Crouse, Satter, Bitzan and Muzik Win at Viking
RaceChaser was back at Viking Speedway for Wissota Race of Champions Night. Even though the radar looked bleak Viking didn't get a ton of rain and was able to get the show going at 6:30 p.m.
Car counts were pretty thin, unfortunately; at least there were two heats in every class except the Wissota Midwest Modified division, which was hurting with just six. Several local cars were following the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour, which was rained out Friday at River Cities Speedway but was racing Saturday at Greenbush -- with 51 cars in attendance.
IMCA/Wissota A mod counts are pretty much down everywhere, whether it's IMCA or Wissota. Even Deer Creek, the mecca of modifieds, has seen nights in the mid teens. Madison ran a special on Saturday and got nine; Fiesta City got 11 for a special on Friday. Ogilvie was down to 14. Norman County Raceway in Ada has averaged eight IMCA mods in two nights. Red River Valley Speedway in West Fargo has held its own in the upper teens but is about the only RaceChaser-area track not to see a downturn in A mod numbers. I'll have a blog editorial in the next week or two on car counts and weekly shows.
The Wissota Modified makeup feature from Memorial Day weekend was finally completed. Dusty Bitzan of Brandon, interviewed above, took control early and was never threatened on his way to the feature win in the caution-free feature.
Joseph Thomas of Glyndon ran in second early before being overtaken by defending Viking champion Brady Gerdes of Villard. Thomas then had to battle with Travis Saurer for third in what was the best battle on the track.
Bitzan had a straightaway on Gerdes at the checkered. Gerdes needed a caution and I think it would have been interesting but one never flew. Gerdes was second, and Saurer edged Thomas for third. Blake Jegtvig of Hawley, a former Wissota Modified national champion, was fifth.
The regular four features clipped along nicely with only one caution.
Ryan Satter of Dent, interviewed above, is on some kind of roll in the Wissota Street Stocks at Viking and I-94 Sure Step Speedway. He started third in the feature and quickly took the lead, and checked out on the field.
The battle ended up being for second, and it was a good one. Craig Gardner of Alexandria, Mark Blom of Glenwood — driving Andrew Bangsund’s #70 machine — and Justin Vogel of Brooten went at it hard for several laps to close out the race.
Vogel, much like Jonny Carter of Lisbon, is not content to follow the leader, and will try every line he can to make it work. He tried the low line in three and four to get around both Gardner and Bangsund but there wasn’t quite enough down there.
Satter’s win was his 11th of the season; he is fifth in national points right now. He was not challenged on Saturday and picked up the clean sweep, which was worth more than $550 on the night. Gardner held off Blom for second with Vogel settling for fourth. Roger Berkness of Eagle Bend was fifth.
Jeff Crouse of Alexandria and Matt Miller of Glenwood held the front row in the Wissota Super Stock feature. RaceChaser blog put up a $100 cash bonus to the winner of the super stock feature. Crouse, Miller and Trevor Saurer of Dalton are in a pretty good battle for the points title, being separated by 29 points right now.
Crouse took the lead from the outset with Miller a few car lengths back. A driver who is showing rapid improvement, rookie Bailey Rosch, was running third with Saurer pressuring him. Jon Crouse of Alexandria battled with Karter Reents of Glenwood for the fifth spot.
Miller closed in on Jeff Crouse a few times, but was not close enough to make a move for the lead. Jeff Crouse actually extended his lead in lapped traffic — which also provided Saurer with an opening to get passed Rosch for third.
Jeff Crouse picked up his third Viking win of the year with Miller settling for second. Saurer was third, with Rosch and Jon Crouse rounding out the tp five.
Bitzan made it 2-for-2 on the night later in the evening. He redrew the pole -- which was vital as all four regular feature winners started on the front row — and opened a lead early. Devin Fouquette of St. Cloud held the second spot when a caution came out.
Fouquette had a rough restart, losing a few spots, allowing Jegtvig to move into second. Travis Saurer moved into second, but by then Bitzan had a comfortable lead. Jegtvig and Gerdes battled for the third spot, while the veteran Corky Thomas of Glyndon and Fouquette had a nice battle for fifth.
Bitzan’s lead shrunk some but he was never challenged as he picked up his fourth win of the year and second of the night. Saurer finished second with Gerdes taking third and Jegtvig fourth. Thomas edged Fouquette, who is the national points leader, for fifth.
The #23 driven by a Muzik has been in victory lane many, many times at Viking Speedway — mostly by Viking Hall of Famer Ryan Muzik in his modified — but his son, Josh, put together a dominant performance to win going away.
Ron Saurer of Dalton, who won Friday at I-94 Sure Step Speedway, pressured Muzik early. But Muzik steadily pulled away in the 10-lap feature for his first win of the season. Muzik has run very well of late — he’s finished in the top four three straight weeks at Viking.
Saurer crossed the line second but was disqualified in post-race tech, moving Shawn Olson of Alexandria, the season points leader, into second. Young Taylor Bitzan of Brandon was third. Olson now leads Saurer by 79 points in the standings.
Ryan Fletcher of Battle Lake, making his first appearance of the season, was an interesting story. He did not make it out for the heat race, and officials actually gave him a little extra time to get strapped in for the feature. My hunch, based on the way he was slow in getting ready for the feature, is that he’d never raced before. Well, he got out there, ran the whole race — and came home fourth after Saurer’s DQ. Rookie Connor Busse of Alexandria was fifth.
--Zach Johnson's night ended after a couple of laps in the makeup modified feature with another blown motor. It has been a very frustrating year for the #6X mod, which blew a motor in May as well. We know when things are all working the 6X is a top contender in the mods, his luck has been terrible at Viking this year.
--Brad Lorentz of Eagle Bend went for a ride off of turns three and four in his #36 Wissota Street Stock, rolling a few times. He was checked out by the ambulance crew but was OK by all indications. Honestly, as far as rollovers go, this car didn't seem too bad; I've seen worse damage.
--There were two father-son tandems racing in the modifieds -- Corky and Joseph Thomas and Josh and Talan Thoennes. Talan is a rookie who is only 14 years old.
Shaw Wins Golden Hammer Challenge at Devils Lake
Veteran Don Shaw of Ham Lake won the NLRA Golden Hammer Challenge feature at Devils Lake Speedway on Saturday near Crary, N.D.
The racing program was delayed after rain arrived around 6:30 p.m.
Shaw started fourth on the field to pick up his first NLRA win of the year. He now has 12 career NLRA wins which is eighth all-time in tour history.
Tyler Peterson of Hickson, driving Donny Schatz’s #15 late model, finished second after starting fifth. Brandon Fuller of Grand Forks had a good run to finish third, with Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks and Jason Strand of Portland rounding out the top five.
Brody Troftgruben of Grand Forks was the hard charger, finishing sixth after starting 21st. Mike Greseth of Harwood is now the tour points leader and he finished eighth. Greseth leads Brad Seng by 10 points and Shane Edginton by 16 in the NLRA standings in what’s shaping to be a great points race.
Myles Tomlinson of Turtle Lake won the Western Renegade Non-Winged Sprints class. Brody Hutton of Manvel was second, Cory Palm of Bismarck third, Ross Cummings of Minot fourth and Zach Hultstrand of Bismarck was fifth.
Trey Hess’s string of bad luck finally ended as he captured the Wissota Street Stock feature, his second win of 2021. Seth Klostreich of Grand Forks was second, Stoney Kruk of Langdon third, Brian Johnson of Edmore fourth and Tucker Pederson of East Grand Forks fifth.
Carter Tuenge of Rugby was victorious in the Pure Stocks with Tony Bundy of Balta taking second. MiKara Johanson of Edmore was third.
Greenbush Rains Out
The good news this weekend is the car counts for the Rebel Midwest Modified Tour have been excellent. There were 42 signed in at River Cities Speedway on Friday and 51 at Greenbush Race Park on Sunday. The bad news? Both nights rained out.
Saturday's show at Greenbush made it through the heat races but rain arrived after and forced the cancellation of the rest of the event. The tour is at River Cities Speedway tonight.