Sports Car Modification

Ward Finds Right IMCA Modified Option To Win Fifth Crown

Ward Finds Right IMCA Modified Option To Win Fifth Crown

Now the winningest Friesen Performance IMCA Modified driver from Michigan, A.J. Ward raced to his career fifth Dirt Works Eastern Region championship in 2022. (Photo by Dave Hendrick Photography)

IONIA, Mich. – A.J. Ward found himself almost out of options just 14 starts into his 2022 season.

After wrecking and rebuilding his Friesen Performance IMCA Modified, the Ionia charger was fast, but not fast enough and six checkers short of the long-time goal he had set of surpassing Rick Stout as the winningest driver in division history from Michigan. 

“We had already won six times, then got airborne and twirled around hard mid-May from an outside retaining wall tractor tire at Thunderbird Raceway,” explained Ward, in the hunt for Dirt Works Eastern Region and national championships as well. “We rebuilt the car but it just had that feeling where you knew you couldn’t get any more out of it. We were fast enough to do everything but win for about the next month.”

“The change we made in our setup was the kind of stuff you do when you’re all out of options,” he continued, “but it worked and we started turning those second and third-place finishes into wins and we were a ‘go’ for the rest of the year.”

Ward would total 17 victories on the season, passing Stout with career win No. 151 in late July. After a turn atop the national point standings, the Dirt Works Eastern Region champion finished as runner-up for the second straight season and for the third time in five years.     

The regional crown was the career fifth for Ward, who captured I-96 Speedway and Thunderbird Raceway track titles, along with his sixth Michigan State championship.  

Six of his home state wins came at I-96. Ward also traveled to Florida before the snow melted in Michigan and came home with three early-season victories.     

“Definitely, catching Rick with win No. 151 was one of our highlights this season,” he said. “And the national points race was a dogfight until Jordan (Grabouski) edged us out. We raced two times every weekend against a lot of the best drivers in the division and led national points in late July.”     

“It’s not easy to compete for the national championship but if it was, everybody would do it.”     

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