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Dietzler, Johnson, Edginton Wrap Up River Cities Championships

Jamie Dietzler in victory lane with two of his children (PHoto from Speedway Shots/Mike Spieker)

I ventured back to River Cities Speedway for Season Championship night on Friday. A good 93-car field signed in to compete at the Bullring.

River Cities was the only local track to race on Friday and I give them credit for working to get the show in. The pits were wet and the track was tacky, understandably so after Thursday’s rainfall.

Since it was season championship night, I’ll highlight the two most competitive points races at River Cities Speedway which were the Wissota Midwest Modifieds, which has been a great battle between Jory Berg of Grand Forks and Jamie Dietzler of Larimore, and the Wissota Street Stocks, where defending champion Ryan Johnson of Karlstad and John Halvorson of Warren were dueling.

Berg led Dietzler by five points going into Friday’s finale. Berg had three wins at the Bullring while Dietzler hadn’t reached victory lane. The two drivers shared the front row for Friday’s feature.

On this night, Dietzler, interviewed above, rose to the top. He took the lead from the outset and led the entire way to pick up his first win of the year, and first career track championship. Berg finished fourth; Dietzler’s margin of victory in the point standings was eight.

Dietzler topped Reise Stenberg of Argusville for the win by 1.767 seconds in the caution-free race. Defending RCS champion Matt Schow of McIntosh was third with Berg taking fourth. Zach Bruer of Fisher rounded out the top five.

I’m sure Berg was bummed at not winning the title, especially after the year he’s had. But, he does lead the points at Devils Lake by 44 points heading into the weekend, so he’s in position to win the season points there.

One more note on the midwest modified points — Nate Raasakka of Grand Forks finished a solid third in the season standings. He picked up his first career win earlier this season.

Johnson led Halvorson by more than 30 points in the street stock standings, and the two drivers shared the front row for Friday’s feature. And it was fitting as the two seemed to run side-by-side most of the race.

But it was the Wolverine, Justin Vogel of Brooten, who was the class of this field on Friday. He started ninth and quickly got into the top three. Vogel, interviewed above, worked the outside of Halvorson and took over the top spot.

He survived numerous cautions to pick up his first-ever River Cities feature win.

Halvorson and Johnson seemed to battle the entire night for second, running side by side for much of the race. Johnson would prevail to wrap up his fourth career track championship at River Cities and 10th of his career overall. Consistency is a big key to Johnson’s success. He didn't get much time to celebrate on Friday -- he left soon after the features to go work the night shift at Crystal Sugar in Drayton.

Halvorson took third ahead of veteran Joe Potter of Euclid, who had a solid run from seventh. Daniel Aberle of Finley was fifth.

Vogel is fourth in the latest Wissota national points. The true race is for second, as Parker Anderson has the title well in hand with 30 feature wins. Vogel is just six points behind Braden Brauer of Rochester for second, with Robert Petroff just three points behind Brauer. Jeremy Castro of Laurel, Mont., is one point behind Vogel. That should be fun to see how that shakes out in September. In any case it seems like Vogel, a former national champion and Wissota 100 winner, is warming up just in time for September.

Speaking of rounding into form as the invitational season, Dustin Strand of East Grand Forks seems to be doing so in his #71 Wissota Late Model. He started from the pole and controlled the 20-lap event.

Brad Seng of Grand Forks had an excellent run, going from 11th to second. Seng is a two-time winner of the Seitz Memorial and I’d include him on the contender list next weekend.

Veteran Joey Pederson of East Grand Forks was third. Cole Schill of Horace moved up from eighth to fourth, despite some pretty significant right-rear damage from an incident in the race. Jason Strand of Portland rounded out the top five.

Shane Edginton of Winnipeg is the 2021 Wissota Late Model track champion at River Cities. He led by more than 100 points going into Friday’s championship so he couldn’t be caught. Edginton finished seventh in the feature and won the title, unofficially, by 87 points over Seng. It’s his second track title in three years at River Cities, congrats to him. He’s also third in the Wissota Late Model national points.

Strand now has four top five finishes and two wins in his last five starts in his late model. It will be interesting to see how he fares at the Seitz Memorial next weekend. He’s won a lot of races at River Cities, but that big prize has eluded him.

I want to give a shoutout to the year Austin Pierce of Grand Forks is having in the Buffalo Wild Wing NOSA Sprint class at River Cities. He started on the pole on Friday and picked up another win as he added to his point lead with two points shows remaining at RCS.

Pierce has seven feature wins in 13 starts at River Cities and has finished in the top five 12 times. The #2A is fast at the bullring and Friday’s performance was another indicator of that.

Mark Dobmeier of Grand Forks started sixth but had to settle for second behind Pierce. Jade Hastings of Grand Forks started fourth and took third. Nick Ranten of East Grand Forks made up some ground on the field, going from ninth to fourth. Brendan Mullen of Grand Forks, who is second in the points at River Cities, rounded out the top five.

Speaking of Nick Ranten, the Rantens were busy working in Missouri this week with their business, RZS also has worked lined up in Nebraska and Arizona in the weeks ahead. It’s a busy life.

The Northern Renegade Wingless Sprints brought 16 cars to compete. It was a pretty incident-free feature. In the end, Adam Sobolik of Grand Forks stood tall from his outside pole spot to pick up the win.

Ken Horn of Grand Rapids — a former Wissota Modified driver — was second after starting third. Chris Lewis of Grand Rapids was third, and Paul Schultz of Grand Rapids fourth.

The hard charger of the race was Josh Johnson of Harwood. He started 13th on the 16-car field but had an excellent race, going up to fifth by the checkered.

The Western Renegade Wingless Sprints will race a doubleheader at Devils Lake this weekend while the Northern Renegade Wingless Sprints will race two shows at Greenbush Race Park.

I talked to Myles Tomlinson of Turtle Lake, the owner of the Western Renegade series. He scheduled 32 shows this year for the tour. He said car counts are comparable to last year but that the racing has been good in 2021. After the Devils Lake doubleheader this weekend, the Western Renegades will race at River Cities on Sept. 17, Devils Lake on Sept. 18 and conclude the year at Dacotah Speedway in Mandan on Oct. 1-2.

River Cities Notes

—I visited with Lucas Rodin of Marion, who has a one-point lead in what may be the most competitive Wissota Midwest Modified National Points race in years. The top five drivers are separated by 56 points. Rodin leads Mike Nichols of Watertown, who is racing in Wyoming this weekend. Rodin finished sixth on Friday; he plans to either run the doubleheader at Greenbush or the doubleheader at Devils Lake this weekend as he chases the national title.

Speaking of national points, Aaron Blacklance of Thief River Falls is now seventh in the Wissota Midwest Modified standings. He’s having a great year with 12 midwest modified wins. He also has seven wins in his Wissota Street Stock.

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