First-ever feature wins made Saturday night special for a pair of young Norfolk drivers at Off Road Speedway of Norfolk.
For Tanner Pettitt and Wyatt Lehman, both in their early 20s, winning “A” features in their respective divisions — IMCA Stock Cars and IMCA Hobby Stocks — was a long time coming but will be a career highlight in the years to come.
Pettitt, who followed his father, Ron, into the sport, said he has been racing two nights a week for three years on tracks in Norfolk and Columbus and is happy to have his first win. It also represented his sixth top-five finish in 11 nights of racing this summer at Off Road Speedway.
“Growing up, I’ve just always been at the race track — my dad has been racing since 1985, I believe,” he said. “It’s a tough class; it’s pretty hard to win in. This is a pretty good feeling.”
Pettitt started in the third row of the 16-car field, and right beside his father. When a caution seven laps into the race brought the field together, Pettitt was able to take the lead from Mike Kramer of Lyons with a move to the bottom line of the track. He then built a straightaway-length advantage for the win while Kramer battled Oakdale’s Kyle Wilkinson for second place behind him.
“Our setup was pretty good tonight; it (the track) was pretty slick,” Pettitt said. “I worked the bottom of the track, stayed down around the (marker) tires.”
On the final lap, a successful pass on the inside by Wilkinson coming out of turn four earned second place, edging Kramer by the nose of his car at the finish line.
Meanwhile, Wyatt Lehman’s racing career began at the age of 12 in the IMCA Sport Compacts division. Then, two years ago, Lehman moved into the Hobby Stocks class. This season, including Saturday’s victory, he’s accumulated five top-five finishes during 13 nights of racing at Off Road Speedway.
“We had four or five wins in the Compacts, and we had just about as much money in our Compact as we did in the Hobby Stock, so we decided to move up,” he said.
Lehman also began his feature in the third row, and also made up ground following a caution. But for Lehman, the line of choice was the high side of the track, passing Mark Arduser of Battle Creek coming out of turn four for the lead and holding it despite two more cautions that regrouped the field behind him.
“I moved up high and just went from there; the car was unstoppable on top,” he said.
Norfolk’s Gage Koch remained among the leaders throughout the feature and finished second, holding off a late charge by Neligh’s Cameron Wilkinson.
In the IMCA Sport Compacts feature, Norfolk’s Shannon Pospisil earned his second win in the past three weeks, while Ramsey Meyer of Pierce took second and Parker Vollbrecht of Stanton finished third.
David Johnson of Monroe earned his first win in the IMCA SportMods division, racing at Off Road Speedway for just the third time this season.
Spalding’s Robbie Thome followed up last Saturday’s win with a second-place finish, and Norfolk’s Colby Langenberg nipped Cameron Meyer of Pierce at the finish line to take third place.
In the Late Models feature, Norfolk’s Robert Osborne led 18 of the race’s 25 laps, but then had to survive a green-white-checkered finish — twice — in order to secure his first win of the season at Off Road Speedway.
Travis Birkley of Wakefield finished second, with Jim Johnson of Plainview taking third place.