Bitzan Edges Johnson at I-94; Dykhoff, Wolden, Blascyk and Youngquist Lead Winners
RaceChaser was back at I-94 Sure Step Speedway for Fan Appreciation Night. There was a great crowd on hand as admission was only $5, plus a fireworks show was planned. IN fact I think it was the best crowd I’ve seen at I-94 this season.
I-94 officials wisely did the fireworks show a little before 10 p.m., with three features remaining, allowing parents with young kids to see it before it got real late.
We will start with the best race of the night, in the Wissota Modifieds. Chris Mensen of Carlos led early but was overtaken by fourth starter Travis Saurer of Elizabeth. Saurer opened up a nice lead, but just four laps into it, suddenly slowed and pulled into the infield, ending his night.
Mensen assumed the lead on the restart but Dusty Bitzan of Brandon powered around him on the outside. Mensen also had a mechanical issue later in the race and was done.
Zach Johnson of Lowry --- a driver in desperate need of a turnaround — settled into second in Corey Svor’s #6X machine. The 6X team has blown two motors this year and had horrendous luck.
Brady Gerdes of Villard moved into third with Tyler Peterson of Hickson and Blake Jegtvig of Hawley battling for fourth.
Bitzan had some breathing room but as the laps waned, Johnson was closing quickly. In fact over the final three laps Johnson had inched ahead in some spots; each time Bitzan fended off the challenge. On the final lap Johnson got beside Bitzan out of turn two and they headed side by side down the backstretch. Bitzan, however regained the advantage coming off the high side in turn four to pick up the win. It’s his third win in his last three starts; he won two features at Viking last Saturday.
Johnson settled for second with Gerdes third. Peterson fought off Jegtvig for fifth.
Ryan Satter of Dent had won four Wissota Street Stock features in a row at I-94 Sure Step, and his recent dominance was to the point where I might start mentioning a bounty for him. But the winning streak would end on Friday.
Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck, one of three drivers to win a street stock feature at I-94 (along with Satter and Parker Anderson), didn’t waste time getting to the front. Dykhoff, interviewed above, got around early leader Josh Long of Canby and established a good lead.
Eric Riley of Morris, who has four feature wins on the season, also passed long for second, and the top two separated from the field.
Long, meanwhile, had a hard-fought fight for third with Satter that lasted the last 2/3 of the race. Tyler Klugman of Wheaton also was racing hard with Kevin Pender of Barnesville for fifth.
Riley closed the gap on Dykhoff but couldn’t get close enough to mount a challenge as Dykhoff picked up his sixth win of the year, and third at I-94. Riley ran a strong second. Satter, after a very close battle with Long, edged him for third. Long had his best finish that I’ve seen him have at I-94. Klugman capped off a good run finishing fifth.
The race ran caution-free as the 14 cars that took the start did a nice job. Satter has a commanding 225-point lead in the season points.
Usually, when Brock Gronwold of Fergus Falls takes control of Wissota Midwest Modified feature at I-94 Sure Step Speedway, the race for the win is all but over. It looked that way on Friday.
It was a frustrating race at times with several cautions, mainly for cars running near the back. A lot of solo spins which at times drives me nuts watching it. There were several new drivers, some I think making their first starts of the year, which included Cameron Koch of Hancock and Colton Vogel of Hancock. In fact I believe both were making their first-ever starts as I didn’t find any previous results for them.
Austin Chyba of Alexandria took the lead from the outside pole and looked fast. Gronwold, coming off of a good win at Norman County Raceway on Thursday, moved into the top three along with Sam Zender of Fergus Falls. Lindsey Hansen of Fargo was also running in the top five.
Zender made an uncharacteristic mistake, spinning at the bottom of turns three and four, and had to go to the tail. Gronwold was determined and used the high lane to take the lead. Brendan Blascyk of Kensington settled into second, well behind Gronwold.
However, with about five laps left, Gronwold suddenly pulled in — I later found out he was overheating and losing water — and Blascyk inherited the lead.
Another car making a charge was 68-year-old Ron Saurer of Dalton, who has two wins in the month of June. He started way back in 19th but was really fast and moved into the top five.
Blascyk went on to win unchallenged as Chyba ran a strong second. Saurer was the hard charger, going from 19th to third. Brennan Gave of Princeton, who runs well at I-94, was fourth. Hansen edged Zender for fifth at the line. Unfortunately for Hansen, he wasn’t aware of his placing and didn’t go to scale, and was DQed. It’s too bad, because he had a great top five run at a track where he hasn’t had much luck.
The most dominant car at I-94 Sure Step Speedway in the Viessman Late Models, since the class’s inception in 2017, has been Ben Wolden of Fergus Falls, interviewed above. He’s won four point titles in a row at I-94 and since 2017 has 40 wins in the class at area tracks. On Friday he had to earn it as veteran Doug Walsh of Watertown proved to be a formidable foe.
Walsh took the lead but Wolden, who started sixth, worked into the lead early. But it was Wolden who used the lower line to make the move, and he went on to his ninth win of 2021 — and his fifth at I-94. Zender had a solid run to take their with Dustin Johanneck of Litchfield and Derek Quinn of Brandon rounding out the top five.
Veteran Shawn Kirwin of Morris took the early lead in the Wissota Late Model feature. But long-time veteran Pat Doar of New Richmond, Wis., who I consider one of the all-time greats in Wissota Late Model class, was on a serious charge to the front. He started eighth and it took him four laps to work from there to the lead.
Kirwin was comfortably in second, with Jordan Tollakson of Montevideo — who I’ve seen have horrendous luck at I-94 in the past — settled into third.
Don Shaw of Ham Lake got by Bryce Sward of Nelson for fourth, and set his sights on Tollakson as the top two spread out. Shaw went up to the high side and ran hard in the #42s; unfortunately his night would end when he got into the wall in turn three. I didn’t see what happened but it’s possible something broke.
Even after the restart, Doar reassumed control. Shawn Meyer of Wahpeton worked his way back into the top five with a pass of point leader Dave Mass of Isanti.
Doar rolled to the win. Kirwin had the best run I’ve seen him have in a long time and finished second. Tollakson ran a solid third, and Meyer made a late pass of Sward for fourth.
Speaking of bounties, it might be time to put one on Kevin Youngquist of Barney in the Short Trackers. The #00 is proving to be the dominant car of late at the 3/8-mile oval as he rolled to his fourth win of the year.
Youngquist’s nephew, Shawn Beto of Wahpeton, took the early lead. By the way, Youngquist built the current car Beto is driving. After starting eight, Youngquist quickly moved into the lead in what was a race plagued with cautions.
There was a good battle for second between Beto, Zach Kort of Fergus Falls and Madison Schreiber of Dalton. Schreiber eventually won the spot; however she scraped the wall later in the race and lost four spots, dropping to fifth.
Youngquist cruised to another win. Kort edged Beto for second with Curtis Huseth of Underwood taking fourth. Schreiber rounded out the top five.
—Adrian Kubitz of Ottertail hit the turns one and two wall hard during his Short Tracker heat, pretty much destroying his car. Reports are he blew a tire and turned directly into the wall. He was checked out in the ambulance but was OK.
—It was good to see 78-year-old Clarence Washburn back in his Wissota Late Model. Clarence hasn’t raced much so far — this was only his third night of 2021. Racing usually takes a back seat early in the year for Washburn with trucking and farming being a priority.
—Nick Thoreson of Fort Ransom has a Limited Late Model. He’s also raced an IMCA Modified this season. Thoreson previously ran in the hobby stock class.
—Michelle (Lund) Hutt of Brandon has a nice-looking #97 Wissota Midwest Modified this year. She also is a newlywed as she married Mason Hutt on June 26, congrats to her. Lund’s father, Larry is a long-time super stock racer in the Alexandria/Fergus area while her brother William was a good midwest modified and super stock driver.
—Brent Nielsen of Rapid City, S.D., wins the long-tow award for the night. He brought his #13 Wissota Modified to town. Nielsen has raced IMCA Modifieds this season at Black Hills Speedway.
Carter Edges Johnson for Thrilling Steffes Street Stock Tour Win
Once again, the Steffes Street Stock Tour race at River Cities Speedway came down to the final lap. This time, it was defending tour champion Jonny Carter of Lisbon edging Ryan Johnson of Karlstad for the thrilling win.
It was Carter’s first tour win of the season. Parker Anderson of Phillips, Wis., has five tour wins, while Carter, Justin Vogel of Brooten, Royce Jawaski of Horace and Kyle Anderson of Jamestown have wins.
Vogel took the back row challenge — that was an option given to a driver willing to give up a front-row starting spot to start at the tail end of the 26-car field. If he had come through the field and won, he’d receive a $3,000 bonus. It didn’t work out for Vogel who ended with a DNF, but I’m not the least bit surprised he took that challenge.
Veteran Todd Carter of Lisbon was third behind Carter and Johnson with Anderson taking fourth. Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls was the hard charger; he started 19th and finished fifth.
Shane Edginton of Winnipeg found victory lane in the Wissota Late Models for the second time this season but for the time time at River Cities. Brad Seng of Grand Forks was second, Lance Schill of Langdon was third, Jason Strand of Portland fourth and Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks was fifth.
Jade Hastings of Grand Forks topped Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks for the Buffalo Wild Wings NOSA Sprint win. Austin Pierce of Grand Forks settled for third while Wade Nygaard of Grand Forks was fourth and Jack Croaker of Grand Forks was fifth.
Lance Schill won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature from the pole with Jamie Dietzler of Larimore taking second. Nathan Raasaaka of Grand Forks was third, defending RCS champion Matt Schow of McIntosh was fourth and Phil Christlieb of Fargo fifth.