Braaksma Tops IMCA Dirt Knights Opener

Ethan Braaksma impressed in winning the Monday night Speed Shift TV Dirt Knights Tour for IMCA Modifieds opener at Park Jefferson Speedway. The checkers came in just his career fourth tour start. (Jim Steffens Photo)

JEFFERSON, S.D. – Ethan Braaksma grew up watching the IMCA Modified Dirt Knights and wondering what it would be like to race with them.

On Monday night, the young Iowan became a first-time winner when the Speed Shift TV Dirt Knights Tour season opened at Park Jefferson Speedway.

Braaksma passed veteran Bob Moore on the 18th of 25 laps, then led the defending track champion through lapped traffic and across the finish line. The win paid $1,500 and put Braaksma on the ballot for the upcoming Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational.

“I knew I had to keep my momentum up. I was a little hesitant about going to the top,” he said. “There was a lot of moisture on the bottom. I knew if I could just hit it right I could hold the bottom better. I knew where to enter and where to come off.”

Braaksma was the fourth different leader in the tour lidlifter. Troy Cordes led the first circuit before Ricky Stephan sped by.

The only caution of the contest came on lap seven; Moore took over second following the restart and caught Stephan two laps later.

Braaksma had started fifth and was up to second before midway. He completed his own pass for the lead and pulled away from the pack the last eight times around the oval.

Chris Abelson, Stephan and Jason Brees completed the top five. The main event field was represented by drivers from six states and Monday marked the first opening event held outside Iowa in the 11-year history of the tour.

Braaksma had raced a Karl Kustoms Northern SportMod for four years before moving to the Modified last season. He made his first tour start at Park Jeff last July, breaking and pulling off the track after just a couple laps.

“I remember when I was younger watching the Dirt Knights and wondering what it would be like to race with them,” Braaksma said after loading up the car, trophy and check. “I definitely didn’t think I’d be where I am now.”

Night two of the tour takes the Dirt Knights to Buena Vista Raceway in Alta, Iowa, for a $1,000 to win, Fast Shafts All-Star Invitational ballot qualifying event on Wednesday, July 22. Gates open at 5 p.m. Racing follows 7 p.m. hot laps.

The finish:

1. Ethan Braaksma; 2. Bob Moore; 3. Chris Abelson; 4. Ricky Stephan; 5. Jason Brees; 6. Troy Cordes; 7. Corey Dripps; 8. Al Hejna; 9. Matt Bonine; 10. Kollin Hibdon; 11. Chad Ten Napel; 12. Sean Barragan; 13. Jay Noteboom; 14. Kyle Brown; 15. Jeff Berens; 16. Jason Schneiders; 17. Darin Roepke; 18. Dylan Thornton; 19. Devon Schlumbohm; 20. Chris Mills; 21. Chris Clark; 22. David Brown; 23. Shane DeMey.