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Worthington man wins hobby car national title

SUBMITTED PHOTO Worthington resident Dan Strandberg won the 2011 USRA hobby stock car national championship. He is the first resident outside of Iowa to win the title.

WORTHINGTON -- No resident outside of Iowa has ever been dubbed the United States Racing Association's (USRA) hobby stock national champion. Thirty-two-year-old Worthington resident Dan Strandberg changed all of that, winning the 2011 championship in his first full season with the USRA.

More than 2,000 drivers competed at 37 different tracks in Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wisconsin and Strandberg was the last man standing.

For Strandberg, though, no award is large enough to make him forget the real reason he drives.

"I've won a lot of championships over the years and it's special that it's a national one, but it doesn't feel spectacular," Strandberg said. "I didn't even know my stats until someone told me I was in the national running at the end of the year.

"I just race to have fun. You do it for the thrill and the love of the sport, rather than winning stuff. You have to love doing it or there's no point in doing it otherwise."

A stock car driver for 18 years, Strandberg finished second at both his Friday night races at the Rapid Speedway in Rock Rapids, Iowa, and Nobles County Speedway in Worthington on Sundays to capture the title. Strandberg finished with 4,318 points, outscoring last season's national champion Shane Klaassen of Little Rock, Iowa, by 65 points and 2009 national champion Chris Hovden, of Cresco, Iowa, by 129 points.

Klaassen topped Strandberg in points in Rock Rapids and Jermy VanEde earned track champion honors in Worthington, but Strandberg was able to combine his efforts to win the national title.

"All-in-all I had a good year," Strandberg said. "The plan is to come back and race the same season next year."

Strandberg notched eight feature wins, five of them coming in Worthington and three of them coming in Rock Rapid, and earned 22 top-five finishes in 28 starts on the season.

For the championship, Strandberg will collect a national points funds check worth $1,500 plus track points funds and numerous contingency awards. For Strandberg, no amount of money can equate the thrill racing.

"It's one of those things that once you start doing it, it's impossible to quit," Strandberg said. "It's the only thing you can get a rush every time you do it."

Strandberg was not the only area driver represented in the top 10, as Adrian resident Chad Lonneman finished seventh in the final national standings, finishing with 3,892 points.