Jordan Grabouski (center) became a two-time Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified national champion this season, adding the 2016 trophy to matching hardware from 2011. At left is Clay Smith, president of Speedway Motors, title sponsor of IMCA Weekly Racing, and at right is Brett Root, IMCA president. (Photo by Bruce Badgley, Motorsports Photography)BEATRICE, Neb. – The lessons he learned winning his first IMCA national championship paid off again this year for Jordan Grabouski.So did his success at a slew of early-season specials in Kansas and Nebraska.The Beatrice, Neb., hotshoe parlayed a division leading and single season career-best 33 feature wins and two local track titles into the 2016 Xtreme Motor Sports IMCA Modified national title.“When I won my first national championship in 2011, the points really went down to the last weekend and I had to win my last race,” he said. “I had a better understanding that the point season was 50 races and was more patient this year.”“We only finished outside the top five eight times (in 51 starts) this year,” Grabouski noted. “A lot of that was because as you race more, you don’t put yourself in position to wreck or get a DNF.”“We’ve run a crate engine from Friesen Chevrolet for a couple years and that’s been a big boost for us,” he added. “We had another year where we didn’t have any problems engine-wise and that gave us more time to focus on other areas of our program where we need to improve or develop more consistency.”The Jet Racing Central Region king also topped local track point standings at Beatrice Speedway and Thunder Hill Speedway. He won 10 features at his hometown track and nine more at the Mayetta, Kan., speedplant.“We’ve always enjoyed racing with (promoters) Mike and Pam Conkwright at Thunder Hill. My brother lives in Kansas City so we could stay overnight with him and then race Sunday at Heartland Park Topeka,” Grabouski said. “Beatrice is my favorite track. It’s minutes away from home and I grew up watching races there.”Grabouski’s longest winning streak during his 2011 championship season was four; he set the tone early in 2016 with eight straight checkers between March 25 and April 15.After sweeping Sunflower Classic features at RPM Speedway and DirtFest main events at Salina Speedway, Grabouski won the Husker Duel at Beatrice, the Husker State Duel at Thayer County Speedway, opening night at U.S. 30 Speedway and the first Ice Breaker show at Eagle Raceway.Two starts later, he won his first-ever outing at Atchison County Raceway.“Running for the national championship wasn’t something we planned to do before the start of the season. It just happened,” Grabouski stated. “After winning eight in a row we thought maybe it was something we could pursue. Later in the year, when we figured it could be reality, we started racing four times a week when we could to make sure we got all our starts in.”Grabouski is now ninth on the all-time IMCA Modified wins list with 160 career checkers. He’s posted double figure feature win totals in seven of the past eight seasons.“A lot of drivers have won one national championship but not a lot have won two,” Grabouski said. “I told my crew we’d get through 2016 and then make some decisions about next year.”The City of Beatrice now has bragging rights as home to six IMCA Modified national championships, with Johnny Saathoff owning the other four. Des Moines, represented by Dave Farren, Bill Davis Sr. and Danny Wallace, had also had five.Starts: 51Wins: 33Additional Top Five’s: 10HIS CREW: Father Kent, wife Whitney, crew chief Jackson Weeks, Eric Ebeling, Josh Houseman, Steve Durman, Jordan Junker, Damian Anderson and Kevin Vanlaningham.HIS SPONSORS: GRT Race Cars of Greenbrier, Ark.; Friesen Chevrolet of Sutton; Fast Shafts of Des Moines, Iowa; Terry Phillips Racing of Springfield, Mo.; Wehrs Machine and Racing Products of Bangor, Wis.; Ricochet Shock Guards of Brush, Colo.; Keyser Manufacturing and Integra Shocks, both of Coopersville, Mich.; Strange Oval of Morton Grove, Ill.; Penner Insurance, Wrightway Hay Harvesters, Orange Bowl, Nippert Farms, J’s Grill and Pub, Nelson Tree Service, The Auto Shop and Twin Rivers Chrysler Jeep Dodge, all of Beatrice; PBS Rentals of Crete; Side Trek Bar & Grill of Harbine; Novotny Ag and Brynn Novotny Motorsports, both of Jansen; Schmidt’s Inc. and Schmidt Machine, both of Fairbury; Sasse Farms of Diller; Wojo Painting and Moock Trucking, both of Lincoln; Hergott & Traeger Farms of Gilead; VP Heartland of Manhattan, Kan.; Zeck Ford of Leavenworth, Kan.; Sweet Manufacturing of Kalamazoo, Mich.; Callies Performance Products of Fostoria, Ohio; Sybesma Graphics of Sanborn, Iowa; CPD Racing Shocks of Fort Dodge, Iowa; Real Racing Wheels of Independence, Iowa; Marshalltown, Iowa, Speedway; Total Power Batteries of Vista, Calif.; FK Rod Ends of Southington, Conn.; Kevko of Fairmont, Minn.; Speedwerx Headers of Forest Lake, Minn.; Simpson of Brownsburg, Ind.; Icon Pistons of Carson City, Nev.; Roscoe Carburetors, Roscoe, Texas; and Jones Pulley Systems of Ottsville, Pa.
Lowry, 32, has shot below 37 percent from 3 just twice since the 2010-11 season. He’s at a disappointing 33 percent this year, which makes it easy to forget he shot 52 percent (19 for 36) from long range through the season’s first six games.”As the leader of this team, I have to figure out how to play a lot better offensively,” he said.A player of Lowry’s pedigree shouldn’t be expected to struggle for too long, and if his headstrong play is any indication, the most pragmatic way for him to end his slump will be to shoot his way out of it. NEW YORK — Kyle Lowry has been mired in a shooting slump since the end of November. For a veteran in his 13th season, the solution is simple: If one thing is not working, make a difference elsewhere.For Lowry, that alternative has been distributing the ball. The All-Star point guard leads the NBA with 10.1 assists per game and has 11 double-doubles, second-most in the Eastern Conference behind Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (18). Prior to 2018-19, Lowry had never averaged more than 7.0 assists in a season. “Honestly, I think he’s taking the back seat and sacrificing for the greater good of the team,” backup point guard Fred VanVleet told Sporting News. “Right now, we got a lot of guys trying to find their offense and find our shots. I think from his perspective, he would just be another guy shooting.”MORE: Raptors president Masai Ujiri addresses Kyle Lowry’s comments about their relationshipLowry’s extra passing has been effective and the Raptors’ league-best record (21-6) has not been hurt much by his slump, but his playing style has been likened to a bulldog — aggressive and headstrong, capable of pushing through obstacles — which makes his hesitation to shoot, regardless of those struggles, surprising. Over his past four games, Lowry is shooting just 21 percent (8 for 37) from the floor and a meager 18 percent (5 for 27) from beyond the arc.”Probably not, probably not,” coach Nick Nurse said when asked whether Lowry is being as aggressive as he would prefer. “I’d like for him to be a touch more aggressive. He’s like a lot of players; when he’s feeling the stroke, he’s going to be aggressive. When it’s not quite feeling right, he’s going to try to do other things.”#Raptors coach Nick Nurse on wanting Kyle Lowry to be more aggressive shooting the [email protected] pic.twitter.com/ha4kXtbxmX— Mark Suleymanov (@TheMARKOut1) December 8, 2018The Raptors can overlook Lowry’s shooting woes if the team is winning, but they’ve lost two of their past three games and Lowry is just 3 for 20 from 3 during that stretch.”He’s in a little bit of a turn-a-few down mode right now,” Nurse noted. “We don’t want him to do that. I want him to shoot 10 3s a night. Once he starts doing that consistently, we’ll be happy.”Stuff like this is why you have to love Kyle Lowry. Get’s knocked down, sprints up the floor, and then continues to hustle and get his team an extra two points. I know he’s struggling but this dude is a winner. pic.twitter.com/41Pk91Eqbh— Mike Bossetti (@mikebosports) December 8, 2018With a towel draped over his head and slouched in a chair at his locker, Lowry spoke in low tones as he tried to make sense of the Raptors’ overtime loss on Friday in Brooklyn. The Raptors had won 12 in a row over the Nets and Lowry posted a triple-double his last game at Barclays Center on March 23. On Friday, he had just three points on 1-of-8 shooting (1 for 7 from 3) and a team-high 11 assists.He missed a triple in the extra period that would have given the Raptors a two-point lead with 49 seconds remaining.”[I] have to play better. I don’t make excuses and I don’t have any excuses to make,” he said. “I’m just not playing well, so it’s as simple as that. I have to play better. I hold myself to a high standard and I have to play better.”MORE: Kyle Lowry opens up on Raptors’ DeMar DeRozan trade: ‘I felt betrayed’