket to a win on Friday night as the NAPA/MDA Series opened their Montana Swing at Gallatin Speedway. A dozen cars from Wyoming and South Dakota chasing the series points made the tow north to produce a solid 23 car field. Kjerstad ran third in his heat race in his Crown Oil and Wall Building Supply sponsored car using a Komes Racing Engine. He had won a non tour event in Casper WY on July 3. He was chased to his feature win by the father son Kirchoff team from Gillette Wyoming as defending series champion and college student Eddie Kirchoff ran second ahead of his racing veteran father Ed Kirchoff. They had earlier ran 1-2 in their heat race. Mike Stadel from Rapid City SD ran fourth ahead of another South Dakota long tow Steve Neumiller. Rich Herman was the highest finishing Montana car in 7th, but he is chasing the NAPA/MDA Series in 2005 so the highest finishing Montana Tour team was Kelly Hample in 9th ahead of Bob Scott.
The 23 cars were divided into four heat races and Gillette WY charger Wes McKenney won heat 1 over Great Falls veteran Dave Freeman and Kjerstad. Eric Mass from Rapid City SD won heat 2 in his GRT ahead of Neumiller and Montana Tour point leader Rock Degele. Eddie Kirchoff drove his Warrior to the win in heat 3 over his father Ed Kirchoff and South Dakota’s Morris Oberle. Stadel made it four for four in heat wins for the out of state teams as he won heat 4 over local Rory Minster and Herman. Both Jim Zaremski and Eldon Ostermiller was feature scratches to leave a 21 car starting grid. It was Kjerstad getting the feature win ahead of Eddie Kirchoff, Ed Kirchoff, Stadel, Neumiller, Mass, Herman, Gillette’s Ron Hochhalter, Hample from Billings and Belgrade’s own Bob Scott. Freeman was 11th ahead of Mike McCord. Series point title hopeful John Bey failed to finish either his heat or the main event. Sixteen of the 21 starters were racing at the checkered flag. Joining Bey on the sidelines were top runners Darryn Waldo, McKenney, Degele and Oberle.
Summary Heat 1-Wes McKenney, Dave Freeman, Nathan Kjerstad, Ron Hochhalter, Ron Fuller. Heat 2-Eric Mass, Steve Neumiller, Rock Degele, Bob Scott, Brent Neilson. Heat 3-Eddie Kirchoff, Ed Kirchoff, Morris Oberle, John Bey, Darryn Waldo. Heat 4-Mike Stadel, Rory Minster, Rich Herman, Kelly Hample, Mike McCord. Main-Kjerstad, Eddie Kirchoff, Ed Kirchoff, Stadel, Neumiller, Mass, Herman, Hochhalter, Hample, Scott, Freeman, McCord, Neilson, Scott Anderson, Fuller, Minster, Oberle, Bey, Degele, McKenney, Waldo.