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Racing: Howell repeats as King of Track at BIR

Joe Howell's day didn't exactly get started like he had hoped Saturday, July 21, but it couldn't have ended any better, as he repeated as Brainerd International Raceway's King of the Track.

Joe Howell's day didn't exactly get started like he had hoped Saturday, July 21, but it couldn't have ended any better, as he repeated as Brainerd International Raceway's King of the Track.
Sitting in first place in the Pro ET class of BIR's Bracket Drag Racing Series, he was looking forward to a strong weekend of racing to maintain his lead and make a serious run at the King of the Track crown. Racing in Super Pro and Pro ET, he lost in the first round of both classes Saturday, heading into the King of the Track runoff.

"I struggled with the car earlier in the day," Howell said of his 1986 Mustang.

Feeling frustrated and losing a little confidence, he finally figured out that we was carrying first gear too long and wasn't hitting his shift points. Coupled with a little luck and the valuable input of his math-whiz daughter who put together a database that combines weather and track conditions and other factors to help him make decisions on his dial-in, Howell went on a run.

He won his first three rounds, despite racing in the right lane, which was less desirable among the racers because the sun was hitting the lights on the light tree just right, making it hard to see them as they illuminated.

Howell won his way to the finals, where he faced off against Mike Campbell. Howell won the coin toss to determine lane choice. He took the left lane, and was glad he did. He beat Campbell off the starting line and held on to win by 11/1,000ths of a second, with a time of 9.312 seconds and 143.51 mph.

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"It was really close - a good race," Howell said of the final. "Both of us were right there. I think lane choice definitely (played a role in the win)."

The King of the Track race is an annual race among the top 14 racers in the Bracket Drag Racing Series points standings. The winner takes home a Wally trophy, a King of the Track hat and bragging rights for a year. Howell also won the title in 2015.

While the Bracket Drag Racing Series was on the drag strip for its sixth of eight weekends, the Central Roadracing Association was on the road course for three days of high-flying Superbike racing.

Back on the drag strip, the weekend was a big one for racers in the Stock/Super Stock class as well. It was the fifth annual Paul Bunyan Classic by the Midwest Class Racers. Sponsored by Line Performance, the race guarantees $2,000 for the winner of the class both days and $1,000 for the runners-up. That got the attention of 55 racers, who showed up to make a run at the prize money.

Saturday's race ended with a familiar face in the winner's circle: Ben Line, BIR's defending Stock/Super Stock champ. Line beat Scott Dugdale in the finals. On Sunday, July 22, Glen Demenge took home the big check, with a finals win over Kevin Leinart, who traveled all the way from Dakota City, Neb., to compete.

In the Sportsman class, Dan Butler left the track Sunday without losing a race. He was a double winner, beating points leader Jerry Hieb in the finals with a run of 12.156 seconds and 108.92 mph. And then he ran the table Sunday, beating Joe Moriarty Sr. with a similar run.

Jimmy Paulson continued his red-hot winning ways last weekend. He never lost a race in the Pro Bike/Sled class, beating Mike Voss in Saturday's finals and following that up with a finals win Sunday by beating Mike Bolander. If that wasn't enough, he lost in the semifinals of the King of the Track race to Howell. He also went four rounds in Super Pro Saturday and two more Sunday. By BIR calculations, that was 11 rounds of racing on Saturday and another six on Sunday.

The next Bracket Drag Racing Series weekend is Sept. 7-9, a Dual Event Weekend with the World Racing League hosting a pair of endurance races on the road course.

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Following are finals in each class:

SATURDAY, JULY 21

King of the Track: Joe Howell of Big Lake def. Mike Campbell of Roseville

Super Pro: Pat Haubrich of New Ulm def. Tevin Zavadil of Clearwater

Pro ET: Brett Speer of Pierz def. Mike Casteel of Thief River Falls

Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout: Brett Speer of Pierz def. Pat Haubrich of New Ulm

Sportsman: Dan Butler of Fargo, N.D. def. Jerry Hieb of Maple Grove

Stock/Super Stock: Ben Line of International Falls def. Scott Dugdale of Stacy

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Pro Bike/Sled: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Mike Voss of Maplewood

Comp Trophy: Devrin Walcheski of Foley def. Mike Larson of Brainerd

Street Trophy: Tyler Kyllonen of St. Francis def. Tyler Gadacz of LIttle Falls

Quick 16: John Lieberg of St. Cloud def. Glen Gleisner of New Ulm

Jr. Dragster Advanced: Paige Findell of Zimmerman def. Samantha Cielinski of Gilman

Jr. Dragster Intermediate: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Riley Luberda of Foley

Jr. Dragster Novice: Skylar Thompson of Harris def. Daniela Krech of Inver Grove Heights

SUNDAY, JULY 22

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Super Pro: Travis Reutzel of Howard Lake def. Ron Wirjes of Wheaton

Pro ET: Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis. def. Scott Dugdale of Stacy

Super Pro/Pro ET Shootout: Steve Roehrs of Frederic, Wis def. Travis Reutzel of Howard Lake

Sportsman: Dan Butler of Fargo, N.D. def. Joe Moriarty Sr. of Ham Lake

Stock/Super Stock: Glen Demenge of McGregor def. Kevin Leinart of Dakota City, Neb.

Pro Bike/Sled: Jimmy Paulson of Stacy def. Mike Bolander of Mora

Comp Trophy: Aaron Athman of St. Cloud def. Michelle Emmans of St. Francis

Street Trophy: Tyler Gadacz of LIttle Falls def. Jack Anderson of Holdingford

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Jr. Dragster Advanced: Ally Giese of Kandiyohi def. Natalie Root of Montrose

Jr. Dragster Intermediate: Daniel Dancer of Foley def. Carlee Reber of St. Joseph

Jr. Dragster Novice: Skylar Thompson of Harris def. Daniela Krech of Inver Grove Heights

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