A good car, a good run and a little good luck are three factors that must come together for a stock car driver to get a win. In his fifth year driving at Murray County Speedway, Matt Grabow was still waiting for that winning combination to come to fruition entering race day in Slayton on July 12.
Grabow, who lives in Milroy and works at Doug's Auto Parts in Marshall, finally got a little luck to go his way that night on the track racing in the IMCA Stock Car class. Grabow started the final in the second row on the inside, and the pole winner of the race jumped the restart and, as a result, had to start at the back. Slayton's Troy Winter, a Murray County Racing Association Hall of Famer, took the early lead, but had issues with his car and was forced to pull off the track.
That left Grabow in the lead. Grabow kept the top spot through several laps and a couple of cautions, eventually fighting off a charge by Sleepy Eye's Matt Speckman on his way to taking the checkered flag.
After some close calls over the years, Grabow finally had his first win.
"We've got a second and a couple thirds. It's been a long time coming," said Grabow, who drives the 23X car which has a 2005 Monte Carlo body. "It feels good to get the win, that's for sure.
"It was fun. The car worked great and everything worked in our favor."
Grabow's best finish this season came June 7 when he was runner-up to Comfrey's James Richter. He also had a third-place finish on June 28. Grabow said it has certainly been a difficult challenge to break through and earn a spot in the winner's circle.
"I've been close several times but had a little bad luck here and there," Grabow said. "There's just a lot of good cars, a lot of good drivers in our class. It's certainly not a beginner's class."
Unlike some racers at the track, Grabow doesn't come from a family of drivers. He grew up in Big Stone City, S.D., and gained an interest in racing since his family went to see the drives at Madison Speedway about once a month.
When Grabow moved to the Marshall area he got to know a car owner and was offered a chance to drive. Five years later, Grabow has his first win and even has a shot at winning the points title in his class.
Entering Friday's races, Grabow sat in third in the IMCA Stock Car standings with 172 points. Tracy's Kevin DeBaere and Chris Palsrock, of Sibley, Iowa, were tied atop the standings, just six points ahead of Grabow.
Having accomplished one first this season, Grabow is in a position to attain another with just over a month left in the season.
"I'd like to run for points but it's not something that I focus on on a night-to-night basis," he said. "It would be an added bonus to win a championship, absolutely."