Agen, Smith, Broking Win Tour Races at Granite City; Searing Wins Challenge Series at Casino
I originally planned to go to Buffalo River Speedway for the IMCA Stock Cars in town but heavy rain earlier in the day cancelled that event. So, I elected to cover the Steffes Street Stock Tour and Rebel Midwest Modified tour at Granite City Motor Park remotely, thanks to Dirt Race Central.
Thanks to the timing of when the Granite City show got done, I was also able to catch feature action at Casino Speedway in Watertown. And this might be the longest RaceChaser blog in history!
The Steffes Street Stock Tour and Rebel Midwest Modified Tour are two of my presenting sponsors, so I try to cover them as often as I can, either in-person or remotely. In this case covering the race remotely was the best and most practical option for me.
Car counts were decent, not great — 18 street stocks and 22 midwest modifieds — but the quality once again was excellent, with several drivers in the top 10 of national points on hand. To me, with high gas prices and costs of everything, I don’t think you can focus on high or low car counts, but on the quality, especially for the touring events.
I’m always watching the Wolverine, Justin Vogel of Brooten, at these Steffes events, but perhaps hottest driver around has been Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck who entered the night win six straight feature wins (I-94, Madison, Buffalo River, Dakota State Fair Speedway, Fiesta City Speedway and again at Madison).
Six of the top 10 drivers in Wissota national points were in attendance, including four of the top five.
Kaden Woodie of Milaca took the lead from the green in the Steffes Street Stock main event. Braden Brauer of Rochester the national point leader, found himself in second but soon challenged by Jeff Ekdahl for that spot.
Vogel, coming off of a win Saturday at Ogilvie that saw him go from 16th to first, was in fourth ahead of Dykhoff.
Woodle settled into a nice lead with Brauer in second. Vogel worked on Ekdahl for third and soon took over the spot with 17 to go. Ty Agen of Chippewa Falls had moved by Dykhoff and was now challenging Ekdahl for third.
Woodie opened up a 1.57 second lead over Brauer. Agen was all over Vogel for third, but then things got really crazy, as Woodie got into Lucas Boyce as he was about to lap him and spun the #7B car on the backstretch; Woodie was charged with the yellow which was very, very costly.
The race for second was fantastic between Brauer, Dykhoff and Vogel as the caution waved with seven to go. Also working his way into the top five was Kyle Anderson of Jamestown, who had started in ninth.
Agen opened up the lead with a restart with five left with Vogel and Dykhoff going at it hard for second. Anderson and Ekdahl had a side-by-side duel for fourth.
Brauer’s night ended with an apparent flat tire with five to go. After the restart, the 16-year-old Agen was in complete control of the feature, however, picking up his second tour win (he won the first night at I-94 back in May). His margin of victory was 2.252 seconds over Dykhoff.
Dykhoff’s streak of feature wins ended at six, but he finished a strong second. Vogel, who has finished in the top five of every Steffes event this season, was a solid third as his remarkable consistency continues. He is well on his way to the tour title. Dykhoff, Vogel and Braden Brauer are fighting for the national points lead.
There was some craziness behind the top three, as Anderson’s #59 machine was spun, with Scott Bintz and Woodie also involved. I didn’t see what caused it, but it jumbled the finishing order a bit. Defending national and Steffes tour champion Parker Anderson, driving the #36 car, finished fourth after starting 16th while Jeff Nowak of Wausau, Wis., went from 12th to fifth.
National point leader Jake Smith of St. Joseph and Corey Mehrwerth of St. Stephen led the 22-car Wissota Midwest Modified field to the green for the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour race.
A three-car pile up with 20 to go involved Bintz, Matt Baker of St. Joseph and Phil Christlieb of Fargo.
You had some really good cars starting well back in the field — Matt Baker (15th), Zach Benson (16th) defending tour and national champion Lucas Rodin (17th) and Corey Storck (21st).
Smith, who is having an outstanding season with 12 wins already (entering the night), opened up a nice lead over Mehrwerth with Nate Reinke of Lisbon moving into third as Cody the Cobra Lee into fourth.
On the restart with 18 to go Reinke got by Corey Mehrwerth, who now had his hands full for the third spot with Cody Lee.
Smith opened up a 1.3 seconds lead on Reinke, who had a decent amount of breathing room on Lee. Brandon Mehrwerth of St. Stephen, was on the move; he started 13th but moved into the top five.
There was a good battle between 15-year-old Kennedy Swan of Chippewa Falls, Wis., Ashley Mehrwerth and Matt Baker for the sixth spot.
Lee was working on Corey Mehrwerth and made the pass with five to go. Brandon Mehrwerth also got around his brother Corey for.fourth. One driver who hung around the top five was the veteran Jason Grimes of Jamestown.
The race for second went three-wide after the final restart as Lee went around Reinke on the outside and Brandon Mehrwerth on the inside to move up a spot. Smith, had no issues and really wasn’t challenged to pick up his 13th feature win of 2022. He has a massive 894-point advantage on David Simpson for the national points lead as of July 6. He was the Midwest Modified rookie of the year in 2021.
Lee ended up second, a night after finishing third at Ogilvie. Brandon Mehrwerth was third, Reinke was fourth and Corey Mehrwerth fifth. All three Mehrwerth siblings finished in the top seven.
Corey Storck made it from 21st to eighth to earn Hard Charger honors.
Some good drivers ended up with DNFs, including Rodin, Matt Baker, Kennedy Swan, Haley Lee and Ashton Schulte.
Wyatt Boyum of International Falls won the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour at Ogilvie over Swan, who is a rising star in the class. Swan has raced all over this season and has three wins and nine top five finishes.
Johnny Broking of Grand Rapids, the defending Advantage RV Mod Tour champion and current point leader, jumped to the cushion from the start of the feature never moved, and picked up the win. Ryan Gierke of Villard moved into second with Shane Sabraski of Rice, a former RV tour champion, moving into third.
Dan Ebert of Lake Shore, who started eighth, moved into the top four quickly, and then passed Sabraski for third. He was chasing Gierke for second.
Ebert tried about every lane on the track to close in on Gierke, who had a lot of ground to make up on Broking.
With 10 to go, Sabraski got into the right rear of Eischens, and the #9E spun in turn four. In what I thought was a bad call, Eischens was put to the tail (the replay was pretty clear Sabraski got into the right rear of the 9E). Eischens made a point to get beside the 7A after the race and show his displeasure. Those are two long-time competitive veterans who I’m sure have battled plenty before.
Eischens has run very, very well of late. He was second in the Border Battle at Superior on July 2 and third at the Fallen Linemen Race at I-94 on Friday, second at Viking on Sunday. He has 13 top fives in 19 starts, with three wins.
Gierke pulled in during that caution with 10 to go, moving Ebert and Sabraski behind Broking for the final stretch. Broking kept the #45J on the cushion to pick up the win over Ebert, with Sabraski taking third. Tyler Peterson of Horace, with two wins on the weekend, was fourth while former national champion Dave Cain of Corcoran was fifth.
The Wissota Hornets were the only non-tour class on hand, and Justin Schelitzche held off a late charge from Mac Johnston for the win. The hornets went caution free and all 12 cars who started finished.
Searing Wins Challenge Series at Casino Speedway
I was able to watch the features at Casino Speedway; it was a long night at the 1/4-mile with racing concluding shortly before 11 p.m.
Morgan Ward Grosz and defending national champ Cole Searing of Huron led the Structural Buildings Wissota Late Model Challenge Series to the green of the 40-lap feature. 26 of the 28 cars in attendance took the green, which meant getting through lapped traffic was essential for the leaders. And it turned into an enduro of sorts -- by my count only 13 cars finished a feature full of cautions.
Searing took the lead from the outset, while Ward Grosz battled with former series champion Jake Redetzke of Eau Claire for second.
The first caution came out for Jeff Massingill of Keewatin, Minn. as he slowed on the track and would exit shortly after. He’s normally a strong contender but had a miserable weekend in his #6M.
On the restart Redetzke, running the bottom, moved into second as Ward Grosz now had Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria trailing her.
A three-car mess on the backstretch brought out the caution with 35 to go as Justin Karlen of Howard, S.D., and Dustin Johanneck of Litchfield were involved in an incident; both left on the hook.
On the restart, Mikkelson, who had a great two nights in Aberdeen, was challenging for third as he went to the high side. Also lurking was another driver who knows Casino as well as anyone — Scott Ward of Watertown.
Another caution came out with 34 to go as stringing laps together proved to be difficult, at least early on. Searing opened up a good advantage on the restart over Redetzke, with Scott Ward pressuring Mikkelson for third.
Curt Kranz of Watertown, who was running in the top five, slowed on the backstretch with 28 to go to bring out another caution. His night was over as he was pushed to the pit area.
On the restart Mikkelson, Redetzke, Scott Ward and Aberdeen driver Josh Skorczewski were locked in a good tussle for second as Searing pulled away. Also lurking near the top five was the $10,000 Dacotah Rumble winner, Bryce Sward of Nelson, and former national champion Chad Becker of Aberdeen.
Finally, there was a long green flag run, and Searing continued to lead. Redetzke hung around, however, and was starting to eat into the lead. Mikkelson was a solid third, while Scott Ward and Skorczewski went at it for the fourth spot.
Mikkelson was having another great run, but the right rear tire went down with eight to go to bring out the caution. Mikkelson had finished in the top five in all three features in Aberdeen but his night came to an end.
With eight to go, Scott Ward was in third, and Skorczewski and Becker were in the top five. Series point leader Shane Edginton, who won both challenge series races in Aberdeen, fell back early but had climbed back into the top eight.
Redetzke decided to go down low to chase Searing but a huge pileup occurred in turn one as there was contact been Scott Ward and Redetzke, sending the 27 spinning. Edginton, Trevor Anderson of Watertown, Kevin Eder of Ashland, Wis., Jordan Tollakson of Montevideo, Walsh and David Carlson of Huron were also involved. I don’t know what he call was from the flagstand — I had a clear opinion after seeing a replay on DRC — but both drivers went to the pits.
The shuffle moved Chad Becker to the second row on the restart, and he immediately went to work on Searing. Skorczewski was also hanging around in third.
Becker got close on the final lap, and went for the slider and took the lead briefly in turn three, but Searing had the momentum on the lower line and got past Becker for the win. Skorcewski was third, Edginton — who had slipped outside the top 10 earlier — finished fourth in a good points night for him. Tyler McDonald of Huron had worked up to fifth.
In the Wissota Street Stock main event, Maria Broksieck of Goodwin moved into second past Andy Rossow with 10 to go, and she was closing in on leader Kyle Bertram of Dallas, S.D.,, who had led from the green.
Broksieck really made up ground in turns one and two, particularly on the exit of turn two, and surged past Bertram for the lead with four to go. Once in front, she pulled away and recorded a 1.89 second win over Bertram.
Jason Marko of Watertown had made a good run, going from seventh up to third. Some very good racing between Bertram, Marko and Rossow for second down to the finish line. Rossow was fourth and Zachary Flickinger of Willmar, who ran in the top five all night, was fifth.
Only eight Wissota Hornets were on hand. Adam VanDerostyne took the lead pretty quickly and went on to hold off Payton Asche of Granite Falls for the feature win. Bradley Rossow of Florence was third. Two cars got DQed, so not sure what happened there, but only four cars were credited as finishing.
Defending NOSA sprint champion Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks took lead from the outset of the NOSA Sprint main event with Zach Omdahl of East Grand Forks in second.
The caution came out one lap into it when the #2 of Kevin Ingle of Huron spun in turn four. On the restart, Jade Hastings of Grand Forks, the flag-to-flag winner at Brown County Speedway on Saturday, moved into second.
The second yellow came out a lap later when Mark Dobmeier and Zach Omdahl made contact in turn two; Omdahl had some damage, which included a flat left rear, and left on the hook. Dobmeier was charged with the yellow and went to the tail.
That left Hastings and Mullen on the front row, with Jack Croaker of East Grand Forks in the third spot. Mullen reassumed the lead with Hastings running second.
Thomas Kennedy was moving up in the 21K, and Dobmeier was storming back through the field back into the top 10.
Mullen’s lead was shrinking as Hastings was closing in. Shortly after, Mullen and Ingle, who was about to be lapped, made contact in turn four and Ingle’s 2 car flipped. He was Ok but the 2 car was done for the night. Mullen’s wing had some damage.
On the restart with 11 to go, Hastings went to the outside and took the lead. Mullen now had to contend with the 2Jr of Kelly Miller for second.
The caution came out for a car into the wall in turns three and four with six to go.
After the restart, Mullen was within striking distance and he had closed to Hastings bumper with two to go. But Hastings opened up some breathing room out of turns one and two, and would go on to his second win in as many nights. Miller, from Alberta, finished third with Croaker capping off a good run in fourth. Noah Harris of Broken Arrow, Okla., was fifth after starting in the back of the field.
Sward, RaceChaser-Area Late Models Shine in Aberdeen
Bryce Sward of Nelson, Minn, located near Alexandria, picked up the biggest Wissota Late Model check of the season on Saturday with the $10,000 Dacotah Rumble victory at Brown County Speedway in Aberdeen. Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria led the first 31 laps before the caution waved. On the restart, Sward, who was third, made a savvy move to make the pass of Mikkelson, who had run well all weekend.
Once Sward took the lead, he was in control. Scott Ward of Watertown, a long-time solid competitior, had passed Mikkelson for second on the restart; however, he had to fend off Mikkelson for second, and that gave Sward a chance to open up some breathing room, which he did over the final 19 laps. Sward won by 2.7 seconds to earn the biggest win of his young racing career. It was just his second win in a Wissota Late Model — the other came at an NLRA race at Devils Lake last season.
I did a blog on Sward in 2019; at that time he was a rookie in the Wissota Late Models and was also racing at Limited Late Model — and to watch his development has been fun to see. He doesn’t drive over his head and is a good, hard, young racer, which the late model class needs.
The RaceChaser area late models in attendance in Aberdeen really showed well. Shane Edginton of East St. Paul, Man.,, who I believe will make a serious run at the Wissota Late Model national title, won both challenge series races, including a last lap pass of Mikkelson on Saturday, and finished fourth in the 50-lap rumble.
Mikkelson was in the top five all three features — fourth on Friday in the challenge series, second on Saturday and third in the 50-lap Rumble — to cap off an excellent two days. Mikkelson ran such a torrid pace in the Rumble that he lapped local hotshoe Kent Arment,
Mike Greseth of Harwood had mechanical trouble during Friday’s feature but finished fourth in the challenge series on Saturday and added a seventh in the Rumble feature.
—I don’t get to see the Christ family race much anymore since I don’t cover Jamestown Speedway aside from the times they race at Sheyenne Speedway. Jaden, who is having an excellent season, won the Wissota Street Stock feature on Friday for his fourth BCS feature of the season. His dad, Billie, won the street stock feature on Saturday to cap off a nice weekend for that family.
—I swear every time I see Broksieck race, she finishes in the top five. She had a third on Friday and a second on Saturday at Brown County. She’s won track titles at Casino Speedway and Brown County Speedway in her #14 in previous years. A big reason is she races clean — and doesn’t get into wrecks. She is a real model of consistency. Including her win on Sunday, she has finished in the top five in 17 of her 18 feature races.
—The Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprints were in attendance at Brown County Speedway on Saturday with 19 cars on hand. Hastings led flag-to-flag to pick up the win. What was notable about the sprint feature was it lasted a little more than four minutes and was caution free, proving it can be done.
—Congrats to Jack Koranda of Bluffton for winning his first Wissota Super Stock feature of his career Friday at Fiesta City Speedway in Montevideo. Koranda, who had won previously in the street stock class, had been knocking on the door for the win. Koranda’s win came in the Wissota Super Stock special at Fiesta City.
—Taylor Bitzan of Brandon is one of several newcomers in the Wissota Midwest Modified class at Viking Speedway, and he picked up his first career feature win Saturday at the half-mile. He did so by holding off a hard-charging Brendan Blascyk for a thrilling, well-earned victory.
—Brady Gerdes of Villard nearly won the Wissota Modified feature at Viking Speedway on July 3 before an electrical issue derailed that win on the final lap. He joked to me via Facebook message that he was glad to get that issue out of the way before the big Fallen Linemen races the following week. Turned out he was right — he won the $3,000 Fallen Lineman Race at Viking on Saturday.
—Tyler Peterson won the Fallen Linemen race from 12th at I-94 for his biggest win of the season in his #1TPO Wissota Modified. He also is proving to be a master of the short tracks, as not only is he piling up wins at Casino Speedway but also is at Greenbush Race Park — which is another 1/4-mile track. The defending Wissota Mod national champion is in the midst of another outstanding season.
—Congrats to Randy Klein of Enderlin for winning the IMCA Stock Car feature at Jamestown Speedway on Saturday; that race was the first night of the Dakota Classic Modified Tour. He also won Night 2 of the tour in Minot.
—Kasey Ussatis of Nome won the Wissota Street Stock feature Saturday night at Devils Lake Speedway for his second feature win of the season. That was the Wissota ROC qualifier.