Anderson, Storck Join Heckenast as I-94 Sure Step Winners
I was at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in Fergus Falls for the World of Outlaw Late Model show.
There was a tremendous crowd at I-94 for the WOO show, and I would expect I-94 owner Don Shaw to bring that event back in 2022 based on the response. It was a fun night at the track with some controversies in each race but you know what, that gets people talking.
The night started out kinda slow, the track was hard and slick and there wasn’t a ton of passing in the heats. I-94 officials kept plugging away at the track, and by the time the features rolled around I think the track was in good shape.
After a caution on the first lap, Frank Heckenast Jr. took control of the WOO Late Model feature and led the rest of the way. But, the race for second was outstanding. That included fast qualifier Tyler Bruening, point leader Brandon Sheppard and Chris Madden. Sparks flew as that group raced incredibly hard for position.
Bruening ran second for a long time; first he was pressured by Madden and then Sheppard. Sheppard put on some kind of show on the high side, bouncing off the wall a few times. By the time he was done, the spoiler was knocked off, the left rear quarter panel was shot, and the #1 car was battered. He literally left everything on the track.
Sheppard used a slider to get by Bruening, but Bruening returned the favor, leading to contact between him and Sheppard down the front stretch. Both kept on, although Bruening also knocked his spoiler off and somehow held on to a podium finish.
By the time Sheppard cleared Bruening, Heckenast had checked out. He ate into the lead a little but Heckenast was never threatened. Sheppard took second. There was contact between Bruening and Madden on the front stretch on the final lap, and Madden showed his displeasure afterwards. Bruening held back some in his post-race interview but clearly wasn’t happy with Madden’s postrace scolding, either.
I will say that was some kind of racing for second, and that is the kind of action the fans eat up.
Former USMTS national champion Ryan Gustin of Marshalltown, Iowa, was fifth. The top RaceChaser-area Wissota car was Bryce Sward of Nelson, Minn., who started 15th and finished a solid 11th. The teenager did a heck of a job.
I’ve said before and will say it again — the Steffes Street Stock features are never dull. The 31-car field — yes, all cars in attendance started the feature — did a pretty good job of racing clean with a few exceptions. I can’t say the same for the Wissota Midwest Modifieds unfortunately. More on that later.
Parker Anderson of Phillips, Wis., is on his way to the Wissota Street Stock national title. He has 23 wins in 44 starts and no street stock driver is close to that. But he’s also talented, 17-years-old and fearless and isn’t afraid to make some aggressive moves to get to the front. And sometimes, that kind of racing rubs people the wrong way.
Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck took the early lead. He was pressured soon by Anderson in the #27P, who was fast on the lower line. Anderson took over the top spot, but another car was on the move — Kyle Genett of Auburndale, Wis. Genett found speed on the lower line and made the pass of Anderson, who drifted a bit higher in turn four. Genett had a several-car length advantage when a caution waved.
Hunter Carter of Fargo, a former King of the Dirt champion at I-94, battled Dykhoff for third. Ryan Satter of Dent, the point leader at I-94, put on a good show with Cody Kummer of Medford as they competed hard in the top five.
The caution waved, and Anderson made an aggressive move on the restart to go for the lead. He said in a post-race interview that he made a clean pass, but Genett clearly didn’t feel that way. Genett got into Anderson in turn four, sending Anderson spinning and bringing out the caution. Genett was charged with the yellow and went to the tail.
After the restart, Anderson opened up some space as Dykhoff and Hunter Carter went at it hard for the second spot. Kummer and Satter resumed their dogfight for fourth; those two seemed to battle almost the entire night.
Carter was in second, but an upper ball joint broke on the #19H, and he began to slide back. Dykhoff went up high after taking over second and started to eat into Anderson’s lead, to the point where he was on his bumper with three laps to go. Dykhoff was closing, but Anderson had opened a few car lengths to pick up his seventh tour win. Dykhoff picked up his second straight podium finish in second while Satter topped Carter for third. Wausau, Wis., driver Jeff Nowak was fifth.
Genett wasn’t afraid to show his displeasure as he sped and caught Anderson after the checkered. There was no major contact or anything but I’m guessing Genett got his point across and honestly I have zero problem with what he did. Had he went up and slammed Anderson hard or something, my view would have been different. It's not the first time those two have encountered each other on the tour -- the same two got together on the final lap at River Cities Speedway as well.
Genett recovered from the spin to get back to ninth, by the way. Carter limped the machine to an 11th-place finish.
Jonny Carter of Lisbon, the defending tour champion, had an interesting story. His #46 is sidelined with a blown motor; so he was presented with the opportunity to drive Delray Dykstra’s #77 car, which was an old Chevelle. Now, that car was built way back in 1986 and was originally driven by Randy Klein’s uncle, Steve. The car was built for the old outlaw streets in West Fargo, and was by far the most unique looking machine out there. The car was literally in the barn on Friday, but got put together and Carter — who had never driven it before — was able to have a really good run, taking sixth after starting 15th. Friday’s winner Justin Vogel of Brooten was seventh.
Boy, the Wissota Midwest Modified class as a whole at I-94 Sure Step Speedway had a rough weekend. On Friday (I watched the replay on Dirt Race Central), it was a caution-fest — nine yellows were waved and several laps were cut off from the race. Don Shaw wasn’t happy and let his feelings known at the pit meeting. Well, the second night wasn’t much better for the mid mods.
I want to first say it was a great win for Corey Storck of Morris. He started 11th and avoided the mishaps to pick up the victory. It was only the second time in eight years that Storck has won a feature at I-94.
Unfortunately there were cautions and wrecks that plagued the show. Only 16 of the 30 starters finished and it turned into another marathon. One thing that irked me was there are some very inexperienced drivers who aren’t up to speed yet — which I get — but are downright hazardous when they are being lapped. Some Saturday morning practice time at I-94 wouldn’t hurt those folks.
Young Taylor Bitzan of Brandon led early with Avery Anderson of Alexandria taking second. Reise Stenberg of Argusville started fifth but was on the move and eventually took over the top spot. There were a few more cautions, and soon, the second row consisted of Storck and I-94 point leader Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls. Former I-94 track champion Cody the Cobra Lee of Starbuck, hungry for his first win of 2021, was also lurking in the top five.
On the restart, Gronwold went for broke and tried the slider coming out of two, but didn’t clear Stenberg and got turned in front of the whole field. Stenberg also was collected along with a handful of other cars.
After looking at the replay several times, in my opinion, Stenberg didn’t have a good choice, especially when he had a head of steam coming out of turn two. If he hits the brakes there it’s a 10-car pileup on the backstretch and perhaps worse carnage. The bottom line is if a car doesn’t clear you with a slider, especially up front, it’s going to lead to trouble. And that’s what happened.
I know a lot of the midwest modified drivers and hate writing about deals like this. Gronwold -- who I talk to quite a bit and get along with fine — and have interviewed him before -- is a great driver and fast but also is very aggressive at times as he tries to get to the front, and frankly some drivers aren’t fans of that style of racing. He’s a pretty polarizing figure at I-94 based on the crowd reactions to the backstretch incident (I should point out, to be clear, he was not charged with the yellow in this case). And in this case, the slider didn’t work and when that takes place, bad stuff can happen.
Storck assumed the lead on the restart with Gronwold in second. Gronwold was in second but later pulled in, I thought he might have had a tire going down. Storck took control with Lee settling into second. Jeff Nelson of Perham was also moving into the top three.
Storck went on to take the popular win. His postrace comments maybe said it best — it helps when the leaders take each other out. Lee took a solid second with Nelson running a good race in third. Chad Gronner of Underwood had an excellent run, going from 15th to fourth, while the well-traveled Dan Wheeler of Savage finished fifth after starting 16th.
Michelle (Lund) Hutt of Brandon capped off a good weekend. She was fourth on Friday, and finished seventh on Saturday after starting way back in 24th.
Heck you would have had a good feature just with the midwest cars who DNF — Haley Lee, Gronwold, Alex Langland, Kyle Langland, Stenberg, Sam Zender, Ron Saurer and Avery Anderson being among them.
—I talked to Viessman Late Model driver Larry Samuelson for a while. He picked up his first career feature win — in 13 years of racing — at Buffalo River Speedway on June 27. Congrats to him.
—A followup to Friday: Brendan Blascyk of Kensington, who finished second in Friday’s midwest modified feature, was disqualified in post-race tech on Friday, I found out after the blog was posted (it has been edited to reflect that).
—There were 31 street stocks and 30 midwest modifieds on hand on Saturday. All cars took the green for the feature.
—It’s been good to see South Dakota drivers Andy Rossow of Florence and Ashley Wampler of Hecla follow the Street Stock tour. Both were DNFs on Saturday, unfortunately but have been very loyal to the tour this year.
—I-94 is off on July 23. The Howie Schill Memorial takes place for the late models at River Cities Speedway in Grand Forks while the Rebel Midwest Mod Tour and Advantage RV Mod Tour will also be in town.
—Ryan Gierke of Villard posted two top five finishes at the USMTS Mod Wars at Ogilvie Raceway this past weekend as he continues his impressive development in the #26G machine.
—Congrats to Maria Broksieck of Goodwin, S.D., for winning the Wissota Street Stock feature at Madison Speedway Saturday night.
—Congrats to Kyle Anderson of Jamestown for winning the Wissota Street Stock feature Saturday at Jamestown Speedway. He leads the points at Jamestown. Lucas Rodin of Marion continued his outstanding season in the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, taking the win.
—Congrats to Dan Aberle of Finley for winning the Wissota Street Stock feature Saturday at Devils Lake Speedway. Ryne Uhrich of Langdon was second, Cody Armstrong of Devils Lake third, Trey Hess of Grand Forks fourth and Stoney Kruk of Langdon was fifth.
Also, a shoutout to Jory Berg on picking up the Wissota Midwest Modified feature win over Nate Reynolds of Hoople. Aberle and Berg both qualified for the Wissota Race of Champions with their wins.
Adam Sobolik of Grand Forks won the Western Renegade Wingless Sprint feature.
Joe Armstrong of Crary won the Pure Stock feature while Dexter Dvergsten of Greenbush won another POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprint feature.
--Congrats to Aaron Blacklance for picking up another Wissota Street Stock win at Greenbush Race Park on Saturday.