Cook, Nelson, Koranda, Bitzan and Gronwold Win at Viking; Another Big Win for Eric Riley
RaceChaser was back at Viking Speedway in Alexandria on Saturday. A decent field of cars was on hand.
I thought the racing was really good for the features and I thought the track was in nice shape with multiple lanes. The last half of the modified feature got spread out but the other features saw some really good racing. I left impressed as there was some good, cleaning racing, some of the best I've seen at Viking in a while.
Tanner Horn of Wadena set the pace early in the Wissota Street Stock feature before Craig Gardner of Eagle Bend took over the lead. Gardner, who was also fast at I-94 on Friday, held the lead but 15-year old Jack Koranda of Bluffton and Ryan Satter of Dent were closing.
Koranda, who won his first career feature on Friday at I-94 during the makeup show, passed Gardner for the lead and Satter soon followed. The race turned into a duel between the 15-year-old Koranda and Satter. Satter was all over the 22 machine and got beside him several times.
Koranda held on each time. Even on the final lap, Satter made one last charge on the low side I turns three and four and held the lead briefly. Koranda, however had the momentum off the higher line and held on for his second win in as many nights. Satter, who won the regular feature at I-94 on Friday, settled for second. A terrific battle.
Gardner picked up his second top five of the weekend,held off veteran Mark Blom of Glenwood for third. Blom was driving Andrew Bangsund's 70 machine. Horn, a 23-year old rookie, finished a solid fifth.
What a week for Fergus Falls driver Brock Gronwold. He went 3-for-3 in feature wins and topped the field again on Saturday at Viking. He now has two straight wins at the half-mile.
A crazy start saw Ron Saurer of Dalton move into the lead; however he was penalized two spots for jumping the start. Justin Froemming of Alexandria took over the lead, but Gronwold was on the move quickly. He moved into second and then made the pass in turn three. Froemming dropped out moments later with engine issues.
Gronwold built a commanding lead with Saurer moving into second. Matt Thoennes of Osakis and Shawn Olson of Alexandria waged a pretty good battle for third.
The 67-year-old Saurer, who won opening night at Viking, closed the gap and actually looked quicker as the laps waned. On the final lap Gronwold opened up a few car lengths on his lead and picked up the win, his 12th of 2020. It’s too bad there are no Wissota national points this year because I suspect Gronwold would be in the lead or awfully close to it.
Saurer settled for second with Thoennes holding on for third despite a smoking #52 machine. Olson was fourth and Corey Storck of Morris was fifth.
Veteran Rick Nelson of Alexandria, a long-time late model pilot at Viking, had the pole for the Limited Late Model feature. And what a race it turned into.
Nelson, interviewed above, had the lead from the get-go, but Ryan Mikkelson of Alexandria was moving to the front. So was first-time visitor Nick Panitzke of Lonsdale, Minn.
Mikkelson was all over Nelson in the battle up front, pulling beside him several times. Meanwhile, Panitzke was closing in on the front quickly. He passed Mikkelson and set his sights on Nelson. A restart happened with two to go, and Nelson had both Panitzke and Mikkelson on his tail.
Nelson held on for the win, his first of 2020 and second in a Limited Late Model. Panitzke — who has had success as an asphalt racer in La Crosse, Wis. — ran an impressive second. Mikkelson was third, Dustin Johanneck of Litchfield fourth and Larry Fitzsimmons of East Bethel fifth. You have to be happy for a veteran like Nelson. He was not one of the big spenders when he was in the late model class so that made it tough to compete weekly. The Limited Late Models seems like a good fit for the 54-year-old.
There was a scary crash involving Blake Saathoff of Alexandria. Saathoff slid off the track right before turn three and hit the tire barrier protecting the trees, he landed upside down with the driver’s side window next to the tires. He was OK but the #85 car was banged up pretty good.
I want to say something about the way Satter and Mikkelson raced. Both had chances to bump the leader out of the way to make the pass or pull a slider -- and both raced the two clean. Satter pulled beside Koranda on turns three and four and actually had an advantage -- but he also left Koranda a lane up top. I'm impressed with both in how clean they raced, considering they could have not been very polite.
Karter Reents of Glenwood set the pace for the first few laps of the Wissota Super Stock feature. He was overtaken by Jason Cook of Brandon, who set a pretty quick pace and looked strong in the #79 machine. Reents, meanwhile pulled in with mechanical issues.
Moving up through traffic were Travis Scott of Glenwood and Jeff Crouse of Alexandria. Scott, a super stock rookie, got by Roger Host and moved into second while Crouse was running the outside and making up ground, moving into the top three and began to close in on Cook, interviewed above.
Scott and Crouse were closing in on Cook as the laps wound down. Scott was right on Cook’s tail late but Cook held on for his first feature win since 2018. Scott had a great run in second with Crouse in third. Roger Host of Watkins was fourth and Trevor Saurer of Dalton fifth.
The first portion of the Wissota Modified feature saw an intense battle at the front between Tyler Kaeter of St. Cloud, Danny Baker of Elrosa and Travis Saurer of Elizabeth. Bayer eventually made the pass on the bottom. Dusty Bitzan of Brandon was also running in the top five.
Bayer had the advantage when a caution came out for Saurer who went off turn two. That changed the dynamic of the race as Bitzan went up to the high side and started to simply fly. He overtook Bayer for the lead and built a commanding straightway lead to pick up his second feature win of 2020. Bayer ran a strong second with Kaeter a solid third. Brett Hoium of Villard, the opening night winner at Viking, was fourth while Ryan Gierke of Villard was fifth. Kaeter is 17 years old, by the way and Gierke is 16. Two promising mod talents.
Riley Wins Steffes Stop at Madison
Eric Riley of Morris picked up the Steffes Street Stock Tour win at Madison Speedway on Saturday. Riley now has a tour-best four wins this season. Kyle Dykhoff of Starbuck had a much-needed good run, taking third while Jake Froemke of International Falls was fourth and Justin Vogel of Brooten fifth. A stellar 27-car field was on hand at Madison.
Brad Staples of Herman won the Limited Late Model feature Saturday night at Madison Speedway. It was his second feature win in as many nights.
Randy Laage of Brooten won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature. Brian Haben of Appleton, who is second in the Wissota Mod points at I-94 Sure Step Speedway, won the modified feature at Madison.
Hess Wins at Devils Lake
Trey Hess of Lakota won the Wissota Street Stock feature Saturday night at Devils Lake Speedway. Greg Jose of Grand Forks was second, Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks third, Cliff Reeves of Oberon fourth and Ryne Uhrich of Langdon fifth.
Kyle Lovcik of Rugby won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature over Jory Berg of Grand Forks. Randy Thompson of Lakota was third, Cole Haugland of Brocket fourth and Jason Schuh of Lakota.
Myles Tomlinson of Turtle Lake won the Western Renegade Non-Winged Sprints feature at Devils Lake.
Joe Armstrong of Crary won another Pure Stock feature.
Saturday Night Notes
—Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks won the NOSA Sprint feature Saturday night at Jamestown Speedway. Mullen, who won a feature at Devils Lake last year, picked up his first ever NOSA win. Nick Omdahl won Grand Forks was second, Jade Hastings of Grand Forks third, Wade Nygaard of Grand Forks fourth and Jack Croaker of Grand Forks fifth.
Tye Wilke of Detroit Lakes picked up his 14th INEX Legend feature win of the season. Ryan Braseth of Ulen was third, Sean Johnson of Kindred fourth and Dylan Johnson of Durbin fifth.
Brennon Weight of LaMoure won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature over Lucas Rodin of Marion. Nate Reinke of Lisbon was third and Scott “Rebel” Bintz of Jamestown was fourth.
—Kelsi Pederson of East Grand Forks won the POWRi Minn-Kota Lightning Sprint feature Saturday night at Greenbush Race Park. It is her fifth win of 2020.
Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls won the Wissota Midwest Modified feature over Hunter Hougard of Warren. Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks won the Wissota Mod feature.