BARROWS — Thirty-five Mod 4 drivers participated in the 3rd Annual Dean Funt Memorial Saturday, Aug. 9, with the largest purse in a Mod 4 feature race at North Central Speedway history on the line.
Five other classes held a feature race, including the Sport Compact 15-lap feature where Jenna Hagemann looked to build on her points lead.
One of the largest dirt track racing events in the state, the Dean Funt Memorial race was organized by Mod 4 driver Chad Funt in honor of his dad, a longtime driver at NCS. Before the 24-car feature race, Chad, and his son and fellow Mod 4 driver Andy Funt were on the lead of the parade lap along with the old-time sedan that Dean drove.
The racing was tough and clean with only three caution flags coming out during the 35-lap feature event.
Keith Thell started from the second row and made it to the front row on the first lap and held that position for every feature lap. Tommy Bawden took second place from Thyler Larson on the eighth lap.
A caution flag came out with just five laps to go that tightened up the field. Thell got a good green flag start, but Bawden was right on his bumper heading into turn four of the final lap. At the flag stand, Thell finished a car length in front of Bawden to take the win with Gerrald Nohner in third.
AJ Viehauser started from the front row and led all 20 laps to take the top spot in the Modified feature with teammate Shawn Fletcher taking second and Pete Hines in third.
Super Stock driver Colton Budreau looked for his first top-10 finish in three appearances at NCS and got off to a good start from the front with a lead. Dustin Nelson caught him on lap three and went on to get the win, but Budreau finished third behind Nelson and Austin Niemeyer.
Chris Siercks had a clear path for a Sportmod feature win, but ran into issues with his car with one lap to go. He surrendered the lead to Brendon Yamry, who recorded the feature with Mark Martini in second and Tim Siercks in third.
Dave Johnson raced to his first Hobby Stock win of the season and tightened the points race as he trails points leader Tim Gonska by just six points. Chase Peterson took the second spot with Gonska finishing third.
Sport Compact driver Greg Kohl notched his second win of the season and moved to just six points behind leader Jenna Hagemann. Hagemann had a tough night in her car as she was not able to finish all 15 laps for a 19th-place finish.
But that was a rare race for Hagemann who is flourishing in her third year in the class. She is still looking for her first win of the year, but in 10 features starts she has seven top-five finishes and Saturday was the first night she didn't finish in the top 10.
"This is my third year in this class and it is going pretty good this year," Hagemann said.
"The main goal is to finish and to hopefully be in the top five, but in reality it is to keep your head up, stay out of wrecks and move forward as far as you can."
She has been consistent at doing that in a class where she competes in feature races with an average of 16-22 cars. The division features both experienced and rookie drivers. Her strategy has worked.
She comes from a racing family with her brother Jake Hagemann, who is a member of the Sportmod class, and also a couple of cousins.
"My brother and I grew up racing four-wheelers and he started in a car first. It took me a few years of watching him on the sidelines to know that I wanted to do it, too," she said.
Part of a strong class of female drivers, Hagemann is not alone in the former driver that she looked up to.
"When my brother started in the Hornet class it was Ashley Mehwerth that was racing in the class at that time. I have always watched and aspired to be like her," Hagemann said.
"The points race is important for me and I was doing good until tonight so we will see where we sit after tonight and go from there."